10 Ways to Save Money on Veterinary Care

Yes!  As a veterinarian who makes my living from veterinary medicine, I DO want you to save money on veterinary care!  I would rather see your pet year after year for a boring, wonderful health exam than even once for a crisis.  If I need to see ten adorable puppies for budgeted wellness care instead of one puppy for an expensive emergency to make a living, then so be it!  THAT is a price I am willing to pay!  I think most veterinarians would agree.

“Leash laws killed my orthopedic practice, so I went into dentistry.”  -anonymous veterinarian (He was joking!)

Maya says that she has grown bored of hearing how healthy she is.

The best way to save money on veterinary care is with pre-planned risk management.  The following is a very abbreviated and simplified list (that is, discussion starter) of the best “money savers” I could think of, and more importantly, of course, ways to save your pets and your family as much pain as possible.

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Regular wellness examinations

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Appropriate vaccinations

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Parasite prevention

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Good nutrition

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Regular exercise and maintenance of  a healthy weight

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Spaying or neutering

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Puppy proofing – not just for puppies!

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Leashing or otherwise safely containing your dogs when outside of the home

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Grooming, including ear cleaning and nail maintenance

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Teeth brushing/home dental care

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What advice would you give other dog lovers about avoiding costly veterinary bills?  Did I leave out any ideas that should be included?  Has pet insurance helped you to manage veterinary costs?  Many accidents, illnesses and chronic conditions can not be avoided, of course, and all of our pets will deal with health issues in their lives.  Even of the conditions that can be prevented, Real Life is not always so simple, and things happen.  Avoid accidents and illnesses when you can, and when you can not, we will deal with them together.

May you have mostly routine, boring veterinary care, and may your pets be mostly healthy most of the time.

10 thoughts on “10 Ways to Save Money on Veterinary Care”

  1. All good ideas but are you aware that many vets do a “no exceptions” link with what they consider to be appropriate vaccinations and yes there are an awful lot of vets who either didn’t get the memo or are ignoring the memo about over-vaccinating – PLUS they will not treat your sick pet unless you have signed up for, used and paid for – and in many instances PRE-paid for, the so-called wellness exams. IMO the wellness exams philosophy is a good one even though it was actually the result of a make-more-money-here’s-how brainstorm at one of the vet professional conventions, which seem to increasingly offer ever more coaching in how to separate pet parents from the contents of their checking accounts. But when a small animal vet demands quarterly wellness exams for a young dog past puppy stage and healthy and nowhere close to middle age with appropriate weight and a vet-designed home cooked diet, and when those same wellness exams amortize out to about $150 per month for those quarterly wellness exams – well, it’s just taking the whole concept up to the greed level. Especially when it is “sold” to the pet parent as necessary “or else we will not treat your pet when it is sick you’ll just have to go to the Emergency Clinic.”

    So – ahem. Vets. Yes of course sure take those good ideas to your home clinic BUT please PLEASE be reasonable in implementing them. And for heaven’s sake do not charge people more than even human doctors charge for checkups and wellness exams because those same people may need that overpayment for a REAL emergency.

    And speaking of REAL emergencies. People are NOT “getting” that pet insurance is only on a REIMBURSEMENT BASIS. You still have to pay the vet and/or the Emergency Clinic first. THEN and only then do you go to the pet insurance/highly advertised/touchy-feely warm ‘n fuzzy/lead you on company for REIMBURSEMENT of what you have already paid out. And that is if they feel like it and can’t point to too much small print which basically says there’s more our company doesn’t pay on than it does pay on.

    Just sayin’ – this is a buyer beware industry, in case you didn’t realize it. All the fancy full color glossy ads in pet magazines don’t add up to much more when the chips are down than the very poor score that Consumer Reports gives that industry.

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    • Let me start by saying that I do work in the veterinary industry. Some of the points you brought up are my BIGGEST pet peeves.

