Sunday, August 17, 2008
Straight Talk on How You Can Keep Your Dog During the Economic Crisis
If you are one of the many people facing hard times financially these days and considering giving up your dog due to the cost of maintaining a pet, this is for you. Here are some ways to save money in the short term until you get back on your feet financially - cos I do believe a change is gonna come.
1. Food - Many places already have pet food pantries which will supply food for your pet at no cost and more are springing up as we speak. Check with your local animal shelters to see if they have or know of a pantry in your area. Alternately, your dog can eat leftovers from your plate, provided you eat a relatively healthful diet. Cooked meats (trimmed of fat and bones), canned meats/fish, organ meats, rice, vegetables, oatmeal, eggs, yogurt, etc - make use of your healthy leftovers and table scraps to feed your dog. Yes, it's perfectly safe. Really. I've been doing it for years and so was every other dog owner prior to the introduction of widely available pet food to the market. For treats, raw carrots are great for chewing exercise - they will harmlessly pass through undigested as dogs can't digest whole, raw veggies. You can also use any leftover bits from the cupboard as treats: crackers that have gone stale, that bit of cereal left in the bottom of the bag, the crust of bread no one is going to eat...
2. Heartworm Meds - Heartworm preventive labeled for cattle is available at feed stores and online without a prescription. It has long been used "off label" as a canine heartworm preventive and the cost is dramatically cheaper than buying canine heartworm meds. Check with your Veterinarian to see if this is a recommended alternative for your dog if you are unable to afford the expensive meds right now.
3. Annual vaccines - Good news: they aren't needed for most dogs! Find out what your state's requirement is for Rabies revaccination and check with your Vet to see what, if any, other vaccines are recommended. Times have changed and it is now known that the immunity provided by many dog vaccines lasts longer than one year. So if your dog was previously vaccinated, he may not be due for revaccination this year and if you're in the midst of a financial crisis, certainly a "wellness exam" can be postponed until it's something that can be worked into the budget.
4. Spay-Neuter - Check with your area shelters to see if they operate or know of a low cost spay-neuter clinic. There are different kinds of clinics - some you have to demonstrate that you fall within certain income guidelines in order to qualify for the reduced fee services, others are open to anyone and everyone. Some require proof of recent vaccination for your pet, others do not so you'll need to ask these questions before making an appointment.
5. Dog Shampoo - If your dog is one that needs regular bathing, you are probably shocked at the price of dog shampoos - and rightfully so. What I use is the same as what I've used for years - even when I showed Champion titled dogs in dog shows - blue dishwashing liquid, original formula. I dilute it with at least 5 parts water to one part dishsoap and it works great. As with any shampoo, be sure to rinse every last bit out. If a conditioner is needed, anything that's on sale in the human shampoo aisle works fine. The cheaper, the better.