Let's face it: The dreaded vet bill. It brings knots to our stomachs, marital arguments and a general all around uneasiness. But, we love our four-legged family members and when it all comes down to it, they are family. So here are 8 ways you can ease a bit of your anxiety and save on vet bills:
- Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle for your pet. This means that you should exercise your pet, mentally and physically AND keep their weight under control. Over weight dogs can lead to a myriad of health problems such as: diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure and various forms of Cancer. Keeping your dog healthy reduces the risk of treatments that add up to A LOT of money.
- Nutritional Supplements help promote a healthy immune system and are wise to use in moderation to maintain a healthy canine. BUT, you must use common sense. Do your research and find real foods that naturally include the vitamin, mineral, amino acid, fatty acid, ect... you are looking to supplement. If a real food is not found or convenient, look for a bottled supplement that does not have any harmful "inactive ingredients". Here is a helpful link on what to look for and avoid in supplements--> http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/supplements-for-your-dog-hidden-ingredients/ Talk to your Veterinarian/ Canine Nutritionist about what supplements are right for your dog and skip the rest, because you will be wasting your money on the promises of the fountain of youth.
- Keep up with your annual exams. Pets aged 1-6 should have a standard yearly physical exam once a year. Pets 7+ should have their yearly exam plus blood and urine tests. Regular check-ups keep the probability of "surprise" vet expenses at bay.
- Feed your dog premium food. Giving your dog high-quality food specifically for their breed and size will help eliminate vet visits due to vomiting, diarrhea and all around food allergies. Did you notice that I said "food" and not "pet food"? Ideally, a canine should be fed a real food diet, meaning minimal kibble. But sometimes, that doesn't bode well for the pocket book or convenience. Deciding on what to feed your canine can be complicated and tricky. If choosing a kibble (or canned food), you should look for a dog food that has multiple meats in the top three ingredients. Additionally, there should be less starchy foods and NO CORN OR SOY. Kibble should also be stored in the freezer in order to avoid the oils in the food from going rancid. We, at Bark City love "Honest Kitchen" (shameless solicitation) and offer it as our house kibble. It's convenient and is made from dehydrated, real, human-grade food and can be used in a multiple of ways. Another good resource when looking for a dog food is to look up brands on the Dog Food Advisor. They have been researching and rating dog foods for years. You can look up a specific brand and it will give you a breakdown of each ingredient. It's amazing and just what is needed to make a conscious consumer choice.
- Be honest with your vet about your finances: I know it's awkward to talk to your veterinarian about how much you can and can't afford. But by doing this, you will open up communication and maybe your vet will be able to find alternative solutions that best fit your financial budget.
- Ask for a written estimate before treatment: When you are at the vet, you should ask for a written estimate before your dog is treated. Once the statement is in front of you, go through it with your vet and have them validate why the treatment is (or isn't) necessary. This will give you more power in deciding what is financially feasible.
- Make sure you give your dog heartworm medication regularly.
- Set aside money from your paycheck for an "emergency account" in case something unexpected happens. It may also be wise to invest in a pet health insurance. Price shop for insurance plans that fit your needs as well as prescription medications.