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The “Dog Days” of Budgeting

I love my dog — but man, oh man, does he get expensive! Before I adopted my dog, I anticipated the cost of food and routine veterinary care. I didn’t factor the costs of grooming, training, boarding, occasional doggy day care while I’m at work, toys, leashes, collars, washes, veterinary care that’s more-than-just-routine-prevention … the list seems endless!

Are you a dog lover on a tight budget? Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way to defray the high costs of adding a dog to your family.

#1. DIY Supplies! Do-it-yourself projects can help you save a lot of money. Use items around the house, like bottles and old unused children’s stuffed animals, as dog toys. Instead of going out and buying an expensive dog bed from Petco, make your own. There are many tutorials online available to show you how to convert your old pillows into a comfy dog bed — without even using a sewing machine!

One disclaimer: don’t give your dog any object that contradicts his training. If you’re trying to train him not to chew your shoes, don’t give him an old pair of shoes as a play toy. You might not mind that he’s chewing an old pair, but he won’t be able to discern the difference between old and new!

#2. Become a Grooming Expert. Watch online videos that teach you how to properly groom your dog. One of the biggest budget-biting financial costs to owning a dog is grooming them. If you can learn how to properly do so yourself you will save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. It will definitely require time and training, and you might give Fido a funny haircut on your first attempt. But you’ll get better at it over time — and it’s a skill you’ll maintain throughout your life.

#3. Spay or Neuter! On it’s face, this doesn’t seem like a money-saving tip. After all, spay/neuter services cost between $50 – $150, depending on the clinic you attend and the area you live in. But this is one expense that’s worth undertaking. Having a litter of puppies can put unnecessary strain on your wallet. It also aggravates the overpopulation problem. If you get your pet spayed or neutered you won’t have to pay for the expenses associated with a litter of puppies, but more importantly, you won’t be burdened with the emotional cost of trying to find them a good home.

#4. Feed your Dog Properly. Look, I’m not suggesting that you starve your dog. But loving pet owners have a tendency to overfeed their dogs, leading to obesity, diabetes and other health concerns. Obesity in dogs (and cats) is actually becoming a major pet-health crisis in the United States. So do your budget and your dog a win-win favor by only providing the proper amount of food, and saving fatty “treats” as occasional indulgences rather than daily chow.

#5. Give them Love and Attention. Behavioral and health problems can stem from inactivity. And it’s far cheaper to spend time with your dog then it is to pay expensive veterinarian bills. So make it a habit to take your dog to the park or go for a walk around the block. You and your dog will both maintain better health, and your dog will be less likely to endure the costly health problems associated with lack of exercise.

Kennedi writes about cheap fashion and other women’s money topics at Face & Fitness.

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