How to save money on vet bills

A few years ago, a little orange cat showed up on my front porch, and I fed him.

You can probably guess what happened next. Yep, he never left.

But as with any “free” pet, Hans cost a lot of money. This was especially true in the beginning when we had to have him neutered and vaccinated. We also paid for a six-month supply of flea treatment.

Then, Hans injured his paw. It swelled to three times its normal size, and he couldn’t put weight on it. Back to the vet we went, where we learned that the swelling was in an infected joint that usually doesn’t respond to just one round of antibiotics. Sure enough, after the first round, his paw was still swollen. So the vet called in a prescription for two more rounds, and finally, his paw healed.

Hans was his old self again, and thankfully his insurance picked up the $200 bill. No, we don’t have a pet insurance policy. Hans has a pretty sweet health-care plan that bills directly to our checking account.

The moral of the story? Pets can be really expensive!

But most pet owners don’t mind the added expense that comes with their furry friends. They bring a lot of joy into our lives. Still, there are ways you can minimize your vet bills, without cutting back on quality of care. In fact, many of the ways you can reduce your bill also result in a healthier pet.

An Ounce of Prevention

Similar to humans, preventive care results in long-term savings and a longer lifespan for animals. “Preventative care is the main thing that can save you money,” says Shari Valdez, an animal hospital practice manager.

Here are a few ways to prevent a trip to the vet in the first place, or to minimize your expenses if you do have to go:

  1. Help Fluffy maintain her girlish figure. Obese animals are more likely to have diabetes, heart disease, orthopedic problems and other disorders. Ask your vet about your pet’s weight. If your pet could stand to lose a few pounds, talk to your vet about how much food your pet really needs. If you need to switch to a “diet” pet food, make the switch gradually. Also, don’t leave food out all day if your pet is overweight. Slowly start getting her used to regular meal times so that she’s not overeating.
  2. Stay up on vaccines and parasite treatments. If you let treatments lapse, it could turn into a more expensive condition to treat. For instance, “it’s a lot cheaper to prevent heart worms than it is to treat them,” says Valdez. “Heart worm prevention is maybe $20-$45 for a six-month supply, depending on the size of the dog. Heart worm treatment consists of three injections over a three- to four-month period and can cost $1,000, depending on the size of the dog. Treatment is also very painful.” One way to save on routine care is to get a wellness plan. “[Our hospital offers] a wellness plan for preventative care, which actually isn’t pet insurance,” says Valdez. “The plan includes routine care like vaccines, physical exams, and blood work, and the annual cost is split into monthly payments, so it’s like zero-percent financing over 12 months. You also get discounts on things like heart worm meds and other services.” Another option is to check with your local animal-control organization to see if it offers low-cost vaccines, including shots for rabies.
  3. Pet-proof your house. A few years ago, a family friend’s dog got extremely sick, seemingly out of nowhere. My dad had been at their house recently and remembered seeing a castor bean plant outside, near where the dog was playing. He recalled reading something about castor beans being toxic to dogs, and he called our friend immediately, who called the vet treating her pet. It turns out that eating just a small amount of castor beans is likely to kill a dog. Our friend’s dog was lucky enough to survive it. So besides medications and household chemicals, be sure to keep poisonous plants out of reach.
  4. Pay attention to changes. If your cat suddenly stops using the litter box, he could have a bladder infection. If your dog’s breath suddenly becomes very foul, it could mean diabetes or oral disease. The earlier you can catch an illness, the more likely you are to save your pet a lot of discomfort and to save your bank account a hefty vet bill.

Of course, prevention is just half of the equation. There’s also a lot you can do to save money once you wind up in the waiting room.

At the Vet’s Office

The best way to save money while at the vet’s office is to talk to your vet about your situation. That’s not always easy, though. A lot of people feel uncomfortable haggling over procedures or telling their vet they can’t afford the recommended treatment, so the bills wind up on a credit card.

Here are a few tips that can make it easier to talk money with your vet:

  1. Ask about other treatment methods and associated costs. Even if you can easily afford the very best care, it’s a good idea to ask about all of the ways to treat a disease. For instance, when my cat started over-grooming, a former vet prescribed what was essentially Prozac for kitties. For three days, my cat stared blankly out the window. I stopped the meds and learned that there are a lot of non-drug methods I could’ve tried first that my vet never mentioned.
  2. Talk about over-vaccination. If your vet sends you a vaccine reminder every year, that doesn’t necessarily mean your pet actually needs another dose. In fact, we’ve been over-vaccinating our pets for years. For example, new guidelines suggest that we vaccinate for distemper, parvo and adeno every three years, not every year.
  3. Request a written estimate before treatment is provided. Until you see an estimate, you have no idea if a treatment is going to cost $100 or a full month’s rent. With an estimate in hand, you can make sure you’re only getting the services or treatments you want, and you won’t be caught off guard by a sky-high bill.
  4. Ask about ways to save on prescriptions. Sometimes vets have free samples. It’s also possible to shop around to have the prescription filled. For instance, some medications are also used to treat human conditions. “If it’s a prescription that can be filled at Walmart and it’s on their $4-prescription list, that could save a lot of money,” says Valdez.

