Keeping your four-legged friend healthy can cost a lot of money. With the economy in a slump, pet owners are being forced to make cut-backs. For Ashley Ricks, trying to keep her pit bull litter of seven healthy requires vaccines, de-worming treatment and nail trims. A visit to the veterinarian can total about $175. “I wouldn't give my dogs up for the economy change. That's not going to happen,” said Ricks. Ashley has three other dogs in addition to her new puppies. Basic pet-care has put a crunch on her finances. “Spending money, going out and doing fun things, has been cut back to a minimum. I don't spend as much time at the beach especially with gas being so high, its dogs and gas. That is what gets paid for first,” she said. Buying your pets medication online can save you some cash. Pet insurance is a good safeguard against breaking the bank in the event that your animal gets sick, or in an accident. Free rabies clinics can help you with the cost of yearly shots, but beyond that there is little financial help with preventative medicine. Kenneth Layton of the Pine Valley Animal Hospital said, “People seem to be a lot more cautious as to what they're doing with their money. Especially in the last month or so we've seen a little bit in a drop in business here.” Dr. Layton said the average cost of medical treatment for a cat is about $200 a year. For a dog, the average is about $300 to $400. This average does not include one time costs like spaying or neutering, daily costs like food and yearly costs like registering your animals with the county. “Per year, per dog? Ugh. My dogs? Close to $500 to a $1000 per year,” said Ricks. Taking care of the dogs may put the squeeze on her wallet, but Ricks said it is well worth the hug. The next free rabies clinic is on November 15, 2008 at the Five Points Community Center in Wilmington.
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