Each year, thousands of animals go without vet care simply because their owners can not afford it. From the cost of basic vaccines, heartworm prevention, and sterilization, many people feel the cost of care is out of reach. There is a lot to be said for not owning a pet if you can't afford to, but that's another subject. The bottom line is that there are some really great ways you can shave dollars off of your vet visit, without compromising care.
1. Interview Your Vet: Do what? Yes, you heard me- make an appointment and go talk to your vet. Find out what their emergency policy is, if they will see you, or if they will automatically refer you. Bankers hours are becoming really popular among solo practitioners, so make sure your doc will be there if you need 911 care. Also ask what the emergency policy is, and what fees are involved. If you are automatically referred, you will pay more for a specialty emergency hospital in most cases. Also ask your vet about their protocols on vaccines- do they offer a three year protocol or a mandatory vaccinate every year plan? Ask anything else that may be important to you personally, such as can you stay with one doctor in the practice? It's best to know all of these things ahead of time, before the need arises.
2. Teach Your Dog the Recall: This basic exercise, come when called, will save your dog's life. It's more important than teaching your dog to sit, and we suggest teaching an emergency "rescue" word that is only used in the case of "no matter what you're doing, stop and come immediately!". Of course, reward with some really high value food treat for coming. Why? Dogs that are hit by cars can be killed. If they survive, the damage can span from hundreds to thousands of dollars. This doesn't include the permanent damage your dog may have. Honestly, teaching your dog to come when called can save you this really big expense, and ultimately, its life. Average Savings- Can you put a price on your pet's life?
3. Learn to Trim Your Pet's Toe Nails: Everyone is afraid of the dreaded "cutting too short".... but I promise you, your dog or cat will not bleed to death. Invest in a really good pair of nail trimmers and some styptic powder (blood stop powder), just in case. Then, have your vet or groomer show you how to trim your pet's nails. With practice, you can master this really easy task, and save yourself between 8-15$ per trim!! The average savings here is about $80 per year!
4. Keep your Pet at a Healthy Weight: Like their human counterparts, pets that carry extra pounds are more vulnerable when it comes to weight related health issues. Hip, heart, and back problems are just a few of the issues that can crop up when your pet is well padded. Extra weight can aggravate conditions like arthritis. The cost of NSAIDS is going to run about .50-2.75 PER PILL. How do you know what a healthy weight is? Rather than focus on a number, make sure you can feel your pet's ribs but not see them. The waist should also have a nice "tuck". Not sure? Ask your vet or an un-biased friend. Average savings just on NSAIDS for a large sized, middle aged dog $900/year!
5. Brush Your Pet: Grooming your pet may sound super simple- but did you know, it can save you money? Obviously, you'll save on grooming costs. But those owners who brush their pets regularly often find early health concerns, such as lumps and bumps long before most people. In addition, brushing aerates the coat, making the environment unfriendly for the bacteria that may form hot spots down the road. Finding those lumps and preventing hot spots could save hundreds of dollars due to early detection. Average savings depends, but an estimate is about $100-200 per year.
Look for the continuation of this blog in the next segment.
Jen Ortman, owner of Holistipet (LLC) is a Professional Animal Communicator, Animal Reiki Master Teacher, author, and speaker.