Budget-Friendly Pets

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Budget-Friendly Pets

By Lisa Scarbrough

If you visit with anyone from Paula Deen Enterprises for more than two minutes, you’ll quickly learn that we are all animal lovers. I might even be the extreme as I started my own pet rescue here in Savannah ten years ago, something that has been a great love but a lot of work. While pets offer a lot of fun, love and companionship, they aren’t without financial burdens. Here are some tips I hope will help you to keep your pet and your checkbook in balance.

1. Chew toys are cheaper than replacing furniture. Bored pets can become destructive pets, and are one of the top reasons they end up in animal shelters or rescues. Just like you, your pet needs stimulation. If you leave him to his own whims, he can’t be held responsible for the outcome. Take advantage of Kong toys, busy bones, etc (proper chews will also provide for better dental health). Whatever you do, do not give your dog old shoes to chew. They will not know that the old ones ok, and the ones you wore yesterday are not.

2. A well-exercised pet will reduce landscaping costs. Make sure your pet gets at least an hour a day of some sort of exercise, whether you take a walk with them or just let them run the backyard. Some dogs really do better as part of a pack, so if you have a one-doggy household, make a play date or arrange for doggy daycare a couple times a week. If you don’t want your dog to be a digger, don’t leave them in the yard unattended. I can vouch that pvc pipes, chicken wire and even bricks are not deterrent enough for the most determined excavator pooches.


3. Quality pet food that is lower in fat will fill your pet up more than the cheaper, generic brands, thus reducing the number of bags you have to buy. Register on the manufacturer’s website for coupons, or make friends with your local pet specialty supply shop as they will often email you for sales and discounts.

4. Groom your pet yourself. I admit, this is where I splurge as my oldest dog is a Husky mix, but if I am feeling up to spending about an hour negotiating with him to keep standing up instead of trying to sit in my lap, I can brush enough fur for about 20 or so Chinese Crested (hairless) pooches. Brushing your pet daily will keep you from expending electricity vacuuming loose fur from around the house and will provide a nice workout for your arms. However, if you have a young child, make a game of it and give them a small dust buster to “attack” the furballs (my young son is in training for this right now).

5. Keep up with your pet’s vaccinations, flea, tick and heartworm preventative. There is a saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The cost of a six-month supply of heartworm preventative could be $40 to $70 depending upon the size of your dog, but a heartworm treatment starts at around $600 and can cost upward of $1,200 if your dog needs more than one, as most of the ones in our rescue need. Additionally, if your state mandates a yearly rabies vaccine, failure to get the vaccine on time can cost you fines and even impound fees. If you don’t keep up with your pet’s other shots, you could spend more in treating your pet for the viruses and diseases caught than if you just did the shots in the first place. Many areas now offer low-costs vaccine clinics to make it more affordable for yearly shots, but they cannot take the place of a good exam from your vet. Make sure you are getting a heartworm test and fecal test done at some point to ensure your pet is not suffering from any parasites.

6. Make use of crates and pet beds. Animals, especially canines, crave their own den space. If they are not given their own space, their only choice is to take yours. If you are single, you might be fine with sharing your full size bed with an 86 pound ball of fur, but even the 6 pound Chihuahua I fostered six years ago believed she deserved my entire queen size bed and would nip at me if I tried to take more than the 10 inches she had allotted me. I finally learned to set the rules as the alpha of the household and each dog has their own space for their bed, toys, bowls, etc. Even today, they know the difference between their toys and my son’s, though they have made rulings that being on furniture is allowed if no one is around to see (the blond fur on a brown couch was the giveaway). It’s much easier to ask them to go to their bed or crate when guests are over than to ask guests to sit on the floor when pets refuse to move.

