11 Fast Ways to Slash Pet Care Costs

By NatTreat your cuddly companion to the best for less.alie van der Meer and Locke Hughes

Whether you have a dog, cat or bird or are looking to add a furry or feathered friend to your family, read on for expert advice on keeping them happy and healthy for a lot less. Photo by Thinkstock

Adopt an Older Animal
If you're looking for a pet, consider one that's more than a year old. The pet will likely have already been neutered and be current on vaccinations, which could cost over $300 otherwise. Plus, you'll have a good idea of his temperament and behavioral quirks.

Quick Cleaning

Skip pricey cleaners for your bird's cage. Make your own safe, effective spray with 3 cups hot water, 3 Tbsp baking soda and 2 Tbsp lemon juice.

Related: Check out 9 bad habits that are good for you.

Call your vet
Don't visit the vet for minor concerns-phone her instead. Often she can tell you how to take care of problems like scrapes or digestive issues.

Slash shipping costs If you find a lower price on food or medications online, ask your vet to match it. She's likely to say yes-which means no shipping charges.

Look into bundling services Many veterinarians offer an annual wellness package that combines procedures to save money. For example, schedule a dental cleaning and neutering for your dog at the same time, which will cost less and be easier on your pet (she'll undergo anesthesia only once).

Watch for seasonal discounts Flea and tick meds, for example, may be on sale in summer, when mosquitoes and fleas are more common.

Related: Discover 10 cool, new inventions that'll make your life easier.

Super-Simple, Low-Cost Toys

Remember, your pet doesn't read price tags! Make these playthings from everyday items.

Stick a water bottle inside a thick knotted sock for your dog to chew on.

Place treats inside small cardboard boxes for your cat to jump in and out of.

Toss Ping-Pong balls to small dogs (the balls bounce in speedy and unpredictable ways, which makes them fun to chase). Just be sure your pet can't swallow them accidentally.

Related: Try 15 clever uses for household items.

Hide kibble in a rolled-up towel for your pup to unwrap with his paws.

Cut three small, treat-size holes in the lid of an empty, well-cleaned plastic soup container. Then add a handful of treats inside the base, and seal. As your pet bats it around, treats will pop out!

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