Finally, talk about payment options. If your pet needs care and you’re planning to charge it on your credit card, wait. Ask your vet about payment options first.

Some vets offer a payment plan or a line of credit that doesn’t charge fees or interest for a set period of time. “We offer a zero-percent financing plan for big expenses like emergency surgery,” says Valdez.

In short, do everything possible to avoid paying interest, which only makes your vet bill even more expensive.

What are some other ways you’ve saved on vet bills?

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There are 62 comments to "How to save money on vet bills".

  1. Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle says 19 February 2013 at 04:21

    I was at the vet last week for one dog’s annual poke and prod. It was $150.00 for about ten minutes and 3 vaccines in 2 different injections.

    I budget for vet care by putting an estimated amount in to a savings account from every pay cheque. I budget $650.00 because there is always an emergency visit. I divide the $650.00 by my 26 pay periods and move $25.00 per pay to the special account.

    • Andrew @ Debt Freedom Journey says 12 June 2016 at 09:37

      $150 for 10 minutes and 3 vaccines?

      Beats the $400 consultation fee (that the insurance fortunately pays) when my wife goes to the OB and spends 3 minutes with the doctor and gets her blood pressure taken 🙂

  2. Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle says 19 February 2013 at 04:27

    I was at the vet last week for needles and a check up – $150.00 for one dog.

    I estimate a budget amount for a year of vet visits, $650.00, and keep that in a small savings account with my other yearly expenses (house insurance, car registration, etc).

    $650.00 divided by 26 pay periods means $25.00 per pay for vet care.

    • Kris says 19 February 2013 at 07:37

      I do exactly the same thing, only I divide it by 24 pay periods, giving me a bit of a buffer in case of something unexpected.

  3. Jon @ MoneySmartGuides says 19 February 2013 at 04:57

    I’ve also heard that many pet medicines are becoming available in generic form just like human medicine. Not all pharmacies offer the generic versions so you might have to shop around but it’s a great way to cut down on the costs.

    • EmJay says 20 February 2013 at 10:48

      It is true that generics are becoming available, but it’s also important to talk with your vet to see which ones are going to be of sufficient quality.

      When we talk with our vet, make a point to include both cost and medication efficacy as part of the discussion. There have been several generic medications he has not recommended because they aren’t as high of quality. For instance, we’re using a hypothyroid medication that is not generic because he’s found that thyroid hormone levels are less consistent on the generic versions, which means more blood testing (at $40 a pop, which is more than the price difference for several months).

      It’s important to discuss the costs (short- and long-term) of pet care, including the risks of not doing things. After spending a sizable sum on our dog’s chronic health issues, I wouldn’t go to a vet that wasn’t willing to clearly outline a full cost-benefit analysis of a potential treatment.

  4. Phoebe says 19 February 2013 at 04:59

    Nice tips! While not specific to vet bills, I would also recommend that you should choose a pet that fits your lifestyle.

    I’m in my 20’s and have many friends paying enormous amounts for doggy daycare, pet sitters and boarding. While vet bills can certainly be large, these other services make up the majority of their costs and are simply being accrued because they chose to have a pet at a point in their lives when they are living alone, going out a lot, and/or traveling frequently.

    If you can hold off on that pet purchase or get one that fits your lifestyle a bit more (i.e. a cat if you stay at work late into the evenings) it will save you money and be kinder to your pet.

    • Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies says 19 February 2013 at 05:48

      Definitely second the choosing the pet to fit the lifestyle. I never considered myself a cat person growing up, but Kitty PoP completely fits our lifestyle and I probably love and appreciate him all the more because of it.

      Someday we’ll have a dog, but not until we are at a point where we have more space and wouldn’t need to hire walkers because we got caught up working late.

      Also, our vet says indoor cats also tend to have fewer health problems – Kitty PoP doesn’t take any flea or tick meds because he’s never out in the neighborhood. His version of outside is our screened in pool cage.

  5. Andy says 19 February 2013 at 05:03

    It starts with their food.

    Feed your dog or cat a biologically appropriate diet (carnivorous) and many of the health problems will correct themselves. They aren’t meant to eat kibble and it shows up in sickness and health problems.

