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Are you thinking about welcoming a new member to the family? Pets make wonderful companions but they aren't always easy to deal with or cheap. Here are a few tips to help keep spending within reason on your furry friends.

Decide what's best for you

If you're looking for a low-maintenance pet, stick with fish, bugs, small reptiles, birds or rodents. Learn what it takes to keep them fed, clean and stick to the schedule/routine. If you're looking for love, affection, entertainment and companionship, cats and dogs take the prize, and along with it, your money.

Adopt

Dozens of pets end up at animal shelters in the Valley alone. Save a pet from the overcrowded shelters by adopting. Fees vary from donations to on average $75 dollars. Pet shelters often run specials during holiday seasons where they see an influx of animals turned in or found after the holidays. Save hundreds of dollars by adopting instead of buying from stores or breeders.

Invest in your pet's health

Starting with spaying and neutering, you can reduce additional expenses associated with skipping the surgeries. Caring for a litter is more expensive then spaying or neutering your pet. Spaying and neutering also help improve your pet's behavior and health: both potentially expensive parts of owning a pet.

Buying pet insurance

It may seem silly to consider whether pet insurance is a good idea when there is great debate on the feasibility of humans getting it. But pet insurance can help alleviate unpredicted and unexpected cost. From vaccines to surgeries, insurance plans for pets cover a big array of areas. Some also include medication, doctors' visits and major surgery. Pet insurance plans can be bought monthly, yearly or by periods and varies depending the age, sex, breed and size of your pet.

Grooming: do it yourself

Yes, grooming services are convenient, but also costly. If your pet is young or just adopted, get them used to getting groomed by you. From nail trimming to brushing and bathing, doing it at home is cheaper. It can also be a therapeutic and bonding experience between owner and pet.

Behavior issues

Setting boundaries for your pet early on will help avoid unwanted behavior. For those who may not be confident enough to train the pet themselves, sign up for training lessons. Take charge so your pet won't become aggressive and potentially dangerous to other animals or humans. If you feel that you can pass on good vibes and authoritative commands on your own, find inspiration through shows such as "Dog Whisperer," books or websites. Exercise is a key partin keeping a dog's anxiety at check.

Toys and comfort

It's frustrating to spend $10 on a toy your dog will destroy in 30 seconds or your cat will ignore after 30 minutes. Buy appropriate toys for your pet's age and development stage. If you find a durable kid of toy, buy multiples and introduce them to your pet at different times. Don't fall victim to fashions or brands that simply cost too much. Also, clean your pets' toys and avoid bringing toys from outside in to stay away from germs.

Feeding right

Pets will eat what you give them, for the most part. Setting a routine for the types of food you'll give your pet is important, along with a schedule of when to eat it. Following recommended servings can keep your dog's health in check and your checkbook balanced. Look for deals on treats and food. Manufacturers put out thousands of dollars in coupons out each year to help you save. Treats is one you can always find good deal on.

It's all part of a cycle

Keeping your pet healthy with routine vet visits, spay and neutering surgeries, frequent exercise, adequate grooming and training and feeding stability, can help your keep your pets balanced and do the same for your bank account.

Martha Maurer, News Editor

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