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.
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.
It can be relatively quick to adopt or re-home a dog or a lengthy process. Sometimes it is important that the dog becomes part of a home in the near future.
It is not good for a dog to be in and out of a shelter, no matter how good that shelter and rescue service is.
We have adopted in the past from local dog rescue service Hessle Dog Rescue and the RSPCA. The process is similar between most re-homing organisations. Tinka came by way of Hull Oakwood Canine Services and this is what the adoption process can entail.
Home check and requirements
Although there are many animals in need of a new home it is important that it is not just any household. Some dogs are better in a child free environment whilst others will blossom in a home full of kids.
Make sure you are fully aware of what a particular dog may need from you and be totally honest with the rescue service. It will help the adoption be a successful one.
A representative of the rescue service will visit your home to ensure that you have a suitable environment for a dog. This usually means ensuring that you have a yard or garden with fencing or walls of a reasonable height.
The cost will vary but it could cost more than you imagine. This is to ensure that you are making a commitment to your new pet. The money helps cover any costs your dog has meant to the rescue charity, for example medical bills and food, with perhaps a donation to the charity included. These charities are always financially stretched.
Neutering or spaying
These days rescue dogs are always either neutered, if a male, or spayed if a female. This helps to prevent more unwanted puppies and heartbreak.
Your donation will include a fee for this and probably also for microchipping.
Whether your dog is large or small it will cost you in time and money. If you are not prepared to give the animal 110% you should not be adopting a dog. Instead volunteer at the rescue as a dog walker or become a fund-raiser.
So the basic costs could include:
Quite a list but not an exhaustive one.
You can sometimes utilise items around the home. An old curtain or blanket could provide comfort in a dog bed. The bed could be a sturdy cardboard box rather than a costly one bought from a specialist supplier.
It is lovely to treat your pet to a new purpose bought bed but that is not an essential requirement. Ask advice at the rescue service.
In truth though if money is very tight adopting a dog is not a good idea.
Caring dog owners would never willingly inflict pain on their animal or animals. In fact the opposite is the case and feeding, exercising and grooming are usually done with loving care. You may decide to trim your dog's nails as you think that their length is causing your dog pain.
However, if you trim a dog's nails too short you will inflict some pain and distress to the dog. The pain caused could be worse than the animal would suffer with a slightly overgrown nail. Before you trim your dog's nails make sure that you have all the information necessary.
Assess the dog’s nails
Examine your dog's nails in order to assess what needs to be done. It may be that only one or two nails need trimming or perhaps all of the dog's nails will need some attention.
The nail’s blood supply
If your dog has pale coloured nails you may be able to see the blood supply, and where it ends, through the nails.
Where to make the cut
Your cut must stop short of the end of this blood supply. If it does not the nail will bleed and your dog will feel some pain. In turn this will make the animal nervous about such grooming in the future.
General advice for cutting a dog’s nails
Hold your dog gently but firmly.
You Will Need
Tips & Warnings
Why your dog’s nails may need to be trimmed
In an ideal world your dog's nails would never need to be trimmed or clipped. Sufficient time spent exercising on hard surfaces such as concrete would ensure that a dog's nails were kept short and smooth. These days though the reality for most of our pet dogs is a comfortable warm existence as a fully domesticated house dog. This inevitably means that sooner or later your dogs nails will need to be trimmed.
If you allow a dog's nails to become overgrown the animal will be in pain, have difficulty walking and may pull threads of material, such as carpets. You can take your dog to the groomers but why waste time and money having the hassle travelling across town with your dog? The tools needed for clipping a dog's nails do not have to be expensive. With a little time and effort your dog's nails will soon be in great condition, but it will not have cost you a fortune. Please note that the breed and size of your dog will have a bearing on the equipment that you need to buy.
The right tools for the job
It is no good attempting to trim a dog's nails with human nail clippers or scissors. A dog's nails are just too tough. Shop around for suitable dog nail clippers.
There are many types of dog nail clipping devices but a cheap, strong basic dog nail clipper will usually suffice and have longevity.
A guillotine dog nail clipper will give a clean, painless cut, is cheap to buy and very easy to use.
[Remember though if unsure have your dog's nails trimmed by the vet or at a local dog groomers]
Assemble what is needed
Gather together the dog nail clippers, scissors for trimming long paw fur, perhaps a soft towel to help hold your dog still and anything else that you may need
Assess the dog’s nails
Gently groom your dog so that it is relaxed. As you do so check out the condition of the dog's nails. If necessary trim any excess paw fur and soak very long, hard nails, in order to soften them. This will make the trimming easier.
