In 2016, Americans spent $14.71 billion on dog care supplies and over the counter medicine, according to the American Pet Products Association . They spent an additional $15.95 billion on vet care. There’s no escaping that looking after your dog is an expensive business, especially when things go unexpectedly wrong.
Owning and caring for a dog costs money, but there are many things that you can do to reduce the cost of routine dog care, prevent future expenses and minimize the impact of unexpected costs.
Here are some useful tips on how to save money on general and health dog care.
1. If you don't own a dog yet, be sure to rescue/buy the right dog for your lifestyle and budget.
2. Educate yourself in the matter.
Try your hand at nail clipping, grooming, ear cleaning, basic first aid and administering medications. Learn the signs of when all is not well with your canine friend. Recognizing early symptoms of illness can save your dog’s life and reduce vet bills dramatically.
3. Be selective with doggy supplements.
4. Get creative.
One crucial aspect of dog care is keeping your pet mentally stimulated. You could buy every dog puzzle, food stuffed dog toy and soft toys out there, or you could improvise a little. Dog toys can be expensive and often have a short life, especially if your furry friend is a chewer. If you're on a budget and want to avoid these costs, you must think outside of the box.
Why not create your own fun and games using household items? You can find many online tutorials for Do It Yourself dog toys, games and other interactive toys for dogs. It will cost you a fraction of the expense to build these types of homemade dog toys yourself instead of buying them at pet stores.
Here's just one example:
5. Budget wisely
We all fall to impulsive buying, or into the habit of buying certain brands or products for no good reason. A regular review of where you’re spending your money will help you identify essential and non-essential costs related to your dog, as well as costs that are higher than they need to be.
6. Put some money aside
So you’ve got your budget sorted out but not all dog care costs are predictable. There’s emergency veterinary care and unexpected illnesses your dog may attract. You never know when hidden costs may pop up.
7. Prevention is cheaper (and better) than cure
There are a lot of things you can do on a routine basis to prevent your dog from serious health problems later on in life which will not only save your dog from going through “uncomfortable” periods, but also saves you hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
Brush his teeth daily – Research shows that 80% of dogs have gum disease. Keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy with daily brushing and an annual trip to the vet for a professional clean. Tooth extractions can cost up to $1000, so the fewer the better.
Don’t let him become obese – A fat dog isn’t a healthy dog. Avoid costs of long-term health issues such as liver disease, diabetes and breathing problems – which are becoming very common – by keeping a check on your dog’s weight.
Get your four-legged friend neutered – Vets strongly advise dog owners to get their pet neutered once he reaches physical and sexual maturity. It not only prevents the cost of unplanned pregnancy and behavior issues, but also reduces the likelihood of health complications later in life.
Schedule an annual health check – Catching health problems early on will help you to keep Fido fit and well and, in many cases, reduce the cost of medical treatment. This should be a part of your “prevention is better than cure” plan.
8. Dog-proof your house
Puppies and stressed dogs get into all sorts of trouble. That often means chomping on anything in sight and particularly your belongings, furniture, upholstery and much more expensive things.
To avoid that, you'll need to dog-proof your home by keeping surfaces clear of harmful substances and chewable items not only to save yourself from having to replace items, but also to prevent costly intestinal or other surgery on your dogs.
9. Dog care apps and other technology
There is a growing number of pet apps to help you keep track of your dog’s care and health needs including all types of illnesses, potential health issues, vet appointments and parasite treatment schedules. You can also test your dog's DNA to know what health problems to expect in the future and prevent them ahead of time.
When using smartphone apps, you won't be forgetting vet appointments and facing charges, or missing a flea treatment and triggering that flea allergy. There are even apps to help you identify substances poisonous to dogs to avoid costly trips to the vet’s office.