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Top 10 Ways to Save Money on Vet Bills

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Everyone’s keeping an eye on the budget these days, and one of the most expensive pet expenditures is veterinary care. With just a little preparation and research, however, you can reduce your veterinary costs, from office visits to prescription medications.



1. Schedule an annual exam
Maintaining an annual exam schedule for your dog or cat is important, and this definitely not the place to trim costs. Spending money on an annual exam—and on spay and neuter—may seem like an expenditure but it’s an investment that will save you money down the road.

2. Maintain good dental health
Good dental care can save you hundreds of dollars in cleaning fees. Try to brush your dog’s or cat’s teeth several times per week using a special toothpaste and toothbrush designed for pets.

3. Ask about 3-year immunization schedules
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the only organization that accredits animal hospitals throughout the U.S. and Canada, issued guidelines in 2006 about the frequency of immunizations. Whereas your pet once automatically received vaccinations annually, today the veterinary world is looking at longer periods between vaccinations, depending on your pet’s lifestyle. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations for your pet’s “core vaccines” and see if you can extend the time between immunizations. (The frequency of your pet’s rabies vaccines will be mandated by local law, however.)

4. Avoid emergency vet visits with preemptive care
Does something just seem “not right” with your dog or cat? Is it a Friday afternoon? Don’t wait until the vet’s office closes for the weekend; run him by for a quick office visit if possible. The price of a routine office visit is far lower than the cost of an emergency vet visit. If you do wind up needing emergency veterinary care, check and see if follow up visits can be made at your regular veterinarian’s office to save money.

5. Feed your pet high quality food
Maintaining a healthy diet is key to good health. Premium dog and cat food containing quality ingredients is an investment in your pet’s health that saves you money down the line. Additionally, your dog does not need to be fed as much high-quality food as he would low-quality food packed with fillers. Less food means savings. Eventually, that premium food can result in lower veterinary bills, too, by keeping your pet closer to his ideal weight and by supplying him with beneficial nutrients.

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6. Ask about special discounts
Check and see if your vet offers any special discounts. Whether you’re a senior, a firefighter, a military member, or a full-time student, your vet might have a discount plan for you. Also, if you have multiple dogs and cats, ask if there’s a multiple pet discount.


7. Watch for event-related discounts
Like with human health, there are special months that recognize and draw attention to particular aspects of pet health. Pet Dental Month (February) and Pet Wellness Month (October) are just two times when you might find related specials from your veterinarian.


8. Investigate pet insurance early
Pet insurance can be a great way to save on unexpected vet costs but, to lower your monthly premiums, insure your pet as young as possible. Most companies won’t insure a pet with a pre-existing condition and, at most companies, premiums are lower the younger your dog or cat is. At some companies, premium will even lock in at that lower rate.


9. Ask about matching drug prices
Before your next trip to the veterinarian, spend a few minutes doing online research on reputable online pet pharmacy sites checking the price of heartworm preventative or other medications you know you’ll need. Remember to take into account shipping costs, too. Print the product page and take it to your vet’s office and ask if they can match the online price.


10. Fill your dog’s prescription at your drugstore
Many pet prescriptions can be filled at your drugstore, saving you money and possibly giving you the option of generic, low-cost equivalents for some drugs. Ask your vet to see if it’s a possibility!


About the Authors: Paris Permenter and John Bigley are the authors of Barkonomics: Tips for Frugal Fidos (Riviera Books). The husband-wife team are the publishers of DogTipper.com and CatTipper.com, sites featuring daily tips, news, giveaways, and product reviews. Paris and John can always be found on Twitter and Facebook, too!

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