When humans get sick, we typically hope that our health insurance plans will cover the majority of the expenses. But when our pets aren’t feeling their best, the cost of the care usually comes out of our pockets—and those fees can add up. Find out the best ways you can save on care when your pet gets sick or hurt.
Should You Consider Pet Insurance?
Many people save on pet care costs by purchasing pet insurance, but before you pull the trigger on this option, get to know a few facts about how these programs work. First, not all policies work like your own health insurance policy would. Some will pay a portion of all veterinary expenses, while others might just offer a discount at particular veterinarians. It’s important to read the fine print on every policy before you sign anything on the dotted line.
You’ll also want to confirm that you can remain with the same vet before you decide on a policy, since some of these programs only allow you to use the vets that are in the network.
If you don’t want to change veterinarians, that’s an important consideration when reviewing policies.
Additionally, you can’t typically sign on with a pet insurer and expect your coverage to start the same day—there’s usually a waiting period. Therefore, make the decision to get pet insurance before your pet is actually sick or injured. You should also determine whether routine veterinary care is included (in addition to illnesses/injuries), whether a deductible will apply to the visits, if neutering/spaying is included, and whether prescriptions are covered under the plan.
Once you have all of these facts under wraps, evaluate the variety of pet insurers and then check the reviews of each so you can ensure which one most accurately matches your needs.
Alternative Money-Saving Tips
If after evaluating all of the pet insurance options you still don’t feel that those programs are right for you, there are still several other ways you can save on pet care.
- Start a pet illness fund. Just like a rainy-day fund for your house expenses, this would be a savings account that allows you to save for pet expenses. Add a fixed amount to the fund every week or month, and then draw from it when your pet gets sick or injured.
- Feed your pets using a rounded nutritional plan. Some pet illnesses stem from poor nutrition. For instance, many lizards require calcium and vitamin D supplements—along with light therapy—to stay healthy. You can often buy a spray for their food that delivers these nutrients and light bulbs for the heat; this will keep those animals from getting sick. These pets typically require exotic vets which can cost even more than a regular vet, so the savings would really add up by using the right nutrition.
- Keep the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center Phone number on hand. This way, if your pet ingests something questionable, you can call the number rather than rushing your pet to the emergency veterinary hospital. The person on the other end of the phone will advise whether you should get your pet to the vet or whether you can just watch your animal for signs of an adverse reaction.
- Don’t forget supplements. Conditions like heartworm and fleas can be preventable, and all they require is administering a preventive supplement to your pet. If you are averse to the chemicals in these products, there are natural solutions that you can buy or make at home. Administering these preventively saves you big money when compared to treating fleas or heartworm after the fact.
- Spay and neuter your animals. If your pet gets pregnant, it could cost you thousands in veterinary expenses, not to mention the cost of treating the resulting puppies or kittens. Therefore, you should ensure that your pets are spayed and/or neutered to avoid any unplanned pregnancies.
- Check out local veterinary schools. Vet schools often run low-cost clinics where you can get medical care for your pets at a fraction of the cost of a typical veterinarian.
- Visit municipal clinics when available. Some cities and counties offer free or low-cost immunizations for pets to ensure that the animals in that community remain healthy. If these types of services are available in your area, take advantage of them whenever possible.