Scorp and I are getting by on one salary at the moment and Aschiuta is a third (albeit smaller) mouth to feed in our little room. We often have to cut down on costs as much as possible. And it's not hard to take care of a dog economically while also providing for all its needs.
Of course, some things can't be found at lower prices and good quality, such as some medicine or vaccines, but for the rest of the stuff, you don't have to spend a lot of money.
The big issue for everyone. After trying a lot of options, we've realised a few important things:
- Cooked food can be cheaper than commercial dog food, but doesn't last as long and it might not cover all the necessary nutrients. As a compromise, we also give Aschiuta other things, like chicken, raw bone, cheese or sour cream (the occasional milk is ok too, but can cause stomach problems) and some fruits and vegetables (carrots, peppers and apples are her favourites). We give her a little of the food we eat if it's something that will be ok for her. Rice, oven roast chicken and soup are quite ok. You can find good recipes for homemade dog food and treats all over the internet; I'll recommend Doggy Dessert Chef (the writer is very careful about what a dog shouldn't eat).
- The cheapest dog food isn't always the best. There are some good cheap brands too though (our vet recommended a few brands to us) and we've found out that we can afford to buy relatively good quality food (stuff like Acana, Pro Pac etc.)
We used to try and make a small bed for Aschiuta from a cardboard box and some old clothes. Aschiuta though had other plans. Once she grew old (and bold) enough, she started sleeping in bed with us or on the couch.
A wooden crate and old clothes (you can even make a pillow out of them) can be a good solution, depending on the size of the dog. Aschiuta kept outgrowing her carton beds.
Bowls for food and water
Scorp bought a plastic food bowl from the pet store, which we used for water. Other than that, we used big plastic ice cream boxes. Talk about recycling, right? My mom keeps all of those boxes, so I thought I'd put them to good use.
Unfortunately, Aschiuta chews on plastic things, so after a few of the makeshift bowls and the pet store one being chewed to pieces, we decided to not leave them within her reach. She has learned to ask for water too.
I'm still using a sulfur soap for doggie baths, since the vet advised me to give Aschiuta baths with sulfur soap and apple vinegar rinse when she had her skin problems. We don't use the vinegar anymore, but the sulfur soap does its job well. It's not expensive and it doesn't smell appealing enough for her to try to eat any of it. In fact, Scorp claims it smells too bad and Aschiuta's docile manner during bath time might be because she also hates the smell.
Another hot topic. Well, here we've improvised a lot. We have the famous old socks that she loves to play with.
|Aschiuta helping the sock do some stretching exercises.|
The two things we bought were a rope toy and tennis balls. But if you can find a sturdy rope, you can make a toy for your dog too. I've also read a lot of interesting ideas for makeshift treat dispensers. All you have to do is use your imagination.
|Ever since she was a puppy, she's always loved her tennis ball.|
Not all dogs need clothes, but for the short-haired ones, it is a good idea to have a jacket on during the winter. Aschiuta's jacket was made out of one of my old t-shirts.
|Not quite in fashion, but still necessary (saved us from red spots all over the place).|
There are a lot of ideas out there about reusing old clothes to make jackets (or other clothes) for your dog. At Sew DoggyStyle, you can find some interesting ideas about making doggie clothes and accessories.
And, Aschiuta was lucky and got a nice winter coat from Scorp's mom for Christmas. Bought, but we're planning on getting the design idea, buying material and making others ourselves.
Spaying or neutering
There are programs for free or low-price cat or dog spaying or neutering. All you need to do is get informed. Consult your vet too for the best possibilities. We are waiting until spring and will spay Aschiuta.
Well, these are the tips I can offer for keeping your dog healthy and happy without emptying your pocket.