Looking for Dog Owner Money Saving Tips? 20 Ways To Save Money as a Dog Owner

Dog Food, Treats, Collars, Lead, Vet Bills, Insurance… the list seems to go on and on, doesn’t it?

And right now we know, we know that for many people, money is being stretched in every direction.   It feels even more important this year to have sat down and had a look at where those direct debits are going.

Perhaps you’ve even set some new year resolutions around money?

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But what about the costs of being a dog owner? Did you know that research shows that the cost of being a dog owner can amount to up to £30,000 over their lifetime!!?!? Wow!!

While both you and I know they are worth it, and just like kids would never want to see them go without or provide them with lower quality, what if there was a way we could help you find a way to make those pennies go further?  Even if just to spend them on our furiends!

The good news is there isn’t just one way… we’ve found 20 ways to save money as a dog owner.

And we’ve pulled them all together in one handy blog! Grab a cuppa, and a note pad and let’s dive in….

 

dog-owner-money-saving-tips-20-ways-save-money-dog-owner

 

20 Ways to Save Money as a Dog Owner

#1   Check Your Portion Sizes & Weigh Your Dogs Food

I know, I know.. this might seem a little odd but honestly, I’m not saying that you need to start starving your dog to save money! I promise!

However, pet obesity is extremely common and in the UK, it’s estimated that 40% of our dogs are overweight. Yep, even if we love them no matter how they look overfeeding of your dog’s main food may be playing a part in them being overweight.

So let’s be honest.  When was the last time you weighed out your dogs’ food?

Perhaps you’ve been using the same brand for a long time and feel you know the portion sizes? Or have you changed brands, added other elements and still using that measuring jug from the previous dog food.  Most people assume that their good old faithful cup of their new dog food weights exactly the same as their old dog food but they can actually be dramatically different, particularly when it comes to foods like cold-pressed.

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It’s time to grab the packaging, weigh your dog and make sure you’re feeding the right amount for their ideal weight.

Not sure if your dog’s overweight?

Then check out this fab infographic and if in doubt, consult with your vet at your next check-up.

 

purina-body-condition-system-how-to-tell-if-your-dog-is-overweight

 

But “we love them and they love their food – I hate seeing them hungry!”

I hear ya!   But this really isn’t about saving money and while we think we’re showing them love with threats, being overweight does have a dramatic impact on how long they may live.

Based on a study of over 150,000 dogs. The single most influential factor that impacts a dogs’ health and life span is their weight.

Dog’s who are a healthy weight on average live much longer and the impact is most pronounced in smaller dogs.

A lean weight Chihuahua on average lived 2.1 years longer than an overweight Chihuahua. The golden retrievers in the study lived on average 0.8 years longer when lean vs being overweight.

I’m not sure we need any better reason to start weighing their food.

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#2  Switch From Complete Raw Dog Food to a DIY Dog Food

If you are a raw dog feeder using a complete raw dog food supplier, then one of the quickest and simplest ways you can save money is by switching to a ‘diy’ raw dog food.

Yep, while a complete food is much simpler to feed and less time consuming, having the work done for you buy a supplier will always cost more.

For example, Millie’s cost for a complete raw meal delivered via Bella and Duke would be £1.86 per day based on weighing 19kg (using Bella and Duke food calculator, 28th Jan 2021).   In contrast, a 454g Durham Animal Feeds mince (some including bone and offal) averages between 80p and £1.20 per day.

A huge saving of around £300 per year and even if we choose substitute and add supplements, it’s likely that we’d do that with a complete raw meal too!

It also makes some DIY Raw Dog Foods, cheaper than high-end dry food too!

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What’s a DIY Raw Dog Food?

This is where you would both portion out and make sure that your dog is getting everything it needs from a mixture of different elements in their food, rather than it coming all fully prepared.

Muscle meat on its own does not contain all of the nutrients that your dog needs for sustained health.  Therefore you will need to purchases, bones, organ meat, and, if you want, fruits and veggies, plus an essential fatty acid to prevent deficiencies and mix together.

