Cutting the costs of looking after your pets

They are members of the family, the ones who are always happy to see us. They are our pets, though who owns who is up for debate. We love them like crazy and we spend like crazy on them.

They are members of the family, the ones who are always happy to see us.

They are our pets, though who owns who is up for debate. We love them like crazy and we spend like crazy on them.

Pet stores used to sell pets, cages and food. Now our four legged friends have a huge industry just making products for them.

Gourmet meals, beds, toys and clothing lines complete down to their booties. You can blow a bundle on your best pal these days. Where do you splurge and where do you cut pennies?

Food, everyone consumes it. Does the most expensive really mean the best?

No.

Check the ingredients on the food you buy. Just like with human food there is often a store brand that is the exact same as the name brand products. There are a whole range of options out there. You have dry kibble that comes in a variety of prices. You can get canned food or you can feed your pet a natural raw diet.

You have to budget for your pet just like you budget for yourself. There is not only the upfront cost to pet ownership. There are a lot of upkeep costs as well.

Dogs and cats need basic things like; food and shelter.

They also have to have regular vet visits for vaccinations and checkups.

Here the simplest saving rule applies. Pick up the phone and call around.

Animal clinics have different prices for the same services.

That yearly exam and shot may cost eighty dollars at one place.

Another may charge one hundred dollars for the same thing. It pays to shop around.

Check your area for a veterinary school. Some offer services to the public at very reasonable rates. There is often a lot of pressure to agree to treatments and preventive measures for your pet when you are at the vet’s office. Say you will have to think about it and then do your own research before the next time you go in.

You can make a well-informed decision and not be rushed.

When you are picking out a new pet, check out pet adoption. The animals often have their shots and have already been spayed or neutered. It is usually less expensive than getting a puppy or kitten and then having to shell out for those first vet visits.

Groom your pet at home if you can. Wash them, trim their nails and trim their hair yourself. Getting this done by someone else can quickly add up to a large bill.

Also weigh the costs of shampoo, the time and the mess of doing it yourself. If the only tub you have is through the house, down a carpeted hall into the master bedroom you may not want to try washing your eighty pound dog.

Never forget the minute the towel comes off they are going to shake spraying water everywhere.

You do not have to buy into fads when purchasing toys or accessories. You can pay a high price for the novelty of a self cleaning litter box or dog gym, when they would be happy with a ball and a walk.

Sandra Nolan is a freelance writer from Rocky Mountain House. Her column will appear every other week in LIFE. Contact her at slnolan@xplornet.com.