Pet Files: Saving money on vet care can hurt your pet’s overall health

Saving money is important to everyone, but as a caring pet owner, you don’t want to compromise your pet’s health to cut back on costs. The key to a healthy and long life for your pet is providing regular preventive care.

First, it is important to establish a good relationship with a veterinarian. Factors involved in this decision may include how the veterinarian and staff treat you and your pet, prices, convenient hours, after-hours care and payment options. It is important to remember that practices with lower rates sometimes do not offer more technically advanced or comprehensive services.

Annual health care exams and routine preventive care such as vaccinations, heartworm testing, fecal parasite exams, spaying and neutering, dental care and blood testing save lives by keeping pets healthy and save money by reducing the risk of issues that can be very expensive to treat if not addressed early. The cost of preventive care is generally much lower than the cost of treating disease or other problems.

Keeping your pet at an ideal body weight can also help prevent multiple health conditions, including heart or respiratory disease, diabetes and joint problems. In addition to keeping your pet at a healthy weight, the type of food you feed also can help cut costs. Research your pet’s food carefully — good nutrition can be achieved by a range of pet food, in a range of prices, and product marketing can be confusing. Speak with your veterinarian about the best nutritional options for your pet.

More people are resorting to the internet to find information and recommendations for health issues, both for themselves and their pets. Finding sources of reliable information can be challenging, and the internet is never a substitute for an evaluation by your veterinarian. Be careful when relying on online information regarding your pet’s health.

In an additional effort to save money, pet owners may attempt to purchase their pet’s medications from sources other than their veterinarian, including pharmacy/grocery chains and online pharmacies. If purchasing from an online pharmacy, use only reputable pharmacies with a valid state license. Do not purchase from pharmacies that don’t require a prescription, and never purchase medications from pharmacies outside the U.S. as the medications may not be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, or they may even be counterfeit.

Never give your pet human medications without first consulting your veterinarian. Many human medications can be harmful or fatal to pets, including ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol) and other pain relievers.

It also may be helpful to check with your veterinarians regarding medication prices first: They may be able to match a price charged by an online pharmacy. Additionally, some pet medication manufacturers will only guarantee their products if they are purchased from a veterinarian, and they may offer special rebates, free products or incentives. When…

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