You can give your beloved pets everything they need without going overboard. Here’s how…

Health care. Most veterinarians are trained to offer the gold standard of care. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or about other options. Tell the vet your goals. Example: “I want to help Frankie be as comfortable as possible and also stay within this budget. I’d also rather stay away from pharmaceuticals. What are our options?” Your veterinarian will appreciate the guidance. Setting a budget keeps you in financial control.

Caution: Don’t avoid seeing the vet to save money. Paying for regular checkups can be much cheaper than waiting until a condition requires advanced treatment.

Food. Hundreds of products offer pets a balanced, nutritious diet. Standard fare such as Iams, Purina and Pedigree, which can be purchased through Amazon, Costco and Sam’s Club, are fine for maintenance. Just be sure they’re appropriate for your pet’s age and breed. If your pet has a medical condition requiring a special diet, consult with your veterinarian.

Also talk to the vet if you think your dog has a food allergy. Signs could include soft stool, itching, chronic ear infections and scooting. Cats also may demonstrate overgrooming on the belly.

Advertising makes some people assume that their dogs need expensive special blends due to food allergies, but only about 10% of pets actually do.

Note: Don’t switch abruptly to a new food. Offer the old grub along with the new, gradually changing the ratio until the transition is complete. This should take a week for dogs…a month for cats.

Toys. Dogs and cats need toys, but you don’t have to spend lots of money. Each toy should have a purpose—is it to keep your dog’s mind sharp…to make sure your indoor cat is exercising? This will help you make a few targeted purchases rather than impulse buys or purchases based on sentimental or cosmetic appeal.


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