Saving Money with Pets

It’s November in Northwest Pennsylvania, which usually means snow, but I’m writing this post on a beautiful fall day!  I really enjoy the simplicity of nature, and being outside in the country, is one of my most relaxing places.  Right now, I am currently watching my dog Squishy, wander around aimlessly, exploring her surroundings.  My other dog Clutch, is running around like a kid in a candy shop, chasing chipmunks and playing with corn.  I can’t think of a better way to write about my two babies :).

My husband and I are animal lovers!  We have our 2 dogs, 2 cats, and rat :).  So, for our monthly budget, quite a bit of it actually goes to our wonderful little furbabies.  All you animal lovers know exactly what I’m talking about, food, treats, VET BILLS (OMG! vet bills…), obedience classes, flea medicine, toys, supplies, EVERYTHING!  Dogs can get pretty expensive!  Although, there isn’t much you can do, especially about those vet bills, I’m here to offer you a little bit about our lifestyle, and how we are able to keep our trips to the vet at a minimum (Even with my 12 year old pug, squishy).  Now, I must say, I am NOT a vet!  Everything you are about to read I have discovered through experience.  This is how my husband and I treat our dogs and it has worked for us!  Please check with your vet to make sure you are making the healthiest decisions for your dog.

First of all, here is how to send your dog to the vet regularly, and incur A TON of vet bills

  1. Feed your dog Kibbles and Bits, or whatever cheap dog food you can “afford”, because you think it really doesn’t matter.
  2. Feed your dog table scraps
  3. Have a self-feeder for your dog, with cheap dog food in it
  4. Feed your dog rawhide bones, and other cheap chew toys or bones, because you think it doesn’t matter.
  5. Feed your dog milk bones, or other cheap treats, because it’s what you can “afford” and you think it doesn’t matter what you feed your dog.
  6. Let your dog sleep all day

Ok, ok, yes this list may be a little in your face.  Sorry about that, and some readers may think I’m being rude.  Honestly, I don’t care.  I hear it so many times!  Well, I just feed them whatever is the cheapest dog food, it’s the same as the expensive stuff!  Well, it’s just a dog (This one makes me the most angry, sorry, I am an animal person).  If you have the attitude of, “it’s just a dog”, then honestly, give that dog to another loving home that is going to treat it right.  Ok, sorry, I’m done with my little rant.  That might get me in trouble… Oh well!

Alright, back to the list, SERIOUSLY!  What you feed your dog is soooo important!  I have a pug, and anyone who has a pug, generally knows they can have quite a bit of complications.  She gets hot spots, she’s had bladder stones, I had to get her anal glands released multiple times, she has dry skin, she’s allergic to fleas, she’s had terrible fleas, ear infections… She’s had a lot.  I’ve taken her ot the vet to get her anal glands released (this is common among smaller dog breeds, when they get older they struggle with getting their poop out), she’s had cortisone shots for hot spots, she’s had flea treatments, she’s had surgeries and prescriptions.  Over the years, Squishy has definitely racked up quite the vet bill.  I wish I knew these tips for taking care of dogs YEARS ago!  It would have saved me so much money!

For example,  when I first got my baby Squishy (I was in ninth grade) I didn’t know or understand the differences in dog food.  So yes, I got the cheapest ones.  My mom would also feed her dogs the cheapest ones, and we gave our dogs A LOT of table scraps.  Well, this cost me about $600 in vet bills, because Squishy developed bladder stones.  She was peeing a lot, and would constantly go to the door to be taken outside.  Eventually, she started peeing blood, and we took her to the vet.  Turns out, she developed bladder stones.  Poor thing!  The stone was the size of her whole bladder! (The vet saved it and showed us).  We got the surgery, he put her on medicine (more money) and sent us on our way.  We didn’t do anything to change her diet, and just gave her the medicine, which worked.  Well the medicine eventually ran out, and we didn’t have the money to refill the prescription.  So what happened?  She ended up developing bladder stones again, and we had to get ANOTHER surgery!  Finally!  I started researching dog foods, and come to find out, that NOT ALL DOG FOODS ARE THE SAME!  For this situation, we switched her to a better quality dog food (yes which meant actually spending about $20 more) but she has never developed a bladder stone since!  AND! She’s not on the medicine!  The simplest switch, of buying her a better quality dog food, saved so much on vet bills and prescriptions!

