Economically feeding your dog
In these times, when money is an even more precious commodity than usual most of us are looking at ways to economise. If you own one dog, or more, you will know that dog’s can be costly to keep. After the initial buying of the animal there are vaccinations, health checks, pet insurance, miscellaneous expenses and of course dog food. No pet lover would want to economise on a dog’s food if it was going to put their animal’s quality of life, happiness and health in jeopardy but there are ways to reduce your dog feeding bill without doing any of these.
Do not just buy your dog food from the most convenient store. Shop around and make sure that you compare prices. You will be surprised at just how much the price of a basic tin of dog food can vary from shop to shop. Usually larger supermarkets will offer the best prices.
Look around for special offers, promotions and good prices for bulk buying dog food. Usually, for example, if you compare the price, weight for weight, of a dry dog food mixer you will find that it is far more economical to buy a huge bag as opposed to a small one. Store this food well though to prevent it becoming stale. Once the bag is opened tape down the top to keep it airtight. Transfer a weekly amount, for example, into an old biscuit tin, or similar, and store the rest in the garage or shed. Make sure that you do not overfeed your dog, as this is easy to do if you have a large loose amount of dry dog food.
If you buy tinned dog food make sure that you buy the largest multi-pack that you can afford, carry and store; as long as the use by date is good this will save you a great deal of money in the long run.
See what is available on-line
On-line is perfect for bulk buying as long as you know that the seller is reputable and the goods are as advertised. This method of shopping will save you time, money and effort. Goods will be delivered to your door and so you can order as much as you like. Remember to watch out for short use by dates though.
Look at the labels of dog foods to see if the nutritional values are the same on the more expensive dog foods as the cheaper ones. Many dogs actually prefer the cheaper dog foods once they have tried them. A store’s own brands are always cheaper than well known brands and the quality is usually just as good. Dogs, like human beings, get bored with the same old diet anyway and usually like the occasional change of food. Remember though, that a drastic change of diet may upset your dog’s tummy, so use caution.
Supplement traditional dog food with other foods
Take care if you feed your dog table scraps as many foods that humans consume are not suitable for dogs. Chocolate, grapes, raisins and white bread are prime examples of foods that can harm a dog. However dogs love boiled rice and pasta. Both of these are cheap to buy and are good for the dogs as an occasional treat. When you cook a pan of rice or pasta for the family add a little extra for your dog. Mix some of this with the dog’s food as a cheap alternative to a mixer.
Avoid purpose made dog treats
Many dog treats are overpriced, unnecessary and bad for your dog. If they are made with more than 30% protein they will make your dog hyperactive. Many of these treats are also fattening for your pet as well as being expensive. Try cutting a few peeled, fresh, raw carrots into snack size chunks and give them to your dog instead. Your dog will love these treats and they are a healthy alternative treat and good for a dog’s teeth. Take care not to over feed them with the carrot though as it may affect the dog’s bowel movements.
If you can still buy lungs or lights from your local butcher shop do so. Many butcher’s used to give these away to their customers on request. They can be hard to find on sale these days. Cut the windpipe away from the pair of lungs and then cut each lung into small to medium sized chunks. Boil these for about 20 minutes. They will smell awful to humans but dogs love the smell as the lungs cook. Serve to your dog, when cool, with rice or a dog mixer as a replacement to the wet dog food. Nutritious and very cheap but not for the feint-hearted.
If possible buy a few pairs of lungs at a time and freeze those not to be cooked immediately.
Use your common sense and take your time when buying dog food. If you rush your shopping you will just grab the first thing that you see which may be the most expensive dog food available. Use any money saving coupons that are genuine savings and appropriate. Plan your shopping well. If you have done your research and know what is a bargain and what is not you will save money. If necessary take a shopping list with you to prevent spur of the moment purchases and to help you stay focused on bagging a bargain.
Dental care for dogs
Your pet dog may need dental treatment with age. This can be costly for you and stressful for your pet.
Making sure you feed your dog a sensible diet is a must but some dogs, like some people, are more prone to dental plaque and associated problems.
Getting into the habit of cleaning your dog's teeth may not be easy but it could be cost effective and save your beloved pet the terrible pain of toothache and pain following tooth extraction.
Brushing a dog's teeth is never easy but, depending on your dog and its diet, it may be very necessary.
Poor oral hygiene can ultimately add to health problems and could affect the animal’s heart. Dogs hide their pain well and so your pet could be suffering a fair amount of pain or discomfort before you realise it has a problem.
Firstly think about what you are feeding your dog. Dogs should not have sugary and sweet treats. They are not good for their health, or their teeth. Many of the proprietary treats that claim to help clean a dog's teeth either do not work well, or are laden in calories with high amounts of protein. The first will make your dog fat and the second may make it hyperactive, so both are best avoided.
Many dogs love raw carrots and apples and vets often recommend these as a healthy treat, which will not damage a dog's teeth and may help clean them a little. Make sure though that your dog does not consume any apple pips.
Dogs usually love cheese also which can clean teeth a little but this is not really good food for a dog as it is full of fat. Obviously the occasional treat should do no harm, but give plenty of thought to your dog's diet for the sake of its teeth, weight, health and your bank balance. After all many shop bought dog treats are quite expensive.
So what is the best way to actually clean a dog's teeth, if and when you have to?
The best way is to introduce your dog to teeth cleaning when it is a puppy. That way it will get used to you touching its mouth, teeth and gums.
Normal toothpaste is not appropriate for cleaning your dog's teeth. Sometimes it may even make your dog ill or cause an allergic reaction.
Most veterinary surgeries and pet shops will sell proprietary dog toothpaste which is often meat flavoured, such as chicken and ham. These are less foaming than people toothpaste. The bonus is that dogs love this meaty toothpaste.
The first time you want to clean your dog's teeth just try placing the brush briefly in your dog's mouth. Use the smallest toothbrush available. Then try again later with a small amount of dog toothpaste on the brush. Gradually build up the time spent cleaning your dog's teeth.
Give the dog a chance to get used to the general feel of tooth cleaning and to understand that this practice will not harm him or her.
Either buy a child's toothbrush or a specific dog toothbrush, as you will only want to use a relatively small brush.
Finger tooth pads are useful for cleaning dog’s teeth. These are very convenient. They resemble finger caps which are sometimes used in offices to aid filing. The difference is there are small bristles on one side.
They can be purchased cheaply from veterinary surgeries. You simply slip this finger brush onto your index finger and then slip your finger into the dog's mouth. Most dogs seem to prefer this to a brush, as such. It is gentler, will reach even the back teeth and can access problem areas.
Do not forget though that despite your best efforts, just like people, some dogs will produce more tartar than others and may need some dental work.
Also as a dog ages teeth can become cracked and worn. Most vets will offer a scaling and polishing service for a dog's teeth. They will also be able to remove decaying teeth, if necessary.
Remember though that the dog will need to have anaesthetic and so the fewer times such treatment has to be done the better.
Overall try to establish a basic teeth cleaning routine for your dog as, in the long term, it will save you money on costly veterinarian bills and will save your much loved pet unnecessary suffering and pain.