Your Money Matters: Owning a pet on a budget

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Alicia Boemi


Make DIY Pet Supplies
There are a lot of items that dog owners buy that they could easily make at home. Fleece blankets, dog treats and even dog beds are super easy to make, which can save adopters a lot of money, especially for items you need to buy on a regular basis. A lot of dogs love to cuddle up in a comfortable blanket, but you might not want to turn all of your bedding over to the family pet. Instead of buying, you can easily make fleece blankets to fit any dog’s style. Dog treats can really add up, especially if you’re using treats as a training incentive. You can make really tasty no-bake coconut pumpkin treats for your dog. With only two ingredients that you can buy at Aldi or Trader Joe’s, you can enjoy some savings while your dog enjoys a tasty treat.

Mention Your Rescue Dog
Many pet stores in the Chicago area will give you a discount on pet supplies if you mention that your dog is a rescue. One example is Petco’s Think Adoption First Care & Savings Program, adopters can enjoy savings on initial purchases at Petco, including savings up to 50% on food and supplies, plus customized pet care tips for your specific pet type. To enjoy these special savings, bring proof of adoption into Petco and ask a store associate for a Think Adoption First booklet, packed with coupons. If you’ve recently adopted from a rescue or shelter and already received a booklet, simply bring it and your adoption papers in on your next shopping trip to Petco.

Plan for the Unexpected, and Save in the Long Run
Like any dog, rescue dogs can wind up needing some extra vet care. Super athletic dogs can tear an ACL - eye or ear infections can come up, and dog’s age just like humans and can require some extra care. It is always best to be prepared and insurance for your dog can help alleviate unexpected major surgery and emergency care costs. Trupanion, Embrace and ASPCA Pet Insurance are great pet insurers for you and your rescue dog in case any surprises might pop up. If you don’t want to commit to insurance, save $10 a month just in case. Save a little extra for your dog - you never know.

Exercise is Not Only Physical
Mental exercise, especially during our long Chicago winters, can be a great way for your rescue dog to show their smarts while burning brain energy. This doesn’t have to be expensive either - a rubber Kong for about $12 from any pet store filled with goodies like treats, coconut oil, wet dog food, or cheese and then frozen will give your dog plenty to do for a while. You can teach an old dog new tricks! Grab a bag of treats, cheese, or even some cut up hot dogs and teach your dog fun indoor tricks like how to turn the lights off, or how to balance a treat on their head. This will test your patience but will also exhaust your dog mentally. Last, there are tons of brain games for your dog available on the internet. has mental stimulation games for dogs that range anywhere from $12-$50 and range in difficulty too.


Mix coconut oil (about a 1/2 a cup - can be more or less for big/small dogs) and a can of pumpkin or sweet potato together in a mixing bowl. Let it sit once it is mixed so the coconut oil can harden a bit. Take a cookie sheet or whatever will fit in your freezer out. Take scoops of the coconut+ mixture and make into a ball and place on your tray or plate. Once you are done, freeze for an hour or so and give as a treat.