Spend Less on Pet Care

by Trisha Wagner

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Pet owners in the US spend billions of dollars each year on food, supplies and services such as grooming, boarding and medical care for over 300 million lucky pets. There is no doubt about it that the vast majority of Americans simply adore their pets. For that reason, many people are worrying how they will continue to provide quality care as the recession is hitting families where it hurts the most, the wallet. An important factor to remember when caring for pets is the fact that they can survive and thrive without breaking the bank and the following tips can show you how to cut costs while still providing quality care for your furry friend.

An Ounce of Prevention Goes a Long Way

A huge cost for pet maintenance can be found in emergency veterinary care, and many of these expenses can be prevented.

  • Restrain your pets. It is important to have control over where your pets are allowed to roam outside. Veterinarians will agree that a large number of injuries that they see have been sustained while a pet was unrestrained. Dogs should always be on a leash, within a fenced area or otherwise supervised. While many cat owners may argue this point, it has been proven that cats that live outside or are allowed to "come and go" generally have a shorter lifespan than cats that are kept indoors only. Cats that go outdoors unsupervised have a higher risk of being hit by a car, injured by another animal, or abused by people who do not hold cats in high regard.
  • Find a quality food and stick to it. It is important to find a complete and balanced pet food to feed your pets. Once you find a name-brand food that your pets respond well to, stick to it as changing pet foods can cause digestive issues in some animals. When money is tight, feeding your pet the highest quality food may not be an option. However, by doing a little research or asking your vet, you should be able to find a brand you can afford that will provide your pet the nutritional needs that they require. Remember animals suffer more health care problems from being overweight than average or even slightly underweight. Read the directions on the pet food labels carefully to ensure you are feeding the correct amount for your pet.
  • Help reduce the pet population. Most responsible pet owners know the importance of spaying and neutering their pets. For every pet that is loved and cared for there are dozens of animals that face an uncertain future due to over breeding. In addition to the obvious reproductive issues, animals that are intact are more likely to have certain health and behavioral issues than animals that have been spayed or neutered. The majority of pet owners simply have no real reason to allow their pets to reproduce.

Save Money by Cutting Extra Costs.

Most indoor pets are perfectly happy living with their human family as long as they are healthy, fed and afforded basic care. Shave expenses by doing the following:

  • Groom your pets at home. You can save quite a bit of money by learning how to care for your pets nails and coat at home. While certain breeds may still require trips to the groomer, you can cut down on those visits by brushing your dog or cat regularly and trimming their nails. You will save money on the bill from the groomer in addition to quality time spent with you pet. Additionally you can reduce the hair around your house, and for cat owners (as well as their cats), there will be fewer hairballs with which to contend.
  • Skip the unnecessary. Designer collars, doggie donuts, faux-mink coats are cute novelties that many owners bestow upon their pets. As a rule, this is for the benefit of the owner only. When it comes right down to it, it is more important to have funds for food and vet care than a great couture pet carrier.

Know When to Ask for Help.

The tips mentioned in this article are aimed at people who are able to cut costs to make it through tough economic times. If you and your family face larger issues such as loss of employment, loss or your home or other factors that radically change the financial and emotional dynamics in your household, you may have a difficult decision to make. If you are experiencing a severe financial hardship, the care of yourself and your children should be your first priority. As much as we love our animal friends, it is not kind to either them or yourself to try to take care of more than you can realistically handle.

If you are in this situation, you may be able to find a friend or family member to care for your pet until you are in a better position. If this is not an option, consider contacting a no-kill shelter or rescuer organization to help provide care or even re-home your pet. Admittedly these organizations may also be running over-capacity right now. However, they may have access to more resources at the moment. Of course no one wants to give up their pet, but providing the resources to be properly cared for is often the most humane thing you can do for them.

Trisha Wagner is a freelance writer.

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