The inability to pay for care is one of the top reasons dogs are given up or abandoned. No one should ever have to lose a beloved family member due to financial strain.
Veterinarian, Nancy Kay is the author of Speaking for Spot, which details how dog owners can become well-informed medical advocates for their pets – and save a little money in the process!
She recommends the following 10 methods for spending less at the vet without compromising your dog’s care.
1. Request An Estimate
It may feel awkward to ask for an estimate at the vet’s office – after all, your dog isn’t a Buick! – but you have every right to know and understand what you will be paying for. This can open up a conversation about the importance of each procedure/product and prevent you from paying for non-essentials.
2. Do Your Homework
Each veterinary clinic sets their own prices and may differ on things like surgeries, ultrasounds, etc. Veterinary specialists and those with Board certifications in specific areas understandably charge more for their services. This does not mean that a general practice vet cannot perform the procedure. Call around, compare prices, and don’t be afraid to ask about each doc’s experience and credentials.
3. Be Honest
Discussing your personal finances is awkward, but your vet will understand and appreciate your honesty. While they cannot offer discounts to every one with a sob story, they can work up more than one treatment plan for your dog’s care – an ideal course of action and a more conservative, money-saving one. You can then choose the plan you feel more comfortable with.
4. Question Vaccination Protocols
Current research shows that several canine vaccinations are effective for 3 years or more. If your veterinarian recommends vaccinating your dog for everything every year, it may be time for a discussion.
5. Focus On Preventive Care
Preventing heartworms, fleas and other parasites is much cheaper than having to treat your dog for these infestations. Some products may be less expensive at pharmacies or online, but beware of bargain knock-offs that tend to be inferior, ineffective and potentially dangerous. Do your research and choose a safe and trustworthy prevention plan.
6. Don’t Overfeed
The more your dog eats, the higher your food bill. Also, overweight and obese pets tend to have much higher vet bills because of all the related health problems that come along with carrying too much weight.
7. Get Creative
Apply for Care Credit or take out a low interest credit card that will allow you to break up your pup’s bill into payments. Are you an accountant, lawyer, housekeeper, landscaper, etc? Perhaps you can barter your services with the clinic owner. I once worked for a vet who traded services with a florist and the owner of a boat rental company, so it never hurts to ask!
8. Consider Pet Insurance
Ask your veterinary staff which plans other clients have had success with and research how much bang you get for your buck with each. Some carriers will reimburse you up to 90% of your dog’s care, but beware of the fine print and make sure to ask about preexisting conditions and excluded treatments.
9. Price Shop Prescriptions
Many of the medications that your vet prescribes are human drugs. Ask your veterinarian if any of your dog’s meds can be scripted out to a pharmacy. Large corporations order in bulk and can offer much lower prices on many drugs, plus you may be eligible for discounts like AAA. Bear in mind that not all online pharmacies are reputable.
10. Ask For Help
When all else fails, try reaching out to a charitable organization like the Humane Society to learn about your options. Dr. Kay has provided an extensive list of nonprofit agencies on her website that may be able to help with your pet’s care if you meet their criteria.
H/T to Nancy Kay, DVM via The Bark
Featured Image via Flickr/kennejima