Reduce the cost of good vet care for your pet

10 Ways to Reduce Vet Bills

by Shaunna Privratsky

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Your pets are a part of the family. You want them to be happy and healthy. Yet paying too much at the vet can hurt your pet in the long run. You may put off an office visit, hoping that the problem will clear up on its own. Or you may skip "minor" steps that can add up to really big bucks later.

Here are some sure-fire tips to keep your pets healthy and your money where it belongs.

  1. Save money right from the start by rescuing a stray or unwanted pet. Look for free ads in the paper and on grocery store bulletin boards or visit your local shelter. Some animal shelters charge a small fee for shots and spaying or neutering.
  2. Spaying or neutering is one of the best ways to keep your pet healthy. It also prevents an excess of unwanted kittens or puppies. Check around for the best rates; they can vary as much as $100.
  3. Save money by opting for the three-year vaccine instead of annual shots. Tom Erickson of the Lee Lake Animal Clinic in Minnesota said, "Healthy animals only need the rabies vaccine every three years."
  4. Ask for multiple animal discounts. Combine wellness visits, booster shots, and vaccines for all your pets and you could save a bundle. Arrange it ahead of time to make sure there is enough staff to handle your menagerie. Most clinics offer a 30%-50% discount on three or more pets.
  5. Prevention is the best medicine. Check out pet books at the library, go online, or attend free seminars on pet care, such as regular tooth care, nail trimming, and grooming. Your pet will feel like a pampered princess or contented king.
  6. Banish bugs. Use flea and tick medicine to eliminate pests. You will prevent costly and uncomfortable skin diseases, anemia, excessive scratching, allergies, and tapeworms. Prevent potentially deadly heartworms with monthly medication.
  7. Shop smart for pet supplies. Food, cat litter, over-the-counter medications, and other necessities are cheaper at discount stores like Wal-Mart. If you buy at the vet's office, the mark-up can be as high as 300%.
  8. Choose your vet wisely. A friend recommended a veterinarian that will come to our home for vaccines and care. I checked, and his rates were half what the clinic was charging! The vet came the same day, showed me his credentials, administered shots, checked my new rescued kitty over, and gave him a clean bill of health. I was impressed with the service, and my cat was much more relaxed at home, rather than stressed out from the dreaded car ride and the noisy vet's office.
  9. If your pet shows signs of illness, don't wait. Many diseases like diabetes can be successfully treated if caught early. Yet don't be afraid to get a second opinion.
  10. In the event of a major or life-threatening illness, do what is best for your pet. Measure their quality of life and happiness against the treatment options. Sometimes you must be brave and let them go to prevent further misery and pain.

Today, we appreciate and depend on our skilled veterinarians to care for our beloved pets and keep them healthy. Yet it doesn't hurt to pay less by shopping smarter. Working with our vets, our pets can look forward to longer, happier lives.

Take the Next Step:

  • Don't let your pets take such a bite out of your budget! The Dollar Stretcher's Guide to Frugal Pet Care can show you smart ways to love your pet while spending less.
  • Stop overpaying for your pet's medications. See how much 1-800-PetMeds can help you save.
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

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