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Six Ways to Save Money With Your New Dog

Written by Ed Avis - 36 Comments

Six Ways to Save Money With Your New Dog

The kids have been begging for a puppy for six months, and you finally decide a dog might just complete your family. Plus, the canine may teach your kids a few things about responsibility and caring for others, right? Those are good reasons to get a dog, but before you bring Spot home, take a few minutes to consider the finances.

With shots, vet care, food, toys, boarding, insurance…that pup’s expenses will add up fast. Here are six tips for trimming some of Fido’s bills:

Don’t buy from a pet store or breeder

There are several good reasons to avoid pet stores and breeders when you’re seeking a new dog, perhaps the least of which is that you’ll save money. Some commercial pet businesses such as dog breeders have been accused of mistreating their animals, and sometimes pure-bred dogs — which is what pet stores and breeders typically sell — have more medical issues than mixed-breed dogs.

A much better place to get a new dog is a shelter or canine rescue organization. These non-profit organizations take in animals that are abandoned, neglected, or abused, and try to find new homes for them. Many of these animals make great pets. They’re not free — you probably will need to pay for the first round of shots and other veterinary care — but they will cost substantially less than the typical pure-bed puppy at Pet Palace.

Your kids will love the animal no matter where it came from, and a mixed-breed canine will provide essentially the same dog experience as any full-breed.

Skip the vet

One of the most shocking expenses new dog owners encounter is the fat bill from the vet. An urban pet owner will be lucky to walk out of a routine visit with a bill smaller than $300. It’s highly likely that you’ll want your dog spayed or neutered — figure $300-$500 extra for that surgery. Yikes! That’s some serious dough. There are, however, some ways around those expenses.

First, have your animal spayed or neutered at the Humane Society or other shelter — these places will do them at-cost, which is more in the range of $50 to $100. Then, get your shots through organizations such as Luv My Pet. These businesses set up mini-clinics at major pet stores and provide all the necessary immunizations for about a third of the cost of your typical vet. Search under “low cost pet immunizations” to find an organization near you.

But there’s a catch: Neither the Humane Society nor Luv My Pet provides regular veterinary attention. You may decide you’d like the comfort of having a regular vet check your pet, keep its records, advise you on diet, etc. You can still visit your vet for those things, even if you do the other things at a low-cost clinic. Your vet won’t be happy about it, but she’ll still welcome your business.

Skip the kennel

Another chunky bill pet owners face is boarding when they take a dog-less vacation. Depending on location and services, boarding can easily run $25-$75 per night. That week at grandma’s suddenly got more expensive! Dodge that expense by hiring a neighborhood kid or nearby relative to walk and feed your dog twice a day. Pay that person $10 per day and everyone will be happy.

Nutrition matters, but you can save money on food

Sure, the ads are compelling: XYZ Super Dog Food will make your dog’s coat sleek and keep the pep in his step. But less expensive dog food isn’t going to poison Barky — buy him the normal-level stuff and pocket the savings. But don’t try to compensate by giving your dog human food — it’s not good for her and it will make her into a slobbering, jumpy beggar.

Keep your dog “toys” simple

Let’s be honest: Does your dog really need the $25 pet toy in his stocking at Christmas? No, he’ll be delighted and amazed that everyone is home an extra day. Give him a few old socks tied into knots and his eyes will bug out with joy.

Skip obedience school

How obedient do you need your dog to be? You can easily spend $150 for a group class or $100 per hour for private classes — crazy, right? Teach your dog a few key basics, such has coming when you call her name and not jumping on visitors, and you’re good to go.

Any elementary dog training book from the library can help you teach your pet those tricks and dozens more. Yeah, if you have a problem dog that barks all night, you may need to shell out for professional help. But most families are pleased when Fluffy simply sits on command.

The bottom line

Dogs can be amazing companions that improve the lives of you and your children. But they can also be money drains. Apply the above tips and those expenses won’t get between you and your enjoyment of Snowball.

Published on September 27th, 2011
Modified on October 7th, 2011 - 36 Comments
Filed under: Frugality

About the author: is a writer and editor in Oak Park, Illinois. He specializes in personal finance, parenting, and small business topics. He is married and has two sons.

