8 Ways to Lower Your Vet Bills

Taking your dog or cat to the vet can cause a big hit to your bank account, and if your pet has a medical emergency, you can easily expect to spend more than $500. This can take a toll on any family's finances, which is why we've found some easy ways to save money at the vet, without compromising your pet's health.

1. Take advantage of preventive care

If your vet suggests preventive care services, such as heartworm prevention medication for example, consider how much you'll save with this affordable service, as opposed to what you would spend treating heartworm disease.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, grooming, proper food portions, teeth brushing, and overall care. Severe dental issues can cost more than $1,000 to treat, so it's a preventive measure that shouldn't be skipped.

2. Prevent parasites

Get your animal on a flea and tick prevention program to keep fleas, ticks, lice, and worms at bay. These typically come in the form of a monthly pill, and many of these provide protection against several parasites at once. Along with saving you money on future treatments, this will also keep your pet healthy, happy, and comfortable.

3. Take advantage of free exams

Some veterinary offices or hospitals offer discounts or even free exams, to encourage owners to bring their pets in to treat for issues before they become hard to treat. Make inquiries with your local veterinary offices to see what they offer.

4. Compare prices

Compare service and prescription prices in your area before committing to one veterinary practice. Use online rating sites like Yelp to find a highly-reviewed vet that won't break the bank. Inquire about whether the office offers new pet or wellness care packages that can bundle exams and vaccines at a discount. (See also: 5 Unexpected Dog Costs You Should Prepare for Now)

5. Keep your pet's weight in check

According to The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, about 59 percent of cats and 54 percent of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Excess weight can lead to a host of health problems for animals. Keep your pet fit and active for a healthier lifestyle and fewer vet visits. Also, be aware of the ingredients in your pet's food. If you're trying to cut out processed food from your own diet, you should do the same for them. Look for food that promotes overall health for your pet's breed and dietary needs, and do not overfeed them.

And just because they adorably dance for treats doesn't mean you should keep handing them out!

6. Ask about financing

Many veterinary offices will offer financing, payment plans, or even discounts if you are upfront with them about any financial hardships you're facing. They might also work with a credit lender (like CareCredit), which allows you to pay the fees over the course of several months with no interest, upon credit approval. You can also look into private veterinary discount plans like PetAssure.

7. Get pet insurance immediately

Pet health insurance can save you a huge amount of money if your pet has costly medical expenses in the future. Keep in mind that pre-existing conditions and inherited disorders will not be covered, so it's important to get pet insurance as early as possible. Many policies will also limit coverage to one treatment per illness, so do your research to determine if it's right for you. (See also: Is Pet Health Insurance Worth It?)

8. Request an estimate before services are rendered

A written estimate will let you know how much you can expect to spend. Don't feel shy about saying "no" to a service or asking for a detailed explanation of the recommended services. If you think that a service is unnecessary or too expensive, visit another vet with your estimate in hand.

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8 Ways to Lower Your Vet Bills

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