It sounds more complex than it really is and with many types of minces now incorporating offal and bone, once you get into a routine and establish a ‘recipe’, you’ll love the flexibility it can give you!

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#3  Become an Ambassadog/Brand Rep

Have you heard of Brand Reps?  Yep, those ones all over the news living it up in Dubai 😉

Well did you know your dog could be a Brand Rep/Ambassadog too?

With a huge rise in the number of Instagram accounts for dogs, it’s no surprise that both big and small businesses are choosing to work with dogs just like yours.

 

What Do I Get by Being an Ambassadog?

Most businesses tend to offer free products, discounted products or codes in exchange for social media post, blogs or review.   This can be one-off or over a longer period of time.

For e.g, our own Millie’s Ambassadogs, Storm and Vinnie, have a three-month term with us.  They receive free products each month and also a discount code for themselves to use both in our shop and online.

In addition, they also have a discount code they can share with their followers which is worth 10% off any first orders online.

ambassadogs-socttish-instagram-dogs

 

How Do You Find Opportunities to Be an Ambassadog?

To start with you will, of course, need that Instagram account for your furiend first as this tends to be the most popular of places to find opportunities.

You could try searching on #ambassadog and #brandrep, however, these tend to be used globally and the UK accounts will get lost in all of those posts!

My personal advice is to follow the brands that you love and get involved with them on Instagram.

We never choose accounts to be an Ambassadog based on follower numbers – we look for accounts that fit with our brand and all the better if they know and love us already so don’t be afraid to start tagging those accounts in your posts and messages! They’ll remember you when it comes time to advertise for their own brand reps.

Some of our favourite accounts who do use Ambassadogs/Ambassadors include JR Pet Products and Soopa but also Canine Cottages advertise regularly for Canine Critics too!

p.s don’t forget to check the bios in your favourite Instagram dog accounts too. Make sure you make the most of any discount codes they have for brands they are working with – it’s pretty much a refer a friend discount. And I’ll be launching a new search on 1st February for an extra Ambassadog too, so make sure you are following us on Instagram HERE.

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#4  Buy Your Dry/Wet Dog Food in Bulk

When I first started Millie’s, I was astonished at exactly how much money is tied up in packaging when you buy a product and when it comes to dog food, there are stark differences.

Just like that four-pack of beans in a supermarket that costs less than buying four individual tins, that bigger bag of dog food will cost a lot less per kg than the smaller version you are purchasing every few weeks.

Just a few examples from our own stock:

  • Simpsons Adult Sensitive Salmon & Potato – 2kg bag costs £11.40 (£5.70 per kg), 12kg bag costs £46.80 (£3.90kg).  Based on a medium-sized dog (19kg) and standard feeding guidelines this would be a £161 saving per year!
  • GURU: Surf & Turf Cold Pressed Dog Food 5kg bag costs £28.99 (£5.80 per kg), 14kg bag costs £55.99 (£3.99 per kg).  Based on a medium-sized dog (19kg) and standard feeding guidelines this would be a £151 saving per year!

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But How Do I Store Dry Dog Food?

If you are choosing to buy a bigger bag, then you need to think about storage.  Here are our top tips:

  • Make sure you are storing the food in a cool, dry place.  The garage may be an option but does it get humid during the summer?
  • While bags like Guru are re-sealable, food should be stored in an airtight container.  When you are buying a bigger bag you could have one larger container for the big bag and keep a smaller airtight container nearer their feeding area (top tip from mum – thank you!)
  • Don’t tip the dog food into the container, this can cause the food to go off more quickly but if you are not cleaning regularly the surface of the container can hold bacteria. Just open the top of the bag and pop the whole bag liner in with the dry food contents!

 

#5  Make the Most of Refill Options for Dog Food, Treats and Shampoo!

