Most Affordable Ways To Get Your Pet Medical Treatment
My interaction with animals has always been vicarious. I grew up in a family with several relatives who were deathly afraid of animals. As I got old enough to get one on my own, I was not interested in the time and financial sacrifices that would be required to own an animal. Also, animals are living, breathing things. They need to be taken care of and have their medical needs attended to. I can barely deal with my own health care needs. And depending on where you live, its hard to get quality, affordable pet medical treatment.
It is said that a pet is a person’s best friend, but sometimes the favor is not fully reciprocated.
Many people don’t fully appreciate the responsibility in taking care of an animal.
When I was a teen, I had a relative who got a puppy for his kids. He brought it over to my mother’s house. It was a little gray-colored puppy named Apples.
I grew up in a neighborhood where people owned and brutalized big dogs to protect their homes (but really to make themselves look ominous, which I hated to see) so it was quite an experience to see one up so close.
