5 Ways to Save on Veterinary Care (Without Sacrificing Quality)

by Guest Contributor · 7 comments

Your pet is very important to you, but the bills are killing your budget. These days, the expenses for both young and elderly pets are rising, but once you bonded to that animal it is hard to say no. Though with a little work you can save money on those necessary expenses and still provide your pet with excellent care.

Get a Pet from the Shelter

Getting a pet from the shelter means you will get a pet with their vaccines current, spaying complete and a recent medical exam. If you choose a middle-aged pet, you generally won’t have to worry about much in the way of medical expenses other than regular vaccines.

Be Selective on Vaccines

Not all dogs or cats need the same vaccines. A dog that spend a lot of time running in the woods will need a Lyme disease vaccine, one that stays indoors or goes on a walk around the block won’t. If you only own one cat at a time and it never gets outdoors then it doesn’t really need a vaccine for feline leukemia or FIV. Additionally, you can negotiate with your vet on prices and you can even comparison shop with others. Some Humane Societies offer low price clinics for vaccination and spay or neutering, so it is worth picking up the phone and asking when it is happening.

vet carePurchase Meds Online

Many pet medications can be found online and in bulk. If you have a pet in need of regular medications purchasing them from a website and administering them yourself can save you big bucks. Ask your vet to teach you how to give necessary injections, if they are reluctant you should probably change vets since this one is more interested in making money than providing good, affordable care.

Even basic medications like those for heartworm or fleas and ticks can be found online for less money than you would pay at a store or at the vets. Applying topical medicines and keeping your pet pest free will pay off through lower maintenance costs and fewer vet visits.

Consider Pet Insurance

If you purchase pet insurance for your friend, you will likely save money in the long run. Usually dependent upon the size and breed of your animal, pet insurance policies run the gamut from basic care to platinum coverage. For a few dollars a month you gain the security of knowing that in a serious situation your pet will have a majority of their bills covered. If you don’t have pet insurance consider putting a few dollars aside each month in a special fund just to take care of pet emergencies, that way it won’t hit your budget so hard.

Invest in Good Food

Just because a food costs a lot of money doesn’t mean it is a healthy choice for your dog. Talk to your vet about lower cost alternatives that will provide your pet with good nutrition without killing your budget. Shop with coupons that are almost always available at the company websites. Getting good, nutritious food will help prevent many problems animals face as the years go by.

Once you have committed to a pet you are generally looking at ten years or more of care and expense. Of course, that is repaid by love, affection and “fluff therapy” in spades. In this economy we all have to find ways to save, but it is perfectly possible to have a pet and stick to a budget, with a little effort of course.

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  • Shannon Cole says:

    AWESOME ARTICLE…

    I understand people are unemployed right now & times are tough for everybody. On the discussion of good food for your pet – Buy in bigger amounts – Buying in bulk is cheaper in the long run. I buy the biggest bag of food available. I may spend $30-$40 but for my 2 cats a 20-30# bag is gonna last me 6 months easy. You don’t have to buy the top of the line pet food but don’t buy the cheapest. Iams is a good middle of the mine diet for any pet.

    As for the comment “I’m unemployed so I should get a discount on vet bills.” I do not agree with this at all. 3 years ago my cat Karley because suddenly VERY ILL & was gone within 48 hours to what seemed to be a brain tumor. I had no money at the time. I spent $100 ar the ER to be told it was a cold & eye infection, 2 days later at the vet I was told they had to do all these tests. I gave them a $300.00 limit- it was all I had left except for $50 in my savings account. The doctor went over without asking. I was now officially broke w/ no money to care for Karley. By the end of that same day he condition worsened & she had full blown vertigo & had no idea what was going on. She had to be put down. My mom had to pay the vet bill to have her put down because I had no money left. I knew it was bad when I went to my vet after the ER. I had to make the painful decision that I could not afford to give her everything under the sun. I had to do what I could afford. Granted no matter what I would have done wouldn’t have saved her. You live within your means. Nobody would think any less of somebody because they did not have the financial means to medically care for their pets. But that doesn’t entitle you to a discount. Many clinics & Counties & Shelters offer discounts on vet exams & host vaccine clinics. It may not be the best in medical care but hey its medical care. For dog owners DO NOT slack on your dogs rabies vaccines. Go to a cheap clinic & get one done or get the 3 year. One person cries “bite” and your dogs aren’t vaccinated they get impounded. I HAVE SEEN IT HAPPEN….

    Walgreens has a prescription plan that is $20/yr to sign up for. You get a discount on medications for your pet. Fosters & Smith I have found is cheaper for pet med than Walgreens & FREE Shipping.

    Pet Insurance….My 10 yr old cat Kizmet was insured from the moment I owned her as a kitten until she reached 10 years old. At 6 months old she needed eye surgery & it helped pay for the medical bills. Why isn’t she insured anymore? At perfectly healthy they wanted $300/year for a basic insurance plan on her. I couldn’t afford it. Go figure w/ my luck 6 months later she is diagnosed with Chronic Renal failure. But hey we’ll figure it out & I set aside money for her vet bills. her sister Kaize who is 2 years old is insured w/a basic plan that costs me $100.00/year. Insurance is a great idea & I am all for it. But at some point you drawn the line on what you can afford. $300/yr on coverage that doesn’t cover annual exams blood work or dentals on a otherwise healthy cat is too much for my budget.

    Shannon Cole – Shannon’s Pet-Sitting
    Compassionate, Professional, Better Business Bureau Accredited Pet Care.
    Serving Suburban Lake, Cook & Kane Counties in Illinois

  • Cmastrona says:

    I think that a person like myself on unemployment, should get a discount on vet bills and food. Maybe there would be more homes and less starving of the animals. I have 3 cats that i rescuse and 1 dog.My dog will be 12 yrs in jan 2011 and now he needs surgrey.$400.00 that i dont have so where do i go from here? We all love them and do are best to take care of them. They are part of our family.The shelters are full with homeless dogs and cats. There just to be a better way for us

  • Cd Phi says:

    Also, you can visit non-profit organizations that have a vet clinic that way you just pay a fraction of what you’d normally pay for your pet’s surgical procedure. A few organizations may perform routine procedures like vaccinations for a very affordable price. Much cheaper than what you’d pay in a private vet clinic.

  • CreditShout says:

    Buying “good” food for your pet is a great way to keep him healthy. Though this food is a little more expensive, they often feature more protein so you won’t have to feed your dog as much. These are all really great tips though. You can really cut down a lot of the costs of owning a pet.

  • I agee with most points of this article, but I usually go another route with vet care.

    Actually I grew up in a small town about an hour from the city I now live. A couple of years ago I switched back to use the vet in my home town. He is about half the cost of any vet in my city and he is even open on Saturday. If I need care in the city, I keep my shot records, and use the after hour clinics.

    If you have any friends or family in a rural area, ask them about their vet. Chances are if you are willing do drive, you can save yourself about half the normal cost.

  • Wojo says:

    Many vets (mine offered) will also match any online price you can find with their own stock. If you’re in a hurry to get a particular medicine, you can get the best of both worlds (quick pick-up and low price).

  • ryan says:

    While there are certain benefits from a medical perspective to get a pet from a shelter, I can’t tell you how great the feeling is for the person in rescuing an animal. My sister works for the ASPCA & the best part of her day is when someone rescues a dog.

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