Let’s not kid ourselves: Things are tight, and people are learning to make do with less. That’s the bad news.The good news: You don’t have to shortchange your pets to save money. By focusing on prevention, smart buys and sharing, you can slash what you spend on your pets. Some tips:
- Vaccinations are no longer recommended annually for most dogs and cats, but that’s not a good reason to skip your pet’s yearly vet check (twice-yearly for older pets). These “well-pet” examinations can spot little problems before they become expensive ones. Consider pet health insurance as a backup in case of emergency — it can help save your pet’s life when money is the issue.
- Keep your pet fit and trim. A majority of dogs and cats are overweight, and those extra pounds increase the likelihood of serious health problems, such as arthritis, diabetes and cancer. If your pet is overweight, get your veterinarian’s help to reduce weight slowly to avoid the health risks of sudden weight loss, especially in cats.
- Learn to do things yourself – Grooming. Most people can learn to handle basic pet grooming at home, from bathing to nail trims. If nothing else, you can probably stretch out time between professional groomings for high-maintenance pets with some at-home care. Check your library for grooming guides and find breed-specific tips with an Internet search.Another do-it-yourself strategy is more about health than grooming: Brush your pet’s teeth — it’ll help prevent liver, kidney and heart disease.
- Minimize risk from accidents. Saving the life of a pet who has been hit by a car or poisoned can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars — and these tragedies can often be prevented. Keeping cats as indoor-only pets will prevent injuries and protect them from communicable diseases; a sturdy fence and the use of a leash will do the same for dogs.Go through your home with an eye toward possible hazards, especially foods, plants and drugs that can be ingested, as well as cleaning supplies, pesticides and herbicides. The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center offers information on all toxic risks to your pet at ASPCA.org/APCC.