Raining Cats & Dogs
cat toy
Before adopting a pet, research how much it will cost to care for the pet taking into account the cost of food, medical expenses, toys, accessories, training and time. (AP Photo/file)

Tips to budget for your pets needs

Before adopting a pet, research how much it will cost to care for the pet taking into account the cost of food, medical expenses, toys, accessories, training and time.

Smaller pets such as mice and hamsters are much less expensive to keep than larger pets like dogs. These pets also require less attention.

Consider adopting a pet from the local animal shelter rather than purchasing from a pet store or breeder. They will be much less expensive, most are already spayed or neutered, up-to-date on vaccinations, micro-chipped, and you're giving an orphaned animal a new chance at life. Seattle Humane offers 6-weeks of obedience training with most dog adoptions.

Food

Always feed your pet the correct amount of food. Refer to the food bag or cans for recommended feedings based on your pet's weight. You can also speak to your veterinarian. Overfeeding your pet wastes food and may cause health problems that increase veterinary costs.

Buy large bags of pet food versus smaller bags and store in an airtight container to preserve freshness. You may pay up to 40 percent less per pound!

Use coupons and search the Internet for special discounts and promotions on food and other items you need on a regular basis. You can also call the company who produces the pet food you buy and ask for coupons. They will often send a generous supply.

Take good preventative care of your pet to prevent future health problems by investing in good quality food. Speak to your veterinarian for healthy food suggestions.

Veterinary Services

Vet fees can vary dramatically. Take the time to call and compare local vet fees. Choosing your vet solely on the lowest prices, however, should be avoided. You want a vet that you can trust with your pet's life. Ask your friends and neighbors who have pets for a recommendation. You can also post a question on Craig's List to get recommendations from other pet lovers.

Get the proper treatments, shots and vaccinations for your pet when they are recommended to keep your best friend healthy.

When your pet gets sick, take care of them right away to help prevent costlier treatment in the long run.

Brush your pet's teeth. If you get in the habit of brushing your dog's teeth, and keeping plaque off, then you dog will not need a dental exam. Dental exams also require your dog to be anesthetized, which presents some risks.

Toys

You can make toys—a tennis ball (or two) inside a cotton tube sock. If your dog eats socks, this is the kind of toy that requires some supervision.

Place treats or kibble inside a cardboard box, tape it closed and give it to your dog --just be prepared for clean up! Or try hide and seek. Drop some kibble or favorite treats on the floor and then go and hide. When your dog finds you, give him more treats and hide somewhere else.

Cats love to chase ping pong balls or to play in a paper bag.

Shop for pet toys and equipment at garage sales or flea markets and get them at a fraction of the price of new items.

Exercise

If you have a dog, you have an exercise buddy. You can save lots of money by cancelling your gym membership and going on regular walks with your dog. The best part is both you and your dog receive the physical and mental benefits of walking. No expensive equipment required—just grab your leash and go!

Upkeep

Learn to groom your pet yourself. Your local library or the Internet will have information on how to properly groom your pet. Although certain pets need special grooming care, most pets you can groom yourself and save the expense of paying a professional.

If you haven't found a pet of your own yet, don't miss this week's pet of the week, available for adoption at the Seattle Humane Society.

Listen to KIRO Radio's "It's Raining Cats and Dogs" every Sunday at 1 p.m. for more tips from the Seattle Humane Society, or listen anytime ON DEMAND at KIRORadio.com.

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