Let’s be honest, regardless of how much we love our dogs and would do anything under the sun for them, paying vet bills is never pleasant. From simple checkups to some of the more complex issues that arise, forking over piles of cash is a pricy necessity that we all bare in exchange for the peace of mind that our dogs are happy and healthy. Then there’s the additional costs of dog sitters, boarding, transportation, dog food, dog treats and even things like dog massage and dog psychology if you’re so inclined.
The reality is, owning and caring for a pet will always be an expensive undertaking. There are no two ways about that. However, there are practical and smart ways to significantly reduce the costs without skimping out on anything important and while ensuring that our dogs get the best possible care and service. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of slightly better planning and organisation, and sometimes we just need a little bit more education about the whole process.
1. Pet insurance
As with pretty much anything, pet ownership (companionship, really) comes with the option of insurance. Of course you have to weigh up your options but if your dog is regularly at the vet for whatever reasons, there are plenty of insurance plans to consider. Look around for options and work out if there’s a plan that could save you a few pennies.
2. Get a second opinion
Yet another age old tale, the second opinion. Whether you’re selling a car, considering new medications or buying a house, it’s always important to get at least one additional opinion on the matter. Anything to do with your beloved dog is the same story. If one vet tells you they need a certain operation that costs X amount of money, see a different vet for their take on the matter, you might end up saving money or, more importantly, reaching an outcome that you prefer.
3. Preventative care
Just as it’s important to care for our own health as a form of life improvement and illness prevention, we must consider the same principle for our pets. This sometimes means spending a little more to avoid spending extra later. More often than not, however, we can easily keep the costs of preventative care well and truly under control. Ensuring our dogs get adequate exercise, have a healthy diet and are always taken care of in terms of de-wormers, tick and flea prevention, vaccines and checkups will ideally keep the expensive trips to the vet to a minimum.
4. Vet students
Whether or not you trust this method will come down to personal opinion as well as the feeling you get when visiting a clinic. Remember, as much as it’s important to seek a second opinion, it’s not necessary to settle for anything less than you expect.
5. Local rescue groups
While rescue groups are primarily concerned with the rehabilitation and rehoming of neglected and abused animals, they are usually dedicated to the care of animals on the whole. This means that they often offer services at a discounted price and the money you spend goes directly to the work they do helping animals in general.
6. Animal welfare charities
Much like local rescue groups, animal welfare charities are also likely to offer services that come as a lower cost with the added bonus of profits going towards their work. The RSPCA for example offers vet care and pet insurance options, so that’s worth taking a look at. Even if you aren’t necessarily needing to cut costs too much, redirecting some of your income to charities and rescue groups is a great way to care for your dog and many others.
7. A plan with your vet
If your vet knows that you’re a regular, trustworthy customer then it’s possible they’ll be willing to come to an agreement on prices with you for long term bookings and checkups. Just like anything, the more you buy, the less you pay. We are huge advocates for annual checkups, at the bare minimum, so have a chat to your vet and work out if you can save a buck by scheduling a few appointments in advance.
8. A healthy lifestyle
Just like us, our dogs will ultimately benefit most from living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. This means regular walks, playing, exercise (as simple as fetch), swims when possible and a diet consisting of all the nutrients they need. If you’re unsure on what the absolute best diet for your dog is, then have a chat with your vet or a trusted professional as this can differ from breed to breed. We took at look at the worst foods you can give your dog, and stay tuned for our overall guide on the best things to feed them.
9. Ask for prescriptions
This is a point that often doesn’t occur to many dog owners, but just as with human medicine, dog medicine has brand name and generic versions. Vets are most likely to sell the brand names, so if you ask them for a script, you can find places to pick up the generics which will most likely have the exact same ingredients and save you a lot of money. As always, it’s of course important to do research beforehand.
Tiahn Wetzler is a journalist, writer, editor and animal lover. Follow her on Instagram @tiahnwetzler