Did you spot that I mentioned that packaging can add up to a lot in terms of a products total cost?  And of course, there are eco-benefits of finding ways to ditch packaging too.

I am super grateful to already be working with several UK suppliers who have an eco emphasis at the heart of their business and found ways to reduce wastage and save you money.

While these rely on needing to visit us  (or your nearest store offering these) in person, we hope that things may return to some normality at some point!

 

Wildwash Shampoo Refills:

We were one of the first UK refill centres for Wildwash, our fave shampoo and choice for all our grooming furiends!  As we stock 5-litre shampoos in our grooming area, we can offer a refill option for those who have made it to the bottom of their favourite bottle.

Normally retailing at £14.95, a refill costs just £9.95.

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  • check out the Wildwash Pro range in our Grooming Essentials Area in our online shop HERE.

 

Rùn: Chicken and Sweet Potato Cold Pressed Dog Food

As the first Scottish stockist of this UK Made Cold Pressed dog food, the quality and thought that went into the ingredients and production won me over immediately, the concept of a refill dog food def had me hooked.

While you can buy in standard bag sizes of 7.5kg and 15kg (in a recyclable bag), you can opt to refill by bringing in your own container saving lots of wasted packaging (even if recyclable) and money too!

This option is also great for small dogs who don’t need lots of food (so can’t take advantage of big bag purchases) or for those with little storage space too.

refill-run-cold-pressed-dog-food

 

For comparison:

  • Refill any qty from 200g upwards – £4.10 per kg
  • 7.5kg bag – £5.16 per kg
  • 15kg bag – £4.20 per kg

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Not local to us? Then ask your local pet shop or dog boutique if they have bulk options for any of the treats of food you see in their store that look like they may have packaged themselves.

Or why not get in touch with your local ‘no waste or ‘refill’ shop and see if they’d be willing to stock some dog items.

 

#6  Sign Up For a Monthly Subscription for Your Dog Food or Treats

I think we’ve all spotted that subscribe button on Amazon where our frequently purchased items will just show up every 4 weeks or month and by hitting subscribe, we’ll save 5%, right?

It’s no surprise that several pet brands have followed suit and reward loyalty.

Whether it be monthly subscription treat and toy boxes or your main dog food, a discount may be available based on a regular standard purchase.  Check the supplier’s direct website or even better chat to your local independent re whether it’s something they can do for you. You may find your independent can be a little more flexible for you.

Over the last few months, we’ve been trailing a monthly/weekly payment plan for our own customers that covers grooming, food/treats or both!  If this is something you’d be interested in then pop your info in below and you’ll be the first to know when it’s formally launched next month.

 

Join Our Waiting List

Be the first to find out all the details about our new pay monthly/weekly option for dog grooming, food, treats and more!

 

Let’s be furiends!

We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

#7  Make More Time to Maintain Your Dogs Groom at Home

Having to pop to the groomers every 4 or 5 weeks and would like to make that 6 or 7 weeks instead?

Found yourself being charged extra from your groomer due to matting?

If you are loathed to always go for a short and smooth style to help expand that time between appointments, then the only way to reduce your grooming costs is by grooming at home more regularly.

You may have had the chance to practice these skills during lockdown and while this doesn’t mean needing to bath your dog more often it will involve:

  • Not assuming that the only brush your dog likes is doing the ‘job’.  If you’ve suddenly discovered that magic brush called a tangle teaser then unfortunately while it may help ease a dog into enjoying grooming time, it may not be removing any build-up of matts.  You need a brush AND a comb which is specific for your breed.
  • Develop an understanding of high-risk areas that are likely to become matted – ears, legs, neck, harness/collar areas, undercarraige and the tail.  Focus on these often, perhaps rotating each day (yep.. sorry I said daily!)
  • Have a dog that loves the water or it’s our normal rainy Scottish weather?  Then don’t forget that water tightens those matts, so don’t resort to popping them in the bath to solve.Make sure you are brushing out after those walks before the nights tighen even more when drying.

