Guest Post by Dr. Kim Smyth, Petplan pet insurance staff veterinarian
There’s no two ways about it—having a pet is expensive. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the cost of owning a pet for the first year is between $1,000 and $1,800, depending on the size of your furry friend. After the first year, you can count on spending $600 to $900 per year. That’s a lot of dough. There are a few things you can do to save on these costs, though.
Adopt, don’t shop.
There are literally millions of pets in this country who are looking for a place to rest their muzzles at night. 2.7 million pets are euthanized every year because they have no home. You can make a difference by choosing a pet from your local shelter. While there is usually a cost associated with adopting from a shelter, it usually covers spaying/neutering and vaccines, and some pets may already be microchipped, saving you those important initial costs.
Don’t skimp on maintenance and prevention.
You might think you’re saving money by skipping wellness exams and parasite prevention, but that’s simply not true. For example, heartworm preventative costs a few bucks a month. But if your pet contracts heartworms, treatment can run you into the thousands. Don’t skip annual exams, even if your pet isn’t due for vaccines. These exams allow your veterinarian to look for small problems before they become larger, more expensive issues.
Be practical about feeding.
With so many food choices on the market, it’s hard to know what to feed your pet. Look for the AAFCO statement on the food bag, indicating that the food is complete and balanced and nutritionally adequate for your pet’s stage of life (puppy vs. adult, etc.).
Choose a brand that has a good reputation, not the one that is promoting the latest “fad” diet for your pet. While I’m not suggesting you buy the cheapest food on the shelf, I certainly don’t think you need to blow your family’s grocery budget on one bag of dog food, either.
Don’t forget to brush!
Dental health is key to whole body health. Help your pet keep a clean and healthy mouth by brushing his teeth daily. Invest in dental chews that have the seal of approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council to keep plaque and tartar at bay. Keeping your pet’s mouth healthy can delay the need for dental cleaning at your veterinarian’s office, which can easily run $1,000 or more.
Plan for unexpected vet visits.
According to Petplan claims data, every six seconds a pet parent is faced with a vet bill of $3,000 or more. That’s where pet insurance comes in—it helps covers the cost if your pet gets sick or injured. As a pet parent, this means that you can get the care your pet needs without worrying about the cost of treatment. To get the best value, look for a plan that includes coverage for chronic and hereditary conditions. If your pet is pre-disposed to certain illnesses, some insurance companies won’t cover it. An ideal plan will also cover things like medication, prescription food, specialist treatment and alternative therapies like acupuncture.
We all want to find ways to save money, but scrimping on your pet’s health could end up costing you more in the long run. Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so stay on top of your pet’s health and enjoy those many years together.
About Petplan pet insurance
Petplan is more than a pet insurance provider. We’re dedicated to providing pet parents with the support, resources and tools they need to keep their pets not just surviving—but thriving—into their old age. Simply put, we aim to be the kind of company that will make our pets proud. Petplan’s fully customizable cat and dog insurance plans provide comprehensive coverage for hereditary and chronic conditions, alternative and behavioral therapies and dental and cancer treatments—all as standard.