By Amber Kingsley
We all love our pets and they’re a big part of our family when it comes to many things, like buying them presents, taking them along on family outings and being a part of almost all of our special occasions. Like our human children, our four-legged friends also need affordable health care, and with medical costs continuing to rise, this can put a severe strain on our ever-tightening budgets.
To save money on these animal-related expenses, here’s a list of dos and don’ts when it comes for caring for our pets at reasonable prices:
AT THE VETERINARIAN’S OFFICE – This is often where you’ll see a significant amount of savings when it comes to pet care.
Do: Take them in for regular, annual checkups and vaccinations. This will help to prevent possible bigger, more expensive costs down the road.
Don’t: Pay for extra or yearly vaccines. Other than annual rabies vaccinations that are often required by law, some of these shots can last for up to three years and others aren’t really necessary. Don’t let your vet bully you into taking too many of these preventative measures.
EXTRA BONUS DON’T: Be afraid to switch vets, your pet’s medical records will follow them to a new practitioner. If they make you feel uncomfortable, seem like they are overcharging you or asking for unnecessary tests and procedures — let them go. Seek advice from your friends and families who are also pet owners who have a good relationship with their veterinarian.
Do: Your homework when it comes to choosing your veterinarian. Just like our own primary care physician, it can be difficult to find the right fit when it comes to this important healthcare choice.
Don’t: Buy medications from the vet’s office. Veterinarians regularly markup their medications by as much as 250% or more.
Do: Shop for the best prices online for more affordable medications and consider signing up with one of those reward-based membership websites for additional savings, rewards and cash back.
Don’t: Buy from unreputable sources and foreign markets. Some of them are hocking expired medications and other problematic pharmaceuticals that aren’t up to code according to our country’s standards.
YOU BETTER SHOP AROUND – Just like my mamma told me, this is a good bet for reducing expenses.
Do: Hit the discount stores for the best deals on pet products like grooming supplies, toys, food and almost anything else that you can possibly think of that’s animal-related. Other than a few specialty items, you can usually find them all here at much better prices.
Don’t: Go shopping at those big chain pet stores. Their prices will pale in comparison once you’ve seen the costs at the previously mentioned alternative option.
Do: Spend a little bit more on higher-quality, healthier food for Fido. The cheaper varieties often come with unhealthy by products, preservatives and way too much corn, which can cause digestive issues and allergies in some pets.
Don’t: Stock up on bagged, dry food or kibble or buy them in bulk, even when deeply discounted. While canned food will last much longer in terms of freshness, bagged food only lasts so long and stale food can cause stomach distress. Besides, many times when this type of food is on sale, it is because it has already reached, or is coming close, to going out of date.
Do: Invest in better chew toys for your pet if they happen to have a propensity for destroying their playthings sooner rather than later. Buying chew toys and other types of appropriate treats help to keep a dog’s teeth and gums healthy and strong.
Don’t: Be afraid to be a little unconventional when it comes to shopping for pet toys. Most of these playthings resemble stuffed animals, which can be purchased at thrift stores and garage sales for next to nothing. But be sure to avoid purchasing those with plastic parts and other detachable items that could pose a possible choking threat.
Spending a little bit more, here and there, and a little less for more affordable options can lead to a better balanced health care budget for our pets.
Amber Kingsley is a freelance journalist and member of a pet enthusiast/animal lover group in Santa Monica. She has donated countless hours supporting her local shelter and spends most of her time
researching and writing about animals, food, health and training.