Regular grooming at home shouldn’t just be about keeping those bills down but also ensures that your dog is as stress-free as possible when visiting us as groomers. We’d love a magic light over our door where dog suddenly love being brushed or dried but it just doesn’t exist. Unfortuantly we don’t see your furiend often enough to do that positive reinforcement that’s needed daily to help overcome any fears or issues.

I also can’t stress enough how painful severe matting can be to your dog and therefore you should not leave grooming purely down to a grooming appointment and assume no issues will arise in between.

Matting can cut off blood supplies while also limits any air circulation which can have a dramatic impact on how healthy their skin condition can be.  Very quickly, things can get stuck or grow into the hair causing irritation and often can be completely hidden from the top layers of their coats.

 

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#8  Check That You’re Not Paying for a ‘Brand’

Mulberry, Chanel and Hermes all have one key thing in common. While all of these brands have shown over a long period of time that they are of the highest standard, we all know that we pay a little (or a lot) extra for that ‘brand’ name.

The same applies to dog-related purchases.  There are particular brands that have a little bit extra on their price tag due to being seen to be a ‘premium brand’.

So.. if it’s dog food, turn over the bag and read the ingredients and composition.  Are there similar foods with less money behind their large marketing teams that would suit your dog just as well and be just as good or even better??

For any item that you need to buy for your furiend and you find yourself requesting it buy it’s a brand name (e.g Julius harness),  just take a second to research similar items and work out whether you are paying for better quality and function or part of it is down to the brand name.

p.s we love to be challenged on this! If you are buying a medium to higher-end brand food, we’d love you to share your dog food brand with us and we’ll try to see if we can find something just as good or better for the same price.  Just pop us the info ;0)

 

#9  Be Clear About What You Are Spending on Your Dog

It sounds pretty obvious doesn’t it, but if you don’t know what you are spending, then how do you work out how to save money??

In a poll, we did on our Instagram stories over 70% of dog owners didn’t know how much they spent on their pooch over a year.  I was quite surprised!

While I suspect this down to the fact that we never want them to go without and that they deserve ALL the things, our spend can gradually creep up and up without us realising it.

Grab those online statements and check in with anyone who else who also makes purchases in your family.  If that toy box is overflowing and you didn’t buy them all, you may need to sit down together and list it all out!

Then perhaps it’s time to consider putting in place Martin Lewis’s Money Mantras:

martin-lewis-money-matters

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#10  Make the Most of Christmas Sales – See Beyond the Festive Packaging!

Personally we’d never encourage anyone to jump around between dog foods purely based on offers or intro discounts and totally understand that you may not want to have your dog wearing a Christmas jumper or sparkly antlers all year round (errr why not!!?!?!). But sometimes you need to look beyond the packaging and make the most of those Christmas sales.

Yep, I really don’t think Fred cares that his treat has some festive packaging or flavours, he loved it in December so he’ll love it now once it’s unwrapped.

Sometimes brands also just package up their regular products with special packaging too so if it’s in the sale, ditch the package and you may have a bargain! Do a quick calc of the items that are included in it at full price and you may just have one happy furiend!

Oh and check the best before dates too!

For e.g the JR Pet Products: Three Bird Roast Crackers (100% Natural) look super Christmassy and stunning package with super long life dates. However, when you strip it down they are just three 80g pates which normally are priced at £1.99 each.

So once you’ve popped the packaging into the recycle bin, you’ll have saved 15% by purchasing these in our sale HERE compared to the individual pates.  All just because you looked beyond the Christmas cracker packaging.

Go on.. have a hunt round the last of the Christmas Sales and look beyond the packaging!

p.s our winter sale ends at midnight on Sunday 31st January. So if you are quick and check the sale out HERE you may secure some offers!

 

#11 Make Your Own Dog Toys

Lots of old kids t-shirts lying around unused in drawers? What about those old promo or concert t-shirts that no longer fit?

