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Posted: 12:30 p.m. Monday, July 1, 2013

Cheap pet care options

Savings worth barking at: How to save on caring for your dog



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Yoga goes to the dogs photo
Mark Matson / For American-Statesman
Mark Matson for American-Statesman. ( 6/21/13) Mud Puppies on East Riverside Drive, offers a yoga class for dogs and their owners. Instructor Nicole Vykoukal observes Edward Flores and his dog Kaxan.

By Ryan Preston

ClarkHoward.com


If you have a dog, you know how expensive caring for it can be. The costs of food, grooming, veterinary visits, and toys and treats can really add up. However giving up or cutting back on any of these items isn't really an option.

If you want your dog to have the best but are working on a limited budget, don't fret. Below are some simple tips and tricks to help you save on dog care. You don't have to sacrifice quality care or products in order to save a buck. You just need to shop smart.

1. Look to natural remedies.
Not all pet ailments require a trip to the vet. Simple indigestion can be cleared up with a couple of cups of plain yogurt added to dog food. Fleas can easily be treated with a bath of coffee grounds. Treats and fruits such as pineapple that contain glucosamine can help with sore joints. Look to these natural remedies and you will not only have a more comfortable pet but some extra money in your pocket as well.

2. Learn how to do some grooming tasks yourself.
Cutting nails should be left up to a vet since you can accidentally cut a blood vessel, but other grooming tasks can be done by you. Have your vet show you how to brush your dog's teeth, clean his ears, and properly brush fur. By doing these couple of tasks yourself you can easily save big bucks.

3. Join retail store pet clubs.
Many retailers have "pet clubs" where you use a membership card to accumulate points on your pet items purchased as well as earn discounts on your purchase. Find out if your grocer or pet supplies store has a rewards or club program where you can get rewarded for your loyalty. PetSmart, Petco, Pet Supplies Plus, and several other national pet supply stores have programs like this you should be taking advantage of.

4. Purchase store brand food products.
Stores such as Trader Joe's carry natural and wholesome dog food varieties that your dog will love and so will your budget. These food varieties contain less fillers and more natural products that are easier for Fido to digest. This means better health for him and more money in your pocket for you.

5. Look to compare medication prices.
Companies such as 1-800-Pet Meds offer a competitive prices on dog medications and may be able to beat the price offered by your local vet. Before purchasing any medications, shop around. You may find that you can save as much as 40%.

6. Visit your local dollar store.
Dollar stores have a wonderful variety of dog toys and treats for just a buck. Hit your local dollar store and stock up on these items so you always have them on hand for rewards. These products are still quality made and durable, you just pay a great deal less than you would at a big box store.

7. Snuggle with your pet.
How does this save you money? When you take the time to snuggle with your pet you can feel for any changes in their weight, skin, eyes, ears, and more. The sooner you notice any changes in his body the sooner you can address them with the vet. Catching some problems early can save you a great deal of money.

8. Look for local vaccine clinics.
Many local shelters offer free vaccines and even check ups a few times a year. Make sure you're on a contact list so you can know when these clinics are offered and take advantage of them.

9. Look for coupons.
Flea prevention can be costly but you can save with coupons. Frontline offers coupons good on their flea prevention products in numerous magazines. This is the only place I have seen these coupons, but they do in fact exist. Keep your eyes peeled in magazines of the home improvement/decorating genre such as Country Living and Better Homes and Gardens. Often times there is a pull out postcard offering savings on Frontline products.

10. Ask for a bulk discount.
If you have multiple pets, chances are your vet will offer some sort of bulk discount. Or, ask if your vet offers a loyalty discount. By asking, you may receive. Many vets are happy to oblige to keep your business.

There are plenty of ways to save on caring for your dog, you just have to give them a try. The best part is, you don't have to feel like you are sacrificing quality care of products for your dog. Now that is something worth barking at.


Ryan Preston is the founder of Ultimate Coupon Club, a frugal living blog helping others learn how to live well and save more – all while having fun! He is also a Savings.com DealPro and teaches Savings Nation workshops in New Jersey that help people learn how to save up to 50% off their grocery bills.