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Mailbag Monday: Cutting the Cost of Pet Care

Dinner Time!!!Vet costs are rising as rapidly as human health care, and it’s difficult to manage a yearly check up now, along with effective topical flea/tick medications (those NEVER seem to be discounted), heartworm medication, good quality food, and then the little and big extras you like to give to your furry friend. I haven’t found most pet insurance to be good value, either. How can I save?

– Deanna
I know the feeling — as many of you know, I have a cockapoo, Teddy. He’s cute but expensive! Here’s the deal on pet insurance: it tends to be a good value if you a) purchase it when your pet is young and b) tend to be the kind of person who would go to any financial extreme — raid your savings, max out your credit cards — to provide care for your pet.

Otherwise, it is generally not worth it. But there are ways to minimize these day-to-day costs. A few tips: Amazon’s subscribe and save service, which allows you to purchase an item and then receive it on a set schedule, like every month, can shave a few dollars off the cost of pet food and treats, provided you buy it on a regular schedule and choose a kind that qualifies for their free shipping. I’ve found that topical flea, tick and heartworm medications are often much cheaper online than they are through your vet, so it’s worth shopping around. You can get a prescription and price quote from your vet, then do some work on the web to see if you can do better. And local charities — like the Humane Society — often offer discounted rabies shot clinics a few times a year.

For other supplies, like collars, leashes, bowls and dog houses, check Craigslist to see if someone in your area might be selling. Yard sales (particularly this time of year) are also a good source for used pet items on the cheap.

Finally, understand that it’s okay to negotiate with your vet, or tell him that you’re going to call around to see if a medical procedure might be cheaper elsewhere. He or she may be willing to work with you.

P.S. For a few more tips, check out this segment on the Today show from several weeks ago — we talked about lots of ways to cut the cost of common pet expenses.



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