Money-Wise: Smart Shopping for Your Pet

Healthy Pets,
Healthy Wallet
by Melissa Sánchez - Yakima Herald-Republic

Getting pets plenty of exercise, avoiding feeding them too much can go a long way in keeping expenses down

ANDY SAWYER/Yakima Herald-Republic - Nicole Daughtery plays with her dogs, Cashes, left, and Rambo at Gilbert Park Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009 in Yakima, Wash. Daughtery said one of the ways she saves money with her pets is keeping them healthy.

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Nicole Daugherty doesn't have the extra cash to spoil her beloved dogs, Rambo and Cashes.

But that doesn't keep her from being a good pet owner.

On a recent afternoon, Daugherty was hitting old tennis balls with a racket at Gilbert Park -- to the obvious pleasure of her little Chihuahua and black Labrador.

"They're healthy and active," said Daugherty, a 27-year-old Yakima resident.

Local veterinarians and other experts say the healthier you keep your pet -- through diet and exercise -- the less cash you're likely to spend on costly medical visits.

This week's Your Money focus is for the countless readers in the Yakima Valley who want to remain good pet owners while keeping an eye on their pocketbooks.

After all, not everybody can do it, says Patsy Dye, who directs shelter operations for the Humane Society of Central Washington.

"There are definitely more strays this year," she said. "I do fear a lot of people are just letting their pets loose, because when you surrender your pet to us there is a fee.

"And if you can't afford to feed your pet, you probably can't afford to pay that fee."

For those who plan to keep their pets, there are several ways to save money.

Daugherty, for example, says she and her boyfriend choose to groom and bathe their dogs themselves, instead of paying somebody else to do it.

"But we feed them good, more expensive dog food because it's better for their systems," she said. "A good diet, no table scraps. It's simple."

Watch your pet's weight, recommends veterinarian David Hinz of the Yakima Veterinary Clinic.
"Keeping weight under control will save them some money in the long run," he said. "And if you buy better quality food, you don't have to feed as much ...

"The problem is a lot of people go to the higher-quality food, but still feed them the same quantity."

A good rule to keep in mind is that you should be able to feel and count your pet's ribs pretty easily, Hinz said.

Ask your vet what a healthy weight is for your pet. Many will allow you drop by on a regular basis just to weigh the pet on a large scale and see how the diet is working.

The down economy has affected his clinic over the past year, Hinz noted. Many established clients are choosing to delay some procedures like routine teeth cleaning.

"But many of the folks that we see would sacrifice themselves or whatever to take care of their pets because they love their pets," Hinz said. "So many times, they're part of the family."

Joan Arnold, a local pet store owner, agrees. She hasn't noticed a drop in food sales to regular clients at Yakima Tropical Fish & Pet Village.

In a supply room away from the squawking birds and bubbling fish tanks, she leaned into a fold-up chair and said most pet owners she's gotten to know over the years will do anything for their pets.

"Maybe they'll buy a little less of treats, fish tanks -- the impulse buys," she said. "But most of your pet owners are good, conscientious people and they're going to look after their pets."

That's how Yakima pet groomer Tina Macaulay also views her clients' relationships with the pets she grooms. She said she's noticed some pet owners -- especially those on fixed incomes like Social Security -- may space out their visits by a few weeks or months.

Most groomers will clean animals' ears, anal glands and toenails, she added.

"That will help keep your pet healthy," Macaulay said. "I think a lot of people don't realize that. It is like going to the beautician, but then there's the aspect of grooming that's their health."

* Melissa Sánchez can be reached at 509-577-7675 or

Tips to save money

* Don't overfeed your pet. Ask the vet how much your pet needs to eat, and don't give it more. This will save you money in two ways -- you'll spend less on excess food, and your animal will be healthier. Like humans, a healthy diet will mean less costly medical visits in the long run.

* Avoid impulse buys. Does your cat or dog really need extra treats? Not only is that extra money, but your pet might not need those additional calories.

