Minimalism and pets

I know I haven’t written much abut my pets yet.  I have two pugs. I think they’re fantastic.  However, with pets comes lots of stuff.   Not too copacetic when it comes to a minimalist lifestyle. Both of my girls have different needs, different preferences, are different sizes (even if they are the same breed) and fight over EVERYTHING so my house is like Noah’s Ark, all things must come in twos. Want to know what my dogs “own?”

My pugs have: 

  • A play tent 
  • Two beds
  • Two outdoor beds
  • A giant caterpillar toy
  • Countless chewies
  • Two types of shampoo (one for allergies and one regular dog shampoo) 
  • De-shedder brush
  • De-shedder glove
  • Two toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Ellie’s medication (for ears, skin, wrinkles)
  • Lula’s medication (for nose)
  • Two massagers (I’m not kidding)
  • Their own set of towels for baths 
  • Blankets for the couch
  • Blankets for their chair
  • Blanket for my car
  • Two harnesses
  • Two leashes
  • Their own water bottle for walks
  • A doody bin/doody bags
  • Two kennels
  • Kennel pads 
  • Kennel blankets 
  • Their own laundry detergent 
  • Water and food bowls 
  • Food tray
  • Food container
  • 40+ toys

Etc. etc. etc. Does all this stuff bug me sometimes? YES.  Do I want to get rid of it all sometimes? YES.  Do I get sick of cleaning it? YOU BETCHA.

So how do you manage when you’re working towards your minimalism goals and your pets have all these “things?” 

(Disclaimer- I DO NOT CONDONE “DECLUTTERING” A PET FOR A MINIMALIST LIFESTYLE. This is not something I will discuss not is it or will it ever be an option for me)

Figure out necessities- If your pets are anything like mine, they’re pretty spoiled.  You go to the store and see something cute…you imagine the goofy look on their face when you bring home the cute thing.  Admit it.  You love making your pet “smile.”  So do I.  Pet stores are dangerous places.  I’m guilty of playing with all the toys and imagining if Lula or Ellie would like them.  However, when you have 40+ toys, can they possibly play with them all?  

A trip to the dog park, or a nice long massage (or if you have a water-baby pet, a bath), a ride in the car, can bring just as many pet smiles as the cute thing.  

Do they need all the accessories?  Do they need the extra beds? Extra anything? Are they actually using them? Playing with them? If not, get rid of them.

If we’re talking about things like medication, items pertaining to health and longevity.  Keep them.

Try not buying them new things for a while (again, we’re talking non-necessities here).  Do the pets even notice? Probably not.

If you MUST buy them a toy, something I have found that helps (if you have the appropriate type of pet) is to bring the pet to the store with you and let them pick it out themselves. Not kidding.  The toys my dogs picked out themselves always seem to be favorites and are kept for longer periods of time (years in some cases).

Request that nothing is bought or gifted for them- my family and friends are very guilty of buying things for my pets (or just bringing stuff over because THEIR pets don’t like them and aren’t using them).  I get it.  It’s fun to see the pet smiles and makes you feel good when the pet plays with the thing. However, it’s not very conducive to a minimalist lifestyle.  I have recently requested to friends and family that my dogs don’t need toys, food,  beds, nothing.  I have asked them that if they must buy something or get rid of something to donate it to the local shelter.  They’ll appreciate it more.

Again, my girls love a visit from family, a rub on the head or a walk far more than a thing.

For those of you with family like mine who will buy and bring the thing anyway, just politely thank them and accept it.  Either replace the existing item with another or donate the gift to a shelter later.

Purge purge purge- Particularly with toys, I try to purge as often as I can.  If it were up to Ellie, I’d keep EVERY TOY EVER, as she behaves as if they are all her favorites.  Some toys really are favorites.  Those get washed and mended.  

Some toys get played with once and then are quickly forgotten.  If they are in good shape, donate them. 

Others get so tatty that it’s time for them to go.  If there are holes, yanked out squeakers, stuffing ripped out,  they’re dirty and you can’t wash them, the rope is like string now, or they’re broken and possibly dangerous for the pet, throw them away. 

If I end up having a new toy come in, I TRY to have two go out.


Ellie has a hoarding problem.

Accept that if you have pets, they’re going to have stuff- Sometimes minimalism can only go so far. Some things I have accepted. Do I need a blanket for my car? If I want to keep the upholstery clean, I do.   Are they using the outdoor beds? Every day for HOURS.   Does Ellie need her own detergent?  If I don’t want to have to spend $$$ at the vet to get her allergies under control again.   Find the right amount of stuff for you and your pets.  Sometimes as with all aspects of minimalism, compromise is inevitable.  

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