Dogs know when something is up.
Instead of the usual air-dried 90 per cent chicken tender waiting for her each morning, my dainty whippet is now staring in disbelief at a Vita-Weat impregnated with a sniff of cheese microwaved into the biscuit.
She sniffs, looks back at me, sniffs again and haughtily marches off.
“It’s good for your teeth — and you like cheese,” I plead, but she bristles and keeps walking.
It’s a scenario we might all have to get used to if we want to weather the financial stress foisted upon us, which has been made worse by outrageously expensive pet treats.
We adore our pets but their elevated status in recent times has resulted in a big hit to the family budget.
Depending on how low you bow to the pet industry, owning a pet these days can be akin to maintaining a yacht.
Olive, now 10, has dry food that sounds as if it has been developed by NASA scientists, with age- and fat-fighting ingredients I’ve never heard of. And, of course, it costs a bomb.
Compare that to my childhood German shepherd who was happy to gobble his big tin of Pal followed by dinner scraps. Expensive snacks were not even on the radar back then, yet he was healthy and happy and lived to a ripe old age.
Turning the clock back won’t work, but there are ways to shave a few dollars off the pet bills, starting with training yourself to whiz by the supermarket snack aisle without stopping.
A 10-piece pack of those aforementioned chicken tenders, for example, can cost as much as a whole barbecued supermarket chicken.
You can go higher with certain brands who offer a kilo of chicken breast tenders for more than $50.
Other pricey and unnecessary treats include pet muesli bars, pet peanut butter and pet yogurt, all quadruple the cost of baking your own canine bickies from internet recipes, or slathering a cracker with something your mutt finds moreish.
Then there is the dental hygiene issue. Gone are the days of throwing a dog a bone to clean its teeth. Instead, you have to cash in shares to buy a bag of toothbrush-shaped faux bones. You can pay a tenth of that figure for 10 chicken necks, which contain bones soft enough for their precious throats.
And let’s not forget the exorbitant cost of pet medication.
Government-supported canine prescriptions don’t yet exist, so it’s $75 for a small bottle of pain relief – when, according to my research, a $3 pack of paracetamol will work just as well as long as it’s dispensed carefully according to weight and with vet approval.
It takes a bit of time and ingenuity to trim the pet care budget but be prepared for the backlash. Yes, I’m talking about the canine ability to convert trusting, loving eyes into icy glares that fall like darts to the heart.
It won’t last long. One of us will break, and I’m starting to worry it might be me.
Original Article published by Michele Tydd on Region Illawarra.