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Understanding how to save money on vet bills can make the difference between saving or losing your dog.
This sounds drastic, but unfortunately it’s a realistic scenario. Vets are expensive. And depending on the reason why your dog needs treatment, that can be a huge financial burden.
Luckily, there are some things you can do that will significantly lighten the burden. And you’ll probably be surprised how easy some of them are.
So, in this article you’ll get 9 tips to save money on vet bills.
How to Save Money on Vet Bills
It’s the moment every pet owner dreads. Your dog is sick and needs to go to the vet. The stress can be a lot to handle—not only are you worried about your sick dog, but you’re also worried about how much it’s going to cost.
The good news is that when it comes to vet bills, there are ways to save money. Here are 9 ways you can keep the costs of the vet down.
1. Get Pet Insurance
Pet insurance is something you absolutely should consider when you get a dog. It’s important to be proactive as a pet owner and to make sure you have plans in place in case you need to bring your dog to the vet.
Pet insurance is the best way to do that.
It’s important to note, however, that most pet insurance plans won’t cover pre-existing conditions. Or if they do, the premium will likely be higher. That means that if you’re thinking about getting pet insurance, you need to do it sooner rather than later.
What are some of the best pet insurance plans out there, and what do they offer? Let’s take a look at some of them.
The first one we’ll discuss is Embrace.
If you use Embrace as your preferred pet insurance company, you’ll get up to 90% of your vet costs reimbursed.
Whether you need treatments for cancer, chronic conditions, accidents or pretty much any other medical issue with your pup, Embrace can help you!
All of this makes Embrace a great option for pet owners. Click here to find out more.
Another good option is PetPlan. They’ll help with the costs of treatments for illnesses like cancer, as well as surgery and post-surgery rehabilitation.
What’s great about PetPlan is that it’s easy to work with them. If your dog gets sick and needs treatment, you only have to get your dog the medical help he needs, and then file your claim with PetPlan. They’ll be able to reimburse you for up to 90% of your vet costs.
Healthypaws is another pet insurance company and offers emergency coverage and specialty medical care. They also have no caps on payouts and can cover almost any illness or condition that isn’t pre-existing.
They cover traditional treatment methods, as well as holistic treatment methods if that’s the direction you prefer to go in.
Finally, we have Trupanion. Lots of purebreds end up with breed-specific medical issues, which Trupanion can help cover the costs of. They’re a great pet insurance company to go with because they’ll help you and your pup even if your vet can’t give you an official diagnosis. They also have a special “Pet Owner Assistance Package,” which could help you in a variety of situations.
For more information on pet insurance, or if you’re having trouble deciding if pet insurance is really worth it, check out my article about pet insurance for dogs.
2. Alternative: Install an Emergency Savings Account
You can do this either on its own or in combination with your pet insurance.
If you feel that pet insurance isn’t the right choice for you, an emergency savings account is the right way to go. This is an account you’ll set up with your bank, and that you’ll only use in the case of an emergency with your pup.
It’s a good idea to set up your emergency savings plan even before you get your dog. Since dogs can get sick at any time, it’s good to have some money saved just in case something happens. Having $1,000 to $2,000 in there is a good starting point.
Having an emergency savings account can also help you save money on vet bills. That’s because paying in cash is much cheaper than having to pay off credit card debt over a long period of time.
3. Focus on Preventative Care
One of the best ways to save money on vet bills is to avoid needing to go to the vet entirely.
While in some cases the vet is unavoidable, and you’ll probably have to go at least a few times in your dog’s life, preventative care is still important.
Preventative care involves making sure your dog gets enough exercise, that he’s on a healthy diet, you’re brushing his teeth, and that your dog is spayed or neutered.
It’s also very important to make sure your dog is up to date on his vaccines. On the topic of vaccines, however…
4. Only Renew Vaccines When Really Necessary
While there are still many vets who insist on yearly vaccinations, there has been research that demonstrates that most vaccines need only be given every 3-5 years.
The current recommendation of the WSAVA, a global veterinary association, is to renew them every 3 years.
