How to Spoil a Dog on a Budget

How to Spoil a Dog on a Budget

It's no secret that my Great Dane is my baby girl. I also don't hide the fact that I spoil her like there's no tomorrow. What I often don't admit to every person on the street, though, is that I do all of my canine treating as cheaply as possible. Let me run through how I spoil my enormous dog on a budget.


When Ziva was a puppy, I was working a ton of hours, and I must admit that because of time constraints, I spent a ton of money on my furry little bundle of joy. I'd buy her $20 toys and stuffed animals at pet stores without batting an eye. Unfortunately, those $20-a-pop stuffed toys would only last a few days or weeks. Then she'd have shredded the toy to smithereens, prompting me to buy another expensive replacement.

Over time and due to a dwindling budget, I found a perfect place to stock Ziva up with a stuffed animal collection that rivals that of a four-year old girl's: Goodwill. Yes. Goodwill. The thrift store often has excellent quality toy cast-offs, simply because the stuffed animal phase of the typical little girl's life is so short.

I have learned a few tricks to the Goodwill stuffed animal hunt. First, hit the store at the right time. This depends on your local discount store's practices, but I have the best luck on Saturday mornings, when the store has had time to sort through the week's donations and replenish the stock of toys.

Another tip: tug on the animals and inspect for any tears or loose items. Pass on any that will fall apart on the first toss and on any with loose eyes, noses, ears, tails, etc. I also remove the "extras" like little sweaters, hats, mittens scarves or other accessories. Dogs can tear those off in a second and swallow them just as quickly.

Finally, always wash the animals before handing them over to your pup. Stuffed animals can become infested with fleas...which could potentially infest your home and all of the real animals in your house.


My dog also used to have it really good in the treat department. I'd pick up a bag or two of name brand treats for my little princess whenever I was out, and she was practically rolling in Milk Bones and Beggin' Strips, diving and swimming just like Scrooge McDuck in his coin vault.

Since cutting hours at work drastically, though, my dog has had to make do with a smaller treat collection. And you know what? She barely notices. Here's why: dogs don't care how big their treats are, and most aren't brand snobs. They simply want a treat. So you can cut up a large treat into tiny morsels (like 1 inch by 1 inch for my dog), and your dog will be just as happy as she was in receiving a whole Beggin' Strip.

My other dog-treat tips include: shopping sales, switching to lower-cost treats, treating less often and using human products as treats as well. Ziva, for example, loves the oil from a can of tuna, the juice from a can of chunk chicken or fat drained from a cooked pound of hamburger. Occasionally, I'll just pour a few tablespoons of one or the other onto her normal food and call it a treat; she gobbles it up like I'm the best doggy-mommy in the world. Very important note: before feeding human food to a dog, though, check with your vet about any issues your particular dog may face.

That's it: how to spoil your dog on a budget. If you keep thrift stores in mind for toys and watch your treats, you too can spoil your furry friend without breaking the bank!

Any other tips out there, MomVesting readers? How do you spoil your animals?

Photo Source: Christa's Great Dane, pre-Goodwill toys era.

Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter's picture

Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter wrote:

Tue, 09/04/2012 - 14:10 Comment #: 1

Your puppy is so cute.

We used to give ours special treats a few times a week when they were good. They would get so excited. Their tales would wag so much they would fall down .

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Fri, 09/07/2012 - 20:07 Comment #: 2

Thanks, Miss T! She's very fun, just like your dogs -- falling down from tail wagging!