Pet insurance companies are keen to point out how much owning a dog will cost, and their estimates vary depending on what website you look at. But we’re talking at least a couple of tens of thousands of dollars over your four-legged friend’s lifespan, much more if he/she has any health issues or injuries. Of course, pet insurance companies are in the business of fear-mongering. They emphasise the cost and potential pitfalls of pet ownership and ignore the return you get on your investment – something that money couldn’t buy.
Personally, I’ve never bought pet insurance, and I’ve always owned working breeds – old English sheepdogs, golden retrievers, collies, kelpies and mixtures of all of the above – big, active dogs that like to be out and about and in the thick of things and are therefore more liable to injury. It’s a decision I haven’t regretted, but I realise some readers won’t agree with me on this. I guess it comes down to how much expendable income you have and whether you could afford a big vet bill if the worst were to happen. Some of you will prefer the reassurance that owning pet insurance brings – just make sure to check the small print so you know what your dog is and isn’t covered for.
Dogs are intelligent, sentient creatures bred over generations to share human space and habits.
Pet insurance aside, there are some unavoidable costs associated with being a dog owner. If you already own a dog, take a look around the house and garden and make an inventory of any dog products bought specifically for your pooch. You’ll probably be surprised. Apart from the randomly-placed squeaky toys that trip me up and scare the bejezus out of me on a daily basis, Kobe and Bella have their very own dedicated toy box, from which they select depending on mood and how well they can entice me into their games (Find the Chicken is a perennial favourite). There are tug toys and cuddlies, frisbees, balls of all sizes and conformations, puzzle-cum-treat-dispensers, squeakers and crinklies.
Don’t bother telling me that toys aren’t a canine necessity. Dogs are intelligent, sentient creatures bred over generations to share human space and habits. They need distraction as much as you or I, especially as most of us have to leave our dogs to go out to work. Kobe and Bella are lucky; they have each other for company and a large back garden that backs onto a nature reserve. But they still play with their toys. Yup, toys of whatever kind, are essential dog products.
Anyway, I’m getting distracted. Apart from toys, there are leads, collars, harnesses, indoor and outdoor dog beds, comfy pet cushions, blankets, towels, water and food bowls. There are coats for wintertime warmth; sunscreen for summertime noses; fluorescent jackets and flashing leash attachments for night-time walks; and completely unnecessary, but totally cute red and white furry choir-boy-style collars reserved for Christmas Day alone. There are bags of dog food and daily dog treats; a vacuum cleaner designed to cope with the sand and mud my mutts generously carry in on their coats, and with the hair that they discard and grow back with equal abandon. There is a box of medical and grooming miscellany that contains, among other things, various ointments for cuts and scratches; excruciatingly expensive flea, tick and worming medication; dedicated dog combs and brushes that aim to anticipate loose hair before it graces the living room or rolls like tumbleweed along the tiled floors; scissors and dog nail clippers and grinders (more on the best dog nail clippers and best dog nail grinder within the linked posts) and a gizmo that claims to be a canine toothbrush, but which might well end with an unwary owner losing a fingertip. And don’t even get me started on the car, which contains a poo bag dispenser, a fantastic, fold-able dog ramp to minimise strain on those ageing dog joints – I hope someone provides me with the human equivalent when elderly aches and pains set in – and a collapsible water bowl for hot days at the beach.
Cheap pet products are a false economy if they fail to perform break easily or, even worse, put your dog at risk of injury
I don’t consider myself an extravagant owner when it comes to the pet products I own. Far from it. But you can see that the list of dog essentials isn’t short. It’s important, therefore, to get the best pet product for the job in question – and this is exactly what I aim to do on this website. It isn’t just about value for money. Cheap pet products are a false economy if they fail to perform, break easily or, even worse, put your dog at risk of injury (buyer beware when purchasing dog nail clippers or a dog nail grinder – check out my recommendations first). Yes it costs money to own a dog. Dog products need to be provided and replaced and it all adds up. But when it comes to financing your personal live-in life coach – and your four-legged friend is exactly that – it’s an absolute bargain.