Vet costs can add up quickly, especially if your pet has a health issue or if you have multiple pets. But taking your animal to the veterinarian is an important part of being a responsible pet owner and making sure your pet stays at its healthiest.
Here are some tips to give your fur babies, feathered friends, and reptiles the best care possible without a huge bill.
1. Shop around.
Not every vet charges the same, so it’s a good idea to shop around. Vets in smaller towns may charge less than in more populated urban areas. Call and get costs for exams, vaccinations, and standard procedures such as teeth cleaning, spaying, and neutering. Ask if they give multi-pet discounts if you bring pets in together. You don’t have to choose your vet solely on cost, but keep that in mind when you make your selection.
Pro Tip: Reach out to the local Humane Society or vet school clinic. They may have low-cost options for veterinary care or procedures.
2. Know your vaccines.
Some vaccines like rabies are required by law. Others are optional. Assess whether your pet needs a vaccine based on their potential risk for the illness. For example, if you don’t board your dogs, they may not need Bordetella to protect against contagious kennel cough. But if they’re frequently at the dog park with other dogs, you’ll want them to have it.
Pro Tip: Check with your municipality. They may hold a free rabies shot clinic annually.
3. Research prescription options.
You’ll likely give your fur babies flea and tick medications. You may need to treat your bird or your lizard with an antibiotic. You might need a prescription to calm your pet during a storm. You could get these medications through your vet, or you can get the prescription and shop around. Contact your local (human) pharmacy. If there is a human equivalent to the pet medication, they may be able to fill it for a lower price. You can also enroll in a prescription discount plan like GoodRx or WellRx. Some plans cost but you’ll still realize the savings in discounts.
4. Ask about referrals and specials.
Veterinary offices often run specials. They may discount dental procedures for National Pet Dental Health Month, for example. They may give you a credit for referring a friend. Ask your vet for their schedule of specials and discounts for the year, and plan your pet’s care around that calendar.
5. Don’t automatically say ‘yes’.
Your vet may recommend treatments for your pet. Ask why they’re necessary and what the alternatives are to doing them. Sometimes these recommendations may be precautions but not absolutely necessary. Other times, they may be to rule out issues, but the treatment may be the same. If there is a high cost for treatment, you can hold off and research other places that may be able to provide it at a lower cost. Then take that quote to your vet and ask if they will match the price.
6. Talk to an online vet first.
You can sometimes save on an in-person vet bill by talking to an online vet first. Telemedicine options have increased for veterinary care. For just about $30 or so, you can talk to a vet, have him/her examine your pet virtually, and answer medical questions. For example, if your pet was exposed to a potential household danger, the online vet can let you know if you need to bring your pet in for treatment. Just know that online vets cannot prescribe medication if your pet hasn’t been seen in person by a vet recently.
7. Consider help from a pet charity.
You may qualify for help with your vet bills from an animal welfare charity. These are nonprofit associations that provide assistance for specific types of situations, such as donating wheelchairs for disabled pets, care for cancer treatment, and help for elderly, disabled, or low-income families.
8. Keep up with preventive care.
Nourishing food, regular exercise, and annual vet visits will help keep your pet healthy. Heartworm testing, stool screenings, dental care, parasite control, and bloodwork are all part of regular preventive care. Keeping your pet active and healthy, and checking in regularly on their health, will help reduce vet bills in the future.
9. Purchase Pet Insurance.
Pet Insurance can help offset some of the larger costs of pet care. For a nominal monthly fee, you can have access to coverage that will help if your pet needs surgery or has health issues. Shop around for a pet insurance policy that fits your needs.
Before you purchase, make sure you understand the deductible, the coverage limits, and the exclusions. Some policies do not cover pre-existing conditions or wellness care.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.