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Tips on How to Live on a Budget with Dogs
Photo: wasim muklashy

Dog ownership can get quite expensive and eventually even become a true challenge to make the ends meet when you’re trying to stick to a fixed budget.

After you get a dog, the first year will eat up your pocketbook very quickly if you adopt a puppy and begin splurging on various needs for the young dog. The amount it will cost you usually starts around $2000 for the first year, if you do everything right, then it goes down to $1000 per year, depending on your dog’s size and breed.

These numbers can get a quick boost from any extra expenses if your dog needs additional care with allergies, illnesses, surgeries and so forth. In the end, you can’t really put a price on the love, loyalty and affection that dogs provide you with, and the huge benefit to your general well-being that comes from having a dog around.

Nevertheless, there are ways that you can live within your budget and still have a furry companion to add to your family. Here are a few tips to follow to get you saving money.

1Choose your breed wisely

Consider the type of dog breed you want, as some breeds are a lot less expensive in care than others are. Science shows that mixed breeds seem to be healthier in the long run than purebreds because they do not have those inherited health complications.

RELATED: How to choose a dog breed

Also, smaller breeds are a lot cheaper than larger breeds, if not at first then definitely in the long run.

2Consider adopting an older dog

Why not focus your attention on adopting a full-grown dog rather than a puppy? Young pups, as cute as they are, can be extremely expensive the first year with all their vaccinations, special food, spaying or neutering costs and much more.

There are many loving loyal dogs in shelters, pounds and rescue agencies that desperately need loving homes and a family to call their own. You don’t even need to step out of the house: people who cannot have their dogs anymore due to allergies, moving or other issues are desperately seeking homes for their dogs and will be willing to bring a dog to you.

Due to the need for finding a new home for the dog as fast as possible, previous owners are even willing to give away dogs for free.

3Spay/neuter your dog

When you do adopt a dog, spay and neuter them as soon as you can. This reduces the possibility of hormone-related diseases as they age.

RELATED: Should you spay/neuter your dog?

Also, getting a dog license is cheaper if your dog is spayed/ neutered. Plus, there are no possibilities of the added expense of puppies in the future.

4Don’t cheap out on dog food, though

When buying food for your dog, make sure to purchase high quality dog food brands. Do your research and find out what would best suite your dog and his needs.

When you buy a good quality brand, it will help to keep your dog’s health in check thus reducing future health issues due to poor and inadequate nutrition.

Also, look into making your own homemade dog food. Make sure you add the right nutrients that your dog requires. You can make large batches and then freeze them in Ziploc bags. Take them out when needed and add fresh ingredients when serving your dog his meals.

5Homemade dog treats are cheaper

It’s never a bad idea to make your own natural, homemade dog treats instead of buying the more expensive stuff. This way you save yourself some money because dog treats, especially natural and organic ones, are usually very high in price.

RELATED: Best dog food brands

Needless to say, dogs love their treats, and there are many easy, healthy recipes online. Why not even start selling your masterpiece dog treats? Then you are earning money that can go into your dog expenses. You never know, you might have a knack for making doggie treats!

6Don’t miss vaccinations

Save unnecessary vaccination expenses by vaccinating your dog every three years. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, they recommend that vaccines should be given to a dog every three years rather than yearly.

This will help you save unnecessary vaccination expenses. Also, remember to shop around when needed to vaccinate your dog as veterinarian prices vary a great deal.

Photo: Shelley Groomer

7Home grooming

Avoid extra grooming expenses by doing your own grooming yourself. Purchase a second hand grooming table and start doing all the required grooming needs on your dog yourself: brushing, bathing, clipping nails, cleaning his ears and eyes, and cleaning his teeth.

There are many YouTube videos that can teach you different tips and ways to groom your dog at home. Once you get the hang of it, it will be second nature to continue the routine. A dog that is routinely groomed has less chance of certain health issues in the future.

RELATED: Best dog hair clippers

You’ll also spot potential issues much quicker. When you are grooming your pooch, anything that seems odd on your pet, like infected ears, lumps and skin abnormalities are picked up right away and dealt with before it becomes a more serious problem in the future.

8Insure your pooch

It is a good idea to look into pet insurance. You never know when a major illness or accident might happen and the insurance will come in handy by saving you thousands. Health problems are usually the biggest cost concern for most dog owners.

Shop around and find out which insurance fits your budget. Because this is becoming a competitive niche, many pet insurance companies are now lowering their costs to stay in the business. It’s a good time to start looking into this.

9Cheaper dog toys

Find cheaper toy option for your dog. If you can afford any of those fancy dog toys that your pooch will destroy in an hour and you’ll need to buy again – get creative!

RELATED: Best puppy toys for strong chewers

The beauty of a dog is – they don’t really care that much what to play with, as long as it peaks their interest. Things like sticks are free and you can find them at your local beach, forest or lake. Dogs love tennis balls and they are cheap too, so simply get one of those balls and have your pooch enjoy it for a long time.

10Make your own grooming products

Look into making your own dog products rather than purchasing them at your pet stores. Shampoos, conditioners, creams can all be made by you.

The beauty of the internet is that you can find anything. Search for how to make your own dog products and voila – you have hundreds of options to follow. Like the dog treats, you can potentially make such an amazing dog product that you can sell at your local market and start making money off your talent.

11Train your canine

Instead of sending your dog off to obedience training schools and classes, why not educate yourself on different dog training methods and train your dog yourself? There are plenty of books on how to train a dog effectively, and even more information available online.

RELATED: Best dog obedience schools

Training yourself almost to become a professional dog trainer is a great opportunity for some bonding time with your dog as well. There are many successful canine training programs that are designed for home training. Just search on the internet or pick up a book on the topic.

12Search online for dog products

You can find many different items your dog needs online not only for very cheap but sometimes even free. Look into places like Craigslist or Kijiji, search for categories where people give away stuff.

Previous pet owners are always selling their dog beds, leashes, collars, toys, bedding, crates and other dog supplies. All of these often go for extremely low prices, sometimes even for free, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the product itself is bad or broken. Owner simply don’t have any use for these anymore. Do not forget garage sales, too!

Photo: MIoA

13Avoid unnecessary expenses

There’s a bunch of services aimed at dog owners that can easily help money leave your pocket. If you can’t afford those extra fancy services then think twice about every cent you spend on your pooch.

For example, do not hire a dog walker and always walk your dog yourself. Develop a better schedule, ask family members, friends, neighbors, etc. Find fun trails and dog friendly places to take your dog. Enjoy nature with your furry companion. Get the whole family taking turns walking him, that way each family member gets some quality bonding time with the dog.

14Deals and coupons

Last but definitely not least – do not forget to search online for coupons. You can save a lot of money on dog food and other dog accessories by finding good discount deals online and random dog product and service coupons.

We occasionally have such deals and coupon posts here on Top Dog Tips, but they are temporary. Keep your nose out for some of these and grab yourself a good discount deal on your pet’s next dog house.