Reddit's 9 Best Tips for Frugal Dog Owners

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  • Pet insurance can make a big difference in medical costs, so get it before you need it.
  • Shop around for less expensive vaccinations and toy options -- and consider doing your dog's grooming yourself.
  • You might also be able to save money through preventive care like brushing your dog's teeth and feeding them healthy foods.

You don't need to break the bank to keep your pups happy.

We love our dogs. But they're not cheap. The American Kennel Club estimates that dogs cost between $1,800 to $3,300 a year, depending on their size. And dogs with extra medical needs can be even more expensive.

While most of us find our four-legged family members well worth the expense, our budgets may be less appreciative of the benefits. If you're looking for ways to make both your dog and your budget happy, these tips inspired by pet lovers on Reddit may help.

1. Get pet insurance -- early

Pet insurance can help you cover major medical bills for your pets. Most pet insurance comes with a modest monthly fee -- less than $50 on average for dogs -- depending on your dog's age, breed, and insurance type.

There are a few types of pet insurance available, including ones that only cover accidents, those that cover accidents and illness, and those designed for preventive care like checkups and vaccinations.

2. Check local shelters for cheap vaccinations

If you don't have pet insurance that covers vaccinations and other preventive care, check out your local shelters and/or SPCA. Many have vets on staff and offer low-cost care for families in need. This can include inexpensive vaccines, as well as procedures like spaying or neutering.

3. Do your own grooming

One major cost associated with having a dog is keeping them clean and groomed. This can be especially expensive if your pup has particularly long or thick hair.

Luckily, as many Redditors agree, you can buy many of the tools groomers use and do it yourself. Even a high-quality set of clippers will only set you back the price of a few professional appointments.

While there can be a bit of a learning curve to the perfect doggy haircut, the internet abounds with helpful videos to get you started. And dogs are notoriously easy going when it comes to their haircuts, so many won't mind if it takes you a few tries to get their bangs just right!

For stuff like trimming nails, consider consulting your veterinarian at your next appointment. Most vets are happy to offer tips and tricks for safely keeping your pet's nails neat and tidy.

4. Brush their teeth daily

Dental costs for dogs can rival those for humans, especially if you have a biter on your hands. Brushing your dog's teeth daily -- or at least a few times a week -- can help avoid expensive deep cleans or extractions at the vet.

5. Don't skimp on quality food

Dogs are just as much a product of their diet as humans are, so a good quality food is a must. If your dog has digestive problems, skin problems, or other issues, their food could be to blame, though it's best to talk with your vet before making changes.

This doesn't necessarily mean buying the most expensive bag on the shelf -- but you should probably avoid the cheapest stuff, too. Consult your vet if you're unsure what's best for your pup.

6. Buy less-processed treats

Not only are the over-processed treats in the dog food aisle more expensive, but they can also be less healthy for your pets thanks to lots of additives and chemicals. (Think of it like the processed snacks we should also avoid.)

Instead of paying a premium on snacks, look for less-processed options, like the dried animal products you can find at feed stores. You can also use your pet's dry food as a snack during training throughout the day.

Redditors also like to offer their dogs healthy fruits and vegetables as an affordable option. Carrots, for instance, are fairly cheap to buy, and they make a healthy snack for dogs and humans alike. Some human foods can be toxic for pets though, so be sure to do your research and check with your vet if you aren't sure what's safe to feed your dog.

7. Exercise, exercise, exercise

A tired dog is a happy dog -- and often a healthy one. Every dog has its own exercise needs -- working dogs can run for hours while many smaller dogs need just a few trips around the block -- but every dog needs some form of exercise to stay in shape.

Without enough exercise, dogs can not only get bored (and bored dogs chew everything), but they can also become overweight or develop other medical issues. As an added bonus, the extra exercise is good for you, too!

8. Look for coupons and credit card deals

With prices the way they are, many of us are turning to coupons for everything -- pets included. Be sure to check out your local pet store's weekly sales flier for deals, and buy in bulk when you find a good one.

Several Redditors said they get good deals on flea medication at Costco. And don't forget to check out your online options., for instance, can be both convenient and affordable for buying large bags of food.

Your favorite credit card may be a savings tool, too. The savings portals offered by most issuers can house big discounts on retailers for everything from toys to medications.

9. Find toys outside the pet aisle

Depending on your dog, toys may be a big expense. (I've had dogs that could de-squeak a stuffed toy in under an hour.) While you can sometimes get decent toys on sale at the discount store, often the trick is to look outside the pet aisle.

Many Redditors suggest checking out thrift store or garage sales for gently used toys. (If you go this route, be sure to thoroughly clean and sterilize the toy before giving it to your pup!)

You can also hit other aisles in the discount store. For example, regular tennis balls from the sporting goods section tend to be cheaper than the ones sold in pet stores. Children's stuffed toys can also be a good pick for less-destructive pups who want a soft buddy to carry around the house.

Dogs may be our best friends, but they aren't cheap. So anytime we can squeeze a little more out of our budgets while showering our furry friends with love is a win-win.

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