Keeping Fido affordable!
5 Ways to Reduce Vet Bills
by Kacey Smith
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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 keep your pets healthy and your finances solvent at the same time.
- Research Before You Adopt - If you have your heart set on a certain 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 tend to 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 symptoms of the condition? 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.
- 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 to never 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.
- 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 cost is covering. The clinic that offers a dental cleaning for $200 may be a better deal than the clinic that offers a dental 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 important for your pet's recovery and comfort.
- 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 easier 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, and that in turn 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 onor in your pet.
- 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 him or her feeling their best.
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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. She writes for A to Z Pet Care which is an online portal for pet care information. Check out our popular article on tips to buy an indestructible dog crate.
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