    I’ve fed my dog raw since she was 6 months old and she hasn’t had to go to the vet for anything outside of her shots in the last 6 years.

    • Honey Smith says 19 February 2013 at 09:01

      Dogs can actually be vegetarian, though cats can’t. It’s the quality of the food that matters for dogs, not whether it’s meat.

      • Diane says 19 February 2013 at 14:04

        I had clients with two large dogs and they spent extra money feeding them organic food. The result was almost no vet visits, except required shots. They saved money in the end and that’s what counts.

    • Kristen says 19 February 2013 at 20:12

      I would ‘like’ this a billion times if I could. Garbage in, garbage out. A high quality food absolutely pays for itself in long term savings on health care, for people AND pets. Pets should be fed FOOD, not leftover, spoiled scraps unfit for human consumption. What the typical dog food manufacturers call ‘food’ is disgusting and certainly does NOT promote health.

  6. Elizabeth says 19 February 2013 at 05:25

    I don’t have any pets yet myself (lifestyle reasons), but my family has loved and said good-bye to three adorable pooches in my lifetime. One of the smartest things my parents did was plan for their future care. Like humans, pets need more medical care and medication as they age. Many people don’t anticipate the rise in pet spending as their pets get older.

    There’s a debate among my cat-loving friends as to whether cats should be kept indoor or allowed to roam free. (My current city doesn’t have a by-law against the latter.) A vet tech friend of mine says that outdoor cats are far more vulnerable to infections and injuries than indoor cats, so that’s something to consider when building a pet emergency fund.

  7. TC says 19 February 2013 at 05:27

    My vet offers a discount on paying for 12 months of flea & tick and heartworm preventative at once vs. a 3 month or 6 month supply. If you can swing the upfront cost it’s possible to save there.

    Also, ask your vet about preventative dental care!

  8. Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce says 19 February 2013 at 05:46

    Great post. Whatever you do…DO NOT buy pet insurance. Man, I had it and it was the biggest rip-off in the world. These tips are far more sound!

    • Cat says 19 February 2013 at 09:34

      I think everyone here is mostly talking about small animals, which I get, since I have 3 cats and I don’t have pet insurance..

      But no matter what it’s going to be expensive. Pets are a cost. So are children. Some people just choose to have them.

      I just wanted to say about the insurance though – is that my background, having gone to school for animal since/equine science/pre-veterinary medicine and having worked at an Equine vet, insurance is extremely useful in the case of large animals such as horses, or very high priced dogs etc. If you invest a lot of money in your animals and they are more than just “pets” then it is wise to have insurance, especially if that animal, for instance, cost you more than your house…

      But I guess that’s for a different post 🙂 Just a thought! Any kind of animal, large or small, will cost you something. I love my kitty cats soooo much and would pay out of pocket for anything they need.

    • Sweetums says 19 February 2013 at 12:25

      not necessarily. My sister paid $17/mo for insurance for her cat. Six months after she’d signed up for it, her cat was attacked by my dog, ending up with two broken legs. We didn’t know at the time that the cat had some severe issues affecting her ability to recover, so we opted to fix the legs instead of euthanizing her. Three months and several surgeries later, the total came to $17,000. The insurance company (trupanion) paid almost 90% of it.

    • Marie says 19 February 2013 at 21:16

      I have to say that I highly recommend pet insurance. I had two large dogs (one is now in doggie heaven) and as pet owners know, the larger the animal, the more expensive treatment is due to anesthesia requirements, medication, etc.

      My younger dog (a large, tall 87 pounder) was hit with bloat this past year; the reimbursement from this surgery alone more than paid for itself and in fact, I was reimbursed more than the amount of annual premiums I paid for the past four years.

      I would only recommend a wellness plan if you wouldn’t normally take in your pet on a regular basis for vaccinations, etc. I did an analysis on the one year I had it; I ended up saving only $9 so you would benefit just as much by putting the same amount away in the bank.

      Unfortunately, my pet insurer just switched underwriters and my premiums are going up significantly however, there will be more premiums and payout plans to choose from. I still would recommend purchasing it as it has really come in handy several times. You just can’t plan for insect stings, fights with wild animals, bloat, etc. It could mean the difference between life and death for your pet.

  9. Michelle says 19 February 2013 at 06:19

    I recently made a post about My Pets and Their Costs ( I also made a post on whether pet insurance was worth it and I do think we’re going to buy it soon (

    I think a lot of people need to realize how much pets costs! We recently took our dogs to the vet for kennel cough. Most people would say “oh they’ll just get over it,” but we had to think about how one of our dogs is a French Bulldog runt and therefore cannot be coughing at all since he already has an extremely difficult time breathing on a normal basic.

