Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cost Cutting Canine Care: Ways to Make Your Dog’s Day-to-Day Care Cheaper

Owning any pet is a big responsibility and not something that should be entered into lightly – particularly if you have any financial constraints or concerns. With research from Pet Education indicating that the average cost of owning a dog during it’s 14 year life span is over $12,000 (and high end care up to a staggering $38,000) it’s unsurprising that many dog owners find themselves struggling with unexpected yet inevitable costs. Sadly, financial pressures are among the top reasons why so many dogs are abandoned each year.

Knowingly denying a dog basic care or medical treatment is not just morally wrong, but legally wrong too. But when unforeseen circumstances crop up it can hit your bank balance hard and leave you with difficult decisions to make. However with a little forward planning, budgeting and careful considerations there are ways that you can keep the cost of owning a dog down while still giving them the care they need and deserve. This means that should any unexpected expenses arise you could be in a better position to pay for them. Here are some tips on keeping your costs down and picking the dog that’s ‘financially’ right for you.

Consider the breed
Throughout history pet dogs have been a sign of social status and today you will find that certain breeds will cost you more to buy upfront – some of the most expensive breeds include the Akita, the Tibetan Mastiff and the English Bulldog. Pedigree (or ‘purebred’) pups will probably look great and have good behavioral traits but sadly many are prone to ill health and hereditary conditions. Mongrels or ‘cross breeds’ are thought to be healthier because they have a larger gene pool and generally cost less to buy too.

Researching your breeds in general is helpful. Unfortunately some breeds are just higher risk than others and this will not only leave you more likely to incur vet bills in the future, but it will probably make your pet insurance premiums higher too. Of course, nobody can predict the exact health of any individual dog but it is thought that certain breeds such as Beagles and Border Collies are considered relatively healthy whereas others, such as King Charles Spaniels, are more fragile and prone to respiratory and heart issues. Taking all of this into account means that you can make an educated decision on what type of breed you can ‘afford’ to own given the possible risk factors.

Be frugal with accessories
An increasingly celebrity fueled culture means that many people go to town on their dogs toys, bedding, clothing and accessories. This is usually for their own satisfaction rather than their dogs benefit. Instead of looking for the collar or leash with the most diamantes, look for durability instead. Buying strong, practical equipment will mean that they will last longer and your dog will be safer and more secure when you take him out for walks.

When it comes to bedding or toys visit garage sales or thrift stores. Your dog will not care if his bedding is second hand and will probably love an old soft toy just as much as the overpriced toys and paw print blankets usually found in high end pet stores.

When you’re on a cost saving mission it can be tempting to go for budget dog meat. But dogs are like humans; they need vital nutrients, a well balanced diet and good quality food to thrive and maintain good health. The healthier your dog is, the less likely you are to have to face expensive medical conditions in the future – and of course, it makes your dog happier and healthier too. You don’t necessarily have to opt for the highest end products all of the time but read the labels when buying their food and look out for ‘meat’ and ‘vegetables’ in the ingredients list rather than grainy products such as corn, wheat and soy which are simply cheap ways to fill up the tin and often contain too much protein for your dog to healthily digest. Similarly try and avoid food that contains an excess amount of additives, chemicals and artificial flavorings.

Buying food in bulk is also a good way to save money – often the larger the amount that you buy the cheaper it will cost.

Protect against medical problems
Regular trips to the vet may seem like an unnecessary expense, particularly if your dog isn't showing any signs of ill health. But regular check ups can be key in maintaining good health and identifying any problems in the early stages – thus leading to quicker, simpler and cheaper treatments. It is generally recommended that you visit the vet every 6 months for a check up.

Similarly, a good pet insurance policy is a great way to give you peace of mind should your dog suffer an accident or sudden illness. Always check your policy carefully though. Some policies do not protect against pre-existing conditions or cover your dog if he suffers from the same ailment twice. Shop around until you find the best deal to suit your dog.

Do it yourself
When it comes to grooming and training there are a wealth of classes and professional assistance on the market all of which come with a high end price tag. Instead of lining other people’s pockets, buy a book or research online and learn how to do these things yourself. It will mean that your dog can benefit from regular care from you and this will build your bond. You will also learn new skills and may even be in a position to offer your expertise to other dog owners in the future.

If you have no interest in learning how to train or groom your dog then pick a breed accordingly – for example do not choose a long haired dog if you aren’t willing to spend money grooming him or doing it yourself.

About the Author:
Missi Langford is a freelance writer and animal lover. With 3 dogs and 2 cats she is always looking for ways to care for her animal family more economically.

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