Both of my parents are biologists and growing up we had a veritable farm of animals. Right now I have two cats and something I’ve come to learn from having many pets is that they can be expensive. One of my cats recently decided to jump from the roof of our 3rd story apartment onto our neighbors one which has a 4-foot gap in between. Due to a bit of slippery ice she ended up falling 40 feet onto tarmac.
The subsequent vet bill ended up being over $2000 and I learned a lot through the process on how to save on vet bills, through my own personal experiences as well as research. I wanted to share these tips with Simply Frugal fans.
I would have never considered pet insurance until I actually needed it. Now I have recommended it to friends and families that have pets who are more prone to have issues—like highly adventurous animals or pure breeds. As a guide pet insurance is roughly $20 a month, depending on many factors.
The most important point to take away from this is that insurance takes many of the difficult choices out of the equation. For example, deciding to get a splint, a cast or surgery will no longer be influenced based solely on price. Therefore you can offer your pet the best care possible without guilt.
Don’t forget to research reputable companies before deciding on a company to go with. Most of the time pet insurance will end up costing you more than the vet bills throughout an average animals’ life—that’s why pet insurance exists, this is why I would only consider it for ‘at high risk’ animals.
Choose your Vet Wisely
If your vet has a plush new office I bet you can guess where they got their money. Now this is not always the case but sometimes smaller is better. Call around your local vets for estimates on a common procedure (like vaccinations) to find which vet is most likely to be the cheapest.
Many people forget to consider transportation costs into the equation. If you have to travel in a taxi for 10 minutes this might make the total costs more than your local vet.
If you live near a veterinary school you may end up saving on bills, as veterinary schools are always looking for animals to help treat, and as the students are supervised the care can still quality. Having said that my local vet school is actually more expensive and they try to persuade you to do more tests than standard vets. So use some common sense here.
Don’t you wish your local vet did price matching?
Talk to your Vet
The majority of the cost of our vet bill for the ‘fallen cat’ was due to lack of communication. The vet performed many of what I would consider non-essential treatments and tests that were expensive (for example 3 blood tests and 4 x-rays). Talk to your vet before the treatment starts, ask for an estimate and what it entails and tell them your budget limitations, everything can be talked through and negotiated based on their advice.
Most vets got into the veterinarian practice to help animals, not to earn a buck; you just have to subtly remind them. If you are still unhappy with their quote then there is no harm in getting a second opinion (unless it’s an emergency).
If you can get your vet to write a prescription—try to be friendly with your vet to get this—then do some research on where to best buy your pet’s medication, the prices and markups of medication can be extreme, so research is key, pick up the phone and start calling. You can turn a $60 a week medication bill into $2 with the right research.
This is a rare one, but worth looking into. In some areas local vets join coupon mailers and send out discounts on exams. Failing that search for coupons online for your local vets, you may get lucky.
Get to know the breed of your pet and how to take good care of that particular breed—many have recurring breed-wide issues that can be managed easier. Understanding good pet hygiene, from brushing their teeth to clipping their nails can improve the overall quality of life of your furry friend and reduce vet bills down the line.
Choose the Right Food and Keep Them Healthy
There are loads of resources on the web about which food is best. The biggest debate is grocery store bought food verses vet bought food. While the latter is more expensive it may be healthier for your pet, considering your animal actually enjoys the food. I personally find my cats prefer to regularly have their diets changed.
Just like with humans, regular exercise combined with a healthy diet reduces the chance of illness. Being overweight is just as harmful for pets as it is with humans.
Any other tips you would recommend?
Anne from Vouchercodes.ca – one of the biggest online savings communities for putting this wonderful article together and sharing her REAL LIFE experiences as a pet owner. Visit vouchercodes.ca to save more money on your daily purchases.
Photo Credit (steveguttman)