With a recession this year almost guaranteed, and consumers experiencing rising costs daily, I have promised readers of my newsletter my recommendations on money saving tips for dog care. I decided to make this a blog post to reach a wider number of readers because rising costs are a worldwide phenomenon.
It’s important to note that we all want/need to save money in a time of rising costs, but as dog parents we don’t really want to sacrifice quality of care. My tips are aimed at achieving both.
And just a reminder that I live in New Zealand; the products and services accessible to readers elsewhere will vary. Quoted prices are in NZ dollars.
#1 – Brush those teeth!
Dental disease is the most common condition seen by vets and the costs for dental procedures can hit the pocket when you least need it. A dentistry procedure to scale and polish teeth will easily set you back NZ$700, with the costs escalating to between $1,000-$2,000 when extractions are needed. The worse your dog’s teeth, the higher the costs involved.
Prevention is better than cure. The gold standard for dental care is daily brushing of the teeth with a pet toothpaste; the physical motion of brushing helps to remove plaque and the enzymes in pet toothpaste remain in the mouth to prevent plaque from forming into tartar (calculus). The only way to remove calculus is through a scale and polish procedure.
I sell toothbrushes for only $8.50 each; a tube of toothpaste will set you back between $24-26 at most pet shops and veterinary practices.
You do the math.
Remember, too, that you need to get your dog accustomed to teeth brushing so that it is stress-free for both of you. Whenever someone buys a toothbrush from me, I’m happy to give them a free 15-minute consult to talk them through the basics of teeth-brushing.
#2 – Ask for a script for ongoing medications
For dogs that require regular medication such as for arthritis pain, incontinence, heart murmur, or other chronic conditions, it is worth checking on prices of these medications online. The online pharmacies in New Zealand buy from the same suppliers as vet practices, but the mark-ups are often less. MyVet.co.nz and Vetpost.co.nz are just two examples.
These outlets can legally supply your dog’s medications if they have script from the vet who is treating them; this is no different than having a script from your GP for medication that you buy from your local pharmacy.
Vet practices are entitled to charge a script fee for writing a script for your dog’s medication, so factor this into your cost calculations. The Veterinary Code of Conduct explicitly states that a veterinarian cannot refuse to write a script when one is requested.
Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for a script; this is happening more often every day (MyVet.co.nz has been operating for 15 years now; it’s the original pet pharmacy in the country). And, since times are tough, if you are a loyal client of a vet practice and you show them what price you are able to source your pet’s medication for, they may choose to sell you those meds at that price.
When my Daisy was taking regular medications for arthritis and incontinence, my veterinarian told me, “we know you spend a lot of money with us, Kathleen, and you’re a loyal client. We’ll sell it to you at that price rather than lose your business for the medication.”
#3 – Reuse
In the category of ‘every little bit helps,’ re-use plastic bags and wraps as poo bags. This includes previously used courier bags, bread and bagel bags and wraps from toilet rolls and paper towels.
#4 Team up with others
I often see posts on Facebook groups like Christchurch Pets asking where a person can buy a single flea treatment because they cannot afford to buy a 3-pack. In most cases, you will always spend more buying single items than in bulk. A better way would be to team up with others and share the costs of buying a 3-pack.
Similarly, when buying dog food, a larger bag will almost always be more cost-effective than a smaller one. If you can’t buy with friends who use the same food, use social media to team up with people in the community who feed the same food that you do. Dog food should be stored in an airtight container, making it easy to divide a bag between two or more owners.
Most mobile services, including mine, offer multiple dog discounts for dogs that are treated at the same appointment at the same location. Coordinate appointment times with your friends at one of your homes and share the savings.
#5 Switch to a NZ Made Food
This tip comes directly from one of my regular clients.
She noticed her imported food from Australia was going up in price significantly every time she paid for it. She looked for equally healthy alternatives and formulations and found that most of the brands of NZ Made kibbles were more reasonable priced. She’s tried two options and settled on one for her dogs.
#6 Shop during sales and use auto ship discounts
When food, treats, toys and other items go on sale, take advantage of the discounts. Some retailers offer autoship options with discounts on regular orders. Most autoship functions allow you to cancel or re-arrange delivery dates and so if you find something on sale elsewhere, you can delay your autoship to a later date.
Discounts add up. Wise consumers know that in the long run you save money when buying things you will need when they are on sale, setting them aside until you need them.
#7 Check prices
Take the time to check prices on regularly purchased items like food and treats.
Some local stores offer good pricing that beat the prices of larger stores and retailers. For example, many of my clients use Burwood Produce Horse and Pony Supplies and Best for Pets in Christchurch for kibble and raw foods, respectively. Competitive pricing and you are supporting local!
#8 Buy for value and not just lowest price
Know quality when you see it and be prepared to pay more because quality products will last for longer. A harness or lead should last the dog’s lifetime, for example. Remember that CHEAP can work two ways: low price or poor quality.
Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand