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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Caring for your loveable four-legged friend doesn't have to put a dent in your wallet. Here are five ways to lower your pet expenses.

Check out the full list from Real Simple: 5 Ways to Lower Your Pet Expenses

1. Look for veterinary colleges - Vet visits are expensive, so do a quick Google search to find any veterinary colleges in your area. They're probably looking for new patients and likely offered reduced rates.

2. Go to the vet regularly - We know that this may be hard for some money-savers to stomach, but going in for regular check-ups is the first line of financial defense of your pet care bills. Failure to diagnose early will translate to much more expensive treatment bills in the future. Here's an example: treating heartworm in a dog can cost over $700, whereas heartworm prevention costs about $10 per month.

3. Consider pet insurance - Pet coverage can cost up to $6,000 over the course of your pet's life. All the same, if you're one of those people who would do absolutely anything for your pet, then pet insurance might make sense. Treatments once reserved for humans, like radiation therapy, are now available for pets, but they can set you back more than $7,000.

4. Buy bulk pet food - As with most things, pet food is far less expensive if you buy it in a big bag rather than in smaller packets. If you're having trouble finishing the huge bag by yourself, go in on it with pet-owning friends and neighbors.

5. Save on accessories - We don't say buy fewer accessories, just consider buying them more economically. The Dollar Store often sells the same basic toys that premium pet stores sell for $7. A simple store choice can save you 700-percent.