8 tips for keeping veterinary expenses down


Yoshi (A497284) is a three year old Akita who came to Pasadena Humane as a stray. Being an Akita, the ideal home is one in which Yoshi would be the only dog. They are defined as strong willed and bold, but extremely loyal to their family. He’s available for adoption now! (Pasadena Humane)

Ask any pet owner what the most challenging aspect of caring for their pets is and they’ll tell you the high cost of veterinary care.

In fact, according to a recent report by Modern Pet Parent, the thing that stresses pet parents out the most is their pet getting sick (76 %), their dog/cat having a chronic/long-term illness (73%), and potential unknown health issues (73%). In addition, 77% of pet parents are concerned about their pet’s future health.

It’s not just that we don’t want to see our pets ailing. We also stress about how to afford expensive diagnostics and treatment.

It’s no secret that a trip to the vet can easily result in a massive assault on one’s wallet. But there are some things you can do to minimize the financial burden that comes with managing your pet’s health.

I’ve got one word for you: prevention. The best ways to avoid high vet bills is to prevent little issues from becoming big, painful, and expensive issues. Here are some options.

Watch their figure. I know I harp on this a lot, but portion control and serving quality food is so important for your pet’s overall health. In fact, I’m convinced it’s the main reason my pets have lived such long lives (seriously, my dogs are nearly old enough to be served alcohol in a bar).

Use a measuring cup at meal time and select pet food that lists a real meat as the first ingredient — not corn meal or wheat. Doing so can keep your pet at a healthy weight and that translates into fewer vet bills to deal with pancreatitis, diabetes and a host of other health conditions triggered by obesity and poor nutrition. Sniff out store coupons or contact your favorite pet manufacturer and request coupons.

Regularly check and clear their ears. I recently read about a really effective ear cleaning solution you can make at home. It’s easy-peasy. Just mix three parts rubbing alcohol with one part white vinegar. Place a couple drops in each ear, rub it around and wipe clean once a week to stave off ear infections, especially in dogs who swim and heavy-eared breeds like Cocker Spaniels. Alcohol kills bacteria and evaporates moisture while vinegar kills fungus.

Good Oral Hygiene = better breath and overall health. Brush your dog or cat’s teeth at least two times a week, using toothpastes, brushes and dental gels and chews designed for pets. At-home dental items are inexpensive compared to professional dental cleanings that cost between $150 and $400.

Package the necessary vaccinations. Consult your veterinarian about what vaccinations your pet truly needs and base it on your pet’s age, health and outdoor access. Opt for 3-year vaccinations when possible instead of annual ones. That will definitely save you some money.

Also, keep in mind that Pasadena Humane offers a community vaccine clinic with low cost vaccinations for dogs and cats. Just visit our website to schedule an appointment online!

Purchase pet insurance. Pets can get ill or injured, so prepare for the unexpected. It is less expensive to purchase insurance when your pets are young. Check policies, but most typically cover 80% of surgical procedures.

You can also sock away a specific amount each month for pet care in a savings account. I’ve been doing that for the last few years now that my dogs are old enough to drive.

Have a veterinary college near by? Check to see what they charge for their services. They typically offer a sizable discount over what the local vet clinics and animal hospitals charge because they have lots of students who need to gain hands-on experience. Your pet will be seen by a student, but all care will be overseen by an experienced veterinarian.

For help finding a school near you, refer to the American Veterinary Medical Associations list of accredited veterinary colleges.

Get Hard-Copy Prescriptions. Most vets mark up the medications they sell considerably. Insist on a hard-copy of any prescription that your pet needs, so you can shop around for the best deal. If it’s a medication that’s also used to treat humans, you may be able to fill it at your local pharmacy.

Shopping online for pet meds can also save money, but you have to be careful not to get scammed. The FDA has some guidelines to follow to ensure you’re dealing with a reputable pharmacy.

Feel more comfortable buying from your vet? Then, compare prices, and see if they’d be willing to match the lowest price that you were able to find.

Of course, free prescriptions are better still. Always ask your vet if they have free samples available before you rush out to fill a script. This is an especially smart move if you’re trying out a new drug that you aren’t sure will agree with your pet.

It’s OK to shop around. Any time your vet recommends a treatment or procedure, request to see a written estimate for the services that are to be performed. This will give you a clear picture of what you can expect to pay, and what is and is not included in that fee. If you see anything that you don’t understand, or that seems unnecessary, you can ask about that, too. There may be extra services lumped in that could be removed to get the total down.

Want to shop around for a better deal? With a copy of the estimate, you’ll be well-equipped to do that. Having everything in writing makes it easy to ensure you’re comparing apples to apples. After all, a cheaper deal is only a better deal if you’ll be getting the same quality of service.

Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, there’s almost no limit to what you can do for your pet. But by making healthy choices for your pet every day, you’ll drastically reduce the costs associated with veterinary care. Believe me, it’s worth it!