    I did shop around for the best price though. I called numerous vets (our normal vet closed early that day and didn’t open again for another 2 days, or I would have gone to him). I found that prices ranged significantly, anywhere from $30 to see him to $200.

  10. Cat says 19 February 2013 at 06:46

    Taking your animal to the vet will always be expensive, even with savings. I have 3 cats and I am reminded of that yearly, and on other occasions when they decide to fight with other animals and need emergency surgery….

    These are great tips though & as michelle said, there is also pet insurance.

    • Kristen says 19 February 2013 at 20:19

      … but a vet has to go to med school just like a human doctor, but learn about all sorts of different species, not just one (and species that can’t tell you where they hurt!)

      I love my vet. Finding a vet you can trust makes all the difference. And I don’t mind supporting her small business that helps my pooch be the healthiest, happiest pooch she can be.

  11. My Financial Independence Journey says 19 February 2013 at 07:09

    Vets can be a major rip off. But I love my kitties so I pay the money. I have gotten rather good at asking questions about whether something is needed, when it’s needed, what else can be done, etc. I also ask for discounts. I don’t usually get them, but I do ask.

    But as the cats get older, I’m sure that the vet bills will increase.

    My cats eat premium food. And are down to appropriate weights. And I’m down to an appropriate weight, so no more obesity in my household! Now if I could just get them to go to the gym with me….

  12. DPF says 19 February 2013 at 07:35

    I like animals, but this is a rare side benefits of having allergies – I’m not spending this kind of money!

    • Carla says 19 February 2013 at 09:13

      I agree. At times I feel like I’m missing out because of my allergies and small apartment (never had pets growing up) but when I read these posts I am strangely thankful I don’t have them now. Maybe a dog someday but not on this side of my life.

  13. Kris says 19 February 2013 at 07:36

    I think it’s important to do a little research on your own, too – the vet can’t possibly be expected to have every single answer to every single question – but he does need to be open to discussion and suggestions.

    Our big dog has severe hip problems, and we got him into a study for an anti-inflammatory drug that, truly, has been a miracle drug. My vet says that they don’t typically prescribe this particular drug for big dogs because it’s so expensive – $40 a week for our boy! I did a little research and found (a) that the same drug is prescribed for humans in tablet form, (b) at his weight, 1/2 to 1 tablet would be the proper dosage, and (c) the human medication is on my supermarket’s $4 list. So now, instead of $160 a month for canine meds (which, to be honest, I wouldn’t have been able to spend), I give my boy 1/2 a tablet a day, at a cost of $6 for 3 months.

    And I assume my vet has passed that information on to other canine patients, as well.

    • Mom of five says 19 February 2013 at 08:08

      Yes! Some vets are definitely better about letting you know of cheaper human equivalents than others, even within the same practice.

  14. nicoleandmaggie says 19 February 2013 at 07:51

    Switching vets helped us a lot. Our vet kept increasing prices over the years, and then finally we shopped around for another one who was just as good but didn’t cost so much. Bonus: shorter waits also, meaning that the kitties weren’t stress-baskets when they actually got to the vet which meant no going back to redo procedures that couldn’t get done because of kitty recalcitrance.

    Part of the problem was that our previous vet was a teaching hospital (teaching vet?) and one of our kitties has an interesting medical condition, so she got a lot of unnecessary tests that we had to pay for. But even just a regular check-up got to be overpriced.

    • Anne says 19 February 2013 at 10:14

      While all of our pets were definitely family members and extremely well loved, I did have one vet tried to guilt us into more and more expensive tests for possible cancer for our cat. She said if it was found we could then go on chemotherapy.

      So be prepared in your mind with your line in the sand, when enough is enough.

      After hundreds of dollars we did have that cat put down and I won’t be returning to that vet.

  15. Mom of five says 19 February 2013 at 08:05

    My biggest tip is to ask around for vet referrals. I have found two very inexpensive vets but it is difficult to get appointments with them, even in an emergency. Also, when I have gotten the appointments, I have found that I’m the one doing the work that is typically done by an office member (e.g. holding the hundred pound German Shepherd down for blood draws, etc.). These tasks can be made twice as hard if you’ve got a small child accompanying you.

    We have been very satisfied with our Banfield clinic (inside the local Petsmart). They’re a nice blend of excellent customer service (i.e. easy appointments, plenty of staff) and fair pricing. They’re not as cheap as two other vets in my area but access to quick appointments offsets the slightly higher prices. They’re much cheaper than the vets affiliated with UPenn Veterinary school.

