If you’re a student who has taken on the stress of college and being a pet parent you now know that caring for an animal is expensive. Thanks to inflation, the cost of essentials is going up – food, litter, toys, literally everything. You shouldn’t have to live on Top Ramen just to make up for an expensive vet bill either. Fortunately, there are things you can do and resources available that can significantly reduce the costs of caring for a pet. 

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1. Don’t pay top dollar for a spay or neuter procedures. Like Dr. Kelly’s Surgical Unit, there are affordable, low-cost veterinarians that will do the procedure for 1/3 or even 1/2 the price of regular vets. Spaying and neutering your pet doesn’t just save you from the costs of caring for a litter of kittens or puppies in the future. The money spent on these procedures can prevent very painful, potentially fatal reproductive organ diseases, such as pyometra (an infection of the uterus), ovarian neoplasia (ovarian tumors) and prostatitis (inflammation or infection of the prostate gland). 

2. Keep your pet lean. Make sure to provide your animal with a balanced, nutritious diet, put play time at the top of your list and take them for walks at least once a day. Your dog may also enjoy socializing with other pups, so consider trips to the dog park where they can run free. If you’re a cat owner, use a chase toy to get them out of their nap mode and be interactive. 

3. Get the necessary vaccinations. Skipping out on a $30 vaccination could cost you thousands down the road. You may not think it’s necessary now, but you will when you have to break the bank to pay for something that could’ve been prevented. Vaccinations are the most effective way to prevent your cat or dog from getting common infectious diseases. This applies to indoor pets, too — many contagious diseases are airborne or can stay in the environment for months. 

4. Keep your pet’s mouth clean. Unfortunately, poor dental health in your pet doesn’t just cause bad breath, it can have damaging and costly effects on their overall health such as tooth loss, gum disease, systemic inflammation and infections that spread to the heart, liver and kidneys. Treating periodontal disease can cost anywhere from $300 to $2,000 depending on the severity of the case and associated treatment. So, regular brushing of their teeth and yearly teeth cleanings can save you big bucks in the long run. 

5. Protect from parasites. Parasites can infect your pet any time of year. External parasites such as fleas and ticks might be less of a problem during some seasons, but internal parasites can be present year-round and have serious consequences. If your dog contracts heartworm disease, you may end up paying $1,000 or more to treat it. And if your cat contracts it, the price tag will be much higher as you deal with the associated health complications for the rest of their life. 

6. Keep up with wellness checks: Hands down, the cost of paying for an annual or bi-annual checkup at the vet will cost less in the long run than not doing so. Veterinarians know exactly what to look for during a routine examination. Whether it’s a bacterial infection, a problem with their weight, corneal ulcers or deteriorating joints, back or hips, regular vet examinations can help detect problems and disease as early as possible.

Preventative care for our pets is always better than reactive care, and it always costs less than treatment, surgery, or emergency vet care. Educating yourself about prevention and wellness care is the first step to managing pet costs.

Authors: Dr. Kelly Patriquin, DVM,  and Doug Patriquin, CEO, are the owners of  Dr. Kelly’s Surgical Unit, a specialized veterinary practice, offering affordable and convenient surgical care for pets at 6 locations in the Phoenix and Tucson Metro areas. Services include a variety of low-cost surgical care including spay/neuter, dental cleaning and extractions, mass removals and more. For more information, visit https://www.drkellysvet.com.