Many Americans own one or more pets. But caring for a pet, of any size, is not cheap. In just a moment, we’ll share a number of tips for fighting back against the high costs often associated with caring for your pet.
The best savings tip here is, if you genuinely don’t love animals a great deal, don’t get one as a pet! Dogs are high maintenance and expensive to take proper care of, as are many other animals.
If you are an animal person, consider that many breeds of dogs do make excellent home guardians. If not as an actual line of defense against a home invasion, certainly as an early warning system that could buy you precious seconds to collect your wits and position yourself defensively.
Of course, as most pet owners realize (possibly with a bit of resentment), veterinarians really do have a NICE business going for themselves – and at higher and higher prices.
Inflation Affects Pets
and Their Owners, Too
“Prices have gone up much quicker in the last 10 years than in the past 30 years, and it’s hitting consumers in the face,” says René Carlson, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Routine doctor and surgical visits for dogs jumped 47%, cats 74% from a decade ago, according to the American Pet Products Association.
Rising liability for vets has translated into more X-rays, more blood work and other tests, just to cover their bases – in other words, more cost for standard routine care, according to Carlson.
Owners are opting for more advanced care such as ophthalmology, MRIs, CAT scans, and cancer treatment like chemo and radiation.
Insurance claims costing more than $1,000 at Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI) soared 64% from four years earlier.
Petplan insurance claims the average annual payout per pet for cancer therapy rose 14% last year.
Even increased tuition and student loans for veterinarian school are padding the rising costs, according to a special report in Time magazine.
Fortunately, you have many options to fight back and protect your buying power.
Saving Money on Pets with Special Coupons
For basic pet supplies, food, and even grooming, you can look for pet-related coupons online.
Start by searching “pet coupons.” To get more specific add the name brand (i.e. Purina) or the name of the store (i.e. Petco) to your search and the latest deals should pop up.
Grooming your pet is important and using a professional groomer can help maintain your pet’s health and well-being; however, frequent visits can add up quickly. To cut costs, you should brush your pet regularly, have your dog get a shorter hair cut to minimize trips to the groomer, and learn how to properly trim your pet’s nails safely on your own.
Save on Veterinary Care
Even with the quickly rising costs, it’s important not to cut corners with your pet’s health. You don’t want them to develop diseases or infections that become even more costly to take care of later. As with your own health, prevention and staying healthy saves a ton of money in the long-term.
Shop around and find a good vet at a reasonable cost.
Comparison shop among reliable pet pharmacies on the Internet. Be certain to look through any company’s website carefully before you order. Your neighborhood pharmacy may have what you’re looking for, but make sure to double check with your vet first.
For very expensive procedures such as surgeries, get a second opinion. The second visit will cost extra, but it may be worth the investment.
Negotiate the prices with your vet. Asking won’t hurt and you may be pleasantly surprised.
Consumer Reports suggests checking prices for shots and spay/neuter services at a humane society or SPCA. Sometimes they even offer free or low-cost services to low-income and senior-citizen pet owners.
For minor problems, or when problems first appear, searching for answers on pet websites like AskMyVet.net or TerrificPets.com could set your mind at ease and save you from an extra trip to the vet. You could also try calling your vet and speak to a vet technician to get a clearer indication if an emergency trip is necessary or not.
Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?
Consumer Reports compared nine different pet insurance policies on the lifetime vet bills for a 10-year-old beagle. It found that insurance coverage would not work out financially for routine visits over the time frame used.
However, if you factored in severe or costly services such as chronic arthritis or the removal of a benign tumor, a few of the policies had a positive payout.
Here’s the bottom line, if you tend to get emotionally attached to pets, and you could see yourself springing for a $20,000 kidney transplant out of your own pocket if the situation arose, then it may well make sense to insulate yourself now by getting a pet insurance policy.
Pet insurance isn’t cheap, but it may also make sense if it will give you peace of mind. And it may be a better investment if you have a pet known to develop certain medical conditions. For instance, certain breeds of dogs develop hip problems easily.
Consumer Reports offers these suggestions if you decide to buy insurance coverage for your pet:
Review a sample policy and get familiar with the terms and conditions, limitations, pre-existing condition exclusions, and what you’re responsible for regarding deductible and co-pays.
Wellness care riders aren’t generally worth the added cost.
Choose the highest deductible for a catastrophic type plan.
What many pet owners do if they choose not to purchase insurance… create an emergency savings fund for their pets.
Save Money on Food Costs
and Still Feed Your Pet Well
Reducing your pet’s ongoing food bill can save a small fortune over time. But you want to be careful not to cut the wrong corners and affect your pet’s nutrition and health.
Feeding your cat or dog poor quality food could result in diabetes, cancer, and kidney problems (much like with their owners).
Some proponents to pet nutrition believe buying meat in bulk from the local store and preparing it for their dog or cat can be healthier and cheaper than feeding canned food or dry food. You can search online for many methods to prepare homemade food for your cat or dog.
For other pets such as rabbits, birds, and others, consider buying bulk food from a feed store, online, or big box store such as Wal-Mart.
Cutting Boarding Costs…
If you have travel plans and need to leave your pet behind, boarding can add a large expense to your travel plans. Here are some ideas to cut boarding costs:
Ask a friend or neighbor to care for your pet.
Hire someone like a sitter or dog walker to drop in on your pet and care of it.
Look for special promotions on petching.com or coupaw.com. Be aware that their deals change frequently so finding the deal you need, when you need it, may not be easy but it is worth a shot.
Finally, if you need to board your pet, negotiate a better deal or practice your bartering skills. Just by asking, it might work out in your favor.
Are There Medical Benefits to Pets?
If you’ve ever seen how dogs and other animals are received during visits to many nursing home communities, it’s easy to accept the growing body of medical research which strongly suggests that pets can have a positive medical influence on their owners.
Prior research shows that having a pet helps lower high blood pressure, prevent heart disease, and combat depression. Elderly Medicare patients who live with pets had fewer medical visits than similar patients without.
A new study from the American Psychology Association, now shows that pets “serve as important sources of social and emotional support for ‘everyday people,’” as reported in Science Daily.
Lead researcher Allen R. McConnell comments, “Specifically, pet owners had greater self-esteem, were more physically fit, tended to be less lonely, were more conscientious, were more extraverted, tended to be less fearful and tended to be less preoccupied than non-owners.”
These sound like vital assets for self-reliance and preparedness. Not to mention, owning a pet, even a small one like a fish, can help the young people in your life learn responsibility, discipline, and prepare for life events (in a somewhat controlled environment) such as illness, birth, and death.