  16. Laura in ATL says 19 February 2013 at 08:09

    I have two cats and agree on the comments about diet. Don’t spend your money on toys for your pet – instead spend it on their food! Buy good healthy balanced food and don’t over fed them and that is a big way to help reduce vet bills for problems down the road. Also, I find that people tend to really give their pets way too many treats. Seriously. 😉 I mean, I love my little knuckleheads, but they get a treat like once every two weeks. I have a friend who feeds his kitty an entire bag of those “Temptations” kitty treats a DAY. Opens it, splits it into three servings through the day and makes it part of his ‘meal.’ Goodness, such a pudgy boy!

  17. Chris Gammell says 19 February 2013 at 08:21

    We tried the pet insurance thing for a little while and ultimately it wasn’t worth it. I mean, is insurance ever worth it? Only when something goes very wrong.

    So since making the decision to cut that out, we’ve been self insuring by putting those premiums into an ING account. When you really look at all the things that the insurance doesn’t cover due to breed specific conditions, it starts to make human preexisting condition coverage problems look tame.

    On the daycare thing for our dogs, we’re down to one day per week and get a “deal” from prepaying for 6 months at a local place. It’s worth it for the exercise and socialization for the dog, but ultimately the exercise we do with them has the most benefit (for them and us).

  18. Erica says 19 February 2013 at 09:03

    I would also recommend getting a second opinion if you’re not sure about a test and your vet is insisting on it.

    My dog tested Lyme-positive before I adopted him, but was treated for it. My vet wanted to test his kidneys, could not find anything from the first test (because he was fine) and suggested more testing, although no one at that practice could agree on which test to give him. These people were giving me the run-around, so in desperation I took his results from the first test to a different vet who actually listened to me, and who suggested a more conservative approach (because he was fine).

    I’ve since switched to the new vet. Still extremely prejudiced against the old vet.

  19. Beth says 19 February 2013 at 09:06

    I never realized how expensive my pets were until I started tracking all of my expenses. Last year I spent almost $5k on my pets! That is not a type-o! I have 3 cats and 1 dog. I would be rich if I didn’t have my pets. But I would be poor in health, love and emotion if I didn’t have them. They’re worth every (gulp) penny.
    P.S. I’ve told my dog on many occassions that he has to get a job!

  20. Honey Smith says 19 February 2013 at 09:16

    Also: (1) spay or neuter your pet, they will be happier and less destructive, and won’t have expensive babies you have to raise, feed, and find homes for; (2) don’t let your pets outside unsupervised.

    I buy premium food (Blue Buffalo) for my cats because it is cheaper than the health problems caused by cheap food. They also eat less if and poop less if the food is high quality, saving you a little in both food and litter costs.

    I had a diabetic cat for about 5 years (and she was not overweight prior to her diagnosis, it was just bad luck). Talk about expensive! She was on Lantus, which cost like $100 per ounce (plus needles). And, it turns out, that even the dose for a highly diabetic kitty is such that the insulin expires before she could use it all, so we ended up throwing a lot away. But she was probably the sweetest animal we have ever owned.

  21. Zooey says 19 February 2013 at 09:26

    My experience has been that pet insurance can be well worth it. When I got a cat a couple of years ago, I intially planned to just open a savings account and sock away the amount that I’d otherwise have been paying into an insurance plan. I knew I had cash for initial health things (vaccinations, neutering, etc) and figured there was a good chance that I’d have time to build up an emergency fund before I needed it. However, at the last minute I reconsidered and got pet insurance. SO lucky that I did – my cat got a UTI in the first year I had him which could easily have been fatal, necessitating a trip to the emergency vet, surgery, and a bunch of meds and special food. It cost me over £500, and while I could have absorbed the cost I would have had to go into debt to do it. Having insurance really made it much less stressful than it might have been.

    My caveat is that you really need to research insurance deals. I pay a lot for my insurance, relative to the cheapest deals on the market, but when I looked at the small print it was the only insurer who would cover dental care, recurring conditions, etc. My insurance even subsidises the special diet food, which is substantially pricier than the regular food. I know a lot of people who’ve been stung by insurance policies that exclude practically everything, but there are some decent ones out there if you’re prepared to pay.

  22. Jennifer says 19 February 2013 at 09:58

    It’s always uncomfortable to talk money with the vet, but I’ve found if you go into your appointment asking how much things cost, they’re more likely to suggest cheaper treatment options than if you act like money is no object. I also recommend finding a vet in a less wealthy part of town. My dog still gets adequate care but I pay less because the vets and other employees are used to working with people on restricted budgets.

    And absolutely yes to better food! My advice is to buy the best food you can afford. I’ve always fed my kitties Iams (which is not the best, but certainly better than the really cheap stuff). I got my oldest in college and could not afford the really high-end stuff. At 12 and 9 years of age, both cats are still very healthy. I haven’t had to take either of them for the vet since they were fixed as kittens.

