Veterinary bills make up a major portion of the $60.59 billion spent annually by Americans on their pets. Coming in second only to food costs, vet care accounts for about $15.73 billion in expenditures.
Today’s advances in veterinary medicine mean that our pets are receiving better care than ever before but, at the same time, pet lovers need to keep an eye on that budget, saving money for mandatory care. Just how can you put a leash on your veterinary expenditures, while still giving your pets a healthy lifestyle?
Schedule an annual exam. We all know that sometimes you have to spend money to save money, and that is definitely the case with your pet’s annual exam. Our pets age faster than we do, so that annual exam is comparable to you visiting the doctor every six or seven years — it is the bare minimum. It is less expensive, and much healthier for our pets, to catch potential health problems early.
Spay and neuter. Again, the money you spend on spaying and neutering will pay you back in multiples. Besides the money you will save by avoiding litters of kittens and puppies, you will also save as you reduce risk factors for breast, uterine, ovarian, and testicular cancers, as well as prostate problems, hernias, and perianal tumors. Spaying and neutering your pets will also help to save money in terms of behavioral issues, from fighting to running away from home.
Work on dental care at home. No, it is not easy to brush your dog or cat’s teeth — but it is far less painful for you and your pet than extractions and other dental issues that affect not only your pet’s oral health, but also his overall well-being. If you cannot brush your pet’s teeth, look for special dental chews and treats to help clean those chompers.
Watch and learn from your vet. Pay attention as your vet and vet techs work on your pet. If you frequently need your cat’s ears cleaned or your dog’s anal glands expressed, ask if they can teach you how to do this at home.
Ask about special discounts. Are you a senior? A member of the military? A student? Veterinary offices may offer discounts for all kinds of groups. Some veterinarians also give special discounts for clients with multiple pets. It never hurts to ask!
Check into pet insurance early. If you think you would like to purchase pet insurance, make that decision early, while your pet is young. Some insurance companies allow you to lock into a low rate while your pet is young. (Other companies do not, and the rate will rise as your pet ages.)
Look into pet wellness plans. Some clinics, especially corporate veterinary chains, offer pet wellness plans that focus on preventative care. Avoid emergency vet visits with preemptive care. If your pet is not acting like himself on Saturday morning, do not wait until your vet’s office closes and then decide you had better run to the emergency vet. The price of a routine vet visit is less than that at an emergency vet clinic. If there is a problem, take care of it sooner, rather than later.
Plan procedures with the weekend in mind. If your pet needs surgery, even something as minor as anesthesia for a dental cleaning, schedule that procedure with the weekend and any holidays in mind. While it is great to pick up your pet on Friday afternoon and be home with him over the weekend, that may also mean that your clinic is closed and any issues will result in an emergency vet visit. Schedule procedures early in the week if someone can be home with your pet during recovery.
Ask about low-cost vaccination clinics. If you are struggling to pay for your pet’s immunizations, ask about low-cost vaccination clinics, held everywhere from pet expos and festivals to animal shelters. Prices are often subsidized and typically run from $6-$25 for rabies injections, and $15-$35 for Distemper/Hepatitis/Parvo vaccinations. Discounts on microchipping are often available at these clinics as well.