Is Your Fur-Baby's Doctor's Bill Breaking the Bank? Try These Tips to Lower Your Vet Expenses
Preventive care, free exams, and price comparisons can save you hundreds
All pet owners know that their pets are often just as expensive as they are cute. Regular expenses like pet food, treats, and toys can add up fast, and that's before taking into account vet bills and medical emergencies.
Fortunately, it is possible to keep your fur-baby healthy and happy without going broke. Follow these tips to keep your vet expenses at the minimum and free up your money for other things (like treats!).
- Use preventive care services
- Keep away parasites
- Take advantage of free or discounted exams
- Shop around
- Keep your pet's weight healthy
- Ask about financing options
- Get pet insurance
- Ask for a written estimate before getting treatment
Preventive care services can save pet owners hundreds or even thousands in the long run. For example, it's much cheaper to buy heartworm prevention medication than to treat heartworm disease.
Developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle—regular exercise, grooming, proper food portions, teeth brushing, and overall care—will save you a lot of money in the long-term. Severe dental problems, for instance, can cost more than $1,000 to treat, so don't skip measures that will keep your pet's teeth clean.
Put your pet on a flea and tick prevention program to prevent fleas, ticks, lice, and worms. These can come in many forms, including a monthly pill, liquid applicators, and even tags that can be hung on a collar. Many protect again several different parasites at one time.
Some vet offices or hospitals offer free or discounted exams in an effort to get owners to bring in their pets for treatment before issues get really bad. Check with your local vets to find out about such services they might offer.
Before you commit to any particular vet, compare both service and prescription prices in your area and online. Use online rating sites like Yelp and Google Reviews to find veterinary practices that are highly approved but won't charge an arm and a leg. Ask whether they offer new pet or wellness care packages bundling exams and vaccines at discounted rates.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, around 54 percent of dogs and 59 percent of cats in the U.S. are either overweight or obese. Too much weight can result in many different health problems for your pets, so keep them fit and active.
Also make sure that you know about the ingredients in their food. Look for foods that promote overall health for their specific breeds and dietary needs, and don't overfeed them. Trying to eliminate processed food from your own diet? Do the same for theirs. And don't go overboard on treats, no matter how adorable they look!
If you're upfront with your vet about financial difficulties, they may offer options such as financing, payments plans, or discounts. They may work with a credit lender like CareCredit, which would let you pay the fees with no interest over several months once your credit is approved. There are also private vet discount plans, such as PetAssure.
Like your own health insurance, pet insurance can save you a great deal of money on your pet's future medical expenses. An unfortunate similarity to human health insurance is that pre-existing conditions and inherited disorders are not covered by health insurance, so make sure to get it as early as you can. In addition, many policies limit their coverage to one treatment per condition.
Written estimates tell you roughly how much you can expect to spend on a given service or treatment. Don't hesitate to decline something that's too expensive or ask for a detailed explanation of the vet's recommendations. If you don't think something is necessary, or if it costs too much, take your estimate to another vet and ask what they can do to give you a better deal.