  23. Lacy @EarnVerse says 19 February 2013 at 10:18

    I don’t have pets myself (no room in a tiny NYC apartment), but I have several friends who do. They all have pet insurance. It is like medical insurance for us, but just for your pet. I am not sure how much it costs, and subsequently what the cost/benefit analysis would be, but it is worth looking into I think. Who knows, could save a decent amount of money on some of the givens like heart-worm treatment, etc..

  24. Matt says 19 February 2013 at 10:38

    We got a labradoodle almost 2 years ago now. We’ve known other labradoodles with the same parents that had no problems. We got ours, and she had a shoulder problem that required surgery when she was 6 months.

    Some things are unavoidable, no matter what food or exercise you give a dog. She’s the sweetest dog, and I would pay for the surgery all over again.

  25. Windy says 19 February 2013 at 14:46

    You’re all so nice to your pets. My mom’s rule of thumb growing up was, “if the treatment costs more than the euthanization, it’s curtains for the pet.”

    She was not (entirely) serious, but she was very pragmatic when it came to pet expenses.

    • Kristen says 19 February 2013 at 20:23

      That makes me sad. While I would never say people shouldn’t have a pet if they can’t afford extraordinary health care measures for them (there are so many pets euthanized for want of a good home, after all), I do think we owe our companions the best health care we can realistically afford.

  26. Laurel says 19 February 2013 at 15:01

    Our local cat rescue place won’t place a cat with you unless you sign something that says you’ll keep the cat inside.

    My way of saving $$ is to have a sister who’s a vet. She gives me the straight scoop on what’s going on as well as the different treatment options, and she makes house calls 🙂

    Another money saver has been getting joint lube (glucosamine/chondroitin) for the dogs OTC at WalMart.

  27. Spiffy Kitty Cat Grooming says 19 February 2013 at 15:39

    Remember that cats need to be groomed. The DO NOT groom themselves. Claw trims, ear cleaning, brushing… Medium and long-haired cats need to be combed/brushed frequently. Short-haired can be brushed once a week. If you can’t do it, you’ll need to hire a professional groomer. The best way to save money on grooming is to keep up with it. Brush and comb frequently. Learn to trim claws. It’s a nice way to bond with your cat.

  28. Tracey Sittig says 19 February 2013 at 18:34

    One of the MOST important things we can do: spay and neuter our pets. There can be the costs of difficult pregnancies and caring for/placing “unintended” puppies and kittens. (And now for this commercial message: Think of the millions of pets that are euthanized each year in our country due to lack of spaying/neutering AND the costs to our communities to deal with the problem!) And now back to our show: spaying and neutering dramatically reduce the risks of reproductive cancers for females and males of both species. The heartache and the costs of preventable cancer make it SO worth the expense of spay and neuter surgeries!

  29. Marcy says 19 February 2013 at 19:02

    I love my vet! She’s knowledgeable, compassionate, reasonable, and fair. She knows that no one has a money tree in the backyard.

  30. B says 19 February 2013 at 20:05

    Sam’s Club is now able to fill some pet prescriptions. I haven’t ever used them for pets, but it’s certainly worth checking out.

  31. ChezJulie says 19 February 2013 at 21:21

    Apparently you can purchase the larger vials of Advantage and split the solution yourself with a syringe if you are dosing more than one cat.

    Also, keeping the cat’s litter box clean can be vital to your cat’s health (especially with a male cat) and your wallet. Our male cat developed an expensive and life-threatening urinary blockage, and keeping the box clean and appealing helps prevent blockages.

    • ImJuniperNow says 20 February 2013 at 09:24

      My male cat suffered from urinary blockage to the point of having to have a sex change operation. The doctor said it was due to crystals in the bladder from dry food (“Eat dry and die”). He never mentioned the litter, but I use shredded newspaper anyway.

    • Laurel says 24 February 2013 at 19:01

      Yes- that’s what I do. I buy the box of doses for “large dog” and portion them out for my cat. It’s lots more medicine for not much more $$.

  32. Paul says 20 February 2013 at 08:54

    One way most people can save on pet medication costs is to have their medications filled at a local pharmacy. I am a pharmacy student/intern, and we fill everything from antidepressants to antibiotics for pets. It probably isn’t true with every vetrinarian, but many have a huge markup (1000%+) on common medications, so you’ll end up spending $40-60 for a course of antibiotics that many independent pharmacies would sell for $12-14. The easiest way to check would be to call and ask for a cash price, at worst your out a phone call, but the majority of the time you will likely save 50-75%.

