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13 Ways to Save Money on Vet Bills

There are several ways to save money on vet bills. Vet bills can add up quickly when your pet has become sick or injured, and no one wants cost to be a determining factor on the care that their animal receives.

It’s heartbreaking to think of your pet falling sick. But, it does happen. Your savings account shouldn't be wiped out every time you take your pet to the vet, and you certainly don’t want your credit card to be maxed out due to medical care that could not wait, but would save your pet’s life. 

If veterinary expenses have left you feeling whiplashed in the past, here are some smart yet simple things you can do to keep your bills down in the future -- without sacrificing the quality of the care your pet receives.

How to save money on vet bills

  1. Compare providers
  2. Request itemized vet bills
  3. Get pet insurance
  4. Ask for written prescriptions
  5. Have a vet school treat your pet
  6. Find out what you could do for your pet at home
  1. Monitor your pet's weight
  2. Keep up with pet dental cleanings
  3. Schedule annual exams for your pet
  4. Take advantage of specials and discounts
  5. Do your pet's grooming yourself
  6. Use community services whenever possible
  7. Consider financial assistance

Read on for in-depth tips...

1. Shop around and compare vet providers

Fees often vary considerably from one vet to the next. If you're looking for a new vet, call around to several offices to inquire about their fees.

Offices in high-rent areas will typically charge more, so be sure to check with some offices in less posh and trendy neighborhoods.

Also, ask your friends, family, and Facebook connections to recommend good, low-cost options.

Once you've locked in a vet you and your pet love, go a step further. Call animal hospitals to compare service costs associated with ultrasounds, lab work, and other diagnostic tests.

Then, let your vet know which provider you'd like to use. As long as they receive the results of the test(s) they ordered, they shouldn't mind a bit.

2. Request an itemized vet bill

Ask your vet to give you an itemized quote when the opportunity makes sense. It’s a good idea to ask for a quote before a regular check-up, before recommendations are followed, and even after every appointment.

Even if you can’t dispute the cost of a vet bill, taking a closer look at the charges will reveal any “extra” fees you can say no to on your next visit.

3. Get pet insurance

Some vet expenses can be reimbursed by pet insurance.

On average, the American Pet Products Association discovered pet parents spend $242 annually on routine vet visits for dogs and $178 for cats.1

But here’s a kicker: the average cost of unexpected veterinary care for dogs and cats is between $800 and $1,500.2 And with 1 in 3 pets needing emergency vet care every year,2 you should be asking:

“Am I ready for a $1,500 pet emergency?”

Many pet parents who answer "no" may choose to get pet insurance because it reimburses for the treatment of accidents and illnesses.

Spot Pet Insurance plans can reimburse up to 90% of vet bills. It can be a financial safety net in accidents, injuries, illnesses, hereditary disorders, behavioral issues, and chronic conditions.

With vet costs rising faster than inflation,3 it makes sense to get this type of support.

To get a free quote for a Spot Pet Insurance plan, click below and complete a few questions (it only takes about 30 seconds). You can customize a plan that fits your budget and your pet’s healthcare needs.

4. Ask for written prescriptions

Ask your vet if they have free samples of the medications they’re prescribing.

This is not just a smart way to get free prescriptions. It’s also an important move if you're trying out a new drug that you are unsure will agree with your pet.

If your pet has to stay on prescribed medication, find out what your options are.

Some vets mark up the medications they sell, so insist on a hard copy for any prescription that your pet needs.

That way, you can shop around for the best deal. In fact, if your pet is prescribed a drug that’s also used to treat humans, you may be able to fill it at places like Walmart, Publix, or a local pharmacy for less.

Just be careful when buying medications online. You could get scammed when buying drugs online instead of your local pharmacy.

Shopping around is so important when it comes to medications because once you’ve compared prices, you can ask your vet if they’d be willing to match the lowest price you found.

Fetch a free pet insurance quote in seconds. Just tap below if you have a cat or a dog.

5. Have a vet school treat your pet

Here’s a money-saving idea for you: refer to the American Veterinary Medical Associations. Check out their list of accredited veterinary colleges.

Can you see a vet college that’s nearby?