* Make your own toys for your pet. Instead of buying Fido a new plaything, try tying two socks together instead. Chances are, the dog won't notice the difference.

* Ask the vet whether there's a home remedy you can try for your pet's ailments. If your dog or cat has unusual growths, ask whether its necessary to remove them right away, or if you can delay the procedure.

* Consider homemade treats for your pet. The Internet is full of recipes for special treats for dogs and cats.

* Check your local library for videos on grooming and clipping your pet. It might be time-consuming at first, but you'll spend less money. How often you need to do it depends on the pet's fur, so ask your vet.

* Keeping your pet active -- with regular walks, runs or trips to the park -- will keep it healthy. And good health means less money spent on medical visits in the long run.

* If you're planning to be out of town for a few days, consider asking a friend or neighbor to feed your pet instead of spending money on kennels. Work out an arrangement where you can take turns swapping the duty.

Financial help to spay, neuter your pet

The Spay & Neuter Assistance Program -- through Yakama Nation Legends Casino, the Humane Society of Central Washington, and other organizations -- provides free or low-cost surgeries for pet owners. Anybody can qualify.

Applications are available at the Humane Society, 2405 W. Birchfield Road in Yakima.

If you're in a position to help ...

... there are hundreds of abandoned or stray pets that could use it. The Human Society's food shelves -- usually kept full this time of year through donations -- are now bare, says shelter manager Patsy Dye. Consider making a donation. Visit the shelter, call 509-457-6854 or check out

Never, But Never,
Give a Pet as a Gift
Posted by: Jan S

I learned to never give a pet as a gift. About 15 years ago it had a tragic end. It was just before Christmas and my nephew had been bugging his mother for a pet. I knew of his requests and talked to my mother about the possibilities. My mother was living with my sister and nephew at the time and she was the person whom most of the responsibilities of a new pet would fall on. With both of my sister and my mother’s consent I presented a gift of a 3 gallon tank set up with 2 fantail goldfish. I only lived a few miles away and told all of them should they need any help at all just give me a call and I will be right over.

For the first few weeks I monitored that they were not feeding the fish too much or not at all. It seemed that I was teaching my nephew more than the adults in the house. After all I grew up with my sister and mother and we kept fish as pets when we were young. I thought that they both knew about fish culture from past experience, I was wrong.

That went on for about 3 weeks, after that I thought the fish are doing fine. We talked on the phone every few days and I always made sure that I asked how the fish were doing. The answer was always the same, “they are fine.” It was 3 weeks before I dropped in on them for a visit, we were all going to meet up for a local sale then it was back to their house for lunch. It was before I got back to their house that I talked to my nephew and asked him how he liked the fish. He then told me that they were having trouble eating because they were swimming funny. When I got to their house I found out that the fish had lost all of their fins to fin rot, a common fish ailment. Those poor fish could not get to their food and they struggled to just get water over their gills. I was highly upset at both my mother and my sister for not telling me. I told them that I could have treated them for fin rot if only they had told me about the problem. I found out that they had not even bothered with the fish, because to both of them the goldfish were not a real pet but a throwaway item.

I came unglued and took the fish back that day. I would like to report that I successfully treated the fish and they lived but they did not. To me any life, even a goldfish deserves compassion and care on the part of its owner. Those 2 small goldfish got neither from their new owners. I learned a brutal lesson that year of never giving a pet as a gift even if you have permission.


Always give your pet a hug, kind word or praise. After all they are around because you wanted them to be there.

- Jan S. at All the Creatures

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Curbing Car Sickness for Pets
SG Gate

'Tis the season for family visits and holiday getaways. And because pets are an important part of the family, we of course want to bring them along. Unfortunately car sickness can often accompany these trips, and is especially prevalent in puppies.

Help your pet enjoy life on the open road.

