HUMANE SOCIETY: Keep pets healthy when trimming the budget |

HUMANE SOCIETY: Keep pets healthy when trimming the budget

Dawn Armstrong
Special to the Tribune

Here are some ideas to keep your pet healthy while you cope with serious budget cuts.

1. Cut food costs

Ernie Ward, DVM, president of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention says “Most pet food label feeding guides are based on the caloric needs of un-neutered/un-spayed, active adult animals. A spayed or neutered pet’s metabolic needs are 25 to 30 percent lower than that.

“Look for a high-quality brand name, and buy it in bulk at a discount store,” suggests Dr. Hammer past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “You’ll slash costs by a third. Don’t go too cheap, generic and local brands may not have the same level of nutritional research.”

Mixing pet food with pet safe people food such as lean meat, fish, and vegetables can reduce the amount of store bought required to maintain health. Learn what ingredients are key for your pet’s age and lifestyle. Talk with your veterinarian before making a change. Then make any change slowly.

2. Treat without treats

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Portion out a day’s food ration and use bits of that for treating. Maintain weight and nutrition needs while simply feeding in a different way. Consider crunchy carrots and apple pieces (no seeds), bananas, and dehydrated sweet potatoes. Dogs cannot eat chocolate, onions, grapes and/or raisins. Lists of toxic foods and spices are available on the Internet. Grow catnip or cat grass.

3. Make simple toys, recycle supplies

If your dog likes to tug, knot a rope and play away. If your cat loves batting something about, make a ball of wadded up paper or tie a feather or ribbon to a string and flail away. Stuff a sock with homegrown cat nip and knot it. Visit garage sales and thrift stores for pet equipment and supplies.

4. Practice wellness

When you pet your pet, feel all over for lumps and bumps and note odors. Keep vaccinations up to date and ask your veterinarian for three-year doses. Note changes in behavior, eating habits, mobility, hearing and sight. See the veterinarian right away before a small symptom becomes an expensive ailment. Eliminate smoking for mutual benefit. Secondhand smoke makes pet sick,. Cats have a higher rate of oral cancer when living with smokers. Neuter to avoid cancers and other diseases.

5. Practice safety

Avoid costly accidents and injuries. Keep small pets indoors. Keep dogs on leash by your side. Use crates and carriers when traveling. Crate train your pet for safety when you are not home. Keep prescription drugs and all medications out of the reach of pets. They are the top cause of poisoning.

6. Prioritize services

Change your schedule to include walks together reducing day care or pet sitter fees. Pre-groom to save money at the professional groomer with regular combing and brushing to eliminate hair mats. Use the do it yourself dog wash. Ask your vet to show you how to trim nails.

7. Work with your veterinarian

Select a vet you can trust with your pet’s life. Low cost alone is not a good indicator. Interview to see if you feel comfortable with him or her. Do home nursing with veterinary direction and save up to half on some treatments. Most vets offer multiple pet discounts. Ask your vet to enable you to fill prescriptions on line or at the local pharmacy. Get CareCredit, a veterinary and health specific credit line.

8. Take pets on vacation

Save boarding or pet sitter fees by taking the pet along. Invest in a carrier for pet safety in any strange place. Crate train so that the crate is a calming place.

9. Get coupons

Go online to specific brand name web sites for discount coupons which can be printed and taken to the store.

10. Provide free love

Remember that what pets need most is free. That is your love and attention.

– Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals to help “Keep Tahoe Kind.” Dawn Armstrong is the executive-director of the Lake Tahoe-Humane Society and SPCA.