Not only can making your dog toyss save money but it can be a great activity to do with the kids during lockdown too.

A quick google of homemade dog toys and you’ll find a bunch of ideas but I particularly love this one from Made in Battersea!

A couple of years ago, I head to Malawi to do some work with Women Entrepreneurs but managed to squeeze in a visit to a local rescue out there.  I packed a spare suitcase with donations from our customers but also made lots and lots of these rope toys that went down a treat and super low cost!

 

#12 Ditch the highly marketed ‘dental’ treats

Just like our comments in #8 about paying for a brand, when it comes to dental treats you may find that you are also paying for the word ‘dental’.

I talked about the effectiveness of brands such as Dentastix in our blog HERE along with alternatives.  However, the reality is that most of us as dog owners, are worried about our dogs’ dental care and if a treat will help then we’ll buy it.

We often make that decision based on the fact the packaging has ‘dental treat’ marked on it.

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But do they need dental chews to combat the build-up of tartar?

The frank answer is no.  They don’t NEED dental chews as there really is no better way to keep your dog’s dental hygiene tip-top than by brushing their teeth regularly. You could ditch these costly dental branded chews for something else and just brush your dogs’ teeth which leads us nicely onto …

 

#13 Start Brushing Your Dogs Teeth

Previous research has shown that according to UK vets, the most common causes of tooth and gum disease in dogs are poor diet (42 per cent) and owner’s not brushing their dog’s teeth correctly or often enough (23 per cent).

Despite this high % being avoidable by tooth brushing, it’s estimated that only 1 in 3 owners do any form of teeth brushing regularly.

Vet dental bills can quickly get costly as well as being super painful for our furiends with average treatments costing upwards of £300.

With toothbrushes and toothpaste costing less than £10 and avoiding putting your furiend through that pain, it seems obvious to start now and spend some time getting your dog used to brushing their teeth.

This great video from White Cross Vets help show how:

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#14 Invest in Canine Enrichment Toys

If you have a pile of dog toys that either get destroyed or played with for a few minutes before your dog gets bored, then it’s worth investing longer-term in toys that you can use for canine enrichment and be used in diff ways.

What is Canine Enrichment?

These are a range of activities designed to challenge and exercise your dog’s brain. They improve and enhance your dog’s mental state, helping to tire them out. Typically they encourage your furiend to problem solve, learn new skills and be more confident.

I always advise new dog owners to try and invest in toys that can aid these activities rather than the vast array of cute toys on the market ;0)  I know from experience that I still own Millie’s first larger Puppy Kong (still using it 7 years on as its still the right size but softer), her Kong wobbler and several Nina Ottoson games. You can adapt many of these to make them harder as dogs start to find it too easy once they solve it!

A few ideas:

n.b due to ongoing import and export issues, kong stock is very limited in the UK and we are currently doing what we can to restock as soon as wholesalers release any stock they have received.

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#15  Find Out if Your Vet has a Monthly Subscription for Regular Flea, Tick and Worming

In the same way that you can save money on dog food subscriptions, this can apply to some of your regular vet bills.

Our own local Vet, Wallace Vets has a monthly subscription where I pay a set amount each month by direct debit (circa £15 per month for a medium-sized dog).

For this I receive the below saving over £100 per year:

  • Health Checks Every Six-Months
  • Annual Booster Vaccination
  • Kennel Cough Vaccination
  • Flea & Tick Treatment
  • Worming Tablets

plus 10% off a range of services.

The main benefit for me, along with spreading out the cost each month but I never forget to book in for these regular treatments too!

Oh, and did I mention it includes complimentary nail clipping too (subject to covid restrictions)?

dog-vet-visit

 

 

#16  Swap Toys with Other Dog Owners

If you’ve invested in canine enrichment toys then it’s likely that your dog will at some work out how to solve the puzzle.  Even with standard dog toys, dogs can become bored of them.

While we always advise rotating your toys (hiding them and then re-introducing as new at a later point), you could do this with other owners (again subject to covid restrictions).

