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Spoiling Your Dog on a Budget

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Spoiling your dog doesn't have to mean spending lots of money. With a little love and creativity, you can ensure that your dog stays healthy and happy.

Diane Levy lives in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains of eastern Tennessee and shares her 50-year-old farm house with two cats and a dog. Self-employed, Levy knows how to manage work and life on a tight budget. She makes practical decisions influenced by a caring heart.

“I treat my animals the same way that I treat myself,” Levy said. “We all eat well and get plenty of exercise. By spending my money on a quality diet today, I am saving myself money in the long run – fewer health problems and fewer vet bills.”

Pay attention

Levy physically inspects her animals every day, running her hands from head to toe and tail, making sure they’re OK. From her pets’ point-of-view, they are being stroked, petted and loved. And they are.

“By being this connected to my animals I can respond quickly to them if there’s a problem,” she said.

Levy’s dog Buddy, a golden retriever with a bit of chow mixed in, was a rescue animal, adopted when he was eight months old. That first summer together, Levy noticed Buddy was scratching terribly and was losing his undercoat. The local vet diagnosed the skin inflammation as seasonal allergies. Not wanting to put him on steroids, Levy drove three hours roundtrip to Knoxville to a homeopathic vet. Buddy refused to eat the expensive dog food the vet sent home with her.

Instead, she decided to make Buddy’s food herself, putting him on a diet of tilapia and potatoes, mixing in kelp, nutritional yeast, flax seed, flax oil and other ingredients to support his immune system. She bathed and brushed him more frequently. His skin calmed down. Buddy survived the season comfortably and Levy learned how to treat his condition herself, saving the cost of medication and vet bills.

“I spoil my animals with love and attention, looking out for their well-being” she said. “I take Buddy for rides in the car with me, I walk in the woods with him everyday, play with him, take him swimming in mountain creeks. He sleeps in my bed.”

Lucky dog.

Who’s spoiling whom?

Kitty Redden has two rescued pomeranians that live with her family in a brownstone in Brooklyn, N.Y. A married, working mom, living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, Redden spoils her dogs by giving them their favorite things: her old t-shirts filled with her comforting scent, and a single, knotted tube sock used for vigorous games of tug-of-war. Best of all she gives them her lap for petting and cuddling.

Redden says she “spoils her dogs rotten.” But who’s spoiling whom? Living a modern, stress-filled life, trying to make ends meet, Redden is comforted by her dogs, and is calmed just by holding them close and petting them. With more and more studies showing the health advantages of pet companionship – from reduced blood pressure to fewer incidents of heart attack – owning a dog is proving to be a cost benefit to human health.

If, as the saying goes, “time equals money,” then spending time with your dog makes you a rich person. And that costs nothing.

Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
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