Everyone, including doctors, agrees that the cost of medical care is high. Even medical care for our furry friends can be expensive at times. While every owner would like to get the best care for his pet at the lowest price, going to the “lowest bidder” for pet health care can be a mistake!
As an owner, you and you alone will have to decide whether low cost or high quality is more important. If you choose higher-quality care, there are still things you can do to lower the cost of health care and not sacrifice quality or service. Keep in mind that the average cost of health care for a 30-pound dog (excluding major illnesses) is about $300 per year. While studies show that the average pet owner is willing to spend approximately $550 per year on a pet, the following suggestions will help you cut that cost without sacrificing quality of care.
1- Have Your Dog Examined and Vaccinated at Least Annually.
Annual examinations and vaccinations are the least expensive way to prevent diseases that can easily cause severe illness and in some cases kill your pet. A dog can be fully protected against the major communicable diseases for under $100 a year. And where should you take your pet for these vaccinations ? As a role, it’s no more expensive (and in some cases it’s less expensive) to go to a full-service animal hospital than a low-cost vaccination clinic.
2- All Dogs Should Receive Heartworm Preventative Medication.
The cost for heartworm treatment is about $500; for a fraction of that cost you can prevent this deadly disease.
3- Practice Preventive Medicine.
Common sense tells us it’s cheaper to prevent something than fix it. Disease prevention costs little compared to the cost of treating a sick pet. Periodontal disease is the most common disease in pets. Regular dental cleanings will prevent more serious problems (abscesses, sinus infections, etc.). Since the incidence of expensive and serious diseases increases as our pets age, annual geriatric examinations and blood and urine tests for our older pets are needed to allow early disease detection.
4- Get Pet Health Insurance.
No pet should be euthanized because an owner can’t afford medical care. Pet health insurance is extremely inexpensive and allows owners the opportunity to have expensive procedures such as cancer chemotherapy performed when the alternative might be death for the pet.
5- Open a Savings Account for Your Pet.
You don’t want to pay for health insurance? Open a bank account for your pet instead. At $1 per day, funding this account for just five years will create a nest egg for “pet emergencies” of $1,825 (not including interest). If you think this idea sounds silly, consider this: the money in the account is more than most owners will ever need to spend for emergency care for their pets. When your pet dies at the ripe old age of 15-20 years old, close the account and spend the balance on yourself! If nothing else you are saving money for something; if your pet doesn’t need it you have a nice little nest egg to enjoy.
6- Ask Your Doctor about Ways to Cut Health Care Costs.
Many doctors offer money-saving programs while not cutting the quality of care. For example, some doctors offer referral incentive programs. For each new client you refer, both your friend and you save 10 percent on your next visits. This can allow you to save a little on every visit; the more new friends you refer, the more you save!
Other doctors offer multi-pet discounts: if you own two or more pets and have them vaccinated at the same time, your bill is discounted based on the number of pets.
Another cost-cutting idea we developed for our clients is a VIP, or Very Important Pet, program. Each time you visit, your total bill is recorded on a VIP card. When you fill up your card, you receive credit on your next visit for the average amount you spent on prior visits. This allows you substantial savings, yet you receive excellent medical care.
Some doctors offer monthly specials. For example, since February is Pet Dental Health Month, some hospitals offer a reduced price on teeth cleanings during that month. This allows you to save a little money on a much-needed service.
Saving money is important to everyone. Veterinary medicine can offer advanced diagnostic tests and treatments for many serious diseases; however, these can be expensive. Cutting costs of health care can be done without compromising care. Considering the suggestions in this chapter will allow you to offer your pet high-quality care at an affordable price.
Common sense tells us it’s cheaper to prevent something than fix it. Disease prevention costs little compared to the cost of treating a sick pet.
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