This week I thought I would share some money saving tips which have worked for me and my dogs over the years. From seeking out the best insurance to a whelping box on the cheap, I hope to surprise you with a hint or two you had not heard before.
I’ll start with Insurance; we all know insuring a pedigree dog is a bit of a mine field today. The underwriters decide that a particular breed is high risk and whoossshhh!! Our premiums become extortionate. I have discussed the Veterinary profession in the past too and their part in the increase in fees, without doubt the large groups are now a majority in the market and therefore set the prices for maximum profit even though their outlay is less than the independent Vet surgeries who now are under pressure to compete. Those with multiple dogs often choose to opt out of the Insurance game, instead putting aside money for that rainy day but in one area I would suggest you should not put your trust in your nest egg and that is in the case of third party claim.
We are aware that with the changes to the Dangerous Dog Act we really do need to consider if third party insurance is a must. Take a look at membership of Dogs Trust, for £25.00 a year (or £12.50 if you are 60 or over) you get the magazine and more importantly 3rd party public liability insurance for your dog – up to £1,000,000 per claim if your dog causes damage or injury to another person, their property or pets (an excess of £200 applies for the UK and £500 in the Republic of Ireland).I think that’s a pretty good deal as you are supporting a decent charity too!
Accident only insurance is also worth a look at but certainly shopping around and comparing not only prices but the exclusions is interesting. For instance Animal Friends Insurance are one of the best value insurers around but beware, in their list of exclusions is this: “We shall not pay any claims where your pet has been used for or in connection with a trade, profession, breeding (whether as a business or not) or where your pet has been bred for monetary gain or reward, unless we have agreed in writing to cover such use.” This declaration means that AFI have the right to turn down your claim if they think you are a “breeder” even if you give those puppies away and the claim is nothing to do with breeding. Like many others they also choose to exclude cruciate injury, it is certainly worth reading the part they don’t cover, rather than the part they do!
Speaking of breeding we move onto whelping boxes. If you are only having the occasional litter it may not be financial sense to purchase a custom made, reusable box. Here are a couple of ideas; you can buy cardboard whelping boxes at a reasonable price from ‘New Born’ and folk have told me even large dogs have coped very well but my experience was rather different and so I cast around for a more substantial box that would last the eight weeks or so. Weirdly, IKEA, the Swedish home store provided the answer.
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For £15.00 their Avdala Bookcase, laid on his back with no shelves in place, provides the carcass. I then cut a half moon out of one long side to provide entrance and exit for small mobile pups. By screwing an inch square block of wood with a further slice from one of the shelves (around 2” x width of shelf)to each side of the exit it provided a holder for the remaining shelf to drop in so that pups would be secure during the first few weeks. I chose to add ‘pig rails’, broom handles that simply slotted into holes I had made with a ‘hole saw’. The pig rails give the pups a safe haven if Mum is a bit clumsy when she is settling down. This whelping box was 65 x99cm but you could use the idea with any suitable bookcase. To finish I used a piece of off cut lino to fit the inside and the job was done. Eight weeks later I was surprised that with a clean down with detergent and disinfectant this could be used again and again. I think I deserve a Blue Peter badge for my efforts!
While we are in IKEA, meandering round in ever decreasing circles, take a look at their stackable large storage bins (Sortera), you can get an 18kg bag of dry dog food in one and their Knodd bin with lid makes a great dog waste bin and still looks pretty in the garden.
Treats now, I know a lot of you already make your own treats, jealously guarded Liver Cake recipes are great shared and there is a plethora of dog biscuit and treat recipes online. The very basic slow baking of pig or ox liver until it’s dry and hard is cheap and for the dogs, irresistible.
I also cut supermarket carrots into batons and store them in the ‘fridge as a favourite of my dogs but they have also developed a taste for almost any fruit and veg offered as a “special treat”. Growing your own herbs and Vegetables or just spotting the yellow stickers of a bargain in the supermarket can really enhance your dog’s diet as well as saving you money if you have a freezer.
Next time we’ll look at making your own dog beds that don’t look as if you just dumped the washing in the corner, grooming products and money saving on day’s out.