Owning pets--even a single pet--is quite a responsibility on many fronts, not the least of which is financially. Most of us only want the best for our pets, and good quality pet food and gear can run up a tab pretty fast. Not to mention vet bills!
So, if you're like me, you want only the best for your pets. But if you're REALLY like me, you also don't want to spend a fortune to take care of them, especially in areas where you can provide care that's just as good--and sometimes better--while also saving money.
All of these things I'm about to present to you have been road tested by yours truly, because I'm a diligent consumer advocate and promoter of......oh whatever, never mind all that... I'm not gonna blow sunshine up your exit ramp, I know this stuff 'cause I'm dirt poor and have a menagerie to take care of.
So, without further ado, Bruce the Groovy Dog Guy's tips for frugal pet care:
One thing you may have noticed about pets, you gotta feed the dang things. I hope y'all have figured that out already.
Of course, you can save a truckload of money feeding them maintenance-level cereal food...you know, that crap they sell in 50-pound bags for two bucks that has the nutritional value of popcorn. Without butter. Yeah...no....don't do that.
Your dogs and cats need a high-quality, meat-based food to stay healthy. The good news is these can be had for a pretty good price if you look around. Pro tip: don't buy food from your veterinarian, and avoid the tony specialty pet stores. Choose the brand and class of food you want, then check around for the best deal from the areas three main pet suppliers.
Or, if you're like me (reasonable, resourceful, cheaper than dirt), go directly to Pet Food Direct and let them ship it to you. You'll save time, you'll save money, and you'll save yourself from getting a hernia carrying all that dog food.
Also: here's a great site that evaluates dog food: Dog Food Advisor. And they have a handy Pet Food Calculator you can use to make sure you're feeding Fido the right amounts.
Health & Wellness
One of the most important decisions you'll make over the course of your pet's life is the choice of veterinarian. Always feel free to shop around and get second opinions. If you're in the process of choosing a vet, ask to tour the facility and meet the staff first. If they balk, they're likely too busy to offer you the personal care you need.
Even after finding a vet you like, you're still the front line of health care for your pet. Pay attention, examine them weekly, and stay informed of issues that can affect their health. You don't necessarily need to run to the animal clinic every time Rex barfs up a squirrel, but you should stay reasonably aware of the factors that can become critical without care.
The final authority concerning your dog's health is YOU, and a well-informed pet parent may be the best safeguard against allowing health issues to impair your relationship. Here are some resources concerning your pet's medical care that everyone can make use of:
Dog & Cat Beds
Maybe you have a pet that has a favorite bed that's been their happy choice for years and you can't imagine them without it. Congratulations! My dogs have their favorites as well! My chihuahua loves to pee in her Lotus dog sofa, and my coonhound Holly just adores her orthopedic plush bed. She can gnaw on it for days before it runs out of stuffing.
Out of frustration with my dogs' penchant for turning their beds into chew toys, I decided to forego the fancy brands and designer beds and went right to the local thrift store to get some used blankets and comforters. I figured: better to spend five bucks for a comforter that will get chewed up in a week than forty for a bed that will get chewed up in a month. And you know what? Not only did they stop chewing up their bedding, but they seemed to like the blankets and comforters better! Dogs love to "nest", and the blankets provided them with ample opportunities to do that. They paw at them, create tunnels to bury themselves in, and in general just seem to prefer their blankets over any bed I ever purchased. My dachshund even prefers her blankie over the human bed! That *may* have something to do with the fact that I kept rolling over on her and crushing her, but you know.