You love coming home to your furry friend at the end of a long day, but when your pet gets ill, it’s annual vaccination time, or you get your monthly doggy day care bill, you wish Fido was a little less expensive of a companion.
There are plenty of ways to keep your pet healthy and happy on a budget:
- Feed a high quality food. Just like humans, pets have better digestion when they eat a healthy diet. Better digestion means less poop, and less stomach upset. This doesn’t mean that you need to buy the most expensive food at the organic pet store, but ask your local store which foods have higher quality ingredients. Avoid meat by products, and fillers such as corn. Cats do best on a high protein diet unless your veterinarian recommends otherwise for a medical condition. Look into a high protein dry food and treat your cat with canned food occasionally, or only once a day if you currently feed mostly canned.
- Ask your veterinarian about 2-3 year vaccinations, and testing for blood titers.
Most yearly vaccines are proven to be just as effective given every 2-3 years, depending on the vaccine. For instance, most vets offer a 2-3 year rabies vaccine. If you often board your pet, or send your dog to day care, ask about a longer acting Bordetella/ Kennel Cough vaccine. The Bordetella vaccine is often required for doggie day care, and if you can get this only every other year it may save you hundreds of dollars. Many veterinarians are also now doing blood titer testing, which means rather than automatically vaccinating your pet each year; they first test the level of protection still in your pets’ blood stream. If the level is high enough, you can forego the costly vaccine for another year. Typically this blood test is less expensive than the vaccines.
- Shop around for a less expensive veterinarian. If your neighborhood vet is on the pricey side, call around for prices on annual exams, vaccines, dental cleanings, etc. The short drive, or cab ride could be worth it. Go the vet around the corner for the more urgent visits when going a longer distance isn’t practical. Also, remember the large animal shelters such as ASPCA, Humane Societies, and Bidawee have large, state of the art animal hospitals that are often less expensive than the veterinary clinic on your corner.
- Consider getting pet insurance. Although this is another monthly expense, pet insurance has come a long way in the past 20 years. It covers accidents, illnesses, and some cover congenital and hereditary conditions. When your pet gets sick, or suffers an injury, it can reimburse you up to 90% of your total veterinary costs, when on average tend to be $600-800 depending on your area. When these incidents happen, it will prove how valuable that small monthly cost really is. Research which is best for you at PetInsuranceReview.com, an unbiased review site of all pet insurance providers.
- Cancel doggie day care, and hire a dog walker 2-3 times a week. Pet day care is a huge trend right now, and although your dog loves going, and you love him/her not being home alone all day, consider if the cost is worth it. Hiring a dog walker, or pet sitter to come to your home can save money, and still get your dog the attention, and potty break he/she needs. There are very reputable companies out there who do background checks, and are insured, to help you in finding a person you can trust. Care.com, and SitterCity.com are nationwide services that connect you with a pet sitter/walker in your area. You can also look up services through the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters at PetSitters.org.
- Splurge on the dental cleaning your veterinarian keeps recommending.One of the largest reasons for pets becoming ill is from poor dental health. When your pet gets gum disease, it can cause a plethora of other health problems. So consider budgeting for the teeth cleaning to avoid other health issues later.
- Lastly, don’t wait to take you pet to the vet. If your dog, or cat shows signs of illness: lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, feels hot to the touch and you suspect a fever, don’t wait a week or two to take them in. The sooner you catch a health problem, the less expensive it will be to treat.