7 Ways To Save On Your Veterinary Bills
1. Ask for a prescription for the medications your pet needs. Walmart and Target now dispense veterinary medications at significantly lower prices than can be found at the average veterinary hospital. If your veterinarian says this is a veterinary product only, ask for the human equivalent so you can save money. For example, Baytril (enrofloxacin) is similar to the human product Ciprofloxacin and is much cheaper at Walmart or Target. And lastly, Walmart and Target sometimes allow veterinary prescriptions to qualify for the $4 per 30 day supply pricing. Even if your veterinarian charges you a fee for the prescription, you may still be ahead.
2. Take your prescription and see if the price is less expensive at an online pharmacy. There are many veterinary approved VIPPS online pharmacies that are now serving the veterinary community.
3. Be cautious of the wellness plans offered these days as it appears that they are not covering more than well care for your pet, such as emergency care, which is not a very good thing. Some of the prominent wellness plans are receiving bad press on the internet because pet owners confused wellness plans with pet insurance and they are two different things. Be sure you look carefully before you sign up for any pet care program, especially one that has access to your checking account or credit card for automatic payments. The small details of how to end the program or the automatic renewals are troubling to many of today’s pet owners and cause a lot of bad press for the wellness plans online. Bottom line, like in any program you sign up for, be careful!
4. After seeing the estimate offered to you, ask if there is a cheaper way of doing the same care for your pet. Many times there is a Plan B that may accomplish the same care without compromising the health of your pet. And always ask your veterinarian; what this estimate gets me and the risks. For further details about veterinary estimates, checkout the Veterinary Guidelines for the AVMA and see what must be mentioned when giving an estimate.
5. Again, be careful of the food you feed your dog. Do your research. Look at all the sick dogs and sick humans that are now affected by this latest pet food recall. Names like Natural Balance and Wellness that are pricey diets are affected as much as the Diamond Foods since they are all made at the same factory in South Carolina. Rely on proven companies that have good quality control in their factories such as Hills Pet Nutrition or Purina or Royal Canin. You may disagree with the ingredients in some of the diets but the quality of the food in these companies’ factories is second to none. And now you can get “grain-free” diets from Hills Pet Nutrition and most of the major manufacturers listed above that are not made in a contract facility as the ones made in Gaston, South Carolina.
6. Purchase your flea control products over the counter at a pet store rather than at the veterinary hospital. There is now little difference between what you buy at your veterinarian and what you can buy at PetSmart or Petco.
7. Look online, get your best price for heartworm, print it out, and bring it to your veterinarian and ask him or her to meet that same price for their product. Remember, you have to compare the internet price (including shipping) to what your veterinarian offers you as a price. Most veterinary hospitals are now meeting or beating online prices of heartworm medication to keep you as a customer.
It is possible to save money at your veterinarian and still maintain a good standard of care for your pet. Always work with your veterinarian and keep a good working relationship. You never know when you may need them in an emergency or for an acute sickness.
And lastly as we talked before, keep open the lines of communication with your veterinarian. As you ask for the prescription, explain that you are not trying to offend him or her, it’s just that you need to save money and that the local Walmart or Target pharmacy is cheaper. They will understand. It is the changing times that the veterinarians are caught up in with the loss of flea prevention products to big box stores, the advent of online veterinary pharmacies – some even run by veterinary associations, weekend vaccine clinics, cheap humane society spays and neuters, and now Walmart and Target competing with the veterinarian for the sale of animal drugs. But, remember; always be nice to your veterinarian as you try to save money in these tough times. They understand.
And remember, there may come a time when your pet may need care for an illness or emergency care some day and you will need your veterinarian for the expert care that they give and the compassion that they have for what they do, and it will be at this time that your continued relationship with your veterinarian will pay off the most.
Dr. Manda is a full time emergency veterinarian, former veterinary hospital owner, pet food executive, and successful entrepreneur. He consults to the pet food, animal health, and veterinary marketplace both nationally and internationally. At home he has 3 cats who request all of his free time.