An important part of responsible dog care is providing them with medical care — unfortunately, doing so can also be costly. The annual costs of routine vet care are estimated to fall between $700 – $1,500, depending on the breed of dog you have and where you live.
But before you balk at the high price of a procedure or treatment, take a look at these cost-saving tips.
Consider Pet Insurance
Pet insurance helps pet parents pay for emergency vet visits using a model similar to human health insurance with deductible and reimbursement rates. So, for example, if your dog eats candy and needs a $400+ procedure to flush it out, you would get reimbursed $360 by a pet insurance plan with 90% reimbursement (if you’ve met our deductible). Unlike human health insurance, pet health insurance doesn’t have in-network boundaries, so anyone can sign up and keep going to their regular vet.
When you shop for a pet insurance plan, understand what the coverage you are buying includes (and what it excludes). Coverage inclusions vary by provider and by the plan you choose. For example, Accident-Only and Accident & Illness plans cover a different range of visits. Some pet insurance companies have options to add on Preventive Care coverage, too, which helps you pay for routine visits.
Pet insurance plans are often customizable, so you can influence your premium based on the variables you select for your pet’s coverage. You can also get a multi-pet discount with some companies like SPOT Pet Insurance.
If your dog requires a particularly high-cost treatment or procedure, don’t settle with the first quote you get. Different facilities may charge vastly different amounts. For example, you may be quoted anywhere from $300 – $600 for an abdominal ultrasound for your dog—for the exact same service and the exact same dog.
Remember, you can do your own research. Look up “dog ultrasound cost” in your area and see if you can get an idea of the average cost. Then call and talk to the vets that come up near you. If you find that your regular vet isn’t the best option, you can choose another facility for the procedure and then have the results forwarded back to your vet of choice.
Stay on Top of Preventative Care
By taking your dog in regularly for wellness checks, you can catch an issue early — before it develops into a more dangerous (and more expensive) problem. For most dogs, an annual check-up is enough, but for those with ongoing health issues and seniors, every 6 months is recommended. Although it varies by breed, a dog is generally considered a senior at 7 years old.
Having your dog spayed or neutered and keeping your dog up-to-date on vaccinations are important parts of effective preventative care. If you anticipate your dog will need a lot of routine care (teeth cleanings, spaying, vaccinations), you might want to revisit the idea of getting a pet insurance plan with preventive coverage added on.
Try a Veterinary College
The students need training, so they often offer basic services at a discount for those in financial need. Services may include check-ups, vaccinations, and basic procedures, such as spaying and neutering.
Contact Your Local Rescue Group, ASPCA, or Humane Society
They may offer discounted services as well, or they may be able to direct you to resources in your area.
Reach Out to Animal Welfare Charities
There are many organizations, particularly breed-specific groups, that may help pay for emergency veterinary treatments. There are also other organizations that assist with general vet bills, as well as fund treatment for specific diseases.
Sign up for a Plan with Your Vet
Some veterinarians offer payment plans to help you cover high-cost procedures slowly over time. Others may offer preventative plans that include a number of services, such as office visits, vaccines, diagnostic tests, and even dental cleaning, for a set monthly fee, as well as discounts on all other procedures required. Also find out if your vet accepts a medical-care specific credit card, like CareCredit — which can be used for human medical bills as well. In many cases, your vet can process your application on the spot.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle for Your Pup
One of the best ways to save money at the vet: create healthy practices at home so you don’t need to visit the vet as often!
Dogs that are obese or overweight are at a higher risk for many medical issues. You can help prevent these by feeding your dog a healthy diet, avoiding high-fat treats, and providing regular exercise. At the ideal weight, you should be able to see your dog’s waistline from above, but not be able to see her ribs from the side. As a bonus, those regular walks can help you stay fit, potentially reducing your medical costs as well!
Tell us some of the ways you save money on dog care.