      First off, saying that young adult dogs don’t need the regular wellness exams that older pets require is not quite true. If you bring in your young adult dog yearly or, heaven forbid, every other year for a wellness exam, you are doing your pet a disservice. They age so much faster than humans, that getting only yearly exams is the equivalent of a young adult human getting a check up every 2-4 years (depending on the breed). Many diseases that are seen in young pets can develop during that time frame and could be harder (AKA: more expensive) to treat if not caught early. It’s so frustrating when we see pets with an advanced disease that that has become so expensive to treat that the owner is unable or unwilling to treat when we could have helped the animal for so much less and so much more efficiently if we had seen the animal 6-12 months ago.

      Secondly, suggesting that veterinarians charge equivalent to human doctors for their wellness check-ups is hilarious. If my vet charged what my doctor charges my insurance company for simply waling in the door, he’d be a millionaire. My family physician charges roughly $150 for a half-assed physical exam while the vet I work for charges only $40 for a nose to tail physical exam. The difference is my insurance picks up the charge from my family physician (or most of it), while the vet gets paid out of pocket.

      People need to be more responsible when it comes to owning animals. They need to realize they will cost money to keep healthy and even more when they are not healthy. And some of the breeds that are becoming popular are walking medical nightmares. People don’t realize that just because they bought the pet for several hundreds of dollars, that doesn’t mean that the pet won’t need medical care to keep the pet healthy. Often, it means just the opposite.

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      • Very well put. I take my pets to Banfield and I am always telling them that I wish my personal health care was as cheap and comprehensive as that of my furbabies!

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      • Well Anonymous hiding behind your anonymous label, I do not appreciate your insulting remarks implying strongly that what I pointed out means that I am an irresponsible pet parent. I think my own veterinarians (I have livestock as well as small animals) would disagree with that. And I did not go back to the vet who tried to hold me up for quarterly wellness exams at $450 (WOW!!! “INCLUDES SEMI-ANNUAL VACCINATIONS!!!” with the strong-arming technique of warnings that they would not see any animal in their clinic for illness or even injury without enrollment in their “plan”. The vets I have now told me that that was one of the “suggested techniques” at the make-more-money symposia because it used a “wonderfully effective” emotional blackmail element.

        Where in the world do you get YOUR vet care that you get a “head to toe” wellness exam for $40??? Good grief! The last time I saw that price for a basic small animal check up was over thirty years ago. But – maybe you live in a time warp? Lala land??? Or maybe you’re just stacking your argument deck to try to show how “stupid” you think I am!

        And oh gee wow I am so happy for YOU that YOU have health insurance to pick up part or all of your human wellness exams. That would not be true of the nearly 100 million Americans who are either completely uninsured or are underinsured or paying extortionate fees and co-pays on top of insurance that covers only very restricted issues. Or have you ever actually read the fine print on your own family health policies??? Maybe you should. that might improve your attitude a bit (but probably not!).

        Frankly, it is attitude like yours that makes your “industry” increasingly appear most unpleasant to the average pet parent.

        Furthermore, I DO NOT support the purebred dog “industry” either – not sure why I’m being lambasted with that remark! I do not have a “popular breed.” In fact, my own two small animal pets (cat and dog) are both rescues adopted from a shelter.

        Reply
        • Rox….that was a little harsh talking like that, yes, my vet isn’t out for that almighty buck as well as some more that I know. And does advise his clients to get insurance for their patients. I would apologize to the readers for sounding so brash, that was not respect nor uncalled for. We are here to voice our opinion, we have that right, but read over what you wrote and you will agree it was a little over the top to talk like that. Let this forum be nice for one another, and give each other a chance at being nice back. Otherwise we will be saying things we will regret later. I don’t like people like you, that treat others like this. But again we all need second chances like the dogs and animals period… need.

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  2. I take my lab to mobile vaccination clinic. I pay $8 for rabies shots. She’ll be 14 in April. She still goes on short walks. The same for my other 2 dogs… They are 10 yr old Carolina Dogs. They eat grain-free food, and enjoy daily exercise. I can’t afford the high vet costs, so we concentrate on enjoying each day, and being there for each other. It seems to work.

    Reply

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