So perhaps it's no surprise that now, in addition to our animals, pharmaceutical companies are also clamoring to be included in our holiday travel plans. Pfizer recently launched both a Twitter feed called "Dog On Board," geared towards families who are taking their pup on holiday, AND Cerenia, a new FDA-approved drug for dogs that helps prevent vomiting caused by travel-induced motion sickness.

Thankfully there are lots of things we can do (sans drugs) to help prepare our pets for their new role as copilot. Here are some tips to make cruising in the car a happier experience for everyone involved:

•Take trial runs: Put your pet in the car and let her explore. Then turn on the engine so she gets familiar with the sound. Try this a few times and reward your pet after each successful attempt.

•Start small: Before hitting the open road for a long drive, start small with quick trips around the neighborhood. Offer treats and praise each time she keeps her cool. Gradually increase the distance and reward accordingly.

•Visit pet-friendly destinations: Rather than creating a negative association with the car by only taking your pet for rides when you're heading to the vet (or other destinations your pet would rather skip), be sure to bring your pooch to places she loves, like parks and beaches.

•Travel on an empty stomach: Just like our parents cautioned us to wait an hour after eating before getting back in the pool, it's best to let our pets digest before heading out on a long joyride. The general rule is to avoid feeding your pet six hours prior to a long car trip, although some animals can handle a light meal an hour or two before saying bon voyage. (Water is okay.)

•Keep it mellow: While you may secretly dream of being a NASCAR driver, it's best to keep your daredevil stunts in check when your animals are in tow. Going easy on the curves (and brakes) will mean less anxiety for your pets, and less mess for you to clean up along the way.

•Use crates and carriers: Creating a secure refuge for your pet can go a long way in keeping them comfortable and stress-free on long rides. If you are not crating your pooch, a doggie seat belt is a smart and inexpensive way to invest in her safety.

•Give them something to look at: Staring at the dashboard, door handles and sky can get old pretty quick. If you have a smaller dog, consider using an elevated car seat to allow her to take in the view. Many cats can get freaked out by the quickly changing scenery, so keeping them in carriers that are strapped into into the back seat is often the best bet.

•Help them enjoy the smell of the open road: A whiff of fresh air can be a welcome antidote for anyone who is suffering from car sickness — our pets included. Many dogs love to stick their noses out of moving cars, just be sure that they can't jump or fall out of the window. (Keeping windows no more than half-way down is usually a safe guideline to follow when driving at slower speeds; on the highway, it's best to simply crack the windows to prevent your pup from possible eye injury, unless he's sporting Doggles of course — see the video below.)

•Make frequent pit stops: Most seasoned travelers can cruise for hours without an accident. But all pets benefit from breaks to stretch their legs and have a drink of water. Plan to stop every few hours.

•Don't take it personally: If you try all of the above advice and your dog or cat still barfs in the car, please don't get angry at them (they already feel miserable enough) or take their sickness personally. Some pets are simply more susceptible to motion sickness than others and might be best left at home with a sitter the next time you set out on a lengthy road trip.

Impress Your Friends
with Fun, Furry Facts
By Pet Connection Staff

Need a little holiday party chit chat help? Dr. Marty Becker and Gina Spadafori have just thing in this week’s Pet Connection newspaper feature:

People love to collect, and it seems everyone has something they just can’t get enough of. For us, pet-related trivia seems to hold endless fascination. We collect it, we share it from our homes a thousand miles apart, and we file it. Because, well, you never know when pulling out that file will remind you of something you’ve been meaning to write about.

This week, we’ve pulled out some of the quirkiest pet-related tidbits for sharing. Hope you enjoy them, and if you have some yourself, we’d love to hear from you.

Read theirs here, then come back and share yours!

From Dr. Becker and Mikkel Becker Shannon, some interesting news about how pet owners pick pet foods:

Respondents to an informal poll with 2,000 participants on said that concern over pet-food quality and ingredients was the most likely reason for them to switch pet foods. Three-quarters of respondents had this concern when it came to food choice, far surpassing veterinary recommendations at 14 percent or price at 8 percent.