Take your time and ensure that any other pet's, especially other dogs, are not in the same room.
If your dog has very long fur, like my dog Leo at the left, it may not be easy to see its nails.
However, you must ensure that you do not cut into the nail's quick.
For very long nails the best advice is to trim a little nail and then leave it for a week, so that the quick can recede.
You should then be able to trim a little more, and so forth, until the dog's nail is the desired length.
How to hold your dog
If you are a responsible dog owner you should know your dog well. Is it a nervous dog? Does it get frightened easily? All of this will dictate how you need to hold your dog.
If you are lucky your dog, with a little encouragement, may sit well for you and even hold up each paw. However for some this will only happen with time and for others it may never happen. If you need to hold your dog gently but firmly.
If you are not alone one of you can hold the dog, whilst the other person trims your pets nails. If you have to trim the nails on your own hold your dog in something such as a fleece throw or a large bath towel. Leave just the paw that you are working on exposed.
Trimming your dog’s nails
Now that the preparations have been made it is time to trim your dog's nails. Remember to make a safe cut and avoid cutting into the quick or kwik. The quick grows with a dog's nail and if you cut into it the vein will bleed.
As already said remember to remove and safely store any equipment when you have finished.
Give your dog a huge amount of praise, especially if it was still and quiet whilst you trimmed its nails. Even if your dog wriggled rather a lot, a good cuddle and plenty of praise may make the task easier next time.
Of course a welcome dog treat, or two, will be the order of the day. If you trim your dog's regularly the quick should recede right back.
Read How to avoid cutting a dog's nails too short in conjunction with this guide.
As with so many tasks. maintenance is always much easier than playing catch up.
You will need
Tips & Warnings
You can hurt your dog trimming its nails. If you feel unsure let your groomer and our veterinarian take care of it instead.
Your dog is a part of your home and needs to be able to fit in and have a place in the pecking order. Although you should not pander to an animal it deserves love and care from you. No-one forced you to take a pet into your home and so, as a responsible owner, you owe your dog, your family and your neighbourhood a well-adjusted, happy and healthy dog.
If you can calm a nervous dog down it will be much easier for you all to live together and be much healthier for the pet. Make sure that your dog has a quiet corner for his or her bed so that when the going gets tough and noisy around the home the dog can find its own peaceful place. After all, everyone needs their own quiet time and animals are no different from people in this respect.
Some dogs are nervous and highly strung, no matter how hard you try and calm them down. This can partly be because some breeds are more excitable on the whole, or just because it is the dog's nature. However, some breeds will nearly always be calm and reliable.
Of course there are dogs that will only get nervous in certain situations.
We all know people who are always calm and others who are constant nervous wrecks. Similarly some people are frightened of the dark or thunder and it is only these things which make them nervous.
Finally, surroundings and the animal’s upbringing can affect dogs and make for a nervous disposition. If a dog has been mistreated and perhaps had some stressful puppy years the damage may have been done then. Never forget that dogs, like children, pick up on a person’s mood and outlook and tend to follow the leader.
So how can a nervous dog’s owner help ease the situation and improve the quality of life for all concerned?
Obviously if you have a dog from a very young age you will be able to train it well. Dogs need to socialise and be around plenty of other animals, people and different situations in order to cope well with life.
If a dog has never seen a vacuum cleaner in operation before, it may be terrified when you get this monstrosity out of the cupboard and begin cleaning. Try to make sure that your pet is around normal everyday objects and gets used to them from a young age.
Socialising is important for your dog and this means with people outside of the family unit as well as other dogs. The more a dog socialises the less nervous it will be.
Having said that our elderly bitch had the jitters when we changed from an old cylinder vac to a new Dyson vacuum cleaner. It was noisier than our old one and a little bulky but she got used to it in time. Ignoring her behaviour and just getting on with the cleaning helped. Often the attention you give a dog when you shout at them, or maybe put them outside whilst you use what scares them, will just compound the problem. Like people they need to confront their fears but in a slow and gentle way.
