Americans love their furry best friends, but when it comes to dogs Grooming, sparing no expense can get, well, expensive. Vet bills, grooming costs, kibble prices, kennel fees, and training classes can make quite a dent in the family budget.

But with a little DIY bravado, dog owners can keep their lapdogs in luxury without going into debt. For example, many dog owners can perform basic dogs grooming at home — and save up to $500 a year on canine shampoos and styles in the process. Here are some tips:

Try clipping at home

As dog owner, this might take a little practice, but you’ll save time and money in the long run. Always start at the head and run the clippers in the direction of your dog’s fur. Be very careful not to cut skin. If you need to trim the fur around your dog’s face, use scissors. Not all dogs need trimming, but all dogs benefit from brushing, which encourages healthy circulation and keeps fur mat-free.

Keep that doggy smile healthy

If your dog’s kisses make you want to gag, it’s time to take action — bad breath is caused by destructive bacteria growing around the gum line. Veterinary cleanings can help, but prevention truly is the best medicine.

When it comes to your dog, prevention can be as simple as sprinkling oral care probiotics over kibble. Good bacteria leave little room for bad bacteria to grow, so they naturally improve breath. They also release low-levels of hydrogen peroxide, helping to whiten teeth.

Trim nails

Use sharp clippers to cut nails, taking care not to cut through the quick — the area of the nail that contains nerves and blood vessels. Nails should be trimmed about once a month.

Clean your dog’s ears

If you notice redness, head shaking, constant scratching, or a bad odor coming from your dog’s ears, it’s time to schedule a vet visit — ear infections are painful and can lead to permanent hearing loss. Check your dog’s ears twice a month for signs of infection. Use a cotton ball with a little water or mineral oil to gently clean the underside of your dog’s ears. Never stick the cotton ball into the ear canal.