Monday, May 23, 2011

Green, Clean, Lean and Mean: Economical Alternatives to Pricey Dog Care Products

No matter what the media say, it’s still a tough economy and high cost items are out when it comes to everything in our budget, including the essentials for our precious pups. Just like with anything else, opportunities to be creatively economical without sacrificing quality abound.

First, a few facts and stats: No surprise to those of us in NEBTR, the number of pets abandoned by the wayside or left off at shelters has skyrocketed since this recession began. This has left all rescue groups scrambling to find foster homes and those foster homes are scrambling to expand already strained budgets to feed just one more mouth. The following is the rundown of the yearly expenses involved in taking care of just a single dog:
  • Food and Treats $250 – 700
  • Toys $25 – 150
  • Beds $50 – 200
  • Leashes and collars $20 – 50
  • Grooming $30 – 500
  • Routine vet care $100 – 300
  • Preventive medications and supplements $100 – 300
  • Training classes, books, videos $25 – 300
  • Pet sitters/Boarding $100 - 300
This adds up to a whopping $700 – 2800 per year for a single dog and does not include emergency care which we all know is an all too frequent and expensive occurrence. Now multiply this by however many “kids” you have in your household, your own or fostered, and chances are you might be a bit surprised.

So, where am I going with this? This little column is hereby devoted to sharing quality, cost effective and green-conscious alternatives to providing our precious pups with the utmost care. I invite you to share your concoctions, recipes and tips so we can all benefit from your wisdom and experience. For example, Sheryl has a dinner-recipe to-die-for, and Linda Antonelli has enough “pearls” (of wisdom) to fill a very large treasure chest!

For our purposes, I suggest we stick our stuff in the following categories:
  • Food and treat recipes
  • Training
  • Supplies: toys, leashes, collars,
  • Grooming
  • Veterinary care
  • Emergency supplies and care

Doggie SoapLet me get the ball rolling by talking shampoo. First, even if it’s baby shampoo, human hair-care products are a canine no-no and it all boils down to the correct pH balance that will not irritate the dog’s skin. Here is one formula that is safe, gentle, and effective:

  • 1 pint of Dawn or Ivory dish soap
  • 1 pint of water
  • 1 pint of apple cider vinegar
  • 4 ounces of glycerine (find at any drugstore)
Mix all of this together and store the “leftovers” in air-tight containers. However, there is one caveat here, and that is that vinegar is an eye-irritant, so to be careful when washing around those sensitive BT eyes.

What’s Next?
In addition to sharing some of your suggestions in our next newsletter, I will also discuss places to shop to get the best deals on basic supplies. My ultimate goal is to compile everything we do here into a fund-raising booklet made available to other rescue groups and shelters.