Pet expenses add up quickly — I should know, that’s my cockapoo, Teddy, at the bottom of this post. And nothing is more expensive, it seems, than a trip to the vet, which never ends without a laundry list of charges. That’s why I invited Sandra Townsend from Dolly the Doxie to guest post about ways to keep those costs down — I know the below advice will be helpful to my fellow pet lovers.
Not being able to afford to take your pet to the vet for routine care can be a hindrance for many wanting to adopt a pet. Or worse yet, cause one to give up a pet. This can be understandable when, according to the American Pet Products Association, spending on vet bills for routine visits and medications is expected to hit $14.2 billion this year, up 4% from last year. Total veterinary spending, including surgeries, for all households with pets was about $28 billion last year. This averages out to $227 per dog per year and $90 per cat per year, according to the American Veterinary Association. My last visit to the vet with my Doxie-mix rescue for an upset stomach cost me $222.
When it comes to finding ways to cut veterinary costs for your pets, I find it easier to split them into two categories: routine and non-routine costs.
Routine Costs. Included in your routine costs are the once-yearly visit to the vet for vaccinations such as rabies and heartworm testing. The best way I have found to save on annual vaccinations are at local animal shelters in your area that offer low cost vaccinations. A quick visit to their web site should provide this information.
When I take my dog to the vet for her yearly visit, her rabies shot costs $26 plus the office visit charge of $59, which covers all other services at the time. If I take her to the shelter where we adopted her, they offer low cost vaccination clinics every Sunday by a local vet for only $15, which is a significant savings.
Better yet, there is another alternative that I just learned of while attending a pet trade show: at home testing for many common, routine tests. The at home test for feline leukemia costs $40, is more convenient, less traumatic for the cat (and you), easy to do and offers results through the mail at no cost. At my vet, the test for feline leukemia costs $55 if the cat is already a patient, plus the office visit cost. Other at-home tests are available for heartworm, lyme, and worm testing for domestic pets or livestock.
Non-Routine Costs. I recently came across an article about negotiating vet costs, which could lower your non-routine expenses. Excluding emergencies, non-routine costs can occur when you visit the vet because you suspect that something is wrong with your pet, such as a leg injury. Once your pet is stabilized or no longer in pain, ask for the diagnosis and the course of treatment, including follow up care and medications. When you have that information start shopping around to find the lowest cost. If you do find a lower cost elsewhere, talk to your vet — chances are they will work with you on price.
Additional common ways to save are to take the vet’s prescription and fill it with a generic elsewhere, avoid overnight stays, and find out what you are able to do at home, such as administer fluids.
About Sandra: Sandra Townsend is the creator of Dolly the Doxie: Adventures of a Doxie Mix Rescue and the Lady She Rescued. She started her pet blog a little over a year ago as a result of long-term unemployment and adopting a dog that literally has changed her life. Follow Dolly’s and her adventures at www.dollythedoxie.com.