Plus, a reminder from Dr. Becker that food is not love:

Obesity in pets causes a lot of the same problems it does in people. An overweight pet is prone to a host of related problems, including diabetes, joint, ligament and tendon difficulties, breathing and heart challenges. Overweight cats can even develop skin problems from not being able to groom themselves properly. The overall impact on comfort and longevity can be dire.

Is your pet overweight? Healthy pets have some padding on them, but a little is plenty. Rub your hands over the ribs of your dog or cat. The skin should move easily back and forth, and you should be able to feel the ribs. Your pet should have a definable “waist” at the bottom of the rib cage, a small tuck-in at the stomach. Take a look from the side: If your pet looks pregnant, he’s fat. From above, a bump out from the middle into an apple shape is equally bad news. In birds, look for a thicker breast or rolls of fat.

Crash diets aren’t good for pets, especially not for fat cats, who can develop a fatal liver problem if forced to reduce too quickly. A pet doesn’t get fat overnight, and he shouldn’t be forced to change course any more rapidly. What you’ll need to do is change your pet’s eating and exercise habits gradually.

The best place to start is with a trip to your veterinarian. You’ll want to make sure your pet doesn’t have any problems that might make lifestyle changes difficult or dangerous. Your vet can also suggest a food plan that might help.

Carve some time out of your schedule to walk your dog or play with your cat — three times a week, at least. Be sure to work in some aerobic exercise, anything that gets a cat or dog really moving. Dividing the daily food ration into small portions and making pets work to find them or putting food in puzzles that require work to get at will also help.

Want more? Read the entire Pet Connection for this week, or download the PDF file exactly the way we send it to our client newspapers!

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Frugal Pet Care:
How to Reduce Your
Pet Care Expenses

Anyone who owns a pet knows that it’s an added cost to your family, but you shouldn’t mind paying that cost if you really want a pet to add as a family member of your household.

You can save money on your pet expenses by shopping around and knowing where to get free or cheap services and goods for your furry family members. It’s very important to take care of your pets, meaning you should keep them up to date on shots and physicals at the vet’s office. You should have them spayed or neutered to prevent any unwanted litters and unwanted pets. You should be able to provide them with a safe home, healthy food, flea prevention and other smaller necessities. Here’s how you can save on all the necessities your pet needs you to provide for them:

•Free or cheap shots (rabies, distemper): Some vets and many humane societies or animal shelters offer free or discounted rabies and distemper shots throughout the year. Also, check with animal stores, like Pet Smart and Petco, who also offer discounted shots at clinics occassionally. Check ahead of time to see who has the best price for a shot for your pet. Check with your local SPCA, animal shelters, your local humane society, local vets and local pet stores.

•Get your pet spayed or neutered inexpensively by taking them to your local SPCA or any other local agency in your area that offers the service at a fraction of the cost that you will pay at a veternarian’s office. Unfortunately, I didn’t know my local SPCA offered the service at a discounted rate and I took my first cat to a veternarian where I paid triple what I would’ve paid at the SPCA for the same service. Most local SPCA’s will even spay or neuter feral (wild) cats that are trapped and brought in for free. They will spay or neuter a pet for much less than most veternarian’s offices.

•It is important to get your pet micro chipped, which many people think is expensive, but it is not really all that expensive once you check into it. Plus, it could help save your pet’s life and help reunite your pet with you if they become lost for whatever reason, so it’s worth it. Check with local vets, the SPCA and any other local animal agencies or organizations. Some organizations offer microchipping for only $25.

