Rocco enjoying some of the things I do buy.
I’ve done a previous list of general things I don’t buy. Although, there may be a small amount of overalp, this is the dogs edition. Since there has been lots of talk lately about the money I spend on my dogs, which we all know is plenty, I thought a post about the things I skip might be in order. These are the things I know better than to waste my hard earned dog dollars on. They are either a waste of money or just completely unnecessary, in my opinion of course.
To get the duplicates out of the way…
Poo bags. I don’t buy ‘em. I know that little roll is convenient. I just think it is ridiculous to buy something life will constantly give you for free. I mean who doesn’t have tumbleweeds of these lurking in their closets and cupboards, despite their best efforts? I can remember to either grab a bag when leaving the house, or better yet, to proactively stash them in the cars, pockets, and bags in preparation for the time I do forget.
Yearly Vaccinations. If you’ve been reading along, I probably sound like a broken record about this topic by now. Not only is this a waste of money it is potentially detrimental to your dog. I’m not a vet and I’m not going to argue with any vet, other than my own, but please for dog’s sake. Do your own research. At the very least, think about moving your pooch to any three year vaccination schedule as opposed to yearly.
Bordatella Vaccine. Ever. This is a specific vaccine I have always opted out of. Bordatella (aka Kennel Cough) is the equivalent of a doggie cold, commonly picked up at dog parks, daycares, boarding facilities, shelters, etc,. Anywhere there are a lot of dogs in close contact and a higher level of stress, Bordatella is a risk. Here’s the thing though, the vaccine doesn’t protect against all strains, because just like with a cold that’s pretty much impossible, and in the vast majority of cases kennel cough is no where near lethal. I’ve had malnourished, underweight, emotionally disturbed foster dogs come down with a rip roaring case of it. A week of rest and liquids and good food, all was well. Notably, my own healthy dogs, didn’t come down with as much as a sniffle. Why? Because they have healthy immune systems. Even if they caught a cold, it would hardly have been the end of the world. The cough can sound terrible, because we aren’t used to the sound of dogs coughing, but unless there are buckets of green snot, indicating it’s turning into something else, a trip to the vet probably isn’t necessary. This vaccine may be required by your boarding facility or day care. I’ve always managed to get out of it by working with establishments with a better understanding.
Cheap Toys. $5.95 for a pastel colored triceratops seems like a deal, until you watch your Jack Russel Terrier shred it in 10 seconds flat. This was a common complaint from customers at the Pet Store. All toys are not created equal. Go for function over form. Spend a little more and buy products worth your money.
Topical Flea Meds. For a two-sided update to this diatribe see: Natural Flea Control. Let me first say, I do not live in an area of the country where heart worm is a concern. If I did my stance on these might be different. As it is, I use topical flea meds only when there is a problem. I do not consider a couple fleas picked up on a walk or a dog park trip a problem. In summer months when fleas are more of an issue, I add Apple Cider Vinegar to the dog water supply and make sure they get small amount of garlic in their food. I wash bedding weekly in hot water, often letting it have an extra soak. With these simple steps, fleas just aren’t a problem for us. Frontline, Advantage, and the terrible grocery store knock offs, they are all small doses of insecticide. Insecticide designed to be stored in the fatty layer under your dogs skin. Yeah, I don’t love the sound of that. We’d rather not.
Breed-Specific or Age specific foods. I’ve said before, I skip senior foods because most of them are not formulated properly (once again, my opinion). To take that a step further, puppy food has minute differences between adult formulas. Differences that can easily be compensated for with the addition of a little Salmon Oil. All the breed specific lines? Yorkie food? Labrador food? Complete waste of money. Total and complete. That is 100% marketing. Marketing you are paying more for. Find a good food, from a company who’s philosophy you agree with. Choose based on the ingredient panel on the back, not the proclamations on the front. Side Note: My one exception to this may be large breed formulas, specifically large breed puppies, who have specific calcium/phosphorous concerns.
Greenies specifically, but most dental products (especially chews) in general. There is nothing better for dental health than raw bones. Hands down. The rest of the products out there may help topically. They are never going to systemically keep your dogs teeth clean. If at all possible, skip the corn gluten based, over priced, inferior product, and give your dog a bone.
Nylon leashes. Don’t get me wrong, I keep my dogs in a wide array of attractive collars. It is really one of my weaknesses; leather, hemp, martingale, and even rubber. For all the collars they’ve had in their lives, my dogs have each had exactly one leash. One leather 6 foot leash. Coordinating nylon leashes get dirty. They fray. They cut into your hands. Leather leashes get better with age. They are easier to grip. They give you a feeling of control just not possible with nylon. We have a couple ‘functional’ leashes that are higher quality nylon. Leashes specifically for running or as temporary tie out. Skip the temptation to get a cutesy nylon leash that will be replaced 10 times, and make the investment in leather.
Cheap Treats. This is pretty much the same story as the cheap toys. Why would I feed my dogs a high quality diet, and then gum it all up with beggin’ strips and milk bones? We buy biscuits with ingredients that I would eat myself or meat based treats; freeze dried meat or parts. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients or it doesn’t have a texture found in nature, take a pass.
Bully Sticks, Pig Ears, Moo Tubes and other nastiness. Bully sticks are expensive, and once the dogs figures out they game, they don’t last long. Same goes for other such treats. These things are ‘cured’ with questionable practices, contain lots of fat, and offer very little nutritional or dental value. Consider deer antlers as a longer lasting alternative, or look for Himalayan Dog Chews at your local independent pet supply.
I could go on. Couldn’t I always? The moral of the story is just because I spend $900 a month on my dogs, doesn’t mean I spend it willy-nilly. For all the great products and services out there for your pooch, there are just as many not worth the plastic bag they come in. Unless of course, you are using that bag to pick up poo.