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36 Responses to “Six Ways to Save Money With Your New Dog”

  1. 1
    jesse.anne.o Says:

    I agree with everything but caution around this one:

    “Skip the kennel

    Another chunky bill pet owners face is boarding when they take a dog-less vacation. Depending on location and services, boarding can easily run $25-$75 per night. That week at grandma’s suddenly got more expensive! Dodge that expense by hiring a neighborhood kid or nearby relative to walk and feed your dog twice a day. Pay that person $10 per day and everyone will be happy.”

    I have seen people who don’t have the pet’s best interest at heart skip feedings/walkings, forget to come by or be careless and lose the animal and not tell the owners until several days go by. Hopefully you’d pick someone you know well who loves the animal to watch it. There are also professional petsitters (who are often insured and bonded) who can do the job as well but obviously references are a must. (I have a friend who had their professional sitter come in to pick up the money but not walk their geriatric dog who was already having accidents in the house – only found out because they were home sick in the bathroom when the person came in because they forgot to cancel the appt.)

    Anyway, point being – please always use caution and vet the person who will be watching your pets! :)

  2. 2
    Dogs or Dollars Says:

    Nutrition matters more than you’d think. Especially if you’d like to avoid the vet. Depends on what ‘regular stuff’ you are referring to, but that grocery store crap is just that, crap. You are going to feed more, pick up more (if you catch my drift) and quite possibly end up at the vet for hot spots, ear infections, and runny eyes, if you are lucky. If you aren’t the problems can be a lot more significant.
    I’m not saying break the bank, do your research and feed the best you can afford. Costco carries a couple of brands that aren’t awful (Nature’s Domain and the Kirkland Signature Chicken and Rice).
    DO supplement with people food. It helps get your dog some actual nutrition and maintain a robust digestive tract from the get go. Again, do your research and avoid the common no no’s (raisins, grapes, chocolate, etc), but a little extra yogurt, some leftover oatmeal, and some almost bad veggies here and there are going to be helpful.
    I find it somewhat irresponsible to advocate skipping obedience school, particularly when kids are involved.
    If you are new to dog ownership, an obedience class and a relationship with a trainer can be invaluable. It teaches the entire family how to interact with the dog and sets reasonable expectations. Again this is something to look to your local humane society or community center for. They often offer classes at discounted rates, particularly if you’ve adopted from them.

  3. 3
    Matt Says:

    First and foremost, owning a pet is a luxury, not a right. If you can’t afford to properly care for your pet, you shouldn’t get one.

    Skipping obedience classes is a terrible idea. Socialization is extremely important for new dogs. Without proper socialization, many pets develop behavior issues that result in being turned over to the shelters or put to sleep. Obedience classes, especially puppy classes, are one of the best ways to socialize a new pet. Sure it’s not the only way, but how many people are going to go through the extra work to do it on their own?

    Skipping the vet is another bad idea. All kinds of problems can develop in pets that the average pet owner has no clue about. Preventative health care is much less expensive in the long run than waiting until major problems pop up. You also need to have a relationship with a vet you trust so that in the case of an emergency, you know you can trust their care and recommendations.

  4. 4
    Ben Says:

    Do you actually have a dog/dogs??

    Give your dogs socks as a toy, it trains him to like socks (including the ones you want to wear / are wearing!) Same for old shoes…

    The amount you save on cheaper dog food is usually negated because your dog needs more of it to keep a healthy weight.

  5. 5
    John Says:

    Are dogs that much more expensive at the vet? I took 2 cats to the vet and got immunizations and neutered both and the bill was about $125. This is in a relatively small town so I’m sure costs are less around here.

    I think the best method for pet care during vacations is to have some friends with pets. As long as not everyone goes on vacation simultaneously you can trade services and keep money out of it. I chose to have a couple cats rather than a dog because I live alone and I am gone quite a lot. I can leave plenty of food and water and be gone for 2-3 days and they do just fine. I typically leave them outside while I am away so long as the weather is reasonable.

