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Oily Rag Pet Care

Oily Rag Pet Care

By Frank and Muriel Newman

According to the New Zealand Pet Food Manufacturers Association, New Zealand's pet ownership statistics are one of the highest in the world. They say, “Over 48% of households own at least one cat and 20% own two or more… That is more than a million cats! Just over 29% of households own a dog... Medium and large breeds are most popular but there is a definite trend towards smaller breeds.”

Those living off the smell of an oily rag may need to think twice or thrice about how much they spend on pets, and be imaginative in the ways they can reduce the costs but continue to enjoy the pleasures of pets.

The first thing oily rag pet owners can do is figure out how much pets are costing. Keep a record over the next month. One of the biggest costs will be food.

Although cats eat less than dogs their food is twice as expensive - because they tend to be a fussy lot! About 51% of all cat food sold is in cans, which is expensive, compared to 13% for dogs. About 42% of dog food is sold as dog sausage.

Oily raggers are keen on pets and the oily rag mailbags have been full of cost-saving tips on pet care.

• Having a dog invariably means dog hairs and doggie-doos on the carpet. A reader recommends cleaning carpets with baking soda. Pierce the lid of a jar with about eight holes. Fill the jar with baking soda and shake it all over the carpet. Leave for about 30 minutes then vacuum.

• Another reader makes their own dog shampoo. She mixes baking soda with water to make a wet shampoo and rubs it into her dog's coat. The baking soda neutralizes odours and is gritty so it removes dirt and oils.

• Another has a recipe for a low-cost flea repellent. Simply mix equal parts white vinegar and water. Place in a spray bottle and spray onto your dog’s coat, then rub in. Apparently fleas are not keen on the smell of vinegar. Another says they put a glove of garlic into their dog’s drinking water - they say its keeps fleas at bay and also works as a worm treatment.

• Another reader says, “Our dog developed an allergy to red meat (very common in older dogs).The vet recommended a diet of cooked rice, veges, and a little dried dog food. He advised us to buy the cheapest rice and cook it up in bulk and to add carrots and greens. She lived another 8 years on this diet and was very healthy and happy.”

• Treat pet sores with a leaf from the aloe vera plant - break open a leaf and apply it to the sore.

• Margaret from Whangarei adds linseed to her cooked dog food to give them a shiny coat. She obtains cheap reject cuts of meat from a butcher and freeze them, and she buys dog biscuits in bulk from a rural wholesale outlet.

• Kaye from Te Puke says, “When feeding puppies or younger dogs, boil up all your vege scraps (potato skins and carrot peelings etc), then when soft, mash them up.... they really love it and it's great for them. Also freshly picked lavender rubbed along a dog’s back, keeps away fleas!”

• Be sensible about vet care. If the procedure required is petty standard (like a chip implant) then shop around for the best price. If it is something else, ask your vet for an estimate of cost before they start. The internet has as much information as you will ever need to know about vaccinations, flea treatments, common ailments, natural remedies, and so on. You can also become your pet’s dental hygienist!

• Free to a good home is the best way to “buy” pets. No need to waste money when so many pets are looking for homes. Alternatively, you could try the local pound, but watch out – while the pet may be free, the vaccination charges and other add-ons won’t be!

• Stella from Napier has a tip about transporting pets. “Put in a pet cage and cover with a towel to keep pet calm. Securing cage with a seat belt gives extra protection in case of accident.”

Do you have a favourite money-saving pet care tip that you would like to share with others? Let us know by going to or writing to PO Box 984, Whangarei.


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