Hold a little swap shop between furiends and very quickly they’ll have a new range of puzzles to solve before passing them on again to another furiend.  This is more than helpful if you have been investing in more expensive canine enrichemtn activities like the Nina Ottoson range.

 

#17  Shop Around for Pet Insurance

Omg.. why is it so complex!!! And so expensive?!?!?

I think most of us are frightened by the small print and worried about changing policies to get a better price.  Pre-existing conditions, limits on treatment for longer-term treatments etc etc… its easy to understand why many of us stick with the same policy year in and year out and watch the premiums rise.

So it’s time to rip that band-aid off.  Find that policy and have a read through this great advice over on Martin Lewis’s Money Saving site HERE.

Please do be super careful if your furiend is already receiving treatment and you plan to switch. Most insurers won’t cover your pet for pre-existing conditions, both chronic problems that they need regular treatment for, and historic injuries/illnesses.

Comparison sites which can aid with finding the right policy:

As I write this, Millie’s renewal is actually due and while I’ve been with the Kennel Club for years, it’s def time to take a proper look at it. I’ll make sure I update the blog with review and findings from shopping around!

 

#18  Make Your Own Dog Treats

While we take pride in only stocking good quality treats and cater to a wide range of allergies and sensitivities, you can have a bit of fun making your own treats and ensure you know exactly what goes into them.

 

Homemade Dog Treat Recipe Opt in

 

We’ve published lots of recipes on our blog for you to try so why not dive in and have a go?  Just remember to tag us in those tester photos!

 

#19  Purchase Throws and Blankets from Homeware Stores

Does your dog love to snuggle under a throw? Or do you like to add some to their bedding for those night time snoozes?

While Millie has now firmly taken over my bed, Harley and Isla, my parents two dogs both still sleep in their crates and so blankets that can be washed often, look good (aka colour coordinate home decor) and last is key.

Quality and price are the main reasons I choose not to stock the many dog blankets that you’ll find on sale via tradition dog wholesalers.  Frequently they’ll have a boring paw print all over them and the quality can be shocking!

So personally I’d recommend hitting the homeware shops where you can colour coordinate to your heart’s content and purchase at a great price too.  Dunelm, Primark Homeware and Ikea all have fab ranges.

Why not stock up on a few the next time you are doing an IKEA run – they have a few that start at just £3.50 like the Polarvide below.

ikea-polarvide-dog-blanket-throw

I’ve opted to scour TK Maxx for their throws and found a bright version that I use to pop on our couch for when Millie decides she needs sofa time!  I think I purchased it nearly six years ago now. She def knows it’s hers and so pleased with how the colour has lasted and well worth the money.

 

#20  Hit the Charity Shops

Second-hand harnesses and dog bowls are just two of the things I’ve found in our local charity shop.  The harness was actually an Ezydog Chest Plate Harness that didn’t have a mark on it!

I know customers who regularly keep an eye in their local shops and have picked up dog jackets and jumpers too.  They really do grow too quickly don’t they!?!?!

But the real find in charity shops is those soft toys.   If you have a dog who loves a cosy toy to snuggle into then do keep an eye out in the kids corner. And well.. if they love to destroy .. then will they care if its’ been preowned?

As always safety first and make sure it’s suitable for their breed size and not likely to eat the fluffy contents!

Looking for More Ways To Save Money As a Dog Owner?

We know that things can be very tight right now, but even if not, there’s no harm in having those extra pennies to spend on our furiend!

If you are super quick then check out our winter sale which ends at  midnight on Sunday 31st January HERE and also our monthly offers HERE:

p.s don’t forget that if you want to make sure you are first to know about every months offer, just sign up to our email list below and we’ll keep you informed!

 

Over To You

Do you have any other top tips for parents looking to save money?  Or did your top tip appear in our 20 ideas?

We’d love to hear how you get on with these 20 money-saving ideas – Just jump into the comments below!

 

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