Costbusters: Homemade budget dog food

Has pet pampering gone too far? Aussies spend $8b on pets

SWAROVSKI crystal collars, Sexy Beast unisex pet perfume and pooch palaces.

Many entrepreneurs are capitalising on the love "pet parents" have for their furry children, with the Animal Health Alliance estimating Australians spend $8 billion on their pets annually.

More than two-thirds of Australian households are estimated to own pets, and non-profit organisation Australian Companion Animal Council found about 60% of pet owners' money was spent on dogs while one-quarter was spent on cats.

But is this nation of animal lovers taking pet pampering too far?

The RSPCA estimates the cost of man's best friend over the animal's lifetime to be $13,000, while BankWest's 2011 Family Pooch Index reckons it is closer to the $25,000 mark.

From expensive pet resorts with deluxe doggy suites and individual televisions to luxury cat furniture lines, a pet's life has never been better.

Fashionistas can even buy their pets Swarovski crystal collars and leads ranging from $170 to $400 from Diamond Dogs, which also designs cat and dog clothing apparel.

But you don't need to spend your entire pay cheque just to be a responsible pet owner.

READ MORE: 

Adopt, don't shop for furry friend: save money and a life

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ABOVE: Bernese mountain dog dressed for rain.
ABOVE: Bernese mountain dog dressed for rain. Elenasendler

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission estimates buying a dog or cat will cost between $200 and $2000, plus up to $500 on set-up accessories such as beds, bowls, collars, leads and toys.

Also expect to pay vet bills of up to $800 in the first year (due to vaccinations) and $200 each following year, although that depends on how healthy your pet remains.

For cats and dogs, ASIC budgets annual costs of up to $360 for food (wet, dry and treats) and $130 for flea treatments.

Given all of those costs, here are some tips to make pet ownerships a little less ruff on your bank account:

  • Buy food in bulk - most pet stores sell wet and dry food this way
  • Shop online for cheaper medication and flea treatments
  • Adopt an animal rather than buy an expensive purebred
  • Buy toys and bedding from charity and second-hand stores
  • Have your animals de-sexed to avoid the unwanted pitter patter of tiny paws
  • Keep up-to-date with vaccinations, to save expensive bills on serious health problems
  • - Wash and groom pets yourself and, at the same time, check animals for any lumps, bumps or sores to catch any health problems early
  • Train your animal yourself with the guidance of online dog training tutorials, rather than paying for obedience training

 

THE CHALLENGE

FIND and cook a cheap and healthy meal for my two three-year-old labradors, Harry and Doak.

THE PROCESS

A "dog's breakfast", or dinner for that matter, does not need to be a complex recipe or made of random scraps to be cheap.

I made four meals of turkey mince (for protein), brown rice and vegetables (for vitamins and minerals) for $12.85, or $3.20 each.

That compares to a normal meal of two-and-a-half cups of premium dog biscuits and one-and-a-half cups of canned meat at $2.75 apiece.

THE RESULT

It boils down to quantity or quality.

Making meals takes a little longer and if I fed them my special turkey recipe daily it would cost about $170 more for each dog annually.

But there is the bonus of knowing what is in your furry friend's food, compared to wondering what makes up the thick, sticky pink goo that always puts up a fight when you try and release it from its tin-can cage. 

 

© Eric Isselée/iStock

All creatures great and small

FUR AND four legs do not make up everyone's ideal pet.

Australian Companion Animal Council's 2009 report found although money spent on pets was rising, the traditional dog and cat pet population was declining.

Some cheaper pet options include sea monkeys, ant farms, butterflies, siamese fighting fish, hermit crabs, budgies, chickens and geckos.

But keep in mind some of these have short life spans, including sea-monkeys (brine shrimp), ant farms and butterflies. - APN NEWSDESK


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