  6. 6
    Dave Says:

    Going to have to agree with Ben here, cheap dog food generally isn’t a bargain. Debates about quality versus cheap ingredients aside, cheap dog food is usually full of filler which has little to no nutritional value.

  7. 7
    Kevin R. Says:

    I’d challenge both the notion of not going to the vet and the vet costs in this article. Over 15 years, I watch my annual vet bill go from just over $100 to around $150, but still money well spent to have someone with professional eyes help you figure out any issues with someone who can not speak. Sure skip the nail trimming, don’t buy the dog food there even if your dog food there, but for basic medical care, skipping here really shows you place your money above an animals health & it’s not that expensive. As with humans, early detection of an issue actually cost much less.

    I’d also concur with Ben, after you train this puppy to enjoy your old socks & shoes, you may wish you spent that $25. You can get a dog toy at the supermarket for about $5 and teach your dog the difference between his things and your.

    This article makes some very good points — such as going to the pound, not going for high end kennels, purchasing store brand dog food. Also it makes some pretty foolish recommendations as in penny-wise-pound-foolish ones.

    I’d recommend instead of obedient schools, finding a friend who really good with dogs. Someone who almost seems to have a running conversation with their dog(s) – not the ones with little sweaters on and the baby-talking, but the one with a well trained beast, whose canine is constantly checking the master’s face for instructions, then ask them to teach you something about dogs and how to not waste money. Some areas money is wasted (as Madison Ave knows to use the nation’s affection to their advantage) but others money well spent and shortcuts will cost you much more in the end.

  8. 8
    Kevin R. Says:

    Addendum: The Vet cost with the 3 year rabies and distemper shots was just over $200. In between, annual visit, blood test, fecal sample test and heart worm preventative (not the combo) ran around $150. Though the early years (just over $100) the distemper was an annual shot.

  9. 9
    Dr. Rebecca Says:

    As a vet, I think the recommendation to skip the vet to save money is counter-intuitive. We provide a lot more than just a few shots with the annual visit. Having a good, ongoing relationship with a regular veterinarian is invaluable. As a previous post mentioned, early detection of diseases is key to successful and usually more affordable treatment. Also, we provide more services to our clients than our area low-cost clinics do, such as heartworm preventative, behavioral advice and phone consultations. It may seem like it saves you money in the short-term, but it can be a very costly corner to cut.

  10. 10
    Chucks Says:

    I disagree in feeding cheaper food and not feeding human food. A lot of dog food is designed to provide the minimum nutrition necessary to avoid Fido’s immediate death while maximizing profits. I’m sure you could also survive reasonably well for 20+ years on calorie-controlled portions of McDonald’s food, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best for you. Lots of products contain artificial colors which do nothing to make the product more appealing to the dog- only to the consumer who’s buying it! Cheaper dog foods also tend to have far more fillers made from carbohydrates, which dogs don’t do all that great of a job digesting. Providing a lower or no filler food means Fido won’t need eat nearly as much in order to be full, driving costs down. You do really have to read the labels on this one to figure out what’s worth buying

    As far as not feeding human food, this is mostly a myth perpetuated by pet food companies. It’s really silly (and quiet convenient for pet food companies) to believe dogs have to exist solely on products produced by the pet food company- how the heck did they make it those other few thousand years living with man? Aside from a few foods toxic to dogs (chocolate, for instance), lots of “human” food can be great for dogs if it’s chopped up- eggs, chicken, beef, fish, liver, etc. These foods can actually be a lot cheaper than dog food (especially when you look at the portion that’s actually food and not fillers) and if it’s something past its date that you’d be throwing out anyway, you’re basically feeding fido for free.

  11. 11
    Jeane Says:

    As a veterinarian, “skip the vet” is a terrible recommendation.

    You get what you pay for. Do you really think the $50 spay is the same as the spay that costs $300? There is a serious difference when you look at anesthetic protocols, pain management, sterility, instrumentation, etc. A spay is a major abdominal surgery and should be taken seriously. Cheaper is not always better. Would you want to take yourself to the cheapest physician in town??