A dog may appear fearless with just about everything but be terrified of thunder or fireworks. November 5th, bonfire night in England, can be a nightmare for the pet. A vet will supply a tranquiliser if necessary for such occasions including New Year’s Eve which these days in the UK is like bonfire night. Too much stress will damage a dog's health and a tranquiliser may be the kindest option in the short term. A veterinarian may suggest a mild tranquiliser for the sake of a dog’s general wellbeing.
Just as it is known that exercise can help a person’s psyche it can also help a dogs. In people with depression exercise is vital in releasing feel good hormones which can aid recovery. These endorphins will help ease a dog’s nerves also. A nervous dog will benefit from plenty of exercise as this will help tire the dog out and release some of its excess energy.
Owners of nervous dogs need to have a calm and confident personality and the dog’s surroundings need to be as settled and calm as possible. Dogs look to their humans for guidance in many things and they will soon pick up on your moods. If you are highly strung and nervous then no doubt your dog will follow suit. Try meditation and breathing exercises to calm you down so that you can set the right mood for your dog.
Massaging and stroking
Massages can help nervous dogs to calm down. This does not mean just stroking them but giving them a proper head to toe massage. I suppose just gentle stroking for a period of time will help but it would be worth learning the proper technique for massaging dogs. This would give maximum results.
Finally think of the general atmosphere in your home. Is everyone always shouting and screaming? Do the children tear around the home as if there is no tomorrow? Are loud rock music and the television constantly blaring out? All of this will add to a dog’s stress levels and make for a nervous dog.
Turn the volume down on everything, including your voices.
When you are stroking or massaging your dog try playing some calming, soothing music. It could be classical music but be careful what you pick as some of this can be loud and powerful stuff. Go for something like Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross or a little Vivaldi. Even pop music would be alright if it was the slow, calm and melodic kind.
With time and patience most dogs will settle down well, and just as people mature and calm down with age, so may your highly strung puppy dog.
At one time dog owners would readily give their pet dogs table leftovers, often straight from the table. However, these days, advice generally warns against this. This is not simply modern society gone mad but instead it is sound advice.
Too much salt
Many foods made for human consumption contain far too much salt. Products such as gravy granules have so much salt that they could cause a dog serious health problems. A dog's small kidneys would be unable to cope with this amount of salt and it would be bad for the animal's heart as well.
Dogs do not need sugar, especially in its refined state. The sugar that we consume is harmful to dogs in many ways. These days the incidence of Diabetes in dogs in increasing. This is mainly due to the sugar in their diet. What may seem like a treat to you could, in real terms, be poison to a dog.
Similarly, rich fatty food is not good for a dog. It can increase a dog's weight and block its arteries in the much same way that a human's arteries become blocked. Such blockages can lead to heart failure. At the very least these fats will lead to weight gain which is not good for a dog. If the dog becomes obese its life span will be shortened and it may suffer from poor mobility and muscle and joint health.
Too much protein can make a dog hyperactive and restless.
Onions can be very dangerous to a dog. Having said that this may not apply to all dogs. However, is it worth taking the risk?
When you feed your dog table scraps, the dog could easily ingest a bone. Small bones such as those in poultry, like chickens and turkeys, are harmful to dogs.
Many of the food manufactured for human consumption is just too rich for a dog. It will provide poor nutrition and may cause digestive problems. Problems could be diarrhoea, constipation, vomiting and more.
Feeding your dog scraps and titbits from the table can cause bad behaviour. Your dog may become fussy and only eat certain foods. The dog may also pester you and your family as you eat. Feeding your dog table scraps may also cause it to scavenge any old, discarded food that it comes across.
Do not give your dog milk to drink. This can cause tummy problems. Dogs like clean, fresh water.
Be kind to your dog. In the long run tasty titbits from the table may cause problems and giving them to your dog is not an act of kindness.
Make sure that you NEVER give your dog chocolate, raisins, grapes or white bread as all could cause severe health problems.
There are some foods that would not be harmful, but it is best not to start bad habits in the first place.
Feed your dog its own sensible diet in order to ensure it keeps in tiptop condition.
After all, you would not eat left over tinned dog food, would you?
When you take that cute little puppy into your home, it is easy to forget that sooner or later this animal will get old.
Ageing is a fact of life, for all living creatures. How quickly a dog will age though, does depend on certain factors.
Like people, there will be genetic predispositions toward certain health problems. Different breeds of dog have different life expectancies also.
On the whole, though there are some obvious signs that your dog is getting old.