•Get coupons for pet food and treats in the Sunday newspaper and by request through the pet food company of your choice. Keep an eye out for any coupons you can find online, in the newspaper or through the mail. Sign up for the pet food companies email list to receive discounts and information regarding the brand of food. If you shop at pet stores like Petco and Pet Smart, get a frequent shopper’s card to get discounts and possibly even earn a free bag of food after purchasing so many bags of food. There are many pet coupons that appear in the newspaper and online all the time for food, treats and other stuff for pets.

•Get bargain-priced toys that are on clearance or you could make your own pet toys.

•Adopt a pet inexpensively from animal shelters, pounds, the SPCA or other animal organization or on Craigslist. Don’t pay tons of money for a pet from a breeder when that pet already has a home or will definitely find one, when so many animals are in shelters, pounds, at the SPCA and other animal organizations that desperately need homes.

•Shop for pet medications online. You can get pet medications like Frontline for fleas and ticks inexpenively online through web sites that offer discounts, coupon codes and even free shipping sometimes. Use Shopzilla to compare prices on whatever you’re shopping for, to find the cheapest price.

•Shop for various other pet stuff online (especially on Craigslist or with a coupon code on a pet shopping site). Check Craigslist in the pet section to find pet stuff for sale and check the "free" section of Craigslist, people give away pet stuff too, like scratching posts, litter boxes, pet toys and other assorted pet stuff all for free.

•Look for free stuff being offered on pet websites and freebie sites online. Many freebie sites have a section for pets. Check to see if you can get free samples of food, pet toys and other free stuff for your pet.

•If you can’t afford to pay for a veternarian bill up front work something out with your vet. Try to work out a payment plan or some way to pay them back for their service to take care of your pet.

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Wrinkled Dog Breeds
Posted by: Jan S -

What dog breeds come to your mind when you think of wrinkles? I bet Shar-Pei comes to mind first but how about this list that the best anti wrinkle creams never came near:

•Neapolitan Mastiff
•Dogue De Bordeaux
•English Mastiff

Dogs with very wrinkled skin need special attention by their owners to keep their coats clean. The folds of the skin can harbor dampness and dirt which can become yeast infections.


Always give your pet a hug, kind word or praise. After all they are around because you wanted them to be there.

- Jan S. at All the Creatures

Different Types of Turtles

Turtles are quite admired by people as a pet. Taming a turtle can be fun only if you select the right specie. It is advisable to select turtle wisely not on whim if you want to keep them for long period. Some of the common pet turtles are mentioned below that will help you to choose best turtle for your home.

Different types of pet turtles:

1. North American wood turtle: It is one of the most interesting turtle specie that can be kept as a pet. They are quick learner and interactive in nature. People love their company, therefore are quite admired as pets. One should provide them sufficient and appropriate food to eat and fresh water to drink.

2. Peninsular cooter: It is a great option for novice who wants to tame turtle. These pet turtles are easy to handle and requires very less attention. This herbivorous specie loves to feed on insects and fishes in their juvenile days. They love to bask in the sun near a water body so one should allow them such area where they can bask. One should provide them proper enclosure with a dry area to bask on.

3. The Australian pig nosed turtle: This type of turtles love to gurgle in fresh waters. Some of the sub species of this turtle are - Fly River turtle, platelets turtle, pitted shelled turtle, etc. These turtles are known as soft shelled turtles. These turtles should not be accompanied with huge fishes and other reptiles in the tank. The enclosure of this turtle should not be kept open.

4. The saw back turtle: It is also known as the map turtle which and mostly found in fresh waters. It is also admired as a pet because of its attractive looks and easy to care. The body of this tortoise is covered with the marks of different colors - cream, green and yellow which makes it look like a road map, and therefore it is named as map turtle.

5. The green sea turtle: The green sea turtle is mostly found in tropical and subtropical places of the world. This exotic turtle specie is not at all problematic when kept in captivity. It feeds well and is interactive at times too.

The above mentioned types will help you in selecting best turtle for your home. This information will help you in dealing accurately with them. Before you purchase turtle it is essential for you to know what kind of care they need.

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