    It is also important to have a veterinarian perform physical exams on your pet, who cannot speak and tell you when they are ill. Heart murmurs, dental disease, diabetes, and a myriad of conditions are diagnosed with a physical exam and the recommendations of a veterinarian.

    Skipping routine visits to your veterinarian is a penny wise but a pound foolish.

    The recommendation of giving your dog a SOCK to play with is also ridiculous. Do you know how many socks I’ve had to remove from dog’s intestines?!

    Lastly, Chucks – food past its date should not be fed to dogs. If it’s rotten, it’s going to make them sick too. Rotten food is not dog food. That’s just gross.

  12. 12
    Jenny Says:

    As a dog and cat owner, I can safely say that dog visits at the vet are about twice that of a cat. It is also foolish to think you can skip vet visits. It’s possible if you luck out with a dog that has no issues, but I would estimate that occurance about 1-in-fifty. My dog has a serious flea allergy and prone to ear infections. The type of flea preventative I have to buy that is safe enough for the other living things in my house is prescription only. You can’t treat ear infections in dogs by yourself. The best thing you can do is find a vet who is mindful of costs and doesn’t expect you to fork out hundreds of dollars for unnecessary procedures. You may consider a clinic in a poorer part of town, or just call around asking for prices for visits.

    Oh, and don’t buy crappy food for your pets. Not only do you have to feed them more to maintain caloric intake, but a lot of the fillers in cheap pet foods can cause health problems over a lifetime of ingestion. This means that your vet bills will increase (sometimes dramatically) as your pet ages. These bills will quickly out-cost any savings you may have seen buying cheap food.

  13. 13
    Jen Says:

    Yea – this article seems very out of place and misinformed. I think the only point I agree with, without some kind of disclosure, is the first one.

    Play with socks? Really??

  14. 14
    Ann Says:

    #1 & #3 are good suggestions. We adopted our current dog 3+ years ago from a rescue for $300.00 when he was just under a year old. That included vet check, shots, neuter and placement of a microchip.

    He’s never been kenneled. We camp a lot, so he goes with use, but when we are going someplace that we cannot take our dog, we have friends who also have dogs and he stays with them and we do the same for our friends when they go away.

    The other four suggestions might save you money short-term, but the long-term consequences, especially regarding having a regular vet and type of food to give, are too important to be cheap about.

  15. 15
    AndrewL Says:

    This article treats dogs as an expense or cost, like cable TV service. A dog is not an entertainment product, It is a companion, a family member. Unlike cable TV, you just can’t put a dog down, and then pick it back up when you want it. That being said, all of the advice in this column is article is bad.

    Having the right dog is extremely important to the success of the relationship. You just can’t pick up any old dog and expect to get the maximum potential out of the relationship. There are hundreds of dog breeds for two major reasons: 1) Because it is possible, seriously, dog genetics is unique in this regard. 2) Getting a dog tailored to your lifestyle is made possible by 1, and it will make your relationship with the dog that much more fulfilling. It does not preclude the fact that a mixed breed dog is prefect for you, but it is a highly personal decision. There is no one-dog-fit-all type of dog.

    It is not a good idea to skip the vet. Dogs are not humans, they do not know how to tell you that they are ill, nor do they know what risky behaviors to avoid to not get sick. They don’t know if they may have a weak heart and should not chase the squirrel across town. You need to know these things, you need to look out for the dog because the dog dosn’t know.

    If the neighborhood kids forgets or called away for a family emergency and forgets to tell anyone and your the dog dies, are you going to take the kid to court?

    nutrition does matter; you are what you eat applies to dogs as well. In the end, it’s personal choice again. It is a disservice to give blanket advice to just use the cheap stuff.

    Having dog toys that don’t look like any of your other stuff teaches the dog that there things especially for him and for him to not chew on things that are not his. I would not repurpose any of my belonging for dog toys because I don’t want my dog to think that all of my stuff is his stuff.

    Dog Training classes are essential for new dog owners and puppies. If your dog does not react the way the book says they should, then what do you do? If your dog does not respond to treats, or deviates from what the book says the dog should do, then what? how do you know your imprinting to right behaviors? Dog training is not that important, but it should not be dismissed so quickly. It could save alot of frustration.

