Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise Pet Parenting
We all want the absolute best for our pets—after all, keeping them happy and healthy is the goal. Unfortunately, sometimes it seems like the top tier options, especially when it comes to medical items, can be quite expensive. Fortunately, making healthy choices for your pet doesn’t always have to come at such a high price.
Read on to learn more about how to keep your pets healthy without breaking the bank.
Maintain a Healthy Weight and Diet
When it comes to your cat or dog’s current well-being and long-term health, their diet and exercise routine can play a major role. Concerning your pet’s food, it’s important to choose a nutritious option appropriate for their age. Remember that the amount of calories per serving of pet food varies from brand to brand.
It’s equally important to measure out the amount of food you are serving at each feeding. If you are unsure how much or what kind of food is the best fit for your four-legged friend, talk with your veterinarian for recommendations.
Besides your pet’s regular meals, it’s best to keep an eye on how many treats they receive. This also applies to any human food you may sneak to them as well. Feeding your cat or dog too much could quickly increase their weight and cause obesity.
Obesity can occur in any cat or dog breed, but it is important to know if your pal’s breed is more susceptible. Obesity can lead to many major health issues in pets. Helping your pet maintain a healthy weight can mean having a healthier pet, which means fewer veterinarian bills.
All pets have a different ideal weight and different dietary needs, so ask your veterinarian how many calories per day your pet should receive.
Regular exercise can also help with managing your pal’s weight. Regular activity burns calories and promotes healthy muscle development. Even a short walk a day can go a long way. If you live somewhere with severe winters, or perhaps a place with extreme heat in the summer that makes playing outdoors unsafe for your pet, try active indoor games.
Some active indoor game ideas for you and your dog can include bubble catching, fetch, and hide and seek. For you and your cat, some fun games can include building a box fort or playing ping pong.
Saving Money on Your Pet’s Food
Pet food can quickly increase your monthly expenses, but there are many ways to help lower this cost. It’s a wonderful idea for both cats and dogs, to compare the prices of different food brands, pet stores, or online sites. After selecting a business from which you prefer to purchase your pet’s food, inquire about any coupons, sales, or type of rewards program, they may offer.
Buying in bulk can also help you save. While the initial cost may be more expensive than purchasing a smaller amount of food, in the end, bulk prices almost always equal out to be cheaper per unit.
When it comes to your pet’s treats, you may find that making your own is the ideal solution. Not only can homemade treats be cheaper, but they can also be healthier and a great option for pets with allergies or food sensitivities.
Let’s face it, no matter how hard you try, there’s a good chance that your pet will damage something in your house, whether that be from chewing on or scratching it. These behaviors can often stem from your pet being bored—it’s a well-known fact among pet parents that a bored pet is oftentimes a destructive pet.
By minimizing your pet’s boredom, you can help reduce the chances of your possessions getting ruined and your pet accidentally getting into something that could be harmful. Not to mention, you’ll also be saving yourself the costs of potentially expensive medical treatment, plus the cost of replacing the damaged items.
Help your pet beat boredom by providing toys, games, walks, play dates with other pets, and, if you have a cat, climbing posts. If your time and budget allow, getting your pet a four-legged sibling can be a great way to keep them occupied and happy. Remember, happiness promotes good health, both mentally and physically.
Saving Money on Pet Toys
One of the best ways to save money on dog and cat toys is to use a DIY approach. For instance, cats adore playing with common items such as boxes, scrunchie hair ties, and even balls.
Another great option is to limit how many toys you purchase. You may be surprised how long a few high-quality dog toys can last. For example, you can buy rubber balls with a hole inside. These toys last longer than tennis balls, can be used for fetch, as a chew toy, and allow you to put goodies inside, making it a time-consuming game for your dog.
Watch Their Water Intake
Just like us, our pets need adequate amounts of fresh water every day. Dehydration can be a serious condition and lead to other problems such as urinary tract issues, kidney failure, and failure of other organs.
Water requirements for dogs and cats depend on environmental temperature, level of exercise, and body size. Canned food is 70-80% water, so pets who eat canned food may drink a little less than pets who eat dry food. If you don’t think your pet is drinking enough water, mix some into their food.
How To Help Your Pet Stay Hydrated
It’s essential that your pet always has access to clean water. You may find that your feline or canine prefers cooler water, so encourage them to stay hydrated by refilling their water dish with fresh water multiple times a day. For cats who like to drink out running water, water fountains can be a fun option.
When taking your four-legged friend outside for exercise, make sure you keep a close eye that they do not become overheated or dehydrated. Especially if your pet is excited, you may have to remind them to take a break in the shade and get a drink of water. If you enjoy taking your best pal on longer walks or a hike, don’t forget to pack extra water and a bowl for them—collapsible bowls are a wonderful option.
Avoiding the Dangers of Heatstroke
You have probably heard of the terms heatstroke, heat exhaustion, or overheating. This occurs when your pet’s body temperature spikes above what it should normally be. Warning signs that your pet is overheated could include excessive panting or drooling, vomiting, weakness, or even a sudden collapse.
Most people may know that heatstroke can be caused by pets being outside in the hot weather for too long or them being locked in a hot car, but did you know that heat exhaustion can also be caused by your pet not having access to water even in warm temperatures? Heatstroke can be a scary condition, but by taking a few precautionary steps, you can help keep your pet safe, healthy, and hydrated.
Remember To Groom
A large part of keeping your pet in tip-top shape is establishing a grooming routine. Whether you have a cat or a dog, they should be brushed regularly to help their coat stay clean and healthy. Depending on your pet’s coat type, your four-legged friend may need to be brushed more often than other breeds, but keep in mind that even hairless cats still have to be groomed.
