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Dogs have firmly inserted themselves as a vital part of many American families. Many pups are treated as an extension of the family, whether there are human siblings for them to play with or not. It only stands to reason that when you love someone that much, you want to show it. For many pet parents, that translates into buying treats.

Like it or not, the prices of pet treats have skyrocketed, leaving many families trying to find new ways to indulge their pup’s cravings without ruining the household budget. If that sounds familiar, try these tips designed to help you find dog treats you can afford.

1. Buy Treats in Bulk

If you have the extra resources to cover the upfront cost, then buying in bulk is a great way to save for you and your pet. For many families, this translates into buying at warehouse stores and membership clubs; for others, it means taking advantage of great sales and coupons.

Buying in bulk takes advantage of the same principles as wholesale distribution — you buy a larger quantity at once and pay a lower price per item. However, it can lead to two issues. One, you must be able to pay the cost ahead of time. There is also the matter of keeping a large number of treats fresh. Depending on the types of treats, this can be accomplished by freezing or using airtight containers.

2. Try a Few DIY Recipes

Using a dog meal recipe can save money and be nutritious! Be sure to consult the online food calculator for nutrition musts!

If you enjoy spending time in the kitchen, now is a good opportunity to try out a few new recipes for dog biscuits. There are tons of creative and fun recipes available online, ranging from traditional biscuits to frozen “pup cream” desserts.

Dogs can eat many of the same ingredients that people do, including many fruits and veggies. That can help keep the calorie count of your homemade treats down, which can help your canine companion maintain a healthy weight. If weight is a major concern, consider using pieces of raw apple or baby carrots as a reward for good behavior.

3. Shop in Discount Bins

If you regularly visit larger pet stores, then you are undoubtedly familiar with the discount bins. Usually located along a front wall or near the registers, these racks carry special discounts for damaged, discontinued or expiring merchandise. Sometimes you can find items marked down as much as 75% or 90%. That can add up to a significant amount of money.

Always be sure to check the expiration dates o the items in discount racks. If you are unsure about whether something will be good, it is usually a good idea to reach out to the manufacturer and ask about freshness policies. A word of advice — if you see something in the bin that your pet really likes, go ahead and grab it. Deeply discounted treats can sell really fast.

4. Make Treats Part of a Game

Use treats as part of the game and the treat for a trick well done!

There are so many great games that you can play with your dog, why not use one to help maximize treat time. Consider these three ways to make treats go further by making them part of a game:

  • Break biscuits or jerky into small pieces and sprinkle them into a snuffle mat
  • Hide small pieces of kibble in a ball toy
  • Coat the inside of a chew toy or hollow bone with peanut butter, organic yogurt and stick in the freezer

5. Use Non-Food Rewards

Who says all treats have to be edible? Using praise and affection is an excellent reward for your fur baby. In fact, many dogs enjoy a little extra attention and rubs just as much as a cookie. More social dogs might enjoy hiking, trips to the dog park or an afternoon at a doggy daycare for a special treat. Either way, not all treats need to be food-related. Positive reinforcement can go a long way to keeping your dog happy and healthy.

You can indulge your dog with his favorite treats without breaking the budget. Looking for discounts, shopping in bulk, using non-food rewards and making some DIY cookies are great ways to save.

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