If you’re like me — or anyone else trying to stick to a budget — then you’re always looking for ways to spend less money. Here are some ways to save big on your pet’s veterinary costs.
Just as with humans, the best way to save big on medical bills is to avoid them with regular exercise and a healthy diet.
- Make sure your dog gets some form of exercise daily, such as long walks, trips to the dog park, play dates with other dogs and playing games with you. Playtime also has great benefits for cats. See these cat exercise tips.
- Feed a high-quality diet. When you check labels, you’ll quickly see that many low-end pet foods are high in fat and fillers. Head to a pet store or feed barn for healthy, premium food that doesn’t cost very much.
Pro tip: Buy the food in bulk. For example, the pet food I buy at the feed barn costs about $37 for a 15-pound bag, whereas the 28-pound bag costs only $47.
2. Annual Vet Visits
If you see your veterinarian annually, you’ll increase your chances of finding a problem before it becomes a serious (and expensive) issue.
For example, if your dog’s blood is tested every year, you’ll become aware of conditions such as diabetes and cancer when there still may be a chance to successfully treat them.
If you have more than 1 pet, try to take them in at the same time. It’s a bigger financial outlay all at once, but many veterinarians give a multiple-pet discount, so you’ll wind up paying less in the long run.
3. Home Remedies
For basic health problems, such as constipation, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, there may be home remedies.
Talk about these next time you’re at the vet’s office. Your vet might suggest some things you can try at home the next time one of these illnesses crops up. If the condition worsens, take your pet to the vet immediately.
Watch this video for fun ideas on how to keep your dog well exercised and cut down on trips to the vet:
4. Low-Cost Clinic for Basic Services
When you adopt your pet from a shelter, he will most likely already be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped, which will save you a bundle in veterinary fees.
If your pet doesn’t need these services, take him to a low-cost clinic for basic procedures and save for your pet’s annual visits at your regular vet’s office.
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Many pet supply stores and feed barns offer vaccination clinics. Our dog park even offers them on Sundays. Also, some animal shelters will vaccinate or microchip for reduced rates.
5. Avoid the Emergency Vet
If you notice that something seems off about your pet, try to go to the vet during regular business hours.
Although emergency vet visits are essential in many situations, they cost about 50% more than visits during business hours. When you’re deciding on a veterinarian, try to select a practice that is open late every day of the week.
6. Make Informed Decisions
Sometimes people sign off on procedures their pets may not need.
But if you put off those X-rays for 1 day, your dog’s constipation might clear up on its own. If you live in an area where heartworms are extremely rare, perhaps your pet doesn’t need the recommended test and preventive medication.
Read up on your dog’s breed and familiarize yourself with common health issues and remedies. Have an honest conversation with your vet, explaining your financial situation.
7. Save on Medication
If your pet is on a maintenance drug for a chronic condition, such as thyroid problems, arthritis or heart murmur, ask if your vet can give you a prescription for a human equivalent.
Although your health insurance won’t pay for it, you can buy commonly used drugs very cheaply at Target or Costco.
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8. Pet Insurance
Although pet insurance is a safe way to ease your mind about unexpected vet costs, some people find it better to create a savings account for emergencies.
- If you can save $5,000 for emergencies, you’ll earn interest and avoid paying monthly premiums.
- But if you can’t save up that kind of cash, then paying a low premium every month for pet insurance might actually save you thousands of dollars if something major ever happens to your pet.
In the end, it’s up to you as a responsible caregiver to decide what’s best.
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