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According to the New Zealand Pet Food Manufacturers Association, New Zealand's pet ownership statistics are one of the highest in the world.
They say, “Over 53 percent of households own at least one cat and 18 percent own two or more, making it the highest cat ownership rate in the world. That is more than a million cats! Just over 35 percent of households own a dog. Ownership is reducing slightly (it was 36.5 percent five years ago). Medium and large breeds are most popular but there is a definite trend towards smaller breeds.”
A few years back Consumer did an interesting study that showed the cost of a puppy could be as much as $3,500 in the first year, after taking into account the cost of the puppy itself, food, vet bills, registration, grooming, sending the puppy to (obedience) school, day care(!), dog toys and so on. In fact, the sky is the limit when it comes to what some people will spend on their pooch.
Those living off the smell of an oily rag may need to think twice or thrice about how much they spend on pets, and be imaginative in the way they can reduce the costs but continue to enjoy the pleasures of pets.
The first thing oily rag pet owners can do is figure out how much their pets are costing by keeping a record over the next month. One of the biggest costs will be food.
Cats eat less but their food is twice as expensive because they tend to be a fussy lot. About 55 percent of all cat food sold is in cans, compared to 15 percent for dogs. About 45 percent of dog food is sold in tubs or as dog sausage.
J.B. says, “Our dog developed an allergy to red meat (very common in older dogs).The vet recommended a diet of cooked rice, vegies, and a little dried dog food. He advised us to buy the cheapest rice and cook it up in bulk and to add carrots and greens. When we had chicken, she had the leftovers as well. She lived another 8 years on this diet and was very healthy and happy.”
Margaret from Whangarei adds linseed to her cooked dog food to give her pooch a shiny coat. She also buys dog biscuits in bulk from a rural wholesale outlet.
Kaye from Te Puke says, “When feeding puppies or younger dogs, boil up all your vegie scraps (potato skins and carrot peelings etc), then when soft, mash them up.... they really love it and it's great for them. Also lavender, freshly picked and rubbed along a dogs back, keeps away fleas!”
P.B. has a tip for owners of elderly dogs. “Be careful when giving elderly dogs (over 10) bones. Their teeth might be worn and break. Soak dried food in hot water for an hour prior to feeding to an elderly dog.”
Keeping your pet healthy with a balanced diet will help keep vet bills down. Why not be your own vet? The internet has as much information as you will ever need to know about how and when to vaccinate and apply flea treatments, diagnosing symptoms, natural remedies, and so on. You can also become your pet’s dental hygienist!
Sweatpea writes, “Getting a pet from the SPCA may cost more than a free to a go home animal but pets from the SPCA are already desexed (or come with discount for desexing) and have been vet checked and vaccinated already.”
When their dog died, an oily rag family in Whangarei bought chickens instead! They are sometimes seen roaming in the house, or peering through the kitchen window when the eggs are cooking.
If you have some favourite money-saving pet tips share them with others by visiting the oily rag website (www.oilyrag.co.nz) or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.
* Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at www.oilyrag.co.nz. The book is available from bookstores and online at www.oilyrag.co.nz.