The love a dog provides is an unconditional gift received by masters, but there are costs that must always be recognized before ever deciding to make a dog a member of the family. For families with a limited budget, seniors trying to enjoy life on a fixed income or the unexpected loss of a job can have a negative impact on the life of a dog. Unfortunately, when faced with financial challenges, many choose to relinquish a beloved four-legged family member to a shelter; some owners even failing to check if the shelter is a non-kill facility. However, before jumping to the decision to remove a dog from the home, there are ways to trim the amount spent on maintaining the health, safety and well being of a dog.
Following are 7 tips to cut expenses:
1. Save on the cost of going to the groomer by handling basic grooming at home. Before choosing a dog, factor in if the dog is a breed that will require grooming outside of a bath and nail trimming. By bathing and trimming nails at home as do-it-yourself projects saves from paying a groomer. If it is necessary to have your dog professionally groomed, delay the time between visits to the groomer. The Internet has a large selection of articles and guides about dog grooming, in addition to video demonstrations. From the moment you welcome a dog into the home, begin the practice of brushing the dog's teeth; when a dog's teeth are maintained, the time between cleaning by a veterinarian or a non-anesthetic cleaning can be lengthen between such cleanings.
2. A dog does not have to have the top of the line products. A basic leash, collar or coat serve their purpose. Many dogs enjoy playing with toys, but they do not need a toy chest of toys to stimulate and exercise them. Basic tennis balls and a stuffed animal or two are sufficient. In many cases, choosing to purchase larger bags of food cuts the cost per serving. If using canned food, often cases are more economical than purchasing individual cans. If there are friends or family members feeding the same selection of food to their dog, large purchases can be shared, resulting in savings on food purchases. In the event only your household will be using the food, insure the food remains fresh by storing opened bags in airtight containers. With the recent recall of various dry food, label the container with the name, product information, lot number and any other identifying information in the event there is a recall you may quickly identify if the food is part of the recall.
3. Keep the dog in an environment that best protects against accidents. Inspect fences and gates to make sure they latch correctly and are stable. Repair any fence areas that are broken or increase the risk to dig out and escape. Make sure when answering the door the dog doesn't run outside. Take a moment to place them in a different room, outside or in the garage if they have a tendency to rush the door. Training is a definite way to ward off such behavior. When walking dogs, always keep them on leash, even if an area has a non-leash law. Snakes, coyotes and uneven terrain can cause unforeseen and costly accidents. Make sure all poisons are out of the reach of dogs. Anti-freeze, chocolate, grapes and some plants are a few items that are appealing, and deadly to dogs. Make sure they are contained in areas out of reach from a dog.
4. Just as many humans now battle obesity, far too many dogs are overweight. Exercise and a proper diet are essential to maintaining a dog's health. An overweight dog increases the likelihood of health problems like cancer, diabetes and arthritis. When it's feeding time measure food, don't feed scraps from the table and keep treats to a minimum. Regular, daily exercise is also key to protecting a dog's health.
5. If possible, consider buying pet insurance if the dog is a puppy when it joins the family. Rates are reasonable and the insurance company has a complete profile on the health of the dog. Premiums are manageable even for dogs 3-7 years of age and as a dog moves into senior years, having a policy in place may help defer costs. Most policies allow owners to not have to choose between having a dog treated or euthanizing the dog because care cannot be affordable. There are a wide range of plans; many cover annual, preventative care whereas others offer lower premiums with higher deductibles. Before signing any plan make time to research and read the fine print to make sure the most likely health problems of your pet are covered.
6. Dogs should see a veterinarian ideally twice a year. A vet can often identify problems when they are at an earlier stage compared to seeing the dog when a problem has advanced and will be more expensive to treat. If your dog needs a prescription, shop around for the best price. Many local pharmacies fill animal prescriptions or research costs on online sites. Confer with the vet to determine if your dog may be prescribed a higher dose and then the pill may be split, again resulting in cost savings. Don't be shy; ask the vet for discounts or special promotions or if they offer senior citizen discounts. Veterinarians are aware of the cost of dog maintenance and realize many seniors caring for their beloved companion are on a fixed income.
7. If you have special skills or provide a specific service see if you may barter your service for others skills, services or goods. The trade of services doesn't have to be canine related. It's possible you could offer to pet sit in trade for tree trimming, window washing or other professional services. Dog owners are often willing to work together to provide for the needs of dogs. Be creative and don't be shy. If you don't ask, you won't know if another is interested in trading services.
There are many innovative ways to cut costs and continue to provide the best care, services and home for your dog. Be creative, innovative and as important, don't be afraid to ask. The money saved helps the family budget and delivers extended time to share with your dog.
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