Anyone who adopts a dog does so with the intention of giving them a great home. We often envision long walks, playing for hours together in the yard, going hiking or on adventures together, or snuggling up in front of a TV marathon together. But with a pet also come plenty of responsibilities that can get expensive quickly.
If you are a pet owner on a budget, never fear – there are ways that you can still give your dog a very good life without breaking the bank. Here are 10 tips for budget-conscious dog owners.
1. Go the extra mile in keeping your dog safe.
The most expensive vet bills are the ones that you don’t see coming because your dog got loose and was in an accident, or got into a fight with another animal, for example. The best way to prevent these pricey emergencies is to be very serious about keeping your dog safe. Baby gates, a good fence around your yard, a quality leash and harness, training classes, and other tools that keep your dog safe are more affordable in the long run.
2. Don’t skimp on high quality food.
Here is one area where you should spend a little to save a lot. High-quality dog food can be expensive, but the health issues that quality food can prevent can be far more expensive. Make sure your dog is getting the nutrients they need, and you can avoid having to worry about supplements, medications, and procedures in the future. One good thing about high-quality food is that your dog won’t need to over-eat in order to feel satisfied. You can pay attention to portion control and make the food last a little longer, knowing that your dog is getting all the calories and nutrients they need.
3. Learn how to do basic care at home.
Grooming is one thing that can be done at home very easily if you need to keep the budget in check. A basic dog-friendly shampoo, a brush, a toothbrush, and some good nail clippers are all you really need to keep your dog clean and healthy. It is important to at least trim his nails, brush his teeth, check his ears for any bad odor, and keep his fur short to prevent matting if you do nothing else. These four things will do most of what a dog needs from a grooming routine. There are plenty of free videos to teach you how to trim a dog’s nails, buzz their hair, and brush their teeth.
4. Make your own dog treats with affordable ingredients.
There are many things that humans eat that dogs can also safely eat. For example, slice a sweet potato into flat discs and bake them until they have a jerky-like texture. Dogs love chewing on these, and a sweet potato can be stretched much farther than an expensive bag of dog treats.
5. Take Full Advantage of Free Dog Parks or Free Walking Trails
One thing that all dogs need is plenty of exercise. A dog that doesn’t get it is more likely to develop expensive medical needs in the future. So be sure to get in lots of time at any nearby public area where your dog can run and romp around. Schedule a puppy play date with a friend’s dog in your backyard to give your dog a bit of extra exercise whenever possible.
6. Use YouTube videos or the library to learn new tricks.
If you want to learn how to do something for your dog, like grooming techniques, or you want to teach your dog a few obedience lessons, like how to sit or stay on command, you don’t have to go to pricey training classes. While these can be very helpful, there are lots of free videos and books at the library you can use to learn these things with your dog.
7. Consider asking for three-year vaccinations.
Most vets give vaccinations to dogs every single year. However, there are some vets that offer a three-year vaccination for common shots. These may not work for your dog depending on their age and health, but if they are available, it can represent a savings over the entire three-year span. This is a good way to stretch your vet budget.
8. Take care of your dog’s favorite things.
If your dog has a bed or a blanket that they love, be sure to take good care of the item. Wash it and mend it as needed, and try to avoid letting your dog drag it around or take it outside. The longer you can make these loved items last, the healthier your wallet will be.
9. Consider buying pet insurance if your dog is accident-prone or illness-prone.
If you have a dog that often requires veterinary attention, consider paying for pet insurance. This is just like health insurance for people, in which you pay a small amount every month plus a small deductible at the vet’s office, and the rest of the visit is covered by the insurance policy.
10. Consider teaming up with friends, family, or neighbors to help everyone save.
Finally, if you have friends, family, or neighbors that also have and love dogs, consider teaming up to help each other save money. For example, you could buy a high-quality dog food in bulk at a discounted price together, splitting the cost and the dog food. Or you could trade dog sitting services. If one of you is good at nail trimming, perhaps the other could offer to take their dog on an extra walk or two every week in exchange for nail trimming for their dog. Whatever you can trade with each other for your dogs can help everyone keep their costs down.
Put these 10 tips in action to keep your budget in check, without sacrificing the quality of your dog’s care.