  16. 16
    Lisa Bennett, DVM, CVA Says:

    If you cannot afford to care for a living being, then maybe delay getting one till you can afford it.

    Some of what you wrote above are definitely cost savings and are okay many times. But… you may be better off letting someone that cares about your pet guide in your pet’s actual needs.

    I’ll actually skip responding to the ’skip the vet portion’. If you are not educated enough to know some of the differences before you write this stuff, I can’t educate you. There are many vet web sites that can. You are welcome to view mine. I do have a consumer guide to elective surgery on my site which explains a bit about the differences between what we do and what some low price places do. There is also a consumer guide on selecting the right vet. All us vets are different and offer different levels of service and standards of care.

    I worked veterinary ER long enough to see pets that were neglected by the non-professional pet caretaker. Cats stress and may develop liver disease just from their people being gone. If it’s not caught soon enough when it is finally seen at the ER we see cats that end up needed thousands of $ of care, possibly weeks of hospitalization and may not recover.
    I’ve seen dogs break with diarrhea or develop other issues that the neighbor kid didn’t catch – or the neighbor kid forgot to go and take care of the animal at all. Lovely to come home to your pet ill and your house covered with various body fluids.

    Socks as toys. Well, that is just overall good for my business. But after the 2nd or third time the dogs needs surgery that cheap sock toy wasn’t really that cheap. I’ve had to euthanize animals just for that.

    Most inexperienced people do not have an inherent ability to train a dog. It’s great for those that are experienced but dogs interpret what we do and say differently in many situations then how we intended. Please use a reliable trainer until YOU are trained. The dogs actually do learn easily. My website also does include puppy basics which can help one learn some of the basics so they can better communicate to their dog.

  17. 17
    Crystal @ Master Your Card Says:

    My favorite way to save money is to get my dogs $2.50 cent pillows as their dog beds every 6-12 months instead of getting $30 dog beds every 2 years…

  18. 18
    AndrewL Says:

    Oh nevermind, I got confused by the comment system here again, it’s in the queue

  19. 19
    Monica Says:

    Kind of appalled at this article. A couple of the tips are decent, but I was horrified to see “Skip the vet” and advice to skimp on dog food in your recommendations. Both of these are terrible ideas. Yes, you can get shots and spays and neuters at the low-cost clinics, I won’t quibble that they’re less expensive. But foregoing routine checkups with a dedicated veterinarian is asking for trouble. Additionally, failing to seek medical attention for an ailing pet is quite obviously cruelty to animals and illegal. I’m not saying that you’re advocating ignoring health problems, but putting “Skip the vet” in giant bold letters like that is asking to be misinterpreted by people who skim this article.

    As for the food, I have to echo what other commenters have said: the cheapest food is NOT a bargain. Not only does it require more to keep your pet fed, but the better quality food will keep your pet in better health, potentially reducing future vet bills.

  20. 20
    Kevin R. Says:

    I’m chiming back in …

    Thanking so many how contributed, especially the veterinarians. I think Lisa’s comment helped me grasped what REALLY bugged me about this article. Earlier this month FCN published The High Cost of Raising Kids in which the comments ‘yeah, but they’re priceless.’ While I do not want suggest dog equals child (thus the sweater/baby talk I sneered at above), I think it is instructive to ponder how or why children are different — that suggesting we skip the pediatrician to save money would generate probably more outrage. How some of these suggestions with children move you to just being plain old “cheap” if not “money grubbing scrounge who’s only concerned about yourself.”

    I think Ed Avis, quite accidentally [benefit of the doubt] stumbled into an area of the “moral ought,” thus not only are we pointing out some of the foolishness, but with a tad of moral outrage at the suggestions. If you want to be more frugal with a pet, maybe a hermit crab or hamster might be hamster, but as size and/or intelligence increase, so do the needs and costs, as to the moral questions of duty that Lisa raised, so-called frugality (generally considered a virtue) ends up being plain old “cheap” (generally considered a vice).

