19 Things You Never Need to Buy Your Pet

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a puppy and two kittens
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NO SPOILING THE ANIMALS

Pets are much-loved members of many families. They're also big business. The American Pet Products Association estimates that pet owners spend nearly $60 billion a year on their furry friends. Although it's fun to treat Fluffy and Fido to the best -- and lots of it -- if frugality is the order of the day, there are many items that simply aren't necessary when welcoming a pet into the home.

Weebo Pets Cotton Flossin' Rope Bone Dog Toy
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TOYS AND MORE TOYS

There's no need to go crazy buying bucketsful of toys for a new pet, especially when it's not clear what they will enjoy. A few playthings will do. Top choices for nearly all dogs: a plush toy (about $4), a ball for fetching, a chew toy ($6), and a tug toy. (Owners might also try making their own.) Cats will be happy with a string toy (about $2) and little balls to chase.

cat in bed
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EXPENSIVE BED

Whether the new pet is a pup or full-grown adult, a fancy bed isn't worth the price. Puppies chew and rip all kinds of things, as do untrained older dogs. And don't forget the potential housebreaking accidents that are so common at the beginning of pet ownership. Go cheap with a DIY bed -- numerous Pinterest boards are devoted to fashioning pet beds.

clothes on dog
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PET CLOTHING

Dressing up a pet can be loads of fun -- for humans. But budget-conscious pet owners are better off sticking to the essentials, such as a winter sweater or coat for a small or short-haired dog, which can be found for as little as $10. Besides, some animals may flat out refuse to wear clothing, leaving the owner with a closetful of unworn outfits.

dog treats
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CHEAP TREATS

Buying expensive treats to save money may sound counterintuitive, but many cheap treats are filled with hard-to-pronounce ingredients that may cause stomach distress for a pet. Corn syrup, for example, is one of the main ingredients in some treats and, as with humans, it does nothing for an animal's nutrition.

baby wipes
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PAW WIPES

Forget paying extra for specially formulated "paw" wipes to use after walking a pooch through mud and over wintertime's salt-strewn sidewalks. Generic baby wipes will get an animal's paws just as clean. Cheaper yet is any old washcloth dunked in a little dog shampoo.

DII Bone Dry Microfiber Pet Bath Towel
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SPECIAL DRYING TOWELS

There's absolutely no need to buy bathing towels designed specifically for dogs. A microfiber towel decorated with a paw print ($13 and up) is a cute but unnecessary expense when any old towel is just as useful for drying Fido after a bath.

cat scratching
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FURNITURE DETERRENTS

Dogs jump and cats scratch. Before spraying down furniture with deterrent sprays, or loading up on devices such as a "sonic scat pad" ($23), work on training techniques that involve rewards and provide alternative spots for the animal to lounge on.

dog peeing on lawn
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EDIBLE LAWN PROTECTOR

Dog urine can create yellow spots in a lawn. But giving the animal a chewable tablet that alters the chemical composition of the urine is not a good idea, according to experts on animal health. Instead, train the dog not to pee in certain areas -- or consider an imperfect lawn a small price to pay for a pet's love.

plank of wood
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STEPS OR RAMPS

Most dogs and cats figure out easily how to reach whatever perch catches their eye. Steps or ramps are useless, unless the pet is elderly or immobile, and can be expensive ($120). Try a DIY option from Instructables or just set out a plank of wood (sand it first to prevent splinters).

dog with leash
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GPS TAG

Dogs shouldn't be allowed to run free to begin with, and a GPS ($130) is hardly going to stop a pet on the loose from getting into a dangerous situation. Keep dogs contained with a fence or on leash. Cats are best kept indoors.

Outward Hound Paw Flapper Interactive Doy Toy Puzzle
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

PET WI-FI CAMERA

Some pet owners are willing to drop hundreds of dollars on a Wi-Fi pet camera to monitor their pet's every move. Really? Giving a dog plenty of exercise, especially before leaving home, is a thriftier way to keep the animal calm. A treat-finder puzzle ($12) can alleviate boredom. Cats, on the other hand, are probably thrilled to have the house to themselves.

cat food bowl
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VARIETY OF FOOD BOWLS

One bowl for food and one bowl for water is plenty. Don't waste money on bowls with cute decorations (the pet won't notice) or with some special purpose, such as encouraging slow eating or saving the effort of angling down for chow, unless this is recommended by a vet.

woman training a dog
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MULTIPLE TRAINING TOOLS

Martingales, halters, gentle leaders -- there are many ways to control a dog that pulls on leash. But there's no point buying without knowing more about the pet's temperament. Working with a trainer who can offer a recommendation costs money upfront but helps save money on wasted purchases.

cat collar
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COLLARS AND LEASHES IN EXCESS

Any basic nylon collar and leash will do the job. Just make sure the collar is made with a material that a pulling pet can't rip off easily. A cat doesn't need a collar if there's no escape route from the house.

dog paws with nail polish on nails
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NAIL POLISH

Putting human nail polish on a pet is not advisable, as it may contain toxins that are known to present possible health risks. Although there are polishes specifically meant for animals, give a new pet a chance to get acclimated to the home before subjecting it to needless adornment.

dog watching tv show
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PET ENTERTAINMENT

There have been countless DVDs marketed promising to capture pets' attention, and DogTV says it can help dogs suffering from loneliness, boredom, separation anxiety, or depression for $5 a month. But entertainment extras for well-adjusted pets are an unnecessary expense. Dogs can stay very busy for quite a while with a simple Kong toy (about $5) filled with a treat. Cats enjoy a perch ($16) placed near a window with a good view of greenery and birds -- and sometimes an existing shelf, desk, or chair does the trick.

dog eating
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VITAMINS

Unless a veterinarian recommends a specific supplement, pumping a pet with pills can be harmful rather than beneficial. Quality food should be all a pet needs for good health.

dog getting groomed
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PROFESSIONAL GROOMER

Professional grooming is a luxury -- for pets and owners. Instead, check out the many YouTube videos that provide instruction on everything from proper bathing to trimming nails. For breeds with constant hair growth, such as poodles and bichons, learning to do touch-ups on the face or paws between professional grooming sessions can save big bucks.

dog in stroller
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PET STROLLER

So long as they aren't elderly and immobile, dogs need exercise every day for sound physical and emotional health. Setting the pet in a stroller (which can cost into the hundreds of dollars) short-circuits that objective. Cats, meanwhile, are likely to experience being enclosed in a stroller as stressful rather than enjoyable.

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