Preparing Yourself for the Costs of Having a Pet
Pet expenses in the United States exceeded 99 billion dollars in 2019, a figure which has consistently increased year-to-year (statista.com). To no one’s surprise, pet ownership numbers have also grown: Approximately 67 percent of American households reported owning at least one pet, and those numbers increased during the pandemic.
For many, pets are more than companions—they are part of the family. However, it’s important to remember that caring for a pet can significantly impact your finances and should be part of the household budget.
Ways to Save on Veterinary Costs
Vet bills can be costly unless you know how (and where) to save. Here are a few tips that may help you to save a few dollars:
Schedule regular exams.
Early discovery and treatment of long-term or chronic illnesses can help prevent expensive vet bills.
Spay or neuter your pet.
Having a pet spayed or neutered is often an effective method to save money. In the long run, it eliminates the added expense of having to care for offspring, even if it’s temporary while you find them a good home. Many shelters or Humane Society branches perform this service at reasonable rates.
Ask about discounts.
Many vets give discounts to seniors, military, students, foster parents, or even families with more than one pet. It never hurts to ask.
Don’t forget dental care.
Brush your pet’s teeth at least once a week. Some oral infections can spread, causing ailments that are devastating, long-term, and expensive.
Pay attention to nutrition.
Cheap pet foods can sometimes lead to internal problems and obesity. Get suggestions from your vet based on your pet’s specific health needs.
Consider pet insurance.
The policies work similarly to traditional health plans for two-legged people. You pay a monthly premium, and then when you visit the vet, you pay a co-pay or deductible. Some plans even offer free vaccinations and annual check-ups.
More About Pet Insurance
Once upon a time, buying health insurance for your pet seemed like an extravagance reserved for the rich and famous. Not anymore. Here are three things to keep in mind as you research pet insurance:
Compare, compare, compare.
Not all policies are created equal. Policies usually have deductibles, co-pays, and premiums that can vary dramatically from insurer to insurer. Compare different policies and choose one with the options, terms, and conditions that fit your pet's needs.
Insure at an early age.
Pet insurance policies are based on several different factors, including your pet's age. It's ideal to purchase pet insurance by the time your pet is six to eight weeks old. Premiums will likely be at their best and remain low for the duration of your pet’s life.
Check for pre-existing conditions and hereditary exclusions.
For example, it’s next to impossible to find a policy covering hip dysplasia, common in retrievers and German shepherds. If your pet has a pre-existing or hereditary condition, find a company with a policy that will cover all other medical expenses.
The high cost of a good veterinarian, including regular check-ups and vaccinations, makes pet insurance a smart option to explore. It may not be cost-effective for everyone, but it could be a long-term saving solution for you and your family.