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How to Find an Affordable Vet? 10 Vet-Approved Tips

Written by: Chris Dinesen Rogers

Last Updated on May 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

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How to Find an Affordable Vet? 10 Vet-Approved Tips


Dr. Amanda Charles Photo


Dr. Amanda Charles

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Considering the financial investment of owning a pet is imperative. After all, one of the reasons some people relinquish their animal companions is because they underestimate the cost of pet ownership. The estimated annual cost of owning a dog is roughly $1,270 to $2,803, and $961 to $2,487 for a cat. Veterinary services can account for up to 40% of these expenses. Therefore, it makes sense to plan ahead and try to find an affordable vet.

Finding a vet before you bring home your pet is a must. We recommend taking your time to choose one that fits your needs since you’re going to have a long relationship with the individual. Of course, affordability is a big part of the mix. Our guide will provide the information you need to find the best fit for you and your new pet, all without costing an arm and a leg.

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The 10 Tips for Finding an Affordable Vet

Clearly, getting a pet involves more than just the purchase price or adoption fee. The first year is typically the most expensive for pet owners, particularly if you get a puppy or kitten. Your initial costs will include things like spaying or neutering, microchipping, and vaccinations.

1. Ask Friends and Families About Their Experiences

We suggest beginning your search by asking friends and families about the veterinarians they go to. They can give you the scoop of what they like and dislike, as well as general costs. Encourage them to be candid with you about their experiences, and remember that it’s an important decision that can play a significant role in your pet’s well-being.

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Image Credit: Altrendo Images, Shutterstock

2. Check Online Reviews

You can check sites like Yelp or Google Business to learn about other people’s experiences that they’ve had with vets in your area. Don’t just rely on the testimonials on the clinic’s website. No business is going to publish anything that’s less than a glowing review. However, they are a good barometer of the level of care you can expect.

However, take online reviews with a grain of salt. They are likely weighted on either end of the spectrum. People are more likely to publish either a scathing negative review or a positive one, with few in between.

3. Learn What’s Average for Your Area

Affordability is subjective. There’s your side of the matter versus the prices that the market will bear. Therefore, you should research what to expect for routine services like vaccinations. Care Credit has a summary of costs for checkups and procedures. They also provide information by the state. Banfield Pet Hospital also has a price estimator calculator where you can enter your zip code for costs. However, prices can vary widely even within the same metro area, meaning you’ll likely want to check out options in several different neighborhoods or towns.

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Image Credit: Unsplash

4. Look for Low-Cost Dog Vaccine Clinics for the Basics

You can ask your local animal shelter about free or low-cost vaccinations. Many organizations have recognized the benefits and value pets bring to people’s lives and offer options if money is an issue. You can find a vet for the big stuff like annual exams and then use these services for the basics to save money.

5. Research Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is an excellent investment to help pay for significant expenses, such as surgeries and diagnostics. Many insurers allow you to choose your vet. You have flexibility with the cost by choosing different payout caps and deductibles to get an affordable monthly premium. However, it’s worth noting that most policyholders are usually reimbursed on claims.

Some pet insurance companies work directly with veterinarians to pay invoices. However, you will likely be limited to specific clinics.

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Image Credit: Rawpixel, Shutterstock

6. Enroll in a Wellness Protection Plan

Many insurers offer wellness protection plans for preventive care services like annual vet check ups, vaccinations and heartworm testing. They are typically add-ons to a basic or comprehensive plan. Reimbursement is often a portion of the total cost. Nevertheless, a complete annual exam will more than likely make it a worthwhile investment. We suggest reading the fine print with wellness plans. Companies vary widely in covered expenses and conditions, but finding a good plan can save you lots of money in the long run.

7. Create a Shortlist of Vets

Some clinics may have limited opportunities for new clients. Therefore, we recommend creating a shortlist of possible choices. Consider other factors that can make a difference, such as the service hours and availability of appointments, including weekends. Ask about playtime and doggie daycare services if you’re getting a new puppy as well. We’re big fans of writing out the pros and cons when faced with an important decision like choosing a vet, and using a similar system can definitely help you find one that gives you the most bang for your buck.

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Image Credit: Scott Graham, Unsplash

8. Ask About a Meet-and-Greet Appointment

Some clinics may offer meet-and-greet appointments where you can talk informally with a vet and ask questions about their services. After all, it often comes down to that first impression. It’s helpful if you have a unique situation with your pet, such as a chronic illness. If this is possible, have a list of questions ready for your appointment.

9. Consider a Health and Pet Care Credit Card

Unexpected vet expenses can leave pet owners strapped for cash. Healthcare financing credit cards like Care Credit can help you pay for these costs. Consider applying when you get your animal companion before you need it. That’ll give you peace of mind knowing you’re covered financially if anything happens. Scratch Pay is another service that allows you to split your expenses into five payments. Always research interest rates, terms and fees which vary between credit cards.

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Image Credit: rupixen, Pixabay

10. Investigate Pet Assistance Programs

It’s far better to ensure your pet gets the care they need instead of postponing attention because of financial reasons, as neglect often makes things worse. The Best Friends Animal Society maintains a list of financial assistance programs that may offer help to pay veterinary expenses. Some are quite specific in their availability. You’ll find selecting some that apply to your situation will streamline the process.

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Final Thoughts

Veterinary care is vital for your pet’s quality of life and well-being. However, we understand that it can be a financial burden. Looking for an affordable vet involves research. The good news is that you have many options if something unexpected arises. Knowing what’s available is essential to help you make informed choices.

Featured Image Credit: nakaridore, Freepik

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