Dog ownership on a budget


(Pictured: Pistachio Ringo. Photo credit: Erin West)

Happy National Puppy Day! You’re probably busy enjoying all the National Puppy Day barbecues and parades, but if you need a break from all the action, I’ve compiled my best tips on frugal dog ownership.
Embrace hand-me-downs
If you have an aversion to used items, your dog does not sympathize. Dogs not only tolerate used dog toys, beds, and blankets- much of the time, they love them because the items smell like other dogs. And guess how many people have used dog items lying around? ALL PEOPLE. Your friend may have had a dog that passed away, or she may have a dog that doesn’t like rope toys, which she only found out after purchasing several rope toys. Ask around- the world is full of surplus dog items.

Trade services with other dog owners
Paying a dog walker or dog-sitter adds up quickly. It will probably be unavoidable some days, but you can cut down on costs by trading dog walks with your dog owner friends. Find a friend whose schedule is different from yours, and trade off checking on each other’s dogs.

Trade services with non-dog owners

You need someone to walk the dog on Wednesday. What do your non-dog-owning friends need? A baby-sitter this weekend? A ride to the airport? Hit up your friends to see what they need, and ask if they’re willing to trade favors. Everyone wins!

Make your own dog treats
If you have the time, making your own dog treats is easy and a zillion times cheaper than buying store-bought treats. I like this simple peanut butter oatmeal dog treat recipe. It has four ingredients, and one of them is water. (Note: I don’t cut them into cutesy shapes or use an egg wash like the author does, because they are for a dog, not the President of the United States. I just wad the dough into balls and smush them onto the cookie sheet.) My dog loves them, and you can make a bunch at a time and freeze them, if you’re so inclined.

Don’t buy into marketing guilt
Unless your dog has a specific health condition, chances are she doesn’t need a Tempur-Pedic bed. Like the Baby Stuff industry, the Dog Stuff industry likes to use guilt as a way to get you to buy stuff. They want you to think you’re a bad dog parent if you don’t spend thousands of dollars on your dog’s surroundings. But I’ll let you in on a secret: dogs aren’t hard to please. As I write this, my dog is trying to eat out of the trash can. When she’s not doing that, she’s sleeping happily in her $10 dog bed, burrowed under an old sheet. That’s the best thing about dogs- they’re much less materialistic than humans. If you can provide food, exercise, and belly rubs, you’ll have a happy dog on your hands!

What are your best tips for saving on dog needs?


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  1. SiouxsiesZoo

    2 years ago

    Dog collars are expensive. I shop the thrift stores for cute belts and cut them down to dog size. Just measure it around your dog’s neck and leave enough to loop through the holder. Stitch the end if you’re so inclined but it’s not necessary if it’s a leather belt. Notch a new hole with an awl & hammer. Wa-la now your dog can have a whole wardrobe of cute new collars. :)

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