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July 14, 2011

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Simpler for me.
I am allergic to cats and wife is allergic to dogs.

No pets in our future.

How timely. We just had a big vet bill last week.

We brush our dogs' teeth every couple of days. It really helps keep the tartar/plaque off and prevents gum disease helping them live longer in good health.

My wife's a vet, and I had a very bad reaction to this article because they went beyond just "shop around" on the pet food...they were actually suggesting people buy crap like Ol' Roy at Wal Mart. That (and other really cheap, full-of-filler pet foods) is horrendous crap that will shorten your pet's life span and make them sickly; my wife can tell a dog that's on Ol' Roy the second it comes into the exam room from things like a dull coat, poor body fat dispersion, cloudy eyes, etc. Feeding your pet Ol' Roy's because it's the least expensive is like giving your kid McDonald's every day. In the end, they will suffer, and it may even cost you more because of the health problems down the road.

And as far as brushing the teeth, yes you should do that too if you expect those to last. They make toothpaste that the dogs usually like.

@Matt: Thank you re: the pet food issue. Spot on.

My cats get a "premium" cat food. It's $20 per 5.5lb bag, which lasts about 2 weeks for 3 cats. Their coats are extremely soft and shiny, they're very active, and in excellent health. While we got 2 of the guys as kittens, we actually basically had a "test" on a cat going from "regular" food to "premium" food when we got Gus, who was our 2 guys' littermate who was returned to the shelter. He had been fed regular food at the shelter and by his previous owner. When we got him, his fur was not shiny at all, scraggly, and constantly shedding. He had very low stamina and was extremely nonathletic. He had congestion in his nose which made him wheeze. After a couple days of weaning him off his old junk food, we put him on the "premium stuff." His coat became increasingly shiny and soft, he no longer had a strange congestion in nose, and had a lot more energy. We've had him for over a year and now, according to their vet at their last check-up, he's in the best shape of all three of them. This would not have happened on the old junk food.

In summation: "premium" cat food IS worth it if you choose a good one. Make sure it has meat as the first ingredient and several of the other higher ingredients, and it has NO corn. There are premium foods of varying price and quality too, and the two don't always go hand in hand. I helped my friends, who live on a pretty low income, pick out a pet food that was much, much better than the stuff they were feeding their cats, and it only was a couple dollars more per bag. And because it was such a higher quality food, the cats ate less of it due to it being denser in nutrients, which means they probably even ended up saving money in the long run despite getting a more "expensive" brand.

I would be willing to list the brands I speak about in this post if anyone is interested, I just don't want to sound like a shill by mentioning them without getting a request. ;) I am definitely NOT a shill, just a happy customer.

Our last pet, a pedigree Shetland Sheep dog called "Charlie", abbreviation for "Bonnie Prince Charlie", died a natural death. When I got up one morning he was walking around on the back lawn, the next time I looked he was dead. I made a pine coffin for him, we gave our thanks for all of the pleasure he had given us and tearfully buried him in our back yard.
Why I mention this is that I do not agree with the current trend of providing aging pets with incredibly expensive and usually futile surgeries of the kind that we humans often seem to be subjected to in our final days since euthanasia is unfortunately illegal in the vast majority of countries. This is especially relevant considering the huge numbers of unwanted healthy pets that are available in pounds all over the country.

For kennel costs when traveling on vacation - find a friend who also has a pet that needs to be boarded when they're on vacation. Then when they go on vacation you watch their dog or go to their house to check on it. And when you go on vacation they reciprocate.

We don't have any pets because of severe allergies my son has.

All I can say though is that people seem to spend a LOT more on pet food/care than we did when we had dogs and a cat growing up!

@Matt - your comparison of some pet foods to McDonalds is right on! But, I never could get my cats to let me brush their teeth; I tried starting when they were babies, but they hated it too much.

@JM - I'd love to learn about the brands you researched. I did some of my own research after one of my cats died right around the pet food recalls of a few years ago. I switched my other cat to Evo (http://www.evopet.com/products) which is grain free with meat as first several item and no meat by-products and ingredients whose names I can pronounce. I started with the chicken formula ($35 for 15.4#) then switched to the Salmon & Herring ($40 for $15.4#) because my aging cat is losing her sense of smell, and the fish formula really stinks (but she loves it)!

Disclosure: I have no interest in Evo other than I did a lot of research before chosing it and that my cat is very healthy now that its her primary food.

We have a 2 1/2 year old yellow Lab. Since Labs are always hungry and many are over-weight, our plan is to keep our little one active with daily exercise. The rascal gets 2 walks a day, that means her humans are also getting 2 walks a day, it's a win win. We also feed her premium dog food (California Natural) and don't ever give her table scraps. Let's hope that will keep the vet bills down.

My wife as switched our dog over to a raw diet. No cooked food, raw deer meat, chicken legs (bones and all), pork, turkey necks, and vitamin rich organs. This is cheaper than buying medium dog food, as long as you buy the cheap meat. We can always find a good deal with local hunters with their leftovers and freezer burned packages from last years supply. The downside it is more time consuming to feed your pet since you should monitor the bones being chewed and swallowed.

http://rawfed.com/myths/#articles
and
http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/raw-diet/

Some (if not most/all) pet insurance does not cover dogs over nine.

