As responsible guardians, we agree to care for our furry friends in sickness and in health. But as pet care costs rise, how do we do what’s best for our pet?
To help you navigate turbulent economic waters, Dr. Louise Murray, author of Vet Confidential and Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Hospital, and Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, ASPCA Science Advisor, offer the following tips to help you save money on your pet’s health care.
Schedule Regular Check-Ups
Remember the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” Well, it applies to pets, too. Don’t skip your pet’s yearly exam. It’s much more expensive—and risky—to treat illnesses than to protect against them.
Personalize Your Pet’s Vaccines
Hard times are not an excuse to skip your pet’s annual shots, but it does make sense to talk to your vet about personalizing your pet’s vaccine protocol. Some vaccines are optional, while others are essential in preventing serious diseases.
Spay or Neuter Your Pet
Spaying or neutering your pet can save a lot of money by preventing serious health problems including uterine, ovarian and testicular cancer. Many local shelters provide resources for low-cost or no-cost spay/neuter surgeries. Visit our online database  to find a low-cost program in your area. If you live in New York City, check out our mobile clinic in the five boroughs .
Brush Your Pet’s Teeth
Dental disease—such as tartar, gingivitis, loose or infected teeth—can lead to heart and kidney problems and expensive procedures. Start a daily dental routine to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy.
Protect Your Pet from Parasites
Flea and tick infestations can cause a host of costly medical problems from minor skin irritations to life-threatening anemia. Stick with a topical flea and tick solution to keep the critters at bay.
Toss the Cigarettes
Secondhand smoke is no joke for pets—it can cause asthma, bronchitis, lymphoma and oral, nasal and lung cancers. Quit now and you’ll save money on vet bills. At the very least, avoid smoking around your pet.
See a Specialist
Pet parents can reduce costs by getting a pet’s condition diagnosed and treated by an expert as quickly as possible. Veterinary specialists are available for everything from skin disease to cancer, and will often work within your budget.
Consider Pet Health Insurance
If the cost of an emergency vet visit or serious illness would be a financial strain, consider investing in pet health insurance, while your pet is healthy. Be sure to read the fine print, though—not all plans are created equal.
Buy High-Quality Pet Food
A good quality pet food—formulated under the guidelines of the American Association of Feed Control Officials—is often more cost effective than a homemade diet. Avoid overfeeding your pet, which can lead to obesity and other health problems.
Whether he’s looking for pet food, medicine or grooming supplies, the smart shopper clips coupons and buys in bulk. It’s also a good idea to shop veterinary practices by comparing fees for preventative care.