The Economy Is Going to the Dogs, So Cut Your Costs

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Friday, May 15, 2009

When my father retired, he decided to buy a dog to keep him occupied. Rocky (yes, my dad likes Sylvester Stallone) is a beautiful miniature collie. My dad figured he had all the time in the world to take care of Rocky. What he didn't realize was that he needed quite a bit of money too.

There are ways to cut costs if you are having trouble keeping up with your pet's expenses. For instance, my friend and fellow Washingtonian Elissa Poma got sick of paying $60 plus tip four times a year to have her cocker spaniel groomed. So she bought a pair of professional dog clippers online for $200. (You can probably find cheaper ones, she admits.) They came with DVD instructions. She also surfed Web sites for tips on cutting dog hair. "The clippers paid for themselves in less than a year," she said.

Petfinder.com has other tips to offer. I thought I'd share them:

-- Give your pet a thrifty makeover. In a healthy economy, a dog with a Burberry collar -- a real one! -- would not have been a rare sighting, especially here in D.C. But do you really have to pay top dollar to dress your dog? Do you think your dog cares much? Plenty of stores and online shops offer discounts on pet fashion items. You can even check out thrift stores.

-- Find food deals. Use coupons for premium food or slowly transition your pet to a less expensive, yet still high-quality brand. Buy food in bulk to save cash.

-- Search for low-cost medical services. Many clinics offer low-cost vaccinations, spay and neutering services. Make sure the clinic is recommended by a friend, vet or other professional.

-- Consider pet insurance. This is not a good option for everyone, but it could save you money if you have an elderly or chronically ill pet. Research various plans and compare the benefits vs. the costs.

-- Nancy Trejos


© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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