No one was more surprised than I when my first granddog, Sir Boddington, nuzzled a place in my heart. I knew I was smitten the day I loaded up on toys, dog biscuits and other doggie delights. I blame it on “Boddie” that I so willingly became a member of the U.S. population who last year spent $38.4 billion on food, supplies, services such as grooming and boarding, and medical care for their 358 million pets.
So how can you afford to care for your furry friend—in sickness and in health? Make prevention maintenance your top priority as a pet owner and you’ll save later on.
Stick with the Basics
RESTRAIN THEM A fence or some other reasonable restraint is the best way to avoid big vet bills, says David T. Roen, D.V.M., board-certified veterinarian and owner of the Clarkston Veterinary Clinic in Clarkston, Washington. “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.”
CHOOSE THE RIGHT FOOD Dr. Roen advises pet owners to use name-brand pet food from the supermarket labeled “complete and balanced.” Or look for the nutritional adequacy statement, also known as the AAFCO statement (the Association of American Feed Control Officials). Stick with the same brand. Switching abruptly can cause health issues for some animals. And less is better, as slightly underweight pets have fewer health problems.
SPAY AND NEUTER Reproductive issues aside, spayed and neutered dogs have fewer health and behavioral problems.
Keep them Healthy
MAKE WELLNESS ROUTINE Some pet supply stores offer in-store clinics and special events. Humane societies and veterinary schools offer low-cost clinics where inoculations and wellness exams are administered by professionals. Keep good records of the inoculations and treatments your pet has.
GO FOR SECOND OPINIONS Even if it’s an emergency, if the estimate is for more than a few hundred dollars, get a second opinion. If the estimate is for $800 and you can only afford $400, speak up, says Dr. Roen. There may be less aggressive and cheaper alternative treatments.
SHOP AROUND FOR MEDICATIONS Ask your vet for prescription drug samples to get started. Then call around to retail pharmacies (many meds are the same for humans and animals) to compare prices. You also may find your pet’s prescription at an online pharmacy.
Contributed by Woman’s Day magazine
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