I’ve lived almost my whole life with a dog. I’ve had two Cocker Spaniels and now I have a sweet German Shepherd, Nike. I love having dogs around, and my house always feels too empty without one.
Not only does Nike make me feel comfortable in my home, she gets me out of the house to exercise, she gives me a sense of security when Steve’s not home, and she makes me smile.
That’s a lot of reasons to have a dog, but they can certainly rack up the bills. Here are a few ways that I (and my sister, who has much more dog expertise than I) have found over the years to cut back on the costs of owning a dog.
There are a million different dog foods on the market, so it can be pretty daunting to find the one that’s right for your dog and your wallet. The biggest key to saving on dog food is in the ingredients. The more corn, wheat, and soy that’s in your dog food, the more expensive it’s going to be per month.
You can’t judge the food just based on the price per pound, you have to take into account how much a serving size is for your dog’s weight. Most of the foods that are cheaper per bag have more “filler” ingredients (like corn, wheat, and soy), so you’re basically just getting cheap junk food. If you’re willing to pay more per pound, you dog needs less because the food is more nutrient rich.
Canidae, Taste of the Wild, Blue Buffalo, and Diamond Naturals are some of the foods that give you the most bang for your buck. Don’t forget to check Amazon to see if you can get your food cheaper there (and get it shipped to your door for free!).
Some of the easiest and cheapest treats are things like cheese that you probably already have on hand. Hotdogs are also a good cheap choice, and they can be chopped up and dried out in the oven to produce a treat that will last really long. I also like stuffing a Kong or everlasting treat ball with either squirt cheese or peanut butter mixed with dog food.
You can get “soup” bones from the grocery store butcher (if you ask) that are really cheap and a great way to entertain your dog, exercise their chewing jaw muscles, and clean their teeth. And you can always just use pieces of dog food for treats, which is what I do when I run out of other options.
There’s no need to get a ton of toys, your dog only needs one or two, so minimize the toys you have on hand. Old socks, dish towels, rope, or stuffed animals from Goodwill can easily be made into toys that will entertain your dog just as well as something from the pet store.
It’s also smart to invest in toys that will last. Nike can destroy a bone or chew toy in minutes, but her everlasting treat ball has stood the test of time with barely a scratch. I don’t buy the expensive “everlasting” treats (that don’t take long for her to remove and consume), but instead fill it with peanut butter or cheese and put it in the freezer, so it takes her a while to get through it.
What about you? How do you cut down on the costs of your furry friend?