    While I think most of us seen someone who maybe spends more than readers of ‘money blog’ might spend, I think the sense of moral outrage here is that the author treated a living creature the same as our entertainment with sports, or 7 ways to slash the electric bill — both of which are morally neutral as I understand ethics (or maybe morally positive in some understandings) but here treating a living creature in the same way as a car or boat is generating sense of passionate rejection (personally, Id argue a proper reaction).

    Both dogs & cats are pretty high on the intelligence scale of beasts. They have innate needs and reactions, if you are prepared to meet those (either by a change of behavior in your part or financially), than maybe Lisa’s opening advice of “maybe delay getting one till you can” is best for all. A creature that is capable of loving/grieving/empathizing/happiness/depression is not the same a car or computer, much closer to those “priceless” sons & daughter, as such, a “moral ought” in thinking “what should I do for them,” and “maybe their need comes before my want.”

    This article written for an inanimate ‘thing’ not for a ‘living being.’

    PS. Remember “Obedient school” is ALWAYS for you, not the dog! Will the world ever end if never teach your dog tricks (I hope not for my recently departed friend never was taught tricks), re-reading Ed’s article after Lisa’s comment, if you not grown up around a dogs or like my dad, always on the road while your family trained one, the classes or one-on -one teach you how to speak “dog” if you don’t know, a friend who’s good with dogs is a frugal way to go (as if like me, will be horrified too-common misunderstanding or practices, to share any knowledge I may have for free — in person, as any vet, trainer or dog-lover, needs to see you and dog, both truly unique individuals of your speciesis together). It’s not about tricks, its about relationship, hopefully not as much as with your spouce and kids, but as with the others, as great as it can be … watching sheep dogs run and turn on a whistle is impressive, but its so much deeper than following a command (you get that from your computer) but they honestly want to please the owner.

  21. 21
    Kevin R. Says:

    “Thanking so many how contributed” = “Thanking so many who contributed”

    Oops!

    —-

    There is a thanks for FCN readers, I have a cognitive “learning disability,” which means often there is a line which something is confused, but readers seem patient or politely skim by in their comments.

    On topic … dogs seem to read me by what I mean and not tripped up in how I said t, maybe why I’ve always got along with their type. :-)

  22. 22
    Conan Says:

    After reading this article, I wonder if the author had a bad experience with a veterinarian once, which has given him such a dim view of the value of a qualified veterinarian’s services. Another possibility is that he is simply misinformed.

    The comment about getting a spay or neuter done “at cost” truly shows a complete lack of understanding about these services. Fifty to $100 for such a service is not “at cost”, it is a fee charged for reduced quality services. These services can be performed at a low cost for several specific reasons:

    1) shelters or so-called “spay and neuter clinics” often cut corners in anesthetic safety and patient care such as lack of appropriate monitoring, inexpensive old-fashioned anesthetics, lack of pain management, and performing surgery in large groups, instead of individualized attention. Performing abdominal surgery on cats with immobilization only and no pain control is still unfortunately practiced as a way to cut costs.
    2) Such organizations are also often able to achieve non-profit status, keeping them from having to pay certain taxes, even though they are performing a service to the public. Thus they are able to have reduced overhead, lowering the client cost.

    Another fallacy is the position that vaccines are the most important in a pet’s life. If only a vaccination is being done, of course this can be done cheaply. But if a vaccination is being performed in conjunction with a complete physical examination, there is some value to the examination being performed by an experienced veterinarian. Problems the pet owner is not aware of are very common, and if detected early, can save the pet from unwanted suffering, and can save money in the long run.

    Offering a sock to chew on? Nuff said by others above.

    Skip puppy and obedience classes? Not a good idea. Done properly, these classes help puppies socialize at a critical stage in development, help new pet owners learn how to communicate with their pets, and help avoid many unwanted behaviors, which, if not prevented, can result in the euthanasia of many pets.

    So pet owners, please disregard much of what is written in this poorly-conceived article. Please get a good relationship with a family veterinarian and follow his or her advice. If dollars are that tight, I would advise waiting to have a pet until things loosen up a bit.

  23. 23
    Lisa Bennett DVM, CVA Says:

    Just a little more to add. My web site is http://www.beaverlakeah.com. It didn’t show up above and anyone that wants to review it feel free to.

