Everyone loves a bargain, and nobody likes to end up paying more than they have to for something! This applies to dog owners just as much as it does to the rest of the population, and with the cost of canine care, food and accessories ever-rising, it is natural to keep an eye out for ways to save money while still providing the appropriate care for your dog.
There are lots of different ways in which you can save money on your dog care, but there are some areas too that you really shouldn’t scrimp on, and if you do, these false economies will invariably end up costing you more in the long run.
My mother always told me to watch the pennies, but that there are some things that you really shouldn’t try to cut corners with, which in her opinion, are good coffee, and nice toilet paper! This advice has stood me in good stead even through my leaner times, and so this article will follow the same sort of theme, covering five false economies of dog ownership that you should avoid falling for.
Read on to learn more!
A bag of dog food can range in cost from just a couple of pounds up to £20 or even more, and the price of a same-sized bag of food can vary considerably across different ranges.
While you certainly don’t have to buy the food offerings at the top end of the price spectrum in order to ensure that all of your dog’s needs are being met, you should also review carefully why some foods at the bottom end of the price ranges are so cheap, if they really do provide all of the benefits of more costly offerings.
Cheap dog food and value ranges are able to maintain their low prices by compromising when it comes to the quality of the ingredients that they use in their products, often bulking out the food with a lot of unnecessary grains, using low quality protein sources, and adding a lot of artificial flavours, colours, preservatives, and extra salt and sugar. All of these things may well mean that such foods are not a good choice for keeping your dog in optimal condition and supporting their lifestyle, and the perceived cost saving of such cheaper foods may not actually be as large as you think it is.
Higher quality foods that do not contain a lot of bulking agents provide more calories, nutrients and fullness like for like than bulked-out foods, which means that you generally need to feed less of them; and so comparing the cost of, say, one 2kg bag of a cheap food to a 2kg bag of a pricier food should be based on how many meals you will get out of the bag, rather than the weight of the bag itself.
Much like food, flea and worming treatments can be found from under £5 to upwards of £20, so why is there so much scope for variation if they all do the same job? The simple answer is that they don’t all do the same job, and the lower cost offerings that are available from supermarkets without a prescription simply don’t work, and also may contain carrier agents and active ingredients that may be irritating to your dog, or even cause them to become ill.
It is better to spend £10 on a flea or worming treatment that actually works and that is well tolerated by your dog than it is to spend £5 on one that is ineffective, and that may also make them sick!
If you’re watching the pennies, you might look at that pet insurance policy that you’ve been paying into for years at anything between £10 and £80 a month, and think that essentially it is nothing more than wasted money. While you can of course consider the option of self-insuring, which means setting an amount of cash by each month for emergencies, often the money you might otherwise spend on your policy, if your dog does end up needing veterinary treatment in an emergency or for an ongoing condition, your pot is likely to run dry very quickly.
Many years ago before I began my formal training as a student nurse in a veterinary clinic, my own dogs and cats were not insured; however my very first day as a student nurse saw me spending the next evening searching for insurance policies for my pets, as just one day in the clinic had shown me first-hand how much veterinary care can cost, and how quickly the fees can add up.
You cannot put a price on the peace of mind that comes with knowing that should your dog need veterinary help, you have access to comprehensive, inclusive care without worrying about where the money will come from, and pet insurance is something that you really should invest in, particularly if you’re not very well off, rather than being the first thing that you sacrifice.
Once again, collars and leads can vary considerably in price, often depending on the size of your dog and what type of control you need to have over them. However, prices also vary considerably depending on the material and the quality of construction of the products, and while some low-cost collars and leads are well made and can be excellent value for money, this is not true for all of them!
When you’re inspecting collars and leads in the shop, look at factors including the weight of the dog that they are intended to control (this will give you an idea of the amount of load that they can carry before they may snap) how sturdy the material is, and how well they are stitched and constructed.
Losing control of your dog because the collar broke or the lead snapped not only means that the cash you spent on these items was wasted, but that your dog, or potentially other people and animals, may be at risk when your dog unexpectedly ends up off the lead in a public place.
Preventative care for dogs includes flea and worming treatments as we have already mentioned, and other things such as vaccinations and boosters, dental care and much more.
Shelling out for preventative care when your dog is not ill may seem like money best left in the bank, but scrimping on preventative care is a huge false economy that can cost you in the long run.
The cost of annual boosters for dogs, which includes a vet check and advice, is usually around £50, while the cost of treating preventable illnesses can run into the thousands-plus, if your dog becomes ill with a condition that could have been prevented by vaccination, your insurance policy probably won’t pay out.
A veterinary dog dental procedure if your dog’s teeth are starting to look a bit unhealthy can cost you as little as around £200, but if you leave things another couple of years, your bill might be nearer the four figure range, once the cost of specialist care and extractions have been factored in!
Also, many vets offer a range of incentives for keeping up to date with your dog’s preventative care, such as reduced out-of-hours callout fees in emergencies for dogs that are up to date with their boosters and that have been seen at the clinic within the last year.
So when you’re stocking up on your quality coffee and your soft toilet paper, don’t forget the needs of your dog too!