Reduce the Cost of Pet Healthcare

by Jan Roland

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You love your pets to death. But their medical bills can be a challenge to your family’s budget. Use some of these tools to reduce the cost of caring for your furry, feathered or finned kids!

They’re part of the family. Sometimes, you even refer to them as your children. But these kids are covered in fur, fins and feathers.

Because they’re like children, you take good care of them when they’re sick. According to, we spend more than $136 billion on our pets annually. That’s not surprising since 66% of American households have at least one pet. About a fourth of our pet expenditures are for vet care.

So, what can you do to reduce the cost of pet healthcare?

Do Your Research Before You Adopt

You may have your heart set on a particular breed of cat or dog, but before you adopt, do a little research on the breed. Talk with the breeder or rescue organization. Find out what diseases are common to the breed. Is there a genetic test for the disease? What does treatment cost? What can be done to minimize your pet’s risk of getting the disease?

Just like humans, there’s no guarantee that any pet will be disease-free, but it’s wise to know what you might be facing with a particular breed.

Expect To Have Some Medical Bills

You probably see a doctor periodically and maybe you’ve even visited the ER. Your pet is no different. They’ll need occasional medical attention.

You don’t know exactly when, but sooner or later, you will have vet bills. So, just like you set aside money to cover the ER when your son breaks his arm, save a little each month in a reserve account for your pet’s medical bills. No matter how big or small the bill is, it’s much easier to handle if you already have the money saved.

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Choose Your Veterinarian Carefully

You’re careful choosing a doctor for your kids. You should be just as careful choosing one for your pet.

Call a few clinics and ask for quotes on routine veterinary care, such as physical exams, vaccinations, and the average dental cost. Also, make sure you know what the quoted cost is covering. The nearest vet is not always the best choice. If you live in the city, consider including a country vet in your search. But remember, just like your own doctor, price is not the only factor you’ll want to consider.

Preventive Care Is Inexpensive Care

When it comes to maintaining your home, preventing a problem or catching it early can minimize the cost of repairs. The same thing is true of your pet’s health. Catching problems early often means more accessible 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. That means you’ll want to stay current on preventive vet care. If your pet is prone to a specific disease, ask your vet what you can do to delay or prevent its onset.

Some problems, like hip dysplasia, can be delayed or avoided by proper exercise and diet. If you know your pet has a predisposition to specific maladies, take steps while they’re still a puppy to delay or even prevent the problem from occurring.

Avoid Common Health Issues

Every pet parent knows animals are subject to fleas, heartworms and other common parasites. And good pet parents know that it’s far better (and cheaper) to try to prevent their occurrence. This means regular flea treatments and vet visits, as well as vaccinations.

Take Advantage of Free Exams

Many rescues, stores and even some vets offer free exams. Unless your furry child is suffering from a specific disease that needs monitoring, this is a way to get them checked out for free.

Check for a Local Vet College

Veterinary colleges need to train their students. Part of that training is to treat sick pets under an experienced veterinarian. The cost is often much less than a standard vet visit. There’s a list of accredited veterinary colleges from the American Veterinary Medical Association that can tell you if there’s a veterinary college near you.

Get an Estimate Before Services Are Rendered

Whether for a routine checkup or more serious medical attention, there’s nothing wrong with asking how much it’ll cost before you tell the vet to treat your pet. Most of us are reluctant to do that. But if your vet doesn’t respond well, you should probably seek another vet anyway.

Fill Prescriptions Online

Did you know that you can fill pet prescriptions online? It’s true! And there’s a good chance that you’ll save some money. Veterinarians will generally fill your pet’s prescription. But you do have the option of taking the script and having it filled elsewhere. Check your local pharmacy, big box store and online to find the best price.

Ask About Financing

Major surgery or treatment for a chronic condition can be expensive. Ask your veterinarian if they can work out a payment plan for you. They don’t want you to delay needed treatment for your pet because you don’t have the money right now. Many are willing to help you care for your pet.

You love your pets to death. But their medical bills can be a challenge to your family’s budget. So use some of these tools to reduce the cost of caring for that furry, feathered or finned child!

Reviewed March 2024

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