Written by Ella White
Owning a dog can be one of life's most rewarding experiences, but it doesn't come without its costs. Everyone is feeling the pinch at the moment and as much as we love our four legged friends, we need to make our hard earned cash stretch as far as possible. In this guide, we'll explore areas where you can save money, such as toys, games, treats, and outfits, while also highlighting the crucial aspects where it's essential not to scrimp on your dog’s care, like food and healthcare.
The main thing to remember when you’re considering the best way to care for your dog is that the most valuable thing to them is your unconditional love and attention. Your dog will treasure 30 minutes of your time far more than any chew toy. And although sometimes we do need to leave our dogs in the care of others, or to entertain themselves, these items aren’t usually worth the money or space they take up in your home.
While it's tempting to shower your pup with a constant stream of new toys, most dogs don’t need top-of-the-range items to keep them happy. So if you’re looking for something to keep them entertained when you’re not around, get creative with DIY toys made from old T-shirts or cardboard. A simple knot in an old sock can become a fun tug-of-war game. Not only will these homemade options save you money, but they can also be safer and more environmentally friendly.
When you do have the time, be sure to engage in interactive play like fetch, hide-and-seek, or simply snuggling on the couch. These activities strengthen your bond and provide mental stimulation, which are even more satisfying than a pricey squeaky toy.
Dogs love outdoor adventures, whether it's a hike in the woods, a trip to the dog park, or a jog around the neighborhood. These activities cost little to nothing and provide your dog with essential exercise and socialization.
Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise, so you can teach your dog new tricks or invest in (or even make) puzzle toys that challenge their intellect at home. You'll be amazed at how tired they can become from a good brain workout.
Rather than purchasing expensive store-bought treats with dubious ingredients, consider making your own. You can whip up delicious, healthy snacks using items from your kitchen, like peanut butter, carrots, or sweet potatoes. This not only saves money but also allows you to control the quality of your dog's treats.
Just be mindful of portion sizes, and dog-friendly human ingredients when giving treats. Whilst there are lots of fruit and veg that can be safe to feed to your dog, they need much less than we do and food like carrots and bananas are high in natural sugars so use them sparingly. A small piece of cheese or a bite-sized carrot can be just as safe and satisfying as a store-bought treat without adding unnecessary calories or costs.
While dressing up your dog in cute outfits can be fun, it's not a necessity. Most dogs are perfectly content without a wardrobe of clothing. Instead, invest in practical items like a well-fitting harness or a comfortable leash for walks.
And if your dog does need a practical item like a jacket for cold weather or a fleece to keep mud off their fur in wet weather, keep an eye out for seasonal sales or clearance racks. This way, you can add a touch of functional style without breaking the bank. You can even have a go at making your own using an old jumper you’ve outgrown - there are plenty of free tutorials on YouTube.
There are some areas where it’s important to spend more in order to prioritize your dog's health and wellbeing. In fact, the prices of some dog care can be hard to swallow. But if you’re saving by not wasting cash on unnecessary products, then it won’t burn such a large hole in your pocket – and you’ll be assured that your money is going into the best places to ensure your dog lives a happy and healthy life.
One area where you should never cut corners is your dog's food. Opt for high-quality, well-balanced dog food that meets their specific dietary needs. While it can seem expensive upfront, it will save you money in the long run by promoting good health and preventing costly vet bills.
It’s also recommended you don’t keep switching foods - find a brand you and your dog are happy with and sick with it. It can be tempting to save some cash with special offers and coupons but your dog’s digestive system isn’t as adaptable as ours.
Your veterinarian can provide guidance on the best food for your dog's age, breed, and health condition. And don't hesitate to ask for recommendations that align with your budget. Front of the Pack’s air-dried dog food is one great option that provides all the goodness and nutrition your dog needs in each serving – and it’s affordable, too.
Routine check-ups and vaccinations are essential to keep your dog healthy and prevent potential illnesses. Skipping these appointments to save money can lead to more significant expenses down the line if a health issue goes unnoticed. If you need to, look for low-cost vaccination clinics or community veterinary programs in your area. These can provide affordable preventive care options without compromising your dog's well-being.
Dogs, like humans, can have accidents or develop unexpected health issues. So it's crucial to have an emergency fund in place to cover unforeseen vet bills. Saving a little each month can make a big difference when an emergency arises. Dog owners should also consider investing in pet insurance. While it's an additional monthly expense, it can provide peace of mind knowing that major medical expenses will be partially covered should the worst happen.