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Dr. Karen Becker Headshot

Caring for Your Pet in a Tough Economy

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If you're among the millions of Americans who wants to cut costs and increase your savings, taking a back-to-basics approach to life can offer a number of advantages -- among them, saving money.

If you're looking for ways to slash pet-related expenses, there are smart and not-so-smart strategies available to accomplish your goal.

I encourage you to choose wisely, not only for the well-being of your pet, but also to avoid unseen but potentially costly problems in the future.

DON'T Skimp on Routine Vet Visits

Skipping routine veterinarian exams -- I recommend two per year -- to save some money in the short-term could backfire down the road.

Your pet needs regular at-home wellness exams and a minimum of one visit to his vet annually so you can stay on top of his current and future health challenges.

It's much safer and less costly to keep your pet well than it is to try to reverse or manage a serious illness that has taken hold while no one was paying attention.

Not only does a sick pet impact the bottom line, more importantly, your animal's quality of life suffers.

DO Feed a Nutritious Diet

If you feed your dog or cat a commercial pet food, it's a really bad idea to buy a lesser quality brand to save a few pennies.

My recommendation is always to feed balanced, species-appropriate meals prepared by you, preferably with at least some raw food components.

Preparing your pet's food at home means a significant investment of time; however, it's really the only way to feed your dog or cat nutritiously without breaking the bank.

The good news is with a little careful planning, you can buy meats and vegetables on sale in bulk and prepare your pet's meals days, weeks, or even months in advance.

Even better news? You can control the quality of every morsel of food your pet eats and make a dramatic positive difference in her overall health by feeding her food you prepare in your own kitchen.

If you have pet-loving neighbors, friends or relatives with goals similar to yours, consider joining together to share expenses, meal prep duties, and even freezer space!

DON'T Overfeed

Feeding your pet well means serving nutritious, species-appropriate meals -- meals prepared in the right portions for his size, age and activity level.

Figure out how many calories your dog or cat should consume each day and practice portion control to insure Fluffy or Fido isn't on the road to obesity.

Not only do overweight companion animals have a lesser quality of life than their fit and trim counterparts, they also often suffer a long list of obesity-related disorders that can be very costly to manage or resolve.

DO Exercise Your Pet

Since we're talking about cutting expenses, you may not see the direct relationship between making sure your dog or cat is adequately exercised and saving money.

The connection is this: The more physically and mentally fit your pet is, the less it will cost you to maintain his health.

As is the case with humans, a well-exercised cat or dog is simply much healthier than his couch potato counterparts.

And dogs, in particular, need the mental stimulation exercise provides so they don't become bored and destructive around your house or yard. In a tough economy, the last thing you need to spend money on is expensive replacement furniture or carpet.

Your pet is built for physical activity, and if he doesn't get enough of it, his health and your bank account can end up the worse for wear.

Companion animals are natural athletes. Walking, jogging and other forms of movement, regular aerobic exertion and playtime are necessary for a sound frame, good muscle strength and tone, and mental stimulation.

DO Take Care of Routine Grooming

Your pet may not ever need to see a professional groomer. But in order to feel and look her best, every dog and cat needs at a minimum:

• Regular combing or brushing

• Baths

• Nail trimming

• Dental hygiene

If you keep your long-haired pet's coat in top condition with regular brushing, you can easily cut back on visits to the groomer. If your pet is prone to allergies, regular bathing can mean fewer trips to the vet for treatment of a skin condition that gets out of control.

Keeping kitty's claws trimmed can extend the life of your furniture and flooring. Learning how to care for your pet's teeth can prevent the need for costly dental procedures down the road.

Dr. Karen Becker is a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian. You can visit her site at: MercolaHealthyPets.com.

Her goal is to help you create wellness in order to prevent illness in the lives of your pets. This proactive approach seeks to save you and your pet from unnecessary stress and suffering by identifying and removing health obstacles even before disease occurs. Unfortunately, most veterinarians in the United States are trained to be reactive. They wait for symptoms to occur, and often treat those symptoms without addressing the root cause.

By reading Dr. Becker's information, you'll learn how to make impactful, consistent lifestyle choices to improve your pet's quality of life.

For advice on how to help your cat lose weight, go here.

Check here for tips on weight loss for the round hound in your life.

For more by Dr. Karen Becker, click here.

For more on pet health, click here.

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