How to Save Money on Vet Bills

Updated: Sep 4, 2018

Owning a dog can be pricey. Depending on your dogs age, breed and genetics and can cost over a thousand dollars a years to keep your pet healthy. Just as with humans these costs can increase as your dog ages. Here are someways to cut down on the need for vet visits.

Feed High-Quality Dry or Raw Food

Many dog foods are filled with grains and animal byproducts which reduce the cost but also reduce the quality of the food which in return can lead to obesity, dental issues, lethargy, skin allergies, heart problems and even cancer. Feeding your dog a cheap kibble would be the equivalent of eating fast food every day, which we know is not good for humans. A high-quality dog food will provide your dog with the protein and nutrients they need. Websites like Dog Food Advisor can help you pick the right food for your dog. Raw food is another great option. There are many brands that make pre-made raw. Raw or cooked dog food can be made at home but is more challenging to make sure your dog is getting a balanced diet. Never feed your dog cooked bones!

Brush their teeth

Four out of five dogs over the age of three have some form of dental disease. If not cleaned, it can result in inflamed gums, pain and eventually loss of teeth. To have a dog's teeth cleaned professionally requires anesthesia and can cost over $500. Periodontal Disease affects more than just a dogs teeth, it may put them at higher risk for heart, kidney, and liver disease. Read our full article on natural ways to keep your dogs teeth clean.


More than half of all dogs and cats are overweight or obese and its only getting worse. Lack of exercise can lead to weight gain, joint pain, weakness as well as mental health and behavioral issues. Humans who walk thirty minutes at least five times a week are much less likely to develop obesity and heart disease; turns out its true for dogs too. Not only will walking your dog keep you both in shape, it will strengthen your bond as well as improve your dog's behavior. Dogs who have the proper amount of exercise are better behaved and less destructive. Exercising with your dog will not only save you money in vet bills but also on training as well as replacing destroyed items! With proper training and socializing, exercising with your dog will be an enjoyable activity!

Dog Proof the House

When bringing home a dog, the first thing you want to do is ensure your house and yard are set so that the dog can not escape. A dog on the loose can get injured by cars, other animals or become sick if they ingest something dangerous. Make sure any toxic chemicals or foods are safely stored away. Even seemingly harmless items can be deadly; such as gum or peanut-butter containing Xylitol (a form of fake sugar) or an empty bag of chips (dog looking for a tasty treat may stick their heads in the bag, inhale which tightens the bag due to decrease in pressure inside the bag and suffocate when they cannot get the bag off their head). Your trashcan should have a lid or be stored away as cooked bones and other trash can make your dog very sick. Make sure toys are the appropriate size and strength for your dog. I have learned the hard way how tennis balls can be chewed up and ingested and how expensive bowel obstruction surgery can be (up to $2,500)! Dogs should not have access to anything that isn't meant for them.

Preventative Medicines

There are things you can do to prevent diseases before they happen such as heart-worm medication and flea and tick replant; depending on where you live and the time of the year, these may be more or less common. Vaccines for Leptospirosis is important if you take your dog hiking or camping. Other vaccines are important and may be required for doggy-daycare, boarding or for dog parks. To prevent tears or cracks in a dog's paws especially on hot or rocky terrain or to prevent from snow and salt use a paw wax such as the one from LittleSunCandle.

Shop Around

Since Avalanche and Moose were adopted from the Boulder Valley Humane Society, that is where I took them for all their vet needs. After moving I struggled to find a vet we liked. I noticed a large increase in the price of routine visits and vaccines when going to animal hospitals. Call around and ask for prices before taking your pups. Often times when it comes to routine appointments a shelter will have better prices. In the case of a major surgery (like the aforementioned bowel obstruction surgery), it might be better to go to a clinic. Ask the vet or look online, you may be eligible for lower cost vaccines or spay/neuter surgeries due to your income or zip code.

Pet Insurance

Health insurance for pets isn't nearly as common as it is for humans, but sometimes it is the right choice for keeping your pet healthy. There are lots of different options from low price plans that only covers accidents, to plans that cover shots and routine exams. There are websites that can help you compare plans to find the best for your family.

Payment Plans

In the case of an unexpected vet bill (or hospital, dental, etc) there are companies that let you borrow money and pack back monthly. Talk to your vet about payment plans as they may allow you to pay it back slowly without the interest.

The most important thing is to make sure that your pet is happy and healthy so that they can live a good life which is return can lead to lower vet bills.

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