Older dogs often have poor hearing
That once alert dog, who heard the slightest rattle of the garden gate, may hear little these days. In fact, a burglar may be able to enter, raid and leave your home without your dog hearing a sound.
Weight gain can also be associated with age in dogs
Some of this will depend upon how well you have cared for your dog. Giving the animal too many treats to show your love is not really an act of kindness. Make sure that your dog has a healthy diet and reduce the amount of food accordingly as the animal becomes less active. An older dog generally has less nutritional needs.
Creaking joints affect a dog in much the same way as a person
The animal's mobility may decrease and it may be in pain. If a dog shows signs of pain be assured that the animal is suffering. Dogs tend to hide their pain well. No dog should ever be allowed to suffer so consult your veterinarian in order to receive advice and treatment regarding pain management.
Poor eyesight affects dogs in much the same way as people
An older dog may develop cataracts. Many eye problems are treatable but can be expensive. Some breeds of dogs are more susceptible to have eyesight problems than others.
Dental problems can cause older dogs problems
Tooth pain and infections may mean that the animal finds it difficult to eat properly. If your dog has bad breath this could be a sign of dental problems. A good dental routine, started when the animal is young, will help. Tooth scaling is possible at the veterinary surgery but will be costly. You also have to remember that the dog will need to be anaesthetised which may be problematic for an older dog.
Heart problems and even heart failure can occur in dogs
If the animal has led a healthy life style with a sensible diet and plenty of exercise heart heath issues may be minimised.
Your dog's hair or fur will probably turn a little grey and the texture will change. You may notice that the dog's coat is less sleek and shiny and is more wiry and sparse.
As we see our pets everyday it is often a person who visits rarely who will notice the changes in your dog.
You may find that you have to walk more slowly and less distance with your pet, raise the height of the dog's feeding bowl because it has back problems or even help the animal to its feet at times. As long as the dog is not in pain and has some quality of life this part of ageing is simply nature running its course.
Regular health assessments by a veterinarian will help nip health issues in the bud; the vet will also be able to offer advice on keeping your pet well and happy in older and old age.
But every living thing has its time and must die hopefully later rather than sooner.
Enjoy your pet throughout his or her life. Every stage of life has something to offer.
It is not only your dog that will benefit from plenty of exercise
Having owned various dogs over the years, I know all too well the benefits of regular dog walking. Firstly though I must hold my hands up and say that, for various reasons, our regular walks have been less frequent of late than is really acceptable. The thing is that walking your dog benefits all concerned.
Your Dog or Dogs
Dogs walk. That is one of their main occupations in this life. They need regular exercise and plenty of it. This stimulates their mind and psyche and helps to keep them physically and mentally fit.
Believe it or not, a dog can get depressed, in much the same way that a human being can. It is cruel to keep a dog cooped up all of the time. Bear in mind also that a bored dog may soon become a naughty dog!
If you walk your dog on a variety of surfaces, such as grass and paths, his or her nails should not need trimming. Walking regularly on concrete should help minimise the length of the pet’s nails.
Helping a dog learn to socialise with other dogs is vital. Dog walking should do this. No-one wants a dog that goes wild at the mere sight of another pooch.
Walking your dog can also benefit you. It can help keep you fit, keep your weight down and help you to bond with your pet. It means that you will benefit from exercising in the great outdoors.
When you take regular walks, with your pet, you will soon find that you have a new circle of friends. These will be the dogs and their owners who you meet on your travels. The doggie community are usually quite friendly and sociable.
As a learning experience
Walking your dog can also be part of the pet’s training. Crossing the road, sitting, walking to heel and having some free time, off the lead, can all be practised outdoors.
Make sure that you always have plenty of bags, and anything else needed, on your walks to clean up your dog’s mess. These days I prefer to take small nappy or pamper sacks. These are small plastic bags which are slightly scented. They are designed for disposing of baby's disposable nappies after use. These bags are perfect for clearing a pile of dog poop. This may not be a nice task but it is an essential one.
Take a few small dog toys and treats with you. These can be useful for playing with your dog once it has been allowed off its lead or as a reward. Treats can be handy also for other dogs you may encounter.
If your dog is unfriendly, or you fear that the animal may snap at someone, use a muzzle. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Dogs are very much creatures of habit and, once you have established a dog walking routine, you will need to stick to it. Still, I am sure that you will agree that your dear animal deserves that much at the very least.
Note: Always consider your safety and the safety of others your dog may encounter on walks.