    The premise of this article is about if you give in to your kids to buy a dog or pet since it may help teach financial responsibility. Hmmmmm.

    In my opinion it is more responsible to teach children what they can’t have because you cannot afford it. I had to wait when I was a child. I can’t even count the number of pet’s I’d bring home and mom made me march right back to where I’d found them and take them back. Part of it was we lived in the navy’s enlisted housing and pets were not allowed. Finances likely were a component. But when we were able to move where we could have pets we did adopt from the shelter and also took in the cat that was left behind from the people that had moved out.

    As an adult I did not obtain a pet till I’d bought a place to live. I was still in school so it was just a trailer. But I knew renting with a pet was tough.

    Back to children wanting pets. Children will learn why it’s not time to have a pet yet if you aren’t ready for one or can’t afford it. Ya just gotta explain it to them and repeat at necessary. Now, then you might want to make a deal with them if they can set aside $x amount of dollars for x amount of time (maybe a year) and are willing to put that into the fund for a pet and know that once you have a pet that it will now cost $x times y every week or month for that pet they’ll learn lots of responsibility without compromising a living beings health.

    Please don’t get a pet for your child unless you can accept that >90 of children will not have the ability to be responsible for a pet until they are mature adults. So, essentially YOU are getting the pet for YOU.

    Okay, sorry for harping. I obviously love pets and hate seeing pets that are not treated well. But many of us think pets and kids go well together. That is many times false.

  24. 24
    jesse.anne.o Says:

    “You get what you pay for. Do you really think the $50 spay is the same as the spay that costs $300? ”

    Regarding the above, I think you need to know your low-cost programs but the majority of the ones in my NYC community are wonderful. Some of them are staffed either by private vets per diem making money on the side or are staffed by vets who specialize in high volume/high quality spay/neuter. Responsible programs have protocols and, for emergencies or questions, post operative staff/care/resources.

  25. 25
    Chris Says:

    Don’t forget PawsPlus! They’ve offer vaccination and microchipping services at pet stores but they have much better customer service than Luv My Pet.

  26. 26
    Karen S Says:

    Give them a sock to chew on? Skip the vet? If you give them socks I guarantee you will need to go to the vet. I have removed socks from many patients. I hope you do not have any pets. Please refrain from writing on subjects you know nothing about.

    Karen Burns, DVM

  27. 27
    Dot Says:

    I have to disagree with some, if not all suggestions.
    I’ve had 4 really good dogs over the past 50 years, so am not inexperienced.
    I don’t buy cheap dry dog food. A dish of a good brand with a spoon of cottage cheesse now and then, and I’ve always fed my dogs table food. I cook brown rice or other whole grain, add mixed vegetables, eggs, chicken, tuna, etc.and whatever leftovers I have around. Cheaper than dog food!

    Toys? A frozen bagel makes a good chewey. Stuffed animals from the thrift store are cheap enough to throw away when they get a hole.

    I could never live without a good vet, no matter what the cost! Get to know yours well! Mine has given me discounts often.

  28. 28
    cyd Says:

    The person who wrote this obviously doesnt have a dog, or if he/she does, it isnt being treated right :(

  29. 29
    Becky Salinger DVM Says:

    It is much cheaper to prevent than treat diseases like Parvo, heartworm, flea allergy and dental disease. Skipping annual health exams may seem like a way to save money, but will likely cost you more in the long run.
    If you really want to save money, look for a vet that offers preventive care or wellness packages. These are usually discounted, and can even have monthly payments.

    I would also like to clarify a point that was made about spay neuter clinics. These clinics are not performing these procedures “at cost”, they are non-profit groups that collect donations and receive grant money that offsets the cost of the procedure. Since there are little to no set standards and even less regulation of these clinics, the level of care your pet receives can vary greatly. I have known great groups and I have known horrible clinics that should be shut down.
    Did you know that in most states only a consumer can report a vet to the state licensing board? So even if we know a vet clinic is providing poor care, we cannot report them.
    Do your homework. Ask for an impromptu tour, educate yourselves so you know what good care looks like.
    http://www.healthypet.com, http://www.veterinarypartner.com.

