Budget Conscious Pet Care

June 13, 2016



That old saying, “a good offense is the best defense,” holds true when caring for  your pets on a budget.  Practicing preventive care can actually save money in the long run.

Sometimes we wonder if those once or twice yearly vet visits are really necessary, but there are good reasons that veterinarians recommend them. Although many veterinary professionals are moving away from insisting on annual vaccinations for every possible disease, there remain several core vaccines that dogs and cats should receive regularly. On those visits, your veterinarian will examine your pet for any changes in its body since the last visit.  Notice that he or she records those findings in the animal’s chart for easy reference on future appointments. The notations are important steps in diagnosing future problems.



“Maggie” owned by Barb Spegal


Barb Spegal's "Rascal"

Barb Spegal’s “Rascal”


Having your pet tested for heartworm and other parasitic diseases is important for both the animal’s health and yours.  Providing heartworm preventatives is another important part of protecting your pet from future problems.  Heartworm preventatives are sold by prescription only and your vet will not write that prescription without the proper test being given first. Those monthly heartworm preventatives (such as Heartguard®) protect your pet from acquiring that deadly condition. The heartworms, once in your pet’s system, can be difficult and very expensive to treat and eradicate. Make sure to provide the monthly preventative instead.

You don’t have to purchase these preventatives from your veterinary clinic.  There are online services that may sell it to you at much lower prices.  But you will still need your vet to test your pet first.  An online service will contact the veterinarian you list to get the prescription ok.

Dental care on a regular basis will save money in the future. Get your dog or cat used to daily brushing of its teeth from the beginning.  Always offer a treat after the brushing so the animal associates that effort with something good to follow.  Gum disease and abscessed teeth are painful and expensive to fix.

You can save money by grooming your dog or cat at home. Trimming toenails isn’t difficult to master.  Look for videos online so you feel more comfortable tackling this task.  Bathe your pet often to eliminate odor and dirt.  Some dogs do just fine with once-a-month baths, while others require more frequent bathing.  Long-haired dogs and cats do need more frequent care.

Brush your dog or cat frequently.  If the animal has long hair, daily brushing may be necessary. If not, then weekly brushing periods should work.

Check your pet often for fleas and ticks. If he is on a preventative, they shouldn’t be a problem, but some dogs seem to get them anyway.  And some flea/tick preventatives seem to stop working after a time.  We noticed that with our Maggie. A popular brand that had worked on her for years just stopped. She was getting fleas on her body, even with the monthly treatments.  Changing brands took care of the problem.

Some articles I have read tell you that you can feed your dog or cat any commercial food as long as the package says it is “complete and balanced” or contains “total nutrition.”  That is just not so. Any pet food, no matter how poor, is allowed to be sold with those distinctions if it meets the AAFCO standards.  Those standards are easy to meet.  Look under the BARKS & MEOWS page on this website for a simple guide to help  you shop for healthy dog or cat food.

Remember that your pet doesn’t need designer duds or fancy bejeweled collars and leashes to be happy and healthy.  Make your own pet toys and save a bundle. Buy sturdy, basic dog collars and leashes that will last.

Keep in mind one thing: Spend money on quality veterinary care and quality pet food to save money down the road.

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