Just a quick note on item #4 above. When my cat was in pain, the vet suggested gabapentin. I ordered it from drugstore.com where it was less than a third of what the vet would charged and half that of my local pharmacy. Drugstore.com was not really set up for filling veterinary prescriptions, but I filled out the online form giving my cat's last name as "Cat" and his first name as "Felix the"(not his real name.) It came out on the order form "Felix the Cat".

Not long after, drugstore.com started to advertise that they filled pet prescriptions. I like to think that I started that marketing campaign for them.

My wife and I have a really beautiful cat. She`s white and she has different eye colours.Her name is Nisa. we treat her like our child and until will have our own children will like this.So what best for her.

@ Kasey D: We used to feed our cats Evo! It is probably the best dry cat food you can buy ingredients-wise. We switched because Innova was bought out by Procter and Gamble (makers of junk food such as Iams) and we were worried about them changing the formula or ingredient sourcing without notice.... To be fair, the excellent pet store we used to go to before we moved out of state in May said that they weren't changing the formula right away and Innova had food inventory of about a year's worth, and that they would be informed of any changes. But we decided to switch to Orijen anyway, which is about as good, just a bit less protein %-wise. Cats had no problem at all switching cold turkey.

For people on a budget who can't afford $20+ for a 5-6lb bag of cat food, Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul is what I recommended to my friends in my previous post who don't have a lot of money. It actually appears to cost the same or LESS than junk food like Iams (which I am betting is due to the exorbitant marketing costs of P&G). When I looked around I saw prices of $10-14 per 6lb bag, which is half the price of Orijen or Evo. Again, the ingredients aren't as good (it has grain such as barley and oat, which isn't as good as grain-free, but it doesn't have corn or other really terrible fillers), but it is MUCH better than other brands around the same price range. And because it's a higher quality food, the cats will eat less of it too, saving more money. My friends report the cats having a nicer coat after switching as well. Their previous food was Goodlife Recipe, which, despite the marketing, actually has really bad ingredients. Do your research. Despite the millions of dollars spent on marketing them, Science Diet and Iams are actually pretty bad for your cats.

I found this site to be very helpful when looking for cat food for my friends and me: http://www.petfoodratings.net/welcome.html

Also @Pete: Yes, raw food is a good idea if you do it right (and it sounds like you do). A lot of people, of course, don't have the time to do it properly, in which case they should research a good store-bought food.

On #4, I always struggle when it comes to supporting local businesses. I want to support my local vet but I hate paying premiums on the prescriptions.
Fortunately my vet makes it so I don't have to make that choice. I can support the local business while still getting the best online price. They have provided me with a pet portal thru an online service. All my pets records are digitally available online and it even provides reminders when shots are due. In addition to ensuring all my dogs vaccinations are up to date, I can print out medical and shot records whenever I want (especially handy if you are flying your pet anywhere). Also, they have access to an online pharmacy thru the portal that is competitive with the best online prices of which the local vet gets a piece. So they get their cut, I get great prices and a lot of extras as well. I love it. The pet portal service is thru a company called vetstreet and is free from my vet. Love when local businesses get smart so they can compete with the internet.

My cats are both on special food and medicine. For the longest time, I got some of the food from an online source because it was cheaper than the vet. Over time the prices rose to where the vet was cheaper, so I switched to getting the food from them, however I still get some prescription items from an online source. In all the vet is happy because they get continued business as well as a portion of my supply costs.

We brush our dog's teeth every few days. We also bathe and clip their nails at home most of the time -- grooming is expensive!

We also have no pest because our son has allergies. No pets...no cost! I agree with Everyday Tips. I see people spending a LOT more on their pets these days then they did years ago.

We don't brush our cats' teeth regularly. :( We need to get on that. We were starting it before we moved, but we need to get back on that, despite my husband's protests that they'll be fine. True, they only have a little tartar and they only eat dry food (we've tried wet food and they hate it, so good for us!), but we should still do it. We used to clip their claws, and it wasn't a problem at all, they kind of liked it. But not anymore, because #3 was absolutely terrified when we tried; he must have had a bad experience with his previous owner (cutting to the quick?). So we don't clip anyone because they like to play and we don't want anyone to be at a disadvantage. They don't screw with the furniture because we have several scratching pads/posts.

@JM - Thanks for the info. I wasn't aware of the ownership change. I'll keep a close watch for any changes in ingredients and if so I'll give the Orijen a try.

Learn to give vaccinations yourself. Except for rabies, I can buy them all at the feed store for about 1/3 the price the vet charges. I've heard they are good for two or more years, but since I'm not sure, I administrator them yearly.

Also, spay or neuter. As well as preventing unwanted and expensive babies, it cuts down tremendously on expensive and annoying behaviors.

Agreed, real dog food is worth the money. The one of the big fillers in the lowest price ranges is cellulose (paper). Do you really want to feed that to your dog?

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