According to, about 54 percent of Americans expect to get a tax refund, and recession-weary taxpayers, awaiting their refund, say they will not be indulging on something fun , but instead will be paying down debt, saving or investing their windfall, or using it for food or utility bills. Only 7 percent plan to fritter the money away on an expensive vacation or shopping spree for stuff they probably really don’t need anyway. “I think it is a sign about how people feel about the economy and where the country is going. There is a lot of uncertainly out there,” says Bryan Pukoff of Rehmann, one of the largest financial services in the Midwest. “That is different from what we have seen in the past.”

Top financial priorities certainly include paying off high-interest debt, spending it on necessities, or starting a savings account, but we would like to suggest spending just a little of it on your loyal four-footed companions, and we have a few dog friendly ways to spend part of your tax return money.

  • Start a fund for your pet’s health care, or use it to pay for your pet’s health insurance. Hopefully it won’t be needed, but it is comforting to know that if your animal needs special care, there is money available.
  • Sign up for some dog-obedience training. It is important he know basic safety commands—sit, stay, come—but more advanced training is always good – good for your dog, and good for you. Check out the classes to make sure they use positive reinforcement training methods, and have fun!
  • Toss out the old frayed collar, and leashes, and give her a fresh look for spring with new ones.
  • Upgrade his bed, (or order a second bed, because most dogs sleep everywhere). Find a bed that will keep long-haired dogs from overheating, or a cozy, snuggly bed for little dogs. Select an orthopedic memory-foam bed for older dogs with less-than-spry joints.
  • Treat her to a professional grooming. Stay and watch…you may learn some tips that you can use at home.
  • If you have a secure fenced yard, consider adding a doggy door. Your dog will love the extra freedom, and you will enjoy the convenience. Do some research to get the best door for your environment…some are cheaply made and not suitable for harsh weather. (If you are afraid that other critters might creep inside the house at night, you can always close it off with the permanent panel that comes with all the doors.)
  • Buy a few SAFE toys to replace some of the tattered and torn ones. Toss out those cheap latex ones that are probably toxic! A few quality toys will last longer and will certainly be safer! A new Kong (or two) is always appreciated!

Our pets give us so much, and we can pay their goodwill forward by doing something special for them and here’s a way to help even if you didn’t get a refund: make some homemade treats. Make a double (or triple) batch! Some for your dog, some for a neighborhood dog (check with his caregiver first), and some for your local shelter or rescue group. Won’t cost much, and will be MUCH appreciated.


  • 2 cups LEAN ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup collage cheese
  • 1 cup canned sweet potatoes, mashed
  • 1 cup rolled oats

Mix all the ingredients together, and then drop spoonfuls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. . Let cool and freeze extra treats…in the freezer these treats stay fresh for several months. (Your dog will love them frozen or thawed.)


If time is limited, convert a can of high quality canned dog food into a crunchy treat. Just place gumdrop sized spoonfuls of canned food onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 350 degrees for 45 minutes, and voila—a great training or on- the- go treat. Store in freezer. (Your dog will love them frozen!)