Save money on veterinary care without sacrificing quality

As I prepare to welcome a 9-week-old labradoodle named Benny into my home and become a first-time dog owner, I am well aware that my life is about to undergo some big changes. After a lifetime of being the king of my castle, I will be sharing my house, my affection, and a portion of my paycheck with him.

Now, I already know that every dollar I spend on Benny’s health and well-being will be returned tenfold by his companionship. But, like many pet owners, I am not independently wealthy, and I am interested in controlling veterinary costs so that my budget stretches further.

My recent Internet search turned up hundreds of articles discussing tips to save money on veterinary care. Unfortunately, many of the tips were borderline irresponsible because they promoted cost savings over high-quality veterinary care.

Because I work with the great people at the American Animal Hospital Association and have learned much about the highest standards of veterinary care, I decided to offer my own thoughts on how I plan to save money on veterinary care while still positioning Benny for a long and healthy life.

Prevent pudgy pup syndrome with a proper diet
I cringe whenever I see an obese dog shuffling around because I am aware of the health problems that he has or likely will develop in the future. If Benny grows into one of these overweight dogs, he will be at much higher risk for wallet-draining issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, and osteoarthritis. Since I don’t want a pudgy puppy, I plan on keeping Benny fit and trim through a healthy, veterinarian-recommended diet. And whenever Benny hits me with his puppy-dog eyes and asks for just one more treat, I will remind him that a good diet should keep him feeling spry for years to come.

Don’t skimp on the exercise
Getting Benny plenty of exercise goes hand in hand with optimizing his diet—they both work together to keep him at an ideal weight. I will engage him in daily exercise to ensure that he doesn’t become a canine couch potato, which will also reduce the chances of him getting restless and chewing on my furniture.

Delay decay in Benny’s teeth
Letting Benny’s teeth get caked with plaque and tartar can lead to costly dental procedures, as well as contribute to health problems such as heart failure and kidney disease. I will protect his dental health by brushing his teeth regularly and taking him to the veterinarian for regular dental examinations. With proper dental care, Benny will still enjoy chewing on his toys when he is a canine senior citizen.

Protect my dog against parasites
Little does Benny know, there are swarms of microscopic organisms wanting to invade his body. Heartworms, ticks, fleas, and roundworms are just a few of these destructive creatures looking to hitch a ride with Benny. I will help him to avoid future infestations and infections by keeping current with his vaccinations and ensuring he never misses a dose of heartworm or flea and tick preventive.

Take a closer look at pet insurance
If my dog ends up needing an expensive surgery or treatment for a serious illness, having a solid pet insurance plan could protect against going into debt or having to make an extremely difficult decision about his future. The decision to obtain pet insurance is different for every person, but I will certainly consider it as a potential way to help with future veterinary costs.

Visit the veterinarian for regular health exams
If my dog develops a health issue, I want to know about it as early as possible, so I can explore treatment options and hopefully take care of the problem before it worsens (and costs more to treat). I plan on developing a trusting, long-term relationship with my new AAHA-accredited veterinarian and taking Benny in for regularly scheduled check-ups in order to stay informed about his health status.

Ask about discounts at the veterinary hospital
Some animal hospitals have special offers, including discounts for bringing in multiple pets, discounts for senior citizens, and discounts for military members. Don’t hesitate to ask your veterinary hospital if any available discounts apply to you.

By: Seth Davis / American Animal Hospital Association

Seth Davis is a first-time pet owner from Denver, Colo. He works for the American Animal Hospital Association and enjoys spending each day learning more about the ins and outs of veterinary medicine.

PenBay Veterinary Associates is a proud member of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). For more information please visit or call 594-8300.

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