7. Get your pets spayed or neutered. As an animal rescuer, I have to harp on this. Having the surgery performed will decrease territorial behavior issues, reduce the amount of clean up from a female in heat, and has been shown to help reduce and even eliminate certain cancer risks from reproductive organs. Unaltered pets are more likely to wander, leaving you with fines for violating animal-at-large issues and even impoundment fees. Then of course there’s the costs of raising unexpected and, usually, unwanted litters. Many clinics and programs exist to provide for low-cost spay options, so there is no reason not to have it done. When millions of animals are put to sleep each year because there are no homes available, it just does not make sense to bring more into the world. (If you are having difficulties finding a program, email me, and I will personally help you find one.)


Pets should be a welcome addition to your family. Planning ahead to budget for routine care, feeding and attention will keep the whole family out of the doghouse.

The models: DaVinci is a 6-year-old Rottweiler/Husky mix I got as an eight-week-old puppy. Ian is now 10 1/2 months old and loves using Vinnie as a jungle gym and splashing in his water dish.

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Reader Comments:


Lisa, This is an EXCELLENT blog post. I feel like if I start talking about these things with friends and family it seems like I'm preaching or harping. But coming from an angle of you could save money makes sense!! I shared it on my facebook page. We currently have a foster dog, plus 2 of our own. The foster dog was an owner surrender because he "is just too much to handle". The family who had him said he chewed and wasn't house trained, etc. He's been with us for almost a week and the only flaw we see is he wasn't loved enough in his past life! I bet he was BORED and without companionship!!

By Samantha on September 15, 2011


Love the information.....and the pictures....ADORABLE!! I'll be a new grandmama come November and cannot wait to see how my Mollie (who I adopted from Coastal Pet Rescue) responds to the new little bundle of joy. I'm sure it will be a match made in heaven!!

By Tina on July 09, 2011


Oh Please I Have Two Dog's One Is A Golden Retriever & A Chocolate Lab,And My Lab Gets In Alot Of Tromble. But I Have To Say I Just Love Them To Death.

By Cindy Anderson on July 07, 2011


I have a grey tabby cat named sassy. She will only let you pet her if it is what she wants. She is also extremely skiddish. If we have guests over or if its just too loud in the house then she is normally hiding somewhere.

By Kayla on July 07, 2011


I love watching you on cook shows,, you make cooking so fun. I enjoy cooking myself,, But some times I get to appoint of what do I cook,,do you ever get to that point? I have a new husband and a stepdaughter,, I want to teach her good cooking so I need something easy, good and fun for her,, she is only 9,, what would you suggest

By Rose Bradshaw on July 07, 2011


I have a sweet lively Jack Russell, after 20 years of Basset Hounds decided to crank it up a notch and get walking! Truly owning a dog is the best thing in my life besides watching Paula and her two sons cook!

By Anonymous on July 06, 2011


Great information on the pets and I love the pictues of Ian and DaVinci.

By Ruby on July 06, 2011


I got the DooLittle gene in me. I have always loved dogs but as a child could never have one because my brother had allergies. I went on to be a Veterinary Technician and have never been without at least one dog since. I am also pathologically creative that has come out in various forms throughout the years. After turning fifty I my creativity has evolved into writing. For my father's 85 birthday two years ago I wrote a children's book (which is even more interesting since I never had children) and got it self published for him as a gift. I have gotten such good response from mother's that I want to pursue having it published.The book is titled Now Can I Have A Dog? It leads into the second book which I just finished called Now Can I Have A Horse? If anyone is interested in helping me in the right direction for this vision of getting published I sure would appreciate it. I do have a blog at www.barbsbarkers.blogspot.com Thank you all. (Paula, I did send you a copy of Now Can I Have A Dog two years ago....I hope you got it)

By Barb Miller on July 05, 2011


I have a sweet labrador retriever, 5 sweet cats, 1 cinnamon green cheek conure, and a pretty pink-purple beta LOL Im a HUGE animal lover. Also take care of and feed our wildlife pets that we have. We have about 15 raccoons, a momma, daddy and baby fox, 2 opossums, roadrunners as of now 8 baby squirrels and 6 full grown ones LOL.. like I said, Im a HUGE animal lover.. I try to "take home" everything LOL

