9 Tips on How to Save Money on General and Health Care Dog Costs

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.

Not all dogs are the same. Research breeds before you take a dog. 
Understanding the likely costs, temperament, potential health issues and exercise needs of a specific breed is essential for any new dog owner. Be honest with yourself – can you give that breed of dog what he needs to thrive and maintain optimal health? If you can’t and you take it anyway for the wrong reasons, it will likely cost you a lot in the long run.

There are plenty of dog breed quizzes online that will provide you with a serious of important questions about your lifestyle, budgeting and more to assess which dog breed would fit you best.

2. Educate yourself in the matter.

Learn as much as you can about routine pet health care. Read books, watch DVDs and YouTube videos (check out our channel) or attend a dog care evening class. Providing preventative care at home reduces costs and keeps your dog out of the vet’s office.

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.

Pet stores now have an entire isle designated to dog supplements. But just what does your dog need? It’s easy to be seduced or to feel pressured by marketing. If you’re buying premium dog food, then you’ll already be adding supplements into your pet’s diet.

Does he need any more? Talk to your vet about pet supplements for dogs that will really benefit your dog and review this at each visit. Note that in most cases, supplements aren't necessary and may be one of those worthless purchases. Otherwise, they can even be harmful to your dog. So it all comes to balance and finding the sweet spot.

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.

Having a “Dog Fund” of sorts will provide you with a buffer when you need it. It's just another side emergency fund that all pet owners need. Some people do this for their own general emergency costs (like car breakdowns, etc.) which is never a bad idea. As a pet owner, you should consider pet insurance and keep a small stash for pet emergencies.

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.

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