Splurge vs. Save: Dog Mom Essentials
There’s nothing better than bringing home a sweet new puppy or dog. There’s just something about those slobbery kisses and adorable head tilts that makes every single torn up trashcan and early morning wake up worth it. However, when you become a dog mom there are some financial things to consider. First of all, you should make sure you can afford to have a dog before you even bring one home. Food, toys, treats, proper veterinary care, and regular “equipment” all add up pretty quickly.
Luckily for all of us dog moms, paying to spoil and tend to your pooch/es doesn’t need to be outrageous. There are some dog mom “essentials” you have to make sure you are prepared to splurge on, but there are also several items you can choose to save money on.
Splurge: Flea + Tick and Heartworm Prevention
If you only splurge on one thing as a new dog mom, make sure it’s these. Even inside dogs need to have regular flea and tick prevention to keep them protected from those little devils (and to keep your home flea-free). And staying up-to-date on heartworm prevention is the single most important thing you can do for your dog. You want to keep your dog healthy and happy, and heartworms can lead to a life of poor health (or even death) if you skip out on those vaccination appointments with your vet.
Your dog will likely tear through toys in a matter of seconds, so why drop all that cash? Seriously, toys just end up covered in slobber, drug through the mud and other gross outside stuff, and covered in dog hair. Save your money and stick the bargain toys. TJ Maxx and HomeGoods are the BEST places to find cheap toys that are actually well made. And then, of course, no dog ever complained about a $5 canister of tennis balls.
If you DO want to splurge (a little) and spoil your pup (a lot), consider subscribing them to a dog subscription box. Most boxes allow you to customize the contents based on the age, size, and chewing tendencies of your dog, and though it may seem like more money up front, each box comes PACKED with toys and goodies that your dog will go crazy over. Plus, having a box of toys show up on your doorstep every month saves you countless trips to the pet store, picking up more toys to satisfy their destructive needs.
Splurge: Healthy Dog Food
A healthy diet is crucial for every living thing on Earth, and your dog is no exception. The bargain dog food brands might be more affordable (especially if you have a large dog who needs to eat a lot), but most of them don’t contain real food. They’re full of fillers and artificial flavoring that won’t nourish your dog properly. Dogs need food full of real protein sources and low on grain. If you’re a new dog mom and unsure which food is best for your pup, visit a specialty pet supply store to find the right food for your pooch. Most clerks there are well-informed about various dog food brands and can help you make the right choice based on your dog’s age, size, and health needs.
If your dog has a sensitive stomach or allergies, it’s even more important to make sure you’re buying food that contains safe ingredients. Try a dog food subscription box like The Naked Dog Box, which sends you all natural, gluten-free dog food delivered to your door every two weeks. They even include a healthy treat in each box for your furry BFF.
Save: Puppy Collars and Leashes
Providence Engraving Aluminum Pet ID Tags | Blueberry Pet Classic Nylon Dog Collar | Pawtitas 6 Ft Reflective Dog Leash
If you’re bringing home a puppy or still growing dog, then don’t go buy an expensive collar right off the bat. Dogs grow so fast, and yours will outgrow the first two or three collars before you know it. Once he’s too big for it, you don’t get to use that collar again (unless you get another puppy). Go with a cheap one for the first several months until you’re sure the growing has ceased.
Dogs are also notorious for chewing on everything, so you don’t want to have a lot of money invested in leashes and collars until your dog grows out of that stage. Puppies love to chew on leashes and play tug with them while you’re trying to actually leash train, so go cheap. There’s also a good chance you’ll find your pup gnawing on his collar while it’s on too, so again go cheap. There will be plenty of time for pretty leather ones when he’s matured.
Splurge: Car Seat Cover
If you’re a dog mom to a small pooch, then a seat cover for your car might not really matter to you. But if you have a large dog and like to take him everywhere with you, a seat cover is a real life saver. When you have a 50+ lb dog riding in the back on your leather seats you want to make sure there’s something between the seats and your dog’s claws — and if you don’t have leather seats, then you want something between your dog’s HAIR and the seats. You can find seat covers for around $20 with ease, but those rarely last more than three months. The larger your dog (and the more often they travel with you), the more important it is to have a durable seat cover that will last and last and last.
Save: Dog Beds
American Kennel Club Orthopedic Cuddler Pet Bed | Brindle Soft Memory Foam Dog Bed | Petmate Aspen Pet Sofa Bed with Pillow
For some reason, shopping for dog beds is a ton of fun. Like toys, though, it’s silly to spend a lot of money on them. Your dog is going to lay on this, cover it in dog hair and dirt, probably chew on it (puppies particularly), and most likely hump it at some point (those dang hormones). There’s no reason to shell out hundreds for a Tempurpedic, memory foam, or temperature controlled dog bed — at least not while your dog is young and energetic. Head to TJ Maxx/HomeGoods and check out the literal aisle they have devoted to pet beds. They’re affordable and seriously so cute (that’s where I got my last two dog beds, and they were the bomb).
Once your dog is mature enough to refrain from destroying their beds, you may want to be a really good dog mom and consider splurging on a nicer dog bed to keep your best friend as comfortable as possible and prevent them from developing joint problems in older age (big dogs, in particular, are prone to this). One good option for a seriously nice dog bed is Big Barker, which specializes in quality orthopedic beds for big dogs. Don’t let the price scare you away (it IS shocking at first); their products are guaranteed to last for at least 10 years — that’s like buying a dog bed for LIFE.
Splurge: Training Tools
Training a dog to walk properly on a leash is hard. Sometimes, no matter how consistent you are or how many times you consult the dog whisperer, a dog simply wants to charge ahead and yank on the leash. When a dog is determined to pull on a leash, it makes walking them challenging, and even dangerous if you walk in a high traffic area. An easy solution to this is a front-clipping harness or a pinch collar.
Front-clipping harnesses are designed to tighten around your dog’s front legs when they start to pull on the leash. This doesn’t hurt them, but it is uncomfortable, so they’ll stop pulling ahead. As a dog mom to a very large dog, I can speak to the immediate difference a front-clipping harness makes — within five minutes of wearing it, my darling, overzealous golden retriever stopped dragging me along and started walking next to me calmly. Front-clipping harnesses aren’t really that expensive, but I will say it’s a crucial purchase if you have a hyper and/or large dog, so make sure you get a high-quality one that will last through several growth spurts.
Pinch collars work similarly in that they tighten around the dog’s neck to prevent them from choking themselves on the collar from pulling the leash so hard. As for which one is best for your dog, it might take some trial and error to determine. Every dog is different, so what tools work best for training them is never one size fits all. Be patient with your pup and you’ll figure it out together.
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