By Anonymous on July 05, 2011


hi lisa the baby is so sweet ,I myself have no children but unfortunately I like to bring other children to laugh and usually I'm also happy it's only happened once to me it has started a 2 year old baby to cry ! Greetings from Basel in Switzerland

By gino niklaus on July 05, 2011


We love our animals!! We have a hobby farm with plenty of pets! Inside: 1 Boxer 9 months old (Bazil) 1 Miniature Long Haired Weeney dog 10 weeks (Sassy, she lives up to her name very well :0) 1 Double Dapple Weeney Black & White 4 years (Sadie) 1 Miniature Black Weeney (Gertie) She's 6 and a rescue and 1 Standard Apricot Poodle 5 years (Abbie) 11 Inside cats - Ones a mancoon and he's huge, several handicap, and 1 that has CH (no balance) It doesn't seem to bother him, he's such a brat :0) Outside: 2 Cats 11 Shetland Sheep 10 Shetland Sheep Babies 1 Llama (he's also a rescue) Assorted exotic chickens And wild turkeys when they decide to stop by. Thank God we have a huge house and yard for everyone to feel comfortable in, but we love em' all!

By Becky on July 05, 2011


I have 2 beautiful boxers, male & female. A couple of very spoiled clows who keep me on my toes almost as much as my 5 yr old boy. Im glad to learn your passion is not just in cooking but also pets. Mine too. smile funny they are also both very theraputic lol.....

By Kate on July 05, 2011


Lisa I always love reading about your blogs!

By jess on July 05, 2011


Good blog! We are a 4 dog house. 2 pugs (Bella & Henry) an Old English Bulldog (Max)and a bassett hound (Bessie) I take them out to play in the backyard before it gets hot and more often than not Im the one who gets all beat up lol

By Kris Taylor on July 05, 2011


Great blog. As the owner of a small home based dog bakery, I understand the importance of feeding our best friends nutritious treats and keeping the costs low. Thank you for the articles!

By Linda Hill on July 05, 2011


We have as our vet refer to our 17 year old Pom an antique dog. Her birthday was the 3rd. of July. Still in pretty good health for her age. Also my beloved Sheltie, Bailey. Just a year and a half. God gave us these beautiful animals to love and be the best caretakers we can.

By Laura Wilson on July 05, 2011


Well Girl! Like always a GREAT article, this one I'm going to share on my FB wall. Very good advice any animal lover/owner!! Much love!

By Andrea on July 05, 2011


Mrs Paula, Love ur show. I have two 90+ pound Doberman Pincher. I would love to send them to obedience school. Roxy an Gunner are so friendly, but like to pull hubby an I when going for a walk. With my condition worsening, I actually don't like walkin them cuz the pain gets to where I don't enjoy my walkin time or bonding time with my girl. My husband rescued Gunner a year an half ago from being in abused home..he's healthy an happy as can be...now he's even strong enough to walk us now too. It really sucks that training classes are like 100+ about every week. Do ya happen to know the best most effective way to train dogs without taking food off the table?

By Heather Nguyen on July 05, 2011


good article, we have a 4 year old male German Shepherd (who is well behaved, & trained)that my husband found & bought & a 9+ yrs Shepherd mix (possible Rottweiler & Husky) female (very sweet girl)that we adopted. Rex gets his daily walk but Brandy can't make it that far, she just goes down the block a little. The guys also play with them a lot. They also get a lot of attention from me and on hot days like today are enjoying the AC.My husband mostly feeds them & changes out the water outside but I make sure it's done & also fill the kitchen water dish.Our dogs are part of the family.

By Lena on July 05, 2011


I also volunteer at our local shelter & cannot express enough the need to spay/neuter. There are so many animals waiting to be adopted & so many that have to be euthanized because there simply isn't enough room. Rescue animals make the best pets & I encourage everyone to go to your local shelter & adopt one of these very deserving animals. It's not their fault they're in a shelter.

By RaDonna Marek on July 05, 2011

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