  30. 30
    Alison Says:

    I’m glad to see so many challenging this awful, and even dangerous, article. Thankfully, the readers are smarter than the writer!

  31. 31
    Irishvet Says:

    Agree with other posters about the socks. I vividly remember cutting several inches of blackened, dead intestine out of a cocker spaniel after a small child’s sock she’d eaten lodged there. She lived, but it cost more than $25.
    Go to your vet BEFORE you get a dog – she will be able to tell you which breeds of dogs are prone to which (expensive) problems.
    As well as deciding if you can afford a dog, please carefully consider if you have time for one. Lack of time is the reason i don’t have one of my own.

  32. 32
    AP Says:

    Agree with others there is really dangerous, bad advice here.
    Useful tip:
    1. Buy your dog a KONG to chew on. They can almost never destroy it and you can fill it with all kinds of wonders (peanut butter, freeze some yogurt in it overnight, fill with chicken-broth flavored ice, etc.) Very economical toy and no swallowed socks.

    2. Buy your dog a crate and TRAIN THEM to use it. This will save you $1,000’s in damaged furniture, walls, etc. but will save you nothing if you don’t make it a happy place for them.

  33. 33
    Tom Says:

    It doesn’t surprise me that the vets chimed in, but I used to be cattle rancher and have owned lots horses and working dogs. My animals seldom saw a vet, I gave them all there yearly vaccines and many of the other medications they needed. The points about spaying being better done in a vets office then at a spay and neuter clinic is a bunch of b.s.. I respect vets and they have saved many of my animals and have given them medical care I could not do myself, but I’ve learned that is much. Educate yourself and you will discover that you can save a lot of money caring for many of your animals health care needs including medicinally. I’m not a rancher any more and don’t own working dogs, but I still give my little lap dog all her vaccines except rabies. You can purchase these at feed stores and some places online also. The first time you buy vaccines yourself you will be amazed at how cheap they are at real, just imagine how little a vet pays. You can learn to recognize health specific issues yourself.

    Cheap food is like feeding your kids Mc Donalds every day. You can buy middle of the road food as one other person already mentioned (Costco’s Kirkland Chicken, Rice, and Vegies is great!) and supplement that with things like occasional raw meat, sardines, and produce and your dogs will have a better diet then most peoples dogs get who feed the most expensive foods. I just bought a 40lb bag of the Kirkland for $25 that’s 63 cents a pound considerably cheaper than a lot of grocery or variety store crap. Keep that in an air tight container and it will last a long time if you have a small or medium size dog.

    Socks…I won’t even dignify that stupidity with any further comment.

  34. 34
    dave Says:

    You can save over $20 dollars every month if you don’t have a dog. Many people like me don’t like cleaning up dog poop.

  35. 35
    Kari Says:

    Misguided at best, irresponsible certainly, and downright negligent with the “skip the vet” comment. How did this tripe get on Earthlink’s home page?

  36. 36
    Ed Avis (author) Says:

    Thanks to all of you who replied to this article, even those who pointed out that I must be an idiot for recommending a sock toy for a dog! (My point on that tip was that your dog doesn’t care if you bought the $50 toy or substituted something free, but you’re right, I should have suggested something smarter than a sock.)

    For those who wondered if I have a dog, yes, I do. She’s a mutt, I got her at a shelter, and I get her shots at PetSmart for a fraction of what my vet used to charge. Would I rather go to the vet? Yes, because I agree that a good vet could catch a major problem early on and save me money in the long run. I completely understand the value of a good vet. But the bottom line is this: In this tough economy, my family needs to save money. I realize that many people consider their pets to be equivalent to children, or at least deserving approximately equal care, and I emphasize with that feeling and never would criticize it. But in my family, our limited funds go first to caring for the kids; the pets’ needs come next. And these days that means we’re not visiting the regular vet unless we notice a problem. Will we regret that in the long run? Maybe, perhaps even probably! But you can’t squeeze blood out of my turnip.

    I completely agree with the suggestion several of you made: If you can’t afford to properly take care of a pet, don’t get one. That’s smart advice and I second it.

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