By Samantha Randall, podcaster, blogger and editor at Top Dog Tips
If you’ve been in a similar position as I have when I lost my job – working part-time to make ends meet until I could find another career position – you’ll understand why we need to find a way to live with dogs on a tight budget. No matter how difficult it is to pull through the hard times, you simply can’t get rid of your fur-babies!
So it is time to buckle down, and put you and your dogs on a budget. Here are my 6 tips so that your pack won’t break your bank. Remember, the family who saves together, stays together!
- Share Food – No, not you eating the dog’s food! While it is generally not good to give dogs table food, you can give them foods that are healthy for them. Dogs are actually omnivores, so they can eat a lot of the same foods you can. Just make sure the food you feed them is fresh with no spices or artificial ingredients. Things like meat, fruits and vegetables are great.Also remember that there are foods dogs should never eat, so do not feed your Fido these things: chocolate, avocados, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, milk, cheese, macadamia nuts, candy, artificial sweeteners, raw yeast dough, bones, fruit pits or fruit seeds.
As long as you steer clear of these foods, there is no reason you can’t cut cost by sharing meals with your fur-baby. You can make homemade dog food with leftovers from your own meals. Another great way to save a little cash is buying in bulk. If you plan your meals and the meals for your pet in advance, you can buy some items in bulk for a greater savings.
- Share Shampoo – Some dog shampoo is more expensive than people shampoo. What to do? You can get baby shampoo, and share with your dog. As long as you are not using flea shampoo as your only means of treating your pet for those parasites, there is no reason you can’t save money by using baby shampoo.Human shampoo is usually made with ingredients that are too harsh for a dog’s skin. The mildest shampoo out there is baby shampoo, so pamper yourself and your pet with gentle, no-tears, sweet smelling baby shampoo. Just remember that regular human shampoo will dry out your dog’s skin and cause irritation, so stick with products made specifically for babies.
- Walk More – Does your four-legged friend go through pet toys like there is no tomorrow? Take him for more walks, and cut the cost of buying new dog toys on a weekly basis. A tired dog is a happy dog! If you walk your dog more, or play fetch with a stick in the yard, it is a cheaper way of amusing him than buying expensive rubber toys, ropes, and plushies.Dogs mainly play with toys when they are bored, so find cheaper ways to cut the boredom, and get exercise both for him and yourself. This will also cut down on other destructive behaviors your pet may have. It saves you money on dog toys, torn up shoes, torn up paper towels and spending money to replace clothing and other items your pup may ruin.
- Fence Your Yard and Get a Doggy Door – This may seem like a large expense, but it will save you money in the long run – especially if you are a do-it-yourselfer. If you live where your dog is safe to go in and out whenever he wants, you save. No more money on dog walkers, pee pads, and cleaning supplies.The convenience of doggy doors would only be good for someone who has a pup that has accidents. I personally have one dog that needs pee pads, and one dog that never has accidents in the house. If you find that you are spending money on cleaning supplies and potty aids, then a little money and time up front could help you stay within your budget.
- Shop Wisely – While you may love shopping at your local pet store, the products offered there may not give you the best bang for your buck. Oftentimes, smaller pet stores don’t have the variety that you can find online. Their prices may be comparable on some items, but they’re usually more expensive. If you can wait a few days, try shopping around online for a better price. Plus, the dog supplies you order will be shipped right to your door!
- Walk Dogs – Maybe you don’t have a yard, or you rent your house, and you can’t install that doggy door. If you have to walk your dog, you might as well earn a few dollars by walking the neighbor’s dogs as well.Don’t be shy! Knock on some doors and see if anyone needs a dog walker temporarily. You never know, someone could be sick or going on vacation and could really use the help. You might try putting up a flyer at your local grocery store. During this financial crisis, put your pet ownership to work for you.
These are just a few suggestions from me to help you through a rough time in your life. Don’t limit yourself to these ideas. Get creative! Sit down and think of a few more ways you can get your budget in the green and still care for your four-legged friend.