Low-cost alternatives for feeding your pooch

You need to be a savvy consumer to get your money`s worth in the pet food aisle

Jane-Harris-ZsovanCALGARY, AB, Jan 15, 2014/ Troy Media/ – It’s snowing slush, and I would love to stay inside, but my basset has put on her Iron Lady persona. She’s pointing at the pantry, giving me her ‘grab your wallet, giddy-up to the store, and get me some growlies’ look. Patience isn’t one of her virtues, but that’s one of the reasons I love her.

Choosing your pet’s dinner almost requires a degree in chemistry or the culinary arts these days. Worse yet, it can cost more to feed your pet than your child.

No doubt, your vet’s waiting room is stocked with pricey dinners scientifically formulated to extend the life of your best friend. Higher end pet stores feature freezers filled with raw meat and vegetable dinners for the health conscious pooch, as well as aisles of bison meat, wild salmon, chicken and lamb for discerning doggie diners. Even grocery store pet food aisles are confusing displays of ingredients, prices, promises.

You need to be a savvy consumer to get your money’s worth in the pet food aisle.

Know what foods are good for your dog: Use reputable sources, such as the American Society for Nutrition or the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, to find out what to feed your dog. Ask your vet about special dietary needs for young dogs, pregnant dogs, old dogs and sick dogs.

Cutting Corners on treats makes your dog healthier: Don’t overfeed your pet. Obesity and improper diet kills thousands of North American pets every year. Feeding your pet more than she needs not only wastes money, it predisposes your pet to diabetes, and heart disease, increasing the chances you’ll wind up with pricey vet bills, expensive medications, and fewer years with your friend.

Buy dog food in quantity: Divide the weight on the package by the price tag to determine the value of the each product. In most cases, larger packages cost less per meal.

Buy treats in moderation: If you are saving pennies this week, head to the bulk food store to pick up a hand-full of treats instead of buying whole box. Or scan the internet for a recipe to bake your own doggie cookies: When it comes to treats, not all human food is bad: Substitute a few apple slices, a piece of unsalted, uncoated left-over chicken or fish for pricey processed pet store treats.

The lowest price isn’t always the best deal: Scan dog food labels for fillers and inferior ingredients. Meat should be as the top ingredient in your pet’s food. If you must buy a lower priced variety with fillers, think about supplementing your pet’s diet with healthy treats such as apples, vegetables fish, chicken in moderation.

Make your own kibble or wet dog food: Not all of us have time to make all our own dog food, but it can be healthy, money-saving option for people who prefer to control the ingredients in their pets’ diets. High-quality, low-priced ingredients, including stewing chickens, liver, apples, and vegetables create healthy dinners for your pet. You will find many health dog food recipes on the internet.

Your Pooch really does have the last word. It doesn’t matter how healthy the label says it is or how low the price is, if your dog won’t eat it, it’s a waste of money. It’s also worth remembering that even prescription brands you purchase from your vets may be almost identical to grocery store lines.

Whether you decide cut corners on doggie dining or splurge on a treat this week, it’s also worth remembering that hanging out with your dog doesn’t need to cost a penny. There’s no need to shell out cash for walking your dog, playing catch, or napping together on the couch while the blizzard roars.

Gotta’ go, Iron Lady needs her groceries delivered.

Each week Jane Harris-Zsovan offers her readers practical money advice for the real world.

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