How to save money at the Vet Clinic

Here are some tips to help you save dollars on your vet bill.

First, don’t buy over the counter supplements from your vet unless you are doing so just to help them make a little extra to keep them in business.  You can buy all your supplements online or at Walmart, including Cosequin, flea and tick products, fish oil, and most nutraceuticals, like Milk Thistle for the liver.  Clearly buying these things from your vet is a way of supporting them and helping their bottom line, but if you think they are doing OK, then why not buy these products from a source that will save you money?  This advice doesn’t apply to actual prescription medications.

Also, there are many vets encouraging you to have an annual dental on your pets.  Is this really necessary?  I don’t think in the case of a procedure that requires general anesthesia that one size fits all.  Many pets do not have any disease in their mouths at all, so they do not need a dental!  An exam to assess the need for a dental scale and polish should be performed and a dental need only be scheduled if the disease in the mouth warrants it.  I have seen many dogs and cats go their whole lives and never need a dental.  On the other hand, certain breeds of dogs are going to need annual dentals, like Yorkies and small Poodles.  To help your pets, both dogs and cats, go longer between dentals, brushing the teeth can really help a lot.  However, once the tartar and gingivitis has occurred this cannot be removed with just brushing alone.

Another way to save money on vet bills is to avoid an ER visit.  These 24 hour facilities are expensive, and rightly so.  They have a huge overhead, as they pay their excellent, highly trained staff around the clock.  In addition, they have all the best high tech equipment, which they have to pay for, again adding to their overhead.  These hospitals do provide high quality care, but in a lot of cases you might could have avoided the extra cost by calling your GP vet earlier.  Try not to wait until Friday afternoon at 5 pm to need help, if the problem has been present for a few days already.  Also, in some cases, you can call your regular veterinarian and ask questions about whether your issue is emergent or not.

I hope these suggestions have been helpful to some of you.  I realize that my opinions are just that, and that there is no exact formula for practicing veterinary medicine.  My opinions are based on 27 years in practice and my hope is that helping you to save money in some areas will make it possible for you to be able to afford care when there is a real need for it.    Mary Lou Kizer DVM


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