Owning a dog need not be an expensive endeavor. As with almost anything else, there are plenty of ways to cut costs as a dog owner. Decreasing the expense of pet ownership doesn’t mean your dog will suffer – in fact, it may promote your pet’s health. Here are seven money-saving tips for the dog owner.
Choosing a Dog
The breed of dog you choose can affect how much you’ll spend. Larger dogs eat more – it’s a simple fact of life. Large dogs also are more susceptible to health issues such as obesity, heart problems, and hip dysplasia. Basset hounds, bulldogs and poodles often have more health problems. On the other hand, Australian stock dogs, Border Collies, and mixed breeds are among the healthiest.
Finding a Dog
When you’re looking for a dog, your least expensive option is usually the local animal shelter. While mixed breed “mutts” are among the most common offerings, even purebreds sometimes wind up there as well. The disadvantage is that you know nothing of the dog’s ancestry or upbringing. If you decide to go the purebred route, find a reputable breeder. Avoid pet shops and puppy mills.
When it comes to your dog’s health, the most important money saving tip is to practice preventive maintenance. Just like humans, dogs benefit from vaccinations, routine check-ups, and regular dental care. Spaying and neutering are also routine expenses to take into account. Don’t overlook low-cost spay and neuter clinics. Vet fees vary from one office to another; shop around.
Saving Money on Food
Healthy food cuts down on vet bills. You can cook a stew and freeze it, avoiding the processing costs of wet food. Make sure you follow a recipe that’s nutritionally balanced. Some people give dogs table scraps as well – if you do, avoid foods high in fat and anything with sugar, chocolate, caffeine or alcohol. Scraps should be a treat, not the mainstay of the diet.
Just as children are often happier with inexpensive playthings like a wooden spoon and a pot to drum on, dogs will do fine with simple toys. A hunk of knotted rope, an old tennis ball or a piece of wooden dowel is great for playing fetch. Herding dogs will often “herd” an old volleyball you kick for them. An old leather belt works well for tug-of-war.
Daily Care and Grooming
The costs of taking your dog to a professional groomer can quickly add up. Daily brushing is an opportunity to bond with your dog and gives him the attention he craves. You can bathe an animal for pennies and with a little practice, clip its nails as well. There are also plenty of recipes out there for DIY shampoos, flea powders, and similar dog hygiene products.
The Not-So-Little Luxuries
Of all the money-saving tips, this one is probably the most important. Your dog needs the basics – that does not include rhinestone-studded collars, cashmere dog coats, and custom-made doggie boots. If you’re a newbie look for inexpensive obedience classes, read books and watch videos, or ask an experienced friend for help.
There you have it – seven ways dog owners can save money. Remember, the least expensive thing you can give your dog is plenty of affection and attention, plus proper discipline and training. A daily walk or game of fetch costs nothing. And most people will tell you that the joy of being a dog owner is beyond price.