I feed my dogs NutriSource Grain Free, it is the “cheaper” of the “better” dog foods.  It is about $60  per large bag.  It lasts us about 2 months, with feeding my pug 1/2 cup of food per day, and feed our Australian Shepherd 2 cups per day.  This brings me to my next point, DO NOT just leave a self-feeder for your dogs!  Guaranteed, those of you who do this have dogs that are overweight!  When your dog is overweight, so many complications can arise with joints, arthritis, and so many others!  Plus, you are wasting dog food, because your dog will gorge itself, when it doesn’t need to!  Another fact that I learned from my vet, is that when your dog is eating a diet high in fat, they are more likely to develop ear infections.  So PLEASE get rid of the self-feeder and actually start measuring the amount you are giving your dog.

Now, for another tip, this amount changes with age!  Squishy is 12 years old, and she only gets 1/2 cup of food a day.  I feed her 1/4 C in the morning and 1/4 C in the evening.  Now, don’t get me wrong, she loves her food and always runs to her bowling barking and howling when it’s dinner time.  But she is content.  When you leave a self-feeder for your dog, they will gorge themselves!  Just like you do at an all you can eat buffet!  You eat as much as you can!  Well, what would happen to you if you ate like that everyday?  Make sense?  It’s the same for your dog!  Clutch is 2 years old and very active, so he gets 1C in the morning and 1C in the evening.  When he was only 1, we would give him 2 1/2 C a day, but as he began to age, he wouldn’t eat all his food.  So we cut it down to 2C and haven’t had any issues since.  As he gets even older, we will need to cut down his food more, but right now he’s at a very healthy weight.

Another story!  My little baby Squishy, poor thing, has arthritis, dry skin, gets hot spots, had trouble pooping, and would have to get her anal glands released.  Want to know how I fixed all these with $0 in vet bills?  COCONUT OIL!  Omg!  I LOVE coconut oil for my dogs!  It’s good for their digestion, skin, coat, teeth, and everything!  Now, I do have to warn you, that not all vets agree with coconut oil.  My sister said her vet deliberately said NO to giving your dog coconut oil because it leads to pancreatitis.  So, I stopped giving my dogs coconut oil for a little while, and IMMEDIATELY I began seeing differences in Squishy.  She was constipated, and began limping a lot more when she would get up from a nap.  She thought she needed to go the restroom, and for about 3 days kept waking me up multiple times in the night to go outside.  She would try to poop, but couldn’t :(.  I researched coconut oil and dogs some more, and honestly, all I could really find was positive.  I did find some warnings about pancreatitis.  The explanation I found, is that coconut oil is a fat, and it is believed that excessive amounts of fat lead to pancreatitis.  So, if you are feeding your dog cheap dog food, table scraps, and give them a lot of treats, and coconut oil, then yes!  Your dog is very likely to get pancreatitis.  Well, we do not feed our dogs table scraps, we feed them good food, and for treats we give them carrots, apples, bananas, or natural and organic dog treats.  So, I don’t think I need to worry about my dogs and pancreatitis (I hope so at least).  Anyway!  All that to say, I have not had to take Squishy to get her anal glands released in YEARS, her dry skin is better (although she still does itch, it’s not nearly as bad as it was), and she does a much better job of getting around without limping because of arthritis!  It does wonders for her!  And both of my dogs  LOVE it!  They’ll lick it right of the spoon!  I haven’t met a dog yet, that doesn’t like coconut oil!

All of that to say, that if you have animals, it is definitely worth it to invest in a more expensive dog food, that is a better quality for your dog.  If you take anything from this post, about dogs, please remember,  DO NOT feed your dog table scraps (No matter how cute they look begging); DO feed them a higher quality balanced dog food such as Blue Buffalo, Nutrisource, or other quality dog foods; DO NOT feed your dog unhealthy store bought treats; DO begin implementing coconut oil into your dogs diet (1 tsp per 15 lbs, estimate, and ONLY if they do not have a high fat diet).  Thanks for reading!  Please share the brand of dog food you use, and some tips that might help others with caring better for their dogs in the comments

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