7 ways to keep your pet happy on a budget

For many people, their pets are like their children. And like children, people want their pets to be happy.

However, anyone with kids knows it can become costly to keep them healthy and active — not to mention happy — and the same goes for pets. There are, however, many ways to keep pets happy on a budget. As a veterinarian, here are my tips!

Keeping your pet healthy and happy, without breaking the bank

Fancy dog getting a manicure at the spa

Don’t forget their mani-pedis

For most pets, the thought of a manicure or pedicure is not as pleasant as it would be for humans. However, nail care is important to keep them healthy and happy.

Dogs with overgrown nails do not walk the right way, or place their feet on the ground properly; in cats, long nails can become so overgrown that the nails grow into the paw pads and cause infections.

A nail trim at a groomer can cost anywhere from $10 to $20 per appointment. But with a proper pair of nail clippers, which can cost as little at $10, you can provide the right nail care for your pets anytime and ensure they walk properly, stay free of infections, and feel good and happy.

Big dog with a block of ice as a treat

Ice is nice

Ice is incredibly refreshing, especially in the middle of a hot day. And it is even better when it tastes good.

You can spoil your furry one with flavored ice, which won’t break the bank and will keep them healthy at the same time.

Just add a little low-sodium chicken or beef broth (available for a low cost at any supermarket) to water, and put it in an ice tray.

If your pet has allergies, you can try a little tuna, apple, or carrot juice. Leave it in the freezer overnight and on the next hot day, your pet will thank you for helping to keep them cool and happy.

Cat playing in a cardboard box

Save those boxes

In any home, there is usually a spare box lying around, and chances are (if you have a cat) the cat has found it.

Boxes are great entertainment for your cat and will keep them happy for a long time. You can let your cats hide, sleep, and play in them. And usually, any size box will work.

For dogs, a box can be made into a comfortable bed. To make a bed out of a box, remove the top and cut out a side so they can easily go in and out of it without having to step too high.

Lastly, line it with something comfortable, like an old sheet or comforter. Then your dog will think that it is sleeping like royalty.

Dog getting combed on the back

Scratch that back

Anyone with a bad itch in that one spot loves a good scratch! For most dogs and cats, scratching and itching is due to allergies.

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the most common skin disease affecting dogs is flea bite hypersensitivity, and fleas are also a major cause of miliary dermatitis — a type of skin infection in cats. Just one flea bite can cause severe itching in dogs and cats (over the base of the tail in dogs and around the neck in cats), and leaves them miserable.

To help scratch that itch and check for fleas, pick up a flea comb. Flea combs can be found at any pet store, cost as little as $4, and will easily get through the thickest coat. Flea combs can scratch the worst itch without harming the skin and will make your pet happy by helping to keep those fleas away.

Kitty playing outdoors

Go outside

Like all of us, pets cannot wait for the weekend or the summer because it means they get to be outside more. Going outside can keep your pets happy by entertaining them and helping them to learn and experience new things.

It’s important to purchase a reliable harness at the pet store, which although can be a little more expensive, it will pay off in its first few uses. Many pet stores will help fit your pet for the right harness.

Harnesses are also available for cats, as many of them like to go outside as well. But make sure, like your children, you supervise all your pets while outside so they do not get hurt or into trouble.

Dog jumping in a pool with a ball on his mouth

Have a ball

Give a dog a ball and he will chase it all day. Balls have been entertaining dogs and keeping them happy for ages.

A pack of three tennis balls goes for less than $5 at many sports stores. It will make most dogs happy, as it is the perfect toy.

Dogs can chase it, chew it, hide it, and never get bored with it.

And balls can make cats content too. Get your pet a ball, and they will be happy for a lifetime. Just make sure the ball, or any toy, is safe for pets to play with.  

Dog and human watching the sunset together

Be happy

Probably the best and simplest way to keep your pets happy is for you to be happy!

Many pets feed off their owners and what their owners are feeling.  So if you are sad, anxious, or stressed, your pets will also experience those emotions.  Striving to be happy in your life will also make your pets happy, so enjoy your life and your furry ones will too.

All photos by iStock

Nicole Jimenez
Nicole Jimenez

Dr. Nicole Jimenez is a 2014 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. She has medical experience with dogs, cats, avian species, exotic and aquatic animals. When she is away from the office, she comes home to her own two dogs Molly and Baxter. She also has a cat named Weasley.