Thursday, June 29, 2006

What My Dog and His Poop Taught Me About Saving Money...Lessons In Doggie Frugality Maybe?

Sometimes money saving tips are found in the strangest places...in this case Brownie's poop. But this post is not only about Brownie and his poop. It's about a lot of things I've learned in the past 8 months of raising this little monster that I love so much. What inspired me to write this post? Well, this past Sunday, I took Brownie to the dog park. He ate a branch, and I didn't think much of it. On top of that, I later fed him a pig ear. Two things that normally don't cause any problems, although each can cause bowel irratability by itself, the combo just caused double the irritation. Especially bad when large chunks get swallowed, which happened to Brownie. This led to lots and lots of diarrhea and one instance of puke. I took him to the vet yesterday morning, after 2 days of bad diarrhea (a little blood too), and the vet confirmed, I just have to let it pass. It wasn't a full blown obstruction, because if it was nothing would have been coming out. I was relieved. Later that day, I took him to the dog park and a big pile of $#!+ came out...Never in my life would I have thought that I'd be so happy to see a pile of $#!+. It's like I struck gold...uhhh, black gold? I have to update doggie costs later, but yes, this whole incident inspired me to write about the lessons Brownie has taught me, and how some of them relates to money. So here we go.

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1. Everydog has individual feeding requirements. Theoretically you should be able to see/feel the last one or two ribs on your dog without pushing. Don't cheat here. If you feel more ribs, too skiny, feed him/her more. Feel nothing, feed less and exercise more! 2. Dog parks are great entertainment, and often they are free. Your first time there, make sure you observe the dogs and their interaction. If you see lots of agressive behavior go to another park. Do your part, and train/socialize your dog before going to the dog park. There's nothing Brownie hates more than a trip to the dog park when a couple poorly behaved, aggressive dogs are there. Not to mention some vet charges that might ensue. 3. Branches and wood are fun to fetch, but bad to eat! Related to bad treats, read next point. 4. Treats are great, just ask Brownie, but here are three types treats I would strongly recommend against, because they will lead to vet and cleaning expenses due to poop and vomit stains, and possibly even surgery or death. No joke. These tips would've saved me at least one $80 trip to the vet. - Greenies. Yep, these amazingly popular treats in almost every petstore can become your canine's worst nightmare. Specifically the Greenie bones. Trust me, I have pics to prove it. If your dog chews off big chunks of these things, they can get stuck in your dog's digestive track. Vomitting and diarrhea to follow. If you and your dog are lucky, these chunks will slowly pass through, eventually coming out...just like it went in. They put a tiny warning on their packages, that in my opinion is not enough. On the Greenies.com website, the feeding guidlines say this:
Caution: As with any edible product, monitor your dog to ensure the treat is adequately chewed. Gulping any item can be harmful or even fatal to a dog.
If you've ever "monitored" your dog while they chew something, it's not possible to make sure everything is "aqequately chewed." And "Gulping" can be fatal? Better tell 7-11 stores that...They sell "Big Gulps." Yikes. Greenies DO NOT get my approval. Bad Greenies. - Pig Ears. These can be found in almost every pet store as well. They're better than Greenies, but you have to becareful with these too. The good thing is that you can identify potentially hazardous ears by the way it looks before you give it to your dog. Look for "corners" or "points" on the ear that look extra tough. Cut them off. These parts won't get chewed enough, and even if they do, they still may cause problems. Brownie loves pig ears...I'll still be giving him these, but only after I look at them carefully first. - Rawhides shaped like bones. Rawhides are okay, but the rawhides shaped like bones are no-nos. The ends come off because they are just knots. These knots can be swallowed, and blockage can occur. Stay away from these treats if possible. They may cost you dearly. On top of the stains and pains, it could ultimately end your dog's life. Not worth it. If you don't believe me, or if you've always been feeding them these things, then you may have just been getting lucky, or your dog has some good chewing manners... On a side note, treats I recommend are "bully" sticks, flat or rolled rawhides, steralized bones, Charlee Bear treats, and treats with low sugar content. Stay away from artificial sweetners. Fatty treats are okay for dogs. No fat free stuff. 5. On the topic of treats, most dogs love fruits and vegetables. Carrots, celery, lettuce, apples (watch the seeds!), oranges, berries, and bananas are things that I know are okay for dogs. Stay away from Broccoli (unless you like gassy dogs), Grapes, Macadamia nuts, and Cauliflower. Those are the ones I know about, but do some research. You'd be surprised...some dogs have extremely sensitive stomachs. Of course, never any chocolate! 6. Watch out for foods with corn. Corn is a filler that's found in many dog foods, and can cause allergic reactions in dogs. Some dogs never have problems, but others do. They can form them later in life or right away. Brownie did right away. Common symptoms of an allergy is a skin infection, resulting in hair loss, red patches of skin, and lots of scratching. There's tons of stuff out there! Read the ingredients and decide for yourself. You shouldn't see a filler in the top 5 ingredients. But then again, don't read too much into diets...every dog is different. Some do well on Iams, Pedigree, etc. and some don't. There are tons of articles out there on how bad one dog food is, or how good another is, but the truth is if your dog is healthy and likes it, keep feeding them it. Of course, I do believe dog foods that have less preservatives and synthetic stuff, is better, but that's just me. I don't have the proof behind that. But the bottom line with food is that, once you find something that works, stick with it. 7. Crate train! It'll save you from buying replacement furniture. I have no idea how many $$$ of furniture this training tip has saved me. 8. Be patient. The first few months are the most challenging. I have to admit, after the first few months, I was relieved, but now I wish I spent a little more time enjoying the peeing and pooping rather than being so frustrated. The clumsy, goofy, crazy puppy grows up so fast. Although I must admit, I am pretty damn proud of Brownie graduating 3rd from his puppy class! 9. Take your dog to obedience school. Look for a class offered by a registered non-profit rather than a for-profit organization. Non-profit classes are better because the trainers and other involved are often lifetime pet owners that really are into dogs. They are not out to make a buck. 10. Finally, a tired dog is a good dog. Walk with your dog, take your dog to the dog park, take them to the beach, play fetch or frisbee in the backyard...almost every behavior problem can be lessened or resolved by simply spending quality time with your dog. It'll also keep you from spending money on something you don't need. I never thought I'd learn so much from an animal. When I get a house, I think I'm going to look for another canine family member to join our family. Be ready when that time comes for Poop Stories v2.0. And remember, you can only hear financial poop stories on financialfreedumb.com.

2 comments:

ricemutt said...

Great tips! Yeah, greenies have killed a couple of dogs and the general consensus from pet owners and vets alike seems to be to stay away from them. We also like bully sticks and Sam's Yams (plain dehydrated yams) instead of rawhide because large, soggy pieces of the latter will sometimes get stuck in the upper palate and throat of French bulldogs (which is what our dog is).

Basically the best advice is to know your breed and your dog the best you can. It'll save you lots of $$ in the long run!

PS - Brownie's a real cutie!

freedumb said...

Thanks Ricemutt! Good looking dog on your site too!