Lucky for cat parents, most cats can take care of bathing all by themselves, but that’s not quite the case with dogs. Most dogs should receive a bath anywhere from every month to every other month.
Besides their coat, there are four main other grooming areas that pet parents should keep up with, including:
Your pet’s teeth should be brushed daily to every other day to help prevent dental tartar and gum disease. Make sure to use pet-safe toothpaste and don’t brush too hard.
You will want to check your pet’s ears every few weeks for signs of redness or a bad odor, both of which can be a sign of infection. Your pet’s ears can be cleaned by their groomer or by you, as long as they are cleaned about once a month. To clean the ears, use a pet-safe ear cleaning solution and cotton ball (never a cotton swab) and gently wipe out their ears.
If you are the parent of a pet with floppy ears or of one that enjoys swimming, be sure that the ears are completely dried out. To be on the safe side, floppy ears should be checked and cleaned more frequently.
Most pets will inevitably get eye goopies in the corner of their eyes. These do not cause any discomfort (many pets will wipe them away with their paws), but pets with a lighter coat could have their fur stained. Dogs and cats with bigger eyes can have more discharge accumulate, which can irritate the skin under the eyes. To clean around the eyes, use a damp, soft cloth and gently wipe away from the eyes, but be sure to use a different corner of the cloth for each eye—this will help reduce the spread of infection.
Cats and dogs naturally wear their nails down during their everyday routines. In many cases, pet parents will still need to trim their pal’s nails. About every week to two weeks, with just a cat nail trimmer and perhaps the assistance of a friend, you can easily trim your kitty’s nails at home.
For dogs, they will typically need their nails trimmed whenever you can hear them click on the floor. You can also trim your dog’s nails yourself or have them done at the groomers. Some veterinarian offices may even offer to trim your dog or cat’s nails, but be aware that there’s typically a fee.
It’s also a good idea to clean your pet’s paws after they’ve been outside. Pesticides and harmful chemicals on streets, sidewalks, and lawns are ingested by pets when they lick their paws and can be detrimental to their health over time.
When it comes to grooming, it’s important to keep it a positive experience and to use lots of rewards. The more often you do each item, the more your pet will get used to it and realize that it is just part of the routine. Plus, don’t forget, it’s never too early to establish a healthy grooming schedule.
How To Save Money Grooming
Who doesn’t love some budget-friendly grooming tips?
- If you get your pet professionally groomed, ask about any promotions for returning customers.
- If you have a dog that gets their hair cut, have the groomer cut their hair shorter. Shorter hair means more time between appointments.
- Do as much grooming as you can yourself. Just be sure to use all animal-safe products and to do a little bit of research beforehand. After a few months, you may be surprised just how much money you can save.
By grooming your pet yourself, you will be an expert before you even know it.
Don’t Skip Preventive Care
Over the course of your pet’s entire life, you should make sure to take them for check-ups at least once a year—it’s highly recommended that you don’t skip these appointments even if your pet is healthy. The prognosis for health problems is typically better with early detection, and a better prognosis can mean more manageable treatment costs.
A key to keeping pets healthy is to never skip preventive services like flea and tick medicines, heartworm medicines, vaccines, and spaying or neutering are also important to your pet’s long-term health. They help protect your pet from many diseases, possible future complications, and, in turn, more expensive medical bills.
By providing your pet with preventive care, you could even help extend their life expectancy. Plus, don’t forget that a healthy pet is also a happy pet.
Pet Health Insurance
While following these tips will put your pet’s health on the right track, some conditions can’t be prevented. Pet insurance is designed to help with unexpected veterinary costs. It may sound like an unnecessary added expense, but pet insurance can save you some out-of-pocket cost if your pet has an emergency or a serious illness.
Learn more about the benefits of pet insurance or get a customized pet insurance quote for an idea of coverage options and monthly premiums.
10 Quick Tips for Pet Parents
Being a pet parent can come with a long list of financial costs and responsibilities. Thankfully, there is also a long list of money-saving and overall helpful tips for pet parents.
- Prioritize wants versus needs. You may want to buy that adorable rhinestone collar, but you need to buy your pet their food. If you have money left over in your monthly pet budget, it can be spent on wants.
- Compare veterinarian prices and prices of medications.
- Look into online resources, local groups, and events. Take advantage of free opportunities, advice, and the chance to meet other pet parents with similar breeds.
- Trade pet-sitting services with a friend, family member, or neighbor. This is a budget-friendly alternative to boarding your pet.
- Consider adopting. Adopting your pet from a shelter, humane society, or rescue group will guarantee a lower fee than buying from a breeder.
- Pet-proof your home. This can include several steps such as hiding toxic materials in a secure spot, tucking away exposed chords, moving breakable décor, covering furniture, securely closing all doors, putting up pet gates, and removing poisonous plants.
- Create a pet budget. Before welcoming a pet into your home, begin saving, and even after adopting your pet, continue to set money aside every month. Don’t forget to consider high initial costs, like if your pet will need to be spayed or neutered, and take into consideration added monthly costs such as pet rent.
- Supervise your pet’s interactions with kids. Children (younger ones especially) must learn how to interact properly with cats and dogs.
- Train your dog starting day one. Training your dog yourself can save you money and provide a great time to bond with your pet. Not to mention, a trained dog will be less likely to have poor behaviors, which means less damaged items and better socialization with others.
- Make an emergency plan. For unforeseen circumstances, it can be helpful to have your pet microchipped, have a set of their vet records at home, and keep emergency contact information accessible for your pet sitter. You could also give a close acquaintance an extra key to your home so that they can check on your pet if you are unable. If you live in an area affected by natural disasters or extreme weather, be sure to have emergency supplies and a plan for your pet.