If you’re a dog owner, you’ll spend on average around $15,000 on your four-legged friend over the course of its lifetime. Cat ownership tallies up to around $8,000. No matter how passionate you are about your pet, it makes sense to do everything you can to keep the cost of ownership down.
One way to do this is to ensure you take such good care of your pet that you never need to make a trip to the vet. Not only will this reduce the amount of stress your pooch or kitty suffers as a result of the visit, but it will also leave you with more cash to buy treats for your canine or feline companion. Here are some everyday ways to keep the cost of animal medical care down to an absolute minimum.
The obesity epidemic has rarely been out of the news in recent years, and with good reason, but less attention had been devoted to the fact that a similar, parallel epidemic of obesity is taking place in the world of pets. Surveys commissioned by Banfield Pet Hospital suggests that in the past decade, the number of overweight cats has shot up by 169 per cent while the number of overweight dogs has gone up by 158 per cent.
Social media channels are now awash with supposedly amusing videos of obese animals, but the reality is that, just as with humans, being hugely overweight can have serious health consequences for dogs and cats. It dramatically increases the risk of contracting numerous chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. It has also been linked to increased risk of a range of respiratory diseases.
The same Banfield report found that, over the space of four years, the owner of an overweight dog will spend 25 per cent more on medication and 17 per cent more on healthcare. For owners of overweight cats, the total increased cost amounts to $1,178.
If your dog or cat is showing signs of excessive weight gain, see if you can reduce the size of their meals and increase their level of exercise to get them to reduce weight. Not only will you save on veterinary bills going forward, but you’ll also spend less on feed.
You can still regularly reward your pet for good behavior with something extra tasty such as Betsy Farms chicken jerky dog treats but do so in moderation and in accordance with the manufacturers guidelines, adjusting their regular good intake to compensate if necessary.
Regular check-up aside, most people only take their pets to the vet when there is something potentially seriously wrong with them. Under such circumstances, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and pay whatever is being demanded without giving it a moment’s thought.
If you want to cut the cost of a trip to the vet, ask them to provide you details of any medications your pet requires rather than purchasing them direct from the surgery. Most vets will add a significant mark-up to the price of everything they sell but, so long as you know what to look for, you may be able to find the same product cheaper elsewhere or on line.
If you don’t have a desperately urgent reason for visiting the vet, take the time to phone around a few places and see if you can get a better deal. This may only really work if you are looking for a new vet because, if your pet has already been treated by one particular vet and you are happy with the service you received, you may wish to continue seeing that same vet, even if the cost is a little higher.
In any case, always ask for a written estimate before any treatment or procedure begins so you know how much to budget for. If you choose not to have insurance, make sure you plan for the expense by putting a little money aside each month into an emergency kitty. That way, should the worst happen, you will be cushioned from some of the worst financial consequences.
Visit the vet more often
Vaccinations can be a significant expense, especially in the first year of the life of a puppy or kitten, but trying to save a few dollars by skipping them is a false economy as the cost of treating the actual disease itself, should your pet contract it, will always be significantly higher.
There are two types of vaccinations available – core and non-core. Core vaccinations are the ones that are absolutely essential because there is a high risk of the disease being contracted and it is life threatening. Many states make such vaccinations mandatory so failing to have your dog treated means you could end up on the wrong side of the law.
Non-core vaccines are those which are not essential because the level of risk depends on the individual dog or cats and its lifestyle. You should carry out careful research to see whether there is a risk of your pet contracting a disease for which there is a non-core vaccination and base your decision on your findings.
Prevention is always better than cure so taking your pet to the vet for an annual check-up is an expense that is worth spending. Should any conditions be found, the cost of treating them early will be a fraction of what it could be come if the condition were to develop further.
Although it may seem counterintuitive to suggest that visiting the vet more often could reduce your bills when the cost of annual or twice a year check-up is so high, but it remains the best way to ensure your pet is always in the best of health. Older dogs and cats should be checked at least twice a year.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that many of the conditions that just a few years ago would have been deemed untreatable are now easily manageable, so having your pet checked over by a professional on a regular basis could easily save you money in the long run and all you many more enjoyable years with your furry companion.