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Weekly tips for the cash-conscious pet owner


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Studies show expense is one of the top five reasons people give up their pets to shelters. And these days, with the economy in such a bad state, pets are being hit hard.

But there are lots of ways to fit Fido and Fluffy into the budget and still maintain their quality of life — and yours. This weekly series will feature practical tips that every pet guardian can use while the purse strings are tight.

This week’s topic? Treats!

It’s fun and it feels good to offer a pet extra treats. Treat-giving shows that we love our pets and want the best for them, right? Sure, but treats are an added expense that the pet can live without. And guess what? If you offer your pet his regular food the same way you offer treats, he won’t know the difference.

Portion out your pet’s regular allotment of food, and then parcel it
out as treats. Stuff a rubber toy with part of the meal to keep a dog
busy while you’re away, or put some kibble into a treat-dispensing toy
that he can play roll around to get the food — amusing for both you and him.

Cutting back on treats or eliminating them while times are tight can
even help your pet’s health. Many pets are obese, or on the heavy side,
and will get a health benefit from cutting a few calories. Better
health means fewer trips to the veterinarian’s office, saving even more

Got a catnip junkie? Did you know that you can grow your own? I found
catnip seeds online for as low as $1.45 a packet — the dried stuff
costs more than twice that. Plus, it’s a fun little project, and your
cat will appreciate the effort.

Have your own money-saving pet tips? Share them here!

Nikki Moustaki is a dog trainer, animal expert and pet industry consultant who shares her home with two rescued Schnauzers, Pepper and Ozzie, and two parrots. She is the author of moer than 35 books, including Dogfessions: Secret Confessions from Dogs, based on her popular Web site, Her pet Web sites include,, and

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