  33. Stephanie says 20 February 2013 at 09:04

    I have an expansion about asking for alternatives. That is, say no. Our vet recommended expensive out-of-state testing for eyesight. If found blind, there was no treatment, even for partial blindness. We decided NO because the expensive tests would not result in better quality of life for our loved one.

  34. ImJuniperNow says 20 February 2013 at 09:22

    The best way to save on vet’s bills (and save for retirement) is to invest in veterinary hospitals.

    Several years ago I took my beloved cat to a real Animal Hospital for a cardiac evaluation.

    I say “real” animal hospital because this place was like Columbia Presbyterian in New York City.

    People in waiting rooms talking with surgical nurses about the status of their pet’s operation. An eye clinic. A transplant center. An oncology department. All that was missing was the Medivac heliport and the volunteer-staffed gift shop.

    Don’t get me wrong – the people were wonderful. Nicer than in most human doctor’s offices I’ve been treated in. The technology top rate.

    And the money the owners were willingly putting out was flowing.

    Would I do it again? Well, I got off cheap with just the exam (that told me what I already knew) but no, I would not. I know a lot of people would disagree.

  35. Jennifer Roberts says 20 February 2013 at 09:36

    I bought a clipper set and learned how to cut my Schnoodle’s fur myself. I also learned how to pluck his ears and trim his nails, and of course bathing at home is a no-brainer. I do prefer to bring him to a professional when I have the extra money, but it’s nice knowing that I can do it myself if I need to.

    After much research and consideration I did decide to purchase pet insurance. I didn’t want to face tough decisions if some catastrophic problem arose before we could save up a proper emergency fund. I’d rather not pay the monthly premiums, but then again I also have car insurance and homeowners insurance that I have never used.

    Other than that, it’s all about prevention. I feed my dog a premium kibble, never skip his heartworm meds and flea and tick preventative, and keep up with vaccines. Having witnessed the decline of the family dog when my parents decided they would no longer take him to the vet, it’s important to me to take good care of my own dog for as long as I have him!

  36. Torey says 20 February 2013 at 13:06

    I like the idea of shopping around for RX – the $30-$40 pill refills for my dog’s various ailments are the worst. I go to our regular vet for shots and more serious issues, but I also sometimes stop by a free mobile clinic that stops by the pet store near my house. The vet there is great at providing suggestions for things like an itchy pup belly (in that case, a $10 soothing shampoo) – saving us the vet fee!

  37. Jamie says 20 February 2013 at 16:21

    So, don’t tell my cat this, but last year she tested off-the-charts-awful numbers when I took her to the vet. I say not to tell her, because although the numbers say that she’s a zombie cat that probably died a few years ago, she has no idea– She’s perfectly healthy and playful and no one can believe she’s turning 16 soon.

    Our vet is awesome and explained to us the expensive, recommended treatments, and all the other options, too– Including nothing, if she hated the treatments.

    Guess what? She haaaaated the treatments. She hated the injections. She hated the prescription cat food. She hated the pills. We decided that we needed to just let her do what made her happy. We’d rather keep her happy and see a rapid decline in health, than to keep her alive and unhappy for additional years.

    And you know from the first line of this comment– Her health is not declining quickly; she acts and seems to feel as healthy as a horse-cat.

    The two things that I learned:

    1) In all the years (15!) that she got by on a mere $10/month in cat food, no litter (she’s nice enough to “go” in the yard), and minimal vet visits, if I had been putting aside a mere $10/month I WOULD HAVE SAVED $1800 FOR THESE LATER LIFE VET BILLS. Ouch. (I’m saving $20/month now, so… I’m doing better than the 15-year-old me that got her as a kitten.)

    2) THE MOST EXPENSIVE TREATMENT IS NOT NECESSARILY BEST FOR YOUR PET. I’m sure she would have died from pissed-offed-ness already if we had continue her treatments. Sometimes the best treatment is just allowing your cat to be happier and more comfortable– Even if it means a shorter life (At almost 16 years old, we’re treating her like an old grandma that’s basically allowed to do whatever she wants, short of eating poison.)