Ask what they charge for their services. They may offer a sizable discount over what the local vet clinics and animal hospitals charge because many students need to gain hands-on experience. But the good news is that schools often provide the best care. A student vet will see your pet, but an experienced veterinarian will oversee all care.

This is a smart way to score some hefty savings on vaccinations, neutering, and routine health checks, too.

6. Find out what routine care you can do at home

In some instances, pet parents can administer certain medicines or vaccines at home.

This can be a great wallet-saving way to manage the cost of pet parenting and requires that you speak to your licensed vet to decide what would work for you and your pet.

Of course, ensure your pet sees a vet ASAP for all urgent issues (like when your dog has vomited 10 times in an hour).

 7. Monitor your pet’s weight

Just like you have an ideal weight, your pet does, too. So, monitor it.

Ensure your pet gets plenty of daily exercise. In fact, exercise is a healthy outlet and will indirectly help you to save money. Pet wellness that includes exercise prevents boredom and destructive behavior, and regular exercise also prevents health issues like obesity.

And when combined with the right amount of food, your pet is less likely to suffer from diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, and even cancer. So, in summary, maintaining your pet’s weight will save on vet bills on food expenses.

8. Keep up with pet dental cleanings

The latest research shows that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have gum disease.5

Few pets show obvious signs of this hidden and often painful dental disease. Still, gum disease can lead to costly vet visits. Tooth extractions can cost as much as $1,000.

What’s more, this condition often leads to more severe health problems. That’s why teeth cleaning will save you tons on dental services and may even add a couple of years to your pet’s life.

So, get a standard $5 toothbrush. Purchase pet-approved toothpaste and clean your dog’s teeth daily. You can also use oral rinses.

9. Schedule annual exams for your pet

Take your pet for yearly check-ups, so the vet catches problems before they turn into something big and expensive. Early detection will save you money and ensure your pet maintains a good quality of life.

10. Take advantage of specials & discounts

People doctors may not run specials, but many vets do. If you're shopping around for a new vet, ask if they offer a new patient discount and/or a multi-pet discount. Also, ask if they offer discounted wellness packages, senior and military discounts, or lower prices on a 12-month supply of flea or heartworm medication. And always be on the lookout for deals during events like the National Pet Dental Health Month.

If you already have a vet you're happy with, find out if they ever run a deal on dental cleanings or other preventative care services. If they do, be sure to schedule your pet's visit then. Also, inquire if they offer telehealth visits: these sessions are usually cheaper than in-person appointments.

Lastly, always ask your vet if less expensive treatments or medications are just as effective as their first-line recommendation.

11. Do your pet’s grooming yourself

Next time you take your pet in, ask the vet or vet nurse how to do minor healthcare at home. This way, next time you’d like to remove a tick from an irritated cat or maybe even clip a dog’s nails, you know how to do so.

12. Use community services whenever possible

Now, 8 out of 10 pet parents will spend more this year on vets than they did last year.3 That’s why many communities help by offering low-cost clinics.

Find out if your local Humane Society and ASPCA offer spay/neuter and vaccination events to help keep costs down for pet parents. Check with them to find out when the next event is scheduled. Also, keep an eye out on local news, as vets in your area may come together to put up free or discounted pop-up clinics.

Also, check in with rescue shelters or other local charities.

13. Consider financial assistance

Pets are family too, and when you’re faced with an unaffordable vet bill, there’s zero shame in asking for help. Fortunately, some charities and trust funds assist pet parents with routine vet bills, emergency visits, and treatments for certain diseases.5

Check in with your local ASPCA, Humane Society, PetMD, and breed-specific charities for this financial support.

UPDATE: You can get reimbursed up to 90% on covered vet bills for accidents and illnesses with a Spot Pet Insurance plan.

It’s always nerve-wracking when your pet gets sick, especially when you’re unsure what’s wrong or how much it will take to get treatment.

But getting pet insurance can help give you peace of mind when an emergency strikes.

Fetch a quick and free quote below; you may be surprised at all the options available to you and your pet. Just select dog or cat below and answer a few simple questions to customize a Spot Pet Insurance plan that fits your budget and your pet's needs.

Fetch a free pet insurance quote in seconds. Just tap below if you have a cat or a dog.