Posted: Mar 21 2009
We all agree that pets make great companions. Americans consider their pets an integral part of the family. But, caring for our companion animals is not cheap, and no one wants to scrimp on their loved ones’ health and safety. While routine visits to the vet and preventative medicine are necessary, there are several ways to control costs without sacrificing your pets’ health and well-being.
Specials and Clinics
Many vets offer in-office clinics once or twice a year. Clinics are a great way to save on heartworm testing, vaccinations, dental care and other procedures. Additionally, your vet may offer package plans for puppies and kittens. Finally, ask if your vet offers discounts for seniors (you or your pet!)
Many animal shelters offer low cost spay/neuter and vaccination programs for all community members. Additionally, if you adopt from your local shelter you may also be eligible for discounted medical care through the shelter or participating veterinarians.
National Assistance Programs
Many non-profit groups offer help to individuals and families with animals in need. Organizations like Help-A-Pet serve the elderly and working poor by providing financial assistance for the medical care of pets whose owners are unable to afford the expense. Breed specific organizations including Labrador Life Line helps owners or rescuers of Labrador Retrievers who are in need of financial assistance. Finally, The Helping Pets Fund established by the American Animal Hospital Association offers grants for veterinary care of pets that have been abandoned and those whose owners are experiencing financial hardship.
While payment plans won’t necessarily lower your costs, they can help make vet bills more manageable. Ask if your vet offers a low or no-interest payment plan. If you do decide to use a payment plan, make sure you understand all the rules. If you miss a payment, some plans will charge you a higher interest rate or a penalty.
Rainy Day Fund
Saving for those unexpected expenses is always a good idea. You can never go wrong setting aside a little money whenever you can just in case Fido needs to have a tooth pulled or decides to chase the neighbor’s cat.
It’s important to know as much as you can about your dog or cat’s health history. If you have a pure bred animal, learn as much as you can about your pet’s lines. Research the breed and understand what health risks may be prominent. If you adopt or rescue an animal, try and get as much detailed information you can from shelter or agency you work with. Keep all of your pets health records in one place so that you can easily reference them if necessary. Finally, there are a number of great reference sources on the internet that address pet health. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association offer comprehensive information on pet care and animal health. Please remember, however, this information should not replace a visit to the vet if you believe your dog or cat is ailing.