  38. Denise says 21 February 2013 at 08:37

    Why the hate towards your local veterinarian?We live in a country that provides quality, state of the art health care for humans. In most cases we never really see the true cost of the care, due to insurance. Since pet insurance is elective, and most people don’t elect to buy it, people are sticker shocked at the cost of veterinary care. Veterinarians are perceived as “rip off’s”.
    Online pharmacies for pet products are seen everywhere. Do you realize that your tax dollars are going out of state when you purchase from them? Most of the time you will be sold a knockoff product, in similar packaging and name, but not the same product found in the veterinary office. This knockoff product in most cases comes from overseas and it’s not regulated. A veterinarian works with actual representatives of the drug companies. Most vets will price match online pricing if you ask. If there is an issue,in most cases one phone call to a drug rep will get immediate satisfaction to the client.
    Regardless of what you perceive to be true, most veterinarians do not make money on perscriptions. Going to your local pharmacy for “generic” drugs runs huge risks as your local pharmacy may provide the same drug but the dosage may be completely different. Most pharmacy’s do not know the dosage and end up contacting the veterinarian!
    Pets are expensive. Hoping to save a buck on vet care by delaying annual pet care or minimizing it will in the end cost you more. Budget for it instead of asking the veterinarian to make payments for the services unless it is a emergency and costing over $1000.00. You have a responsibility to your pet and to your community to pay your bills. It isn’t fun but why is it the veterinarians responsibilty to float you a loan for your pets annual care?

  39. Ian says 21 February 2013 at 14:07

    I think just having a good relationship with your vet can save you some money. We just recently went through an ordeal with our cat and after some checkups the vet actually suggested that we wait before we do anything. She explained that the next step could get costly. Ended up saving us quite a bit of cash. Good relationships go a long way.

  40. Danielle says 21 February 2013 at 15:08

    I think there are some things in life that once you take them on, you have to be sure you can afford the inevitable costs–this is the biggest problem I see with people that buy houses–they don’t estimate the inevitable ongoing maintenance and repairs and the eventual capital improvements that must be made (furnace, roof, sidewalk, etc.) If you can’t afford that, you can’t afford the main cost. Same thing with pets. Inevitably, if you take care of your pets, they will live to be very old, and the expenses of geriatric care can be astronomical. In my case: cat #1 (actually, he’s the back up cat, but…) developed bladder stone which he hid very well by peeing all over the carpet in a basement room. By the time he started peeing on the living room carpet, he had to have emergency surgery. It was supposed to be 15 minutes, but he arrested on the table and 3 hours and 2 more back up vets=$3,600+ for the vet, $500 for a new rug for the living room, and $100 plus a weekend’s work getting the enzyme cleaner to clean the downstairs carpet.

    Cat #2–lymphoma in the stomach. Right in the midst of my divorce. Daughter just couldn’t take any more sadness, so we decided to treat–6 weeks once a week, then 2 weeks of every day. I don’t know which was worse, the time or the $7,000 it cost. However, two years later the cat is still going strong.

    Dog–Giant Schnauzer developed spinal arthritis & muscle wasting at 12 years old. Organs in perfect shape. $150 for help em up harness, $350 per month for pills, $3500 to remove a cancerous growth on leg, $2,000 in testing to discover all this, cortisone injection in my shoulder due to bursitis from hauling him up the stairs; 6 PT sessions for daughter for her shoulder pain after she took over so I could recover, $650 to put him down and have him cremated two years later when he finally became so old he couldn’t get up anymore.

    You never start out to spend $10,000 on an animal–it happens by littles, and you do it for love. From a financial standpoint, it’s crazy. However, not every decision in life can be measured by financial yardsticks.

    Self-insure by establishing a savings account when you get the pet, and add the numbers before you take out pet insurance, being sure you know what it will cover.

  41. Marie says 22 February 2013 at 08:09

    My pet insurance refused EVERY SINGLE claim I made when my cat got sick. They found a way to weasel out of everything. I argued with them for months before I finally cancelled the policy. It left such a bitter taste in my mouth. I will never bother with the lie of pet insurance again.

    • Danielle says 22 February 2013 at 11:51

      What brand was it?

  42. Dina says 06 March 2013 at 11:18

    This has been mentioned just once, but I want to put in a plug for keeping cats indoors. Our two 4-year-olds have been indoors only all their life (that may be the best way to do it; I imagine it’s hard to dial back), and they are the most social, friendly, playful, and happy cats we know. Everyone I know who lets their cat roam outside eventually deals with issues like injury from fights/encounters with other animals, car encounters, disappearance, and death. It may depend on the type of cat, and how many cats are in the household (ours definitely keep each other entertained), but claims that cats could not be happy living just indoors and don’t get enough exercise (ha!) are not universally true. And it’s so worth it to avoid all the outdoor risks.

  43. dani says 05 April 2014 at 08:02

    Vet bills are frigging expensive…is pet insurance worth it?…are there any pet insurance companies that give insurance for existing conditions?

  44. Kathleen says 27 December 2014 at 18:23

    Our local SPCA has discount days for vaccinations and neuter procedures. It’s a non-profit, so I plan (when we get a dog) to get the services done there and give a donation to go with the payment for services. That way, they get the money to cover the services rendered and I get a tax deduction for part of that money I give them.

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