How to cut the cost of pet ownership

The lifetime cost of owning a dog weighs in at around $15,000 for a small dog. Medium-sized dogs cost slightly more while large dogs end up costing slightly less, due to the fact they generally have a shorter lifespan. Small dogs live an average of 15 years, medium-sized dogs average around 13 years while large dogs have an expected lifetime of 10 years.

Although the money is paid out in small increments over an extended period of time, it still adds up to more than the cost of remodeling part of your home, or more than enough to cover a year’s tuition at a public university. While you may consider the benefits of dog ownership to be worthwhile at any cost, there are a few things you can do to ensure you only spend as much as you need to. Follow these tips to bring down the cost of your four-legged family member.

Initial purchase

You can save on the initial cost of owning a pet by adopting from a pet shelter or rescue group. Most animals on offer will have been seen by a veterinarian, have received a full set of vaccinations and may have been spayed or neutered. Not only will you save on the cost of carrying out these procedures yourself, but you will also dramatically reduce the risk of your pet suffering from testicular, uterine or ovarian cancers any time in the future.

Cheap eats

As food is generally the largest ongoing expense associated with pet ownership and the bigger the animal, the higher the bill will be, be sure to choose your pet based on the amount of income you will have available each month.

If you do find yourself needed to stock up on large quantities of food, don’t skimp and purchase the cheap stuff. Proper nutrition is vital for all pets so always aim to get the very best food you can afford. You can shave money off the final cost by doing some of your pet food shopping at discount stores.

Play time

Pet toys tend to be expensive and even the toughest, supposedly indestructible ones tend to fall apart after a few days of being attacked by a determined pet. Instead of spending large sums of money only to see items being torn to pieces a short time later, shy not make your own pet toys, using things that you find around the house. It takes just a few old clothes combined with a length of rope to make a chewy, tug-toy that your pet will love.

Good health habits

Keeping your dog well-groomed will also pay benefits. Although aspects such as cutting nails and cleaning ears may seem complicated, there are plenty of instructional videos on YouTube that can teach you how to deal with your specific breed. You can buy your own equipment for less than the cost of a typical grooming session that will last you many years.

As is the case with humans, proper dental hygiene can help to stave off a wide range of conditions such as gum disease, which in turn can lead to heart and kidney problems. It’s best to start doing this as soon as you acquire your pet. Although the animal is likely to resist the first two or three times you attempt this procedure, your pet will quickly get used to it.

Always remember to use a specialist dog toothpaste – those made for humans contain ingredients that may upset a dog’s stomach.

Most people are aware of the harm second-hand smoke can do to young children, but some of the same issues can also develop in pets. If you want to create the best possible environment for your pets to thrive in, it’s a good idea to give up smoking or, at the very least, to give up smoking whenever they are present.

Parasite prevention is key

Tick and flea infestations are not just irritating for your pet – if they are not treated they can also lead to serious, and ultimately costly medical problems. The best way to prevent such a condition from developing is to use a monthly preventative topical solution, such as the one developed by the people at Pet-Lock. This will not only get rid of any adult fleas from your pet’s body but will also kill off any eggs than have been laid so that the infestation cannot restart over again. The product will also prevent larvae or pupae from developing any further.

Always read the labels and use the products only as directed. If you have both dogs and cats or other pets, be sure to use the specific medication intended for that animal and products intended for dogs are unlikely to be effective on cats and vice versa.

Regular check-ups

Prevention is always much cheaper than cure, so schedule regular check-ups with your vet to check your pet’s development is exactly where it should be. Such exams mean that developing conditions can be spotted at the earliest possible stage. This not only means it is more likely that these conditions will be able to be cured, but also means the cost of doing so will be far lower than the cost of treating a condition that has developed into a more advanced stage.

For puppies in particular, never miss out on any of the shots your pet is supposed to have. In many cases, there are local laws compelling you to get your dog vaccinated but in any case, you should discuss with your vet the range of options available and choose all those were you calculate the risk of your pet contracting a condition is sufficiently high to be of concern.

Alternatives to insurance

Even if you take out pet insurance, you are likely to be limited by the number of claims you can make each year and may have to pay out an excess before any claim is settled. Depending on the size of the bill, it may be cheaper to pay out of your own pocket as any claim will inevitably put your premium up the following year.

Many owners choose not to purchase insurance and instead put a regular amount into an emergency fund for their pet each month. In this way, they are still fully financially prepared for the worst-case scenario. but they no longer feel they are throwing money away on a policy they are too worried about the consequences of making a claim to actually make use of it.

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