The cost of veterinary care for pets is increasing annually, even for routine services. In a struggling economy, minimizing veterinary expenses while providing the best care for a pet can be a challenge. Some preventive measures and at-home care can keep expenses low, without compromising a pet’s health care.
- Feed a High-quality Diet
It is often said that diet is the cornerstone of good health. This saying holds true for pets, too. High-quality foods may be slightly more expensive, but because they usually have fewer fillers, pets need less food per meal. The better the diet, generally speaking, the healthier the pet and thus the less veterinary care they need.
- Keep Teeth Clean
Dental care is extremely important for pets. Tartar is a common problem and can lead to gingivitis or tooth decay; these conditions may result in the need for expensive veterinary dental work. In addition to keeping the teeth clean and the breath fresh, oral health also has an impact on overall health. Unhealthy teeth and gums can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream, which may lead to conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, or bacterial pneumonia.
- Establish a Regular Grooming Schedule
Regular grooming helps keep a pet in top condition, and it can also alert owners to potential health problems before they become serious. A weekly or bi-weekly grooming session allows owners to perform a hands-on examination of their pet, checking for scrapes or cuts, lumps and bumps, and potential allergies or infections of the eyes, ears, and feet. The grooming session should include brushing or combing (as appropriate for the coat), cleaning the ears and teeth, and trimming the nails. Many pets dislike having their nails trimmed, but allowing nails to grow too long can cause damage to the feet and toes. A nail grinder may be more acceptable to your pets, and may decrease the stress and struggle at nail trimming time.
- Learn About Pet Health
A basic understanding of pet health issues will often save on vet fees. Knowing which conditions are generally mild and transient, which are more serious, and how to tell the difference, can prevent unnecessary trips to the veterinarian. Safe home remedies may address the problem, without the need to purchase expensive prescription drugs. This does not mean a seriously ill pet should not see a veterinarian, of course, and if even mild symptoms don’t improve within a couple of days a veterinary consult is in order.
- Consider Pet Insurance
Pet insurance can provide significant savings on pet care expenses, by reimbursing 60-100% of covered services after the deductible. With costs for common illnesses and emergencies often in the thousands of dollars, pet insurance can more than pay for itself the first time it is needed. Different companies have different levels of coverage, so compare pet insurance plans to ensure the plan fits the potential needs of the pet owner. One plan, PetFirst Healthcare, provides additional coverage such as boarding fees if the owner is hospitalized, advertising and rewards if the pet is lost or runs away, reimbursement for unrecovered pets, trip cancellation fees, and burial or cremation.
Keeping pets healthy and keeping a full wallet can sometimes seem like contradictory goals, but owners can take a few simple steps to minimize veterinary expenses. Awareness of common health issues and an individual pet’s health status means mild problems are treated at home and potentially serious problems are noticed earlier. Good diets promote good health and reduce the need for veterinary care, and an insurance plan can minimize the impact of serious illnesses or emergencies. Taking a proactive approach to pet health can result in lower veterinary costs, while keeping pets in their best possible health.