If the cost of pet healthcare has your head swirling—you are not alone. Since Covid lockdowns, veterinary Medicine has become both hard to find and VERY expensive. As many struggle to cut costs during this time of recession, here are some ways you may not have thought of to save money on your Labrador’s healthcare costs.
Make preventative maintenance your top priority as a pet owner, just as many Americans don’t wait until they get sick for the doctor to fix them—we should PREVENT sickness in our animals in the first place—not just because of the expense—but to do right by them, so they live a high quality of life.
Search for free initial exams. Some veterinarians often advertise a complimentary initial examination as part of marketing to attract new customers. Take advantage of this! It may cost $40-$60 if you pay for this yourself.
MOBILE, LOW-COST CLINICS
Search for “low-cost animal clinic near me” to learn if you have a local clinic or mobile clinic that can save you on preventative services such as vaccinations, microchips, and heart and flea/tick preventatives. Search for your local AKC regional dog club for low-cost health clinics they sponsor at a fraction of the cost.
Dr. David T. Roen, board-certified veterinarian and founder of the Clarkston Veterinary Clinic in Clarkston, WA says, “I see more dogs in my office because of injuries sustained while unrestrained than for any other reason. Dogs should always be leashed, fenced, or supervised.” If you tend to have a little “vacuum cleaner” of a puppy or dog, secure them in a safe room or good-sized crate or fenced area while you are not able to supervise them.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT FOOD
Look for AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) and feeding trials. Buy food in bulk to save on shipping (for instance, a flat shipping for whatever quantity you buy). So, take advantage of quantity discounts. Remember, just as with humans and their daily diet, an ounce of prevention can prevent a pound of cure” is the way to look at it. Remember, you can ‘cheap’ it on the food, but you’ll pay in the end with numerous vet bills, medications, and just plain annoyance at annoying, unnecessary issues like shedding, bad breath, runny stool, greasy coat, or smelly dog. Not to mention, being sure the food is actually REAL, canine-friendly food/ingredients. Dogs were not supposed to eat beans and soy. Real meat and bio-available fruits and veggies is what you want to look for. Also, cut out store-bought treats like Milk-Bone–these are empty calories and carbs that will cause allergies and other issues (VET BILLS!) Look for ones that also serve as a nutritional supplement-again, exercising preventative healthcare for your Lab.
GET 2ND OPINIONS
Trust me on this—I have to shop around a lot, but it can save me up to 50% to drive just a bit further or use a vet I’ve not used before. If the estimate for treatment is very high, be sure to speak up and ask for less aggressive and cheaper alternative treatments. But as stated above, your best bet is preventing issues in the first place.
SHOP AROUND FOR MEDICATIONS
Vet clinics always charge more for meds and supplements. Be sure to let them know you do not want them to automatically dispense your pet’s medication, but that you would like to price-shop them. You can also ask for samples to get started. Pharmacies such as Walmart and Costco can help you compare prices—as well as check online.
SEARCH FOR BARGAINS
Yard Sales, Facebook Marketplace, and the like, are great places to find a new crate, pet equipment, toys, and other gently used gear. Make sure you sanitize anything you buy with bleach or in the laundry. Even a friend may have something you need and they may be willing to give it to you or let you borrow it.
CREATE A SAVINGS ACCOUNT IF YOU DON’T HAVE PET INSURANCE
While we strongly encourage and require our clients to have pet insurance, if you do not, you should seriously establish a savings account just for pet care. Put in $10 a week, which will turn into $520 in a year! Congratulate yourself for being a responsible pet owner. WOOF!!!