Tag Archives: dog treats

Surprising Dog Expenses

A friend who is getting a dachshund (excellent choice!) is working out her budget and asked me what have been the most surprising dog expenses. An excellent topic for prospective dog owners! Before we brought home C-Biscuit, we bought a toy, a bed, a leash, a crate, a training book and some food. Here are some unexpected expenses that followed:

three in motion on dock

Bare Naked Bitches, C-Biscuit and Picchu, followed by Gentledog Sesame

Collateral Damage: I expected a young dog to chew a thing or two, but I didn’t know this undefined category would cost hundreds of dollars. C-Biscuit alone has destroyed:

  • Cordless phone (and the replacements also have their antennae chewed off)
  • Two $300 cell phones (I could go cheaper if I didn’t need the full keyboard to text my sister every few minutes…)
  • Two $20 pedometers 
  • Two $80 laptop cords
  • Two pairs of leather boots (one cheap pair, and one Via Spiga pair I paid full price for at Bloomingdales, reasoning I’d “have them forever” – UG!)
  • Three pairs of flip-flops
  • Much lingerie, previously something I splurged on before I got a dog and had to switch to the bargain bin at Filene’s Basement
  • Books, magazines, newspapers
  • Firewood, especially kindling – shredded, but still burnable
  • Miscellaneous household items: wooden spoon, hairbrush, hair clips, blanket…

 

Chad, Bob, Whippets

Bob with our friend Chad (left) and the House Whippets in Central Park

 

Vet visits: Sure, I expected an annual office visit and some vaccinations. What I wasn’t prepared for is a dog needing to see the veterinarian a lot more than a cat does (in my experience), and each and every visit, even for 5 minutes, rings up at $85, plus any medications or tests. As soon as we got C-Biscuit we paid $245 for a check-up and shots. Two weeks later she sprained a toe ($118) and then got an an eye infection ($101.50). 

Pick-up bags: Not such a big expense with one dog, but definitely adds up with three. We use biodegradable Dogipot bags, billed as an “economical, no-frills bag,” 200 for $12. We go through about 12 a day – the other day I used 7 on the morning walk alone – at 6 cents each, making about $260 per year…that’s half what my house insurance costs. 

Chew treats: A pet parent needs to use chew treats like a “real” parent needs to use videos. To keep your sanity, you need a no-fail “occupy yourself!” weapon. For us, this is the beloved bully stick.

Moo Bully Stick

Free Range Moo! Bully Sticks: A Pet Parent's Lifesaver!

Our breeder did say no rawhide, real bones, pigs ears… but he did not forbid bully sticks! For the uninitiated, that means dried bull penis. The girls love nothing better (and even Sesame warmed up to them, after initially showing some male solidarity). We buy Free Range Dog Treats’ Moo! variety, which don’t smell (believe me when I say this can be a problem!).

Here’s the scenario: I need to work, the dogs are incessantly rough-housing. Wave around the magic wands, and they obsessively chew them for a good 30-40 minutes. The cost? At least $2 per penis. With three dogs, that means $6 per “episode.” Expensive, but indispensable. 

 

C-Biscuit in Butterfly Sweater

C-Biscuit in a sweater gift from her chic whippet friend Algernon.

 

Dog Wardrobe: Both our Whippet book and the breeder said that a whippet needs “a sweater or a coat.” That turned out to be quite an understatement.

We started with a sweater ($80) and a raincoat ($90). Then realized C-Biscuit needed something much beefier for winter, so we got a puffy coat ($128). The puffy coat wasn’t enough, so we layered it with a bodysuit (fortunately, a hand-me-down from our whippet friends). In the spring, we added a fleece ($49), and a waterproof mid-weight coat ($90).

Now multiply all that by 3 to clothe Picchu and Sesame. I won’t add up what all that cost, but I’m sure it’s more than Bob and I have spent on clothing for ourselves.

Biski & Picchu in fall leaves

C-Biscuit: Autumn in New York

I could go on, but that should give some idea of how expensive dogs get, beyond what you usually see broken down in budgets. And to my dachshund friend, hope this doesn’t scare you off; they’re worth it!

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Homemade Peanut Butter “Ice Cream” for Dogs

After long walks in the midday heat, C-Biscuit used to love a treat of an ice cube. Cold, crunchy, quenching. What could be better? 

Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook

Thanks to a recipe adapted from one in The Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook, our whippets are now indulging in their own kind of dog ice cream: peanut butter frozen yogurt cubes. Granted, they’re not as economical, but are easy to make, healthy, and Biski, Picchu and Sesame go nuts for them.

When I ran out the other day and offered Biski a regular ice cube, she gave it a dismissive lick before turning her head, as if to huff, “Plain water? …It’s so hard to find good help these days!”

Dog Treat Recipe: Peanut Butter “Ice Cream”

1 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup Peanut Butter (can use 1/4 cup, chef’s choice)

1 tsp honey

1/4 c water (or more, chef’s choice)

  • mix all ingredients 
  • spoon into ice cube trays and freeze
  • makes about 9 frozen treats

Adapted from The Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook

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Skinny Bitches: Weight Loss for Dogs (and Us)

Kids love to point to C-Biscuit and Machu Picchu and call out, “Look at the skinny dogs!” We can guess what the adults are thinking: Skinny bitches.

"Don't hate us because we're beautiful...and thin...and fast...and fashionable."

"Don't hate us because we're beautiful...and thin...and fast...and quite fashionable."

Realizing that canine obesity is a national problem, Biski & Picchu are thinking of doing a dog weight-loss book, which could even be part of the successful Skinny Bitch series.  Their barking points would include:

  • Exercise: Sure, some of being thin is genes. Biski and Picchu admit to being well-endowed there. But the other part is getting off your hindquarters and exercising! 

How much exercise do dogs need? An hour of walking a day seems to be the minimum for good health & behavior. Biski and Picchu walk 3 to 5 miles a day, plus regular sprints at the soccer field, playdates, indoor romps, and hikes most weekends. Good for the body, good for the spirit. Dr. Oz and others recommend people walk 10,000 steps a day, or about 5 miles. Research also shows that exercising with a buddy keeps people motivated – so walking the dog is good practice on all fronts (and backsides). 

  • Snoozy time

    Time to take snoozy time seriously

    Sleep: When not exercising or eating, the whippets are sleeping. Several human studies have shown that not sleeping enough correlates to weight gain. Maybe it’s time to lose the American glory badge of being sleep-deprived and overworked and start to treat sleep like the dogs do, as an essential part of any health and beauty regime. Biski & Picchu prefer the buddy system here, too.

  • Eat Well: As a child, my sister had a t-shirt that read, “If you love me, don’t feed me junk.” Learn to read labels, both theirs and ours. In dog food and treats, avoid meat by-products, chemical preservatives, sugars, corn and soy. If you don’t understand the ingredient list, research it or avoid the product. To maintain a healthy weight for your pooch, feed high-quality food twice a day, and follow this advice from trainer Victoria Stilwell in her book, It’s Me or the Dog:

It’s a question of monitoring your dog. If he’s getting plenty of exercise but is still gaining weight, you’re feeding him too much. If he’s regularly leaving a lot in his bowl after 20 minutes are up, you’re offering him too much. If he’s lethargic and losing weight, or if he’s ravenous at every meal, he may need a calorie boost. A dog is the right weight when you can feel his ribs clearly but can’t see them.

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