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Feb 102014
 February 10, 2014  Posted by  Family, Features, Hot Deals, Money, Pets

I hadn’t planned to get a new dog after my beloved Daphne died just short of her 15th birthday. However, I developed a bad habit of scrolling through the adorable faces of dogs up for adoption at my local Humane Society. As soon as I spotted Matilda and her huge ears, I had to jump in the car and drive out to the shelter to claim her – quick! – before anyone else did.

The adoption fee was $150. With that, I got a free vet visit. Matilda had already been spayed and chipped, but she needed a couple of shots. The free vet visit turned into an expense of about $45.

I had given away all of Daphne’s pet paraphernalia, so I had to restock my supply of bowls, blankets, kibble, treats, toys, a leash. Turns out Matilda, barely a year old, has a chewing habit. So replacing the leash (several times), the blanket (several times), a harness and numerous toys added to the expense. And that’s not counting the molding around the door that got demolished before I learned the magic of crating a dog for short absences during the day. Fortunately, I got the crate for free from a friend, a savings of nearly $200.

Now that Matilda’s been part of my household for almost two months, I realize I could have saved some money if I hadn’t been so impetuous. Here are some resources that, if I’d had the presence of mind in my hurry to claim Matilda, could have helped my pocketbook.

  • The Humane Society of the United States lists organizations by state that offer assistance to pet owners for veterinary care, pet food and supplies.
  • Low-cost spay/neuter services are often available through your local Humane Society or shelter. Also, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) maintains a database of such services by state.
  • Adoption fees at humane societies and shelters, like the $150 I paid for Matilda, aren’t peanuts. But they’re a fraction of what a dog would cost from a breeder. Still, you can do a little bargain hunting by asking when your local shelter’s adoption specials are coming up. At my local Humane Society, there are occasional half-off specials for all pets, or adopt-one-get-one-free deals for cats. There are some specials connected to holidays, such as Valentine’s Day. I mean, what says “I love you” better than a slobbering dog or drooling cat?
  • Got a chewer? Stock up on cheap, expendable blankets at your local thrift shop, such as Goodwill. I lucked out and also found a couple of bowls while I was shopping for blankets. Run them through the dishwasher and they’re as good as new.
  • Save on treats by introducing your dog to the joys of vegetables. Lots of dogs love carrots almost as much as they like bones. And dearly departed Daphne would do anything to wrap her lips around a ripe tomato.
  • Don’t stint on the walks or play. The exercise will keep your pet and yourself healthy and fit. Thanks, Matilda, for getting me back on my dog walk schedule.

Susan Hauser

Susan Hauser is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon, with specialties in travel, food, business and profile writing. For 17 years she was a regular contributor to the Leisure & Arts Page of The Wall Street Journal, and in honor of her many national articles about her home town, she was the recipient of Travel Portland's President's Award. Her recent articles have appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, Parade and The Oregonian. She is the publisher of Portland Living on the Cheap.

  One Response to “6 ways to cut the cost of pet care”

  1. While vegetables are good snacks for pets, they can’t replace bones for the cleaning powers on teeth. If the teeth get bad, you will have to pay to have them scaled.

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