Doc Halligan’s Top Ten Ways To Save Money On Your Vet Bill

By Karen “Doc” Halligan, DMV

You don’t have to be wealthy to keep your beloved pet healthy, but knowledge and prevention will go a long way toward enhancing your pet’s well-being and keeping vet bills at bay. The key to your pet’s longevity is practicing preventative medical care. Always spend the money for the preventative medical services the vet offers for your particular pet. Any amount of money spent on your animal when it’s not sick will save you twice that much if or when it gets sick.

Knowledge is power. Just provide preventative medical care, common sense and lots of TLC. Remember your pet’s unconditional love is free!

1.) Spay or neuter your pet early. This will prevent serious medical conditions such as breast, uterine, and testicular cancer, as well as infected uteruses or pyometras, prostate disease and hernias. Spaying or neutering greatly reduces vet bills from hit-by-car accidents and fighting. The cost of caring for a pregnancy, treating accident injuries or a serious illness like cancer is the alternative.

2.) Avoid switching your pet’s diet. Find a high-quality diet that your pet likes and stick with it. Don’t just randomly change your pet’s diet without discussing it first with your vet, and if you must switch, do so gradually to avoid stomach upset.

3.) Early morning appointments can save you money. If your pet requires sedation or general anesthesia, an early morning appointment may allow sufficient recovery time to avoid the expense of overnight hospitalization. Also avoid feeding your pet prior to coming to the clinic, just in case sedation is required.

4.) Keep your pet up to date on heartworm, flea, and tick preventatives. Don’t wait until your pet is infested with fleas and ticks, or worse, has contracted heartworm disease. Prevention is so much cheaper than treatment. With the products available today, it is relatively inexpensive and easy to prevent these disturbing pests.

5.) Keep pets at an ideal weight. Don’t let your pets get fat. Obesity leads to a host of orthopedic problems as well as diabetes, heart disease, and other medical disorders. Pets who are lean live 15% longer and have fewer medical expenses.

6.) Always have up-to-date copies of your pet’s records. Keeping up-to-date records can save you money if you have to go to a vet while you’re traveling, or if you need to go to an emergency clinic. Know your dog or cat’s medical history and keep a journal of your pet’s normal routines and behaviors.

7.) Don’t waste money on fancy toys and supplies. Cats love to play with wadded-up pieces of paper, and you can supply them with hours of enjoyment just by cutting holes in boxes or large paper bags. Dogs like playing with old tennis balls just as much as the expensive ball from the pet store. To them, a ball is a ball, whether it was free from your local tennis court or $6 at the pet store. You can also search garage sales, classified ads, discount stores, and Internet sites for bargains on cat trees, bedding, and other pet items.

8.) Trade dog/cat care with your neighbors. You can avoid the high cost of boarding your pet or hiring a pet sitter by trading pet care with a friend or neighbor when you go on vacation. The savings will be substantial as pet sitters charge anywhere from $10 to $15 a day and boarding fees can easily run up to $30 a day. If you must board your dog or cat for a long period of time, ask for discounts. Many facilities offer discounts for long-term boarding.

9.) Pet-proof your home and yard. Pet-proofing includes storing medications and chemicals out of your pet’s reach, making sure that fences and gates are secure, and knowing the list of poisonous plants your pets need to avoid.

10.) Ask your vet for generic prescription medications. About 75% of medications used for cats and dogs were originally developed for humans. Some antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs come in generic forms. If a human drug equivalent exists, your vet may write a prescription for the generic form.


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