Pet Tips For Cash Strapped Consumers

 |  Feb 4th 2009  |   9 Contributions


I don't usually find articles in the finance section, but today I found one definitely worth sharing.

Money is very tight for most Americans, more pets are being given up than ever before. However, you can give a homeless pet a good quality of life even on a budget.

Health Care

Visit a nonprofit. Routine procedures such as vaccinations or spay/neuter surgeries can be much less expensive at your local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) or Humane Society. At the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York, implanting a micro-chip ID costs $25. Private practices routinely charge twice that amount.

Vaccinate appropriately. Most pets don't need a slew of annual vaccines, says Louise Murray, director of medicine at the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. Animals that are older, spend a majority of their time indoors, or live in certain areas of the country may not need every vaccine or booster. An indoor-only cat, for example, won't need the annual Feline Leukemia vaccine, which saves about $30, says Murray.

Fill prescriptions at drug stores or online retailers. Vet offices can't compete with the bulk deals pharmacies receive, says Adam Goldfarb, a spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States. You can easily save 50% or more on antibiotics and other meds used on humans by buying at a mainstream pharmacy like Rite Aid or at an online retailer like Drugstore.com. For pet-specific prescriptions like heart-worm preventative products, look to online pet pharmacies such as 1800PetMeds.com or Doctors Foster and Smith. (For either option, you'll need a prescription from your vet.)

Haggle. Many vets will negotiate prescription food and medication prices, while others offer discounts for bringing in multiple animals at the same time. "Don't be afraid to ask your vet, Can you match this price?'" says Ernie Ward, chief of staff at Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, N.C. Also ask about freebies -- manufacturers often offer vets coupons and free samples of food, treats and meds.

Consult by phone. Not every bout of indigestion is cause to race your pet to the vet, says Ann Hohenhaus, senior medical advisor at the Animal Medical Center in New York. If you're not certain that the circumstances are dire, call your vet for a free phone consultation. "They know you, they know your pet," she says -- and so can offer assessment and at-home treatment options.

Read the rest of the article for tips on food and grooming. Saving money on pet care is like everything else, it's a matter of budgeting and finding good deals on the necessities. Quality of life isn't judged by the quantity of things you have, less is fine.

Saving a dog's life or keeping the one you have...priceless!

* Libby showing every dollar counts.

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