5 Smart Ways to Keep Vet Bills Affordable

by Kacey Smith
Smart Ways to Keep Vet Bills Affordable photo

You want to keep your pets healthy while keeping your finances solvent at the same time. Make sure you can always afford the care they need with these smart tips.

It’s said that the only two reliable constants in life are death and taxes. For the responsible pet owner, there’s one more: vet bills.

Pets, just like people, will need both preventative and illness-related medical care throughout their lives, and the financial burden of that care falls to their owners. Can pet owners responsibly attend to the medical needs of their furry friends without breaking the bank?

Here are some tips and advice to simultaneously keep your pets healthy and your finances solvent.

1. Research Before You Adopt

If you have your heart set on a particular breed of cat or dog, learn about that breed’s potential health concerns before you bring them into your home. Talk directly to the breeder or rescue you’re considering about those health concerns.

If there’s a genetic test available, was the pet you’re considering tested? If there is no test, how commonly does the disease occur in the breed, and what’s the estimated yearly cost of veterinary bills for a pet with that condition? What can be done at home to ward off or minimize the condition’s symptoms?

Choosing a pet from a healthy breed that was bred and raised responsibly won’t guarantee you won’t encounter a hereditary health concern, but it will hedge your bets and make you better informed about what could be coming down the road.

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2. Routinely Put Money Aside

In the same way you wouldn’t expect a human to remain in perfect health for their entire life, you can’t expect your pet never to get ill or injured either. If you own a pet, the time will come when they need unplanned veterinary care. You may not know when, you may not know how, but you know it’s going to happen.

Plan ahead and put a small amount of money aside every paycheck so that when the expectedly unexpected happens, you’re not caught off guard, and you have a little nest egg ready and waiting.

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3. Shop Around, but Compare Apples to Apples

Don’t just pick the veterinarian that happens to be closest to your house. Call a few clinics and ask for quotes on routine veterinary care, such as physical exams, vaccinations, and the average dental cost. But, also make sure you know what the quoted price is covering.

The clinic that offers a dental cleaning for $200 may be a better deal than the clinic that provides a cleaning for $300, but it may also be that the higher cost includes items such as post-operative pain medication and IV fluids.

Make sure you know what you’re paying for, and if you think you found a great deal, be sure that low price still includes any items you consider essential for your pet’s recovery and comfort.

4. Stay On Top of Preventative Care

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this is true in veterinary medicine, too.

Catching problems early often means more manageable and less expensive treatment options, and some of the first clinical signs of illness can show up on a physical exam or routine blood test weeks, months, or years before your pet begins to become ill. But, the only way to catch and utilize those early warning signs is to make sure your pet stays current on preventative veterinary care.

Also, talk to your vet about what preventative care you can maintain at home.

Pets that are predisposed to dental disease can benefit hugely from daily tooth brushing, which will save you money on dental cleanings. Dogs prone to joint problems will fare much better in the long term if kept at a lean body weight, and some may even be able to avoid costly reconstructive surgery simply by staying in shape.

Making sure your pet is routinely checked and treated for fleas, heartworms, and other common parasites means you won’t have to pay for the costly treatments needed if those unwanted creatures take up residence on or in your pet.

5. Address Issues Sooner Rather Than Later

Beginning to treat conditions, especially progressive conditions, early can make a big difference in your pet’s quality of life as well as your checkbook.

The sooner long-term conditions are diagnosed and managed, the slower the disease progression tends to be, which means more quality time with your buddy as well as lower veterinary costs to keep them feeling their best.

Reviewed March 2022

About the Author

Kacey Smith is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer who has been involved in animal rescue for more than 12 years and is currently pursuing a DVM degree.

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