Having a trusted vet for your dog is an invaluable asset.

1*ahem* I said, "vet for your dog", not "dog for your vet"

While the care provided by vets is invaluable, their services certainly have a specific (and often costly) price tag. I think at one point or another we've all suffered from sticker-shock when settling our tab at the end of a vet visit.

2"Maybe I could get away with DIY vet-care," we might muse... 3But the undeniable truth is this - proper, professional veterinary care is essential to ensuring your pet lives a healthy life. (Unfortunately, no amount of veterinary care will make your pets find your jokes funny)

That said, vet bills, especially when you have multiple pets, still sting. But over the years I've been able to reframe veterinary costs in my mind to appreciate what I'm paying for, as well as encourage me to keep Eko and Penny as healthy as possible.

Here's what I mean-

First, I remember the familiar mantra, "pay now or pay later." It's easy to blow off the vet when your pup is healthy, but the longer you avoid the vet the higher the risk of your pet developing a serious, and unnoticed issue.

4Eko claims he's allergic to the vet's office, but that's not one of the issues I'm talking about

Same goes for keeping vaccinations and monthly tablets up to date. I've seen dogs with parvo, distemper, heartworm and canine influenza. It's absolutely heartbreaking. I may grimace at the bill, but it's a small price to pay for preventing these terrible illnesses.

5I distract Penny with treats to get her to the vet. That way I don't have to deal with the constant distraction of worrying she might catch a preventable illness

So, to avoid going to the vet, I make sure I go to the vet. Trust me, it makes sense! Also, I've learned the best way to avoid taking care of a sick dog is to take care of a healthy dog. A well fed, exercised and groomed pup is your wallet's best friend.

When he was younger, Eko used to get semi-regular ear infections. More than a few of which required a trip to the vet for prescription eardrops. I finally realized I should stop checking/cleaning his ears when they agitated him and start cleaning them regularly.

6Once I put Jacques Cousteau here on an ear-cleaning regime his infections (and vet visits) are down to zero 7Same goes for grooming. While trimming nails and brushing teeth I always spot-check the pups for any emerging issues. When I saw Eko developing some plaque I was able to beat it back and probably save myself thousands of dollars in expensive dental cleanings down the line 8Sure, all my poking and prodding can be met with grumbles and impatient looks, but the effort is well worth it

Because the more I take care of my healthy pups, the fewer times I need to visit (and pay!) the vet. And most importantly, the less time we spend at the vet...

9The more time we can spend doing what we love!

There's no way around many of the veterinary expenses over the lifetime of your pet, but there are plenty of ways to both reduce costs and improve the overall health of your pet at the same time. A great win-win scenario!

I'm interested to hear from others about ways you've managed and budgeted veterinary care for your pets. I'd especially like to hear from those who use pet-insurance to subsidize their costs. I looked into a few programs years ago for Eko, but the numbers never seemed to work out in my favor. Let me know!