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7 Ways to Save on Pet Care

How to safely trim what you spend on Spot — and still keep him happy and healthy

5. Shop smarter. Shopping is fun, but your dog really doesn't need that designer collar. When it comes to toys, cut them back but not out — chew toys have saved many a shoe. You can save by buying the largest bags of food or litter, or get case discounts on cans. Split dry food purchases with family or a friend and store your portion in an airtight container. Keep product info, such as the lot number from the bag, in case there are questions or problems.

6. Do it yourself. Handle basic grooming at home, from bathing to nail trims. If nothing else, you can stretch out time between professional grooming for pets with high-maintenance coats, such as poodles. Look on the Internet for grooming guides, and check out YouTube.com for actual demonstrations. Another do-it-yourself savings strategy is to brush your pet's teeth. It'll lengthen the time between cleanings at your veterinarian's while keeping your pet healthier.

7. Share services. Trade services, or barter for goods and services. Remember that bartering can be flexible: You can save just as much money if you can provide one kind of service (such as tax-preparation) for another (such as pet sitting or dog grooming).

With these simple strategies, your pet will never want for the best care — and you can take that to the bank along with your savings.

Dr. Marty Becker, AARP's resident pet expert, is a regular veterinarian contributor to ABC's Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show. He has co-written several top-selling books on domestic animals and currently helps run the website PetConnection.com

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