The topic of vaccination schedules is highly debated in the veterinary world. As it stands now, most research agrees that yearly vaccinations are unnecessary. For more information about the science, check out this article!
5. Get Different Opinions
If you visit your vet and they insist your dog needs an expensive treatment, but you’re not so sure, getting a second opinion never hurts.
Many people prefer to get several opinions from different vets before they decide on a treatment plan for their dog. Even if you have a diagnosis, you might find that different vets have different opinions on treatment options.
So don’t feel shy about seeking out second, or even third opinions.
6. Negotiate a Payment Plan with Your Vet
The nice thing about vets is that most of them understand how expensive it is to care for a dog.
They also really want your dog to be healthy and happy. Many vet clinics will be willing to work out a payment plan with you. This way, you get the treatment your dog needs, but don’t have to pay it all right away.
It’s technically not a way to save money on vet bills but it can definitely be a huge help.
7. Use a Teaching Hospital
Even though a teaching hospital might not be able to provide you with the most personalized experience, they’re an amazing option when it comes to vet care. You’ll be working with students who have access to the latest research, unlike many regular vets.
Since a teaching hospital is more focused on research and training than making a profit, you’ll likely find the costs significantly cheaper.
Here are some impressions:
8. Ask for Written Prescriptions
If your dog gets prescribed a medication, you can ask your vet for a written prescription and shop around before filling it. This way, you can find pharmacies that can give you the medication for less money.
9. Feed Your Dog the Right Amount of the Right Kind of Food
Your dog’s diet is super important! Making sure that he has the right diet, and that he’s getting the right amount of food will help keep his health in check.
The best and probably easiest way to do that is to subscribe to a fresh pet meal service such as Nom Nom.
Nom Nom is a fresh dog meal subscription that makes high-quality food for your pet. They actually started the company because one of the founder’s dog had severe health issues. After getting the right kind of food, he became healthy again!
This is why they brought a vet on board to make sure their food is the best for your dog’s well-being that it can be.
Check them out, and know you’ll be feeding your dog real food that’s good for him! (their motto is: “don’t feed them anything you wouldn’t eat.”)
Click here to get 50% off your first order!
Related questions to saving money on vet bills
Now, I’m sure you’ve still got a few questions when it comes to vet bills and general cost for dogs.
So, here are some answers to a few related questions.
What Happens if You Can’t Afford a Vet?
While most vets will work with their patients to keep vet care affordable, sometimes things are out of our hands.
If you can’t afford vet care and don’t have pet insurance, there are still options. You can look into something like CareCredit, which is a credit card specifically for vet bills. It’s important to remember that with this option, however, interest rates can be extremely high.
You might also want to consider looking into charity organizations that help with vet bills or asking friends or family for personal loans.
I’ve got another article about how to pay vet bills, even in emergencies. Make sure to check it out to get even more information on this topic.
How Can I Save Money on My Pets in General?
While owning a dog can be expensive, there are ways to cut back on the costs.
Grooming at home is one way, as is making your own dog’s toys. Remember also that preventative care is the best way to save money on future health issues your dog might run into.If you’re wondering how much a dog might cost you over his lifetime, have a look at my other article about the lifetime cost of a dog.
What Is the Average Lifetime Cost of a Dog?
While it’s hard to say exactly what your dog is going to cost you over the course of his life, you can expect to be paying over $25,000 on your pup.
Many factors play into how much he’ll cost you, so for more information check out this article talking about the lifetime cost of a dog.
Dogs make such amazing family members and companions. But they can also be expensive, especially when they get sick. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place in case that happens—because most likely, at some point, it will happen.
Preventative care is the best bet when it comes to saving money, but sometimes things happen that are out of our control. In these cases, it’s important to be set up with pet insurance, or with an emergency savings plan.
There are also other ways to keep vet costs down. Getting the opinions of different vets, only updating your vaccines when it’s necessary, and going to teaching hospitals are all great ways to avoid expensive pet bills.
So make sure you have a plan in place in case your dog gets sick. And in the event that you need to pay more than you expected, know that there are other options to help you and your dog.