For many people, bringing home a household pet is the realization of a lifelong dream, but it doesn’t come without some expense. Beyond the fee you’ll pay to the shelter, breeder, or pet store, you’ll also need to stock up on pet-related accessories. Food, collars, leashes, and toys are just a few of the things you’ll buy. But although you likely realize that you’ll need to take your pet for vaccinations and checkups, you may not understand how much emergency vet bills can cost.
Whether your pet is furry, scaled, or feathered, it won’t be long before you think of them as part of your family. And when a family member hurts, visiting the doctor becomes a priority. Emergency vet bills, however, can put a big dent in your budget. Pet insurance helps, but it may not cover everything.
If you’re ready to bring home a new member of the family, here are some ways you can save money on veterinary care, starting now.
1. Start With Preventive Care
Just like with people, preventive care for a pet goes a long way. The following are some of the elements involved in preventative care.
- Feeding your pet a healthy and appropriate diet.
- Providing plenty of opportunities for exercise.
- Ensuring vaccinations are up to date.
- Regular grooming.
- Administering flea and tick medication.
The bottom line is that preventive care helps you avoid costly and avoidable problems later. For example, brushing your dog’s teeth regularly means they’re likely to have fewer dental issues as they age. Avoiding overfeeding helps to prevent weight gain and joint problems. Scheduling regular checkups can help your vet spot small issues before they become big problems, so don’t skimp on annual visits.
2. Scope Out Vaccination Clinics and Free Spay-Neuter Opportunities
There are several opportunities to save money on vaccinations and common procedures such as spaying and neutering. Pet stores, animal shelters, and organizations such as the ASPCA and the Humane Society sometimes offer free or low-cost vet care clinics. If you adopt a pet from a shelter, inquire about spaying and neutering, as many offer this service at no charge.
At pop-up vet clinics, you won’t need an appointment to drop by with your pet. Just show up, get the service you need, and pay the small fee. If your pet needs vaccinations, don’t forget to get written proof from the clinic that the vaccination was performed.
3. Consider Veterinary Schools
If you live near a veterinary school, explore its website to learn about any clinics or events it may be offering. You could find free or low-cost checkups, vaccinations, or spay-neuter services. Licensed veterinarians monitor all procedures.
Just as with pop-up clinics, you don’t usually need an appointment to get your pet treated at a veterinary school. Fees are free or minimal, and you’ll want to take evidence of any vaccinations, if applicable, home with you.
4. Fill Prescriptions Somewhere Other Than Your Vet’s Office
Getting a prescription filled directly at your vet’s office is certainly convenient. But your vet’s office may not be the most affordable place for you to fill your pet’s prescription. Ask for the prescription in writing instead, and price it online — especially if it’s expensive and your pet will be taking it for an extended period of time. You might be surprised at the places you can buy pet medicine. Just be cautious and make your purchase from a reputable retailer.
Additionally, many medicines dogs take, for example, are formulated for people! If you know that the medicine your pet needs is made for humans, too, ask if you can buy it at your pharmacy. You could save significantly if the medicine your pet needs is available in generic form.
5. Know Your Breed
Certain animals are costlier to buy and more expensive to care for than others. If you haven’t yet committed to a pet or a breed, it’s worth exploring what typical vet and grooming expenses will look like. If you’re not interested in brushing your pet every day, for example, you may wish to reconsider purchasing a long-fur breed such as a Golden Retriever dog or a Persian cat.
The more attentive you are to your pet’s health, the less likely you are to spend money on emergency vet bills. Nevertheless, some animals, and especially certain dog breeds, are more likely to come with higher vet bills. These include:
- Dogs with a “smooshed” nose, such as English and French bulldogs, require somewhat frequent trips to the vet.
- Large breeds such as the Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Dane, Mastiff, and Rottweiler are prone to dysplasia and gastric torsion.
- Portuguese Water Dogs often suffer from Addison’s disease, which can cost thousands of dollars to treat.
- Golden Retrievers are predisposed to dysplasia, cataracts, and cancer.
Typically, mixed-breed (or “mutt”) dogs are the least expensive to care for. They are often less prone to several diseases, including heart disease and allergies.
Save More By Paying With a Cash Rewards Card
If you’re looking for ways to save on your pet’s care, don’t forget to use a cash rewards card, such as our Founder’s Card, that allows you to earn unlimited rewards on purchases.*
For more money-saving tips in other areas of your life, be sure to check out our WalletWorks page.
*You can earn 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. You can earn 2% cash rewards on purchases if you maintain a PSECU checking account and qualifying monthly direct deposit(s) of at least $500. See the Visa® Founder’s Card and Visa® Alumni Rewards Card Rewards Program Terms and Conditions for full details.