Achieving Balance and Harmony

DOG CARE

How to care for your dog on a budget

Owning or adopting a dog can be expensive under any circumstances. Between the price of food, medical expenses, pet paraphernalia, training, and boarding, monthly budgets can shoot skyward with the addition of a four-legged friend to the household.

But even in times of economic uncertainty, you can find ways to care for your loyal companion without breaking the bank! Let these 11 tips serve as a checklist for ways to save.

Medical expenses - If money becomes scarce, unexpected medical issues can present quite a problem. But just as you might take out an insurance plan for yourself or other family members, pet health insurance can help you carefully budget ahead of time the money that will go toward day-to-day healthcare, as well as any unforeseen problems that might arise in the future.

Grooming - If you don't already have a groomer you trust, consider checking local shelters or youth programs that may hold "Pet Washes" as fundraisers. And when push comes to shove, a bath at home followed by a towel dry and gentle brushing can be a wonderful way to show your dog affection after a long walk!

Low-income dog licenses - Some areas offer low-income families a leg-up on the fees involved in licensing their family pet in order to encourage them to register with the city. By filling out a few simple forms, you could be eligible to receive a discounted license for as little as $6!

Vaccinations - For vaccines that need to be administered annually, such as those for rabies, see if any of your local animal shelters offer clinics where those vaccines might be offered for less than they would otherwise.

Spay/Neuter services - In an effort to curb the overpopulation of pets, many organizations offer professional spay/neuter services absolutely free for families that cannot afford the procedure. For more information on these programs, visit SpayUSA.org.

Food - Be consistent in the portions you give to your dog and never give in to begging for extra meals or dinner table scraps. Overfeeding will burn through your stores of food faster, and a dog that's overeating is at a greater health risk than one on a balanced diet.

Dental care - You don't have to spend much to keep your dog's choppers pearly and white! Prevention is key. Consult your vet to determine the method of DIY teeth cleaning that best suits your dog.

Clip coupons! - Coupons are available in your local Sunday supplements for just about everything you could want, including dog food and even toys. And newsletters for dog lovers (ours included!) occasionally run promotions for products in the form of exclusive coupons.

Join the club! - The American Kennel Club (AKC) has a list of the National Clubs for many pure breeds of dog. Many of those clubs offer financial assistance programs to owners of those dogs.

Get ID - According to MSNBC, recent recessions have spurred a rise in pet theft. Purebred and designer dogs are at higher risk, but no matter what kind of dog you have, make sure he doesn't go missing by always keeping ID tags on, and microchipping.

Have a heart-to-heart with your vet - Ask the staff in your vet's office about what financial aid programs, discounts, or deals are available in your area for people with your specific needs. It's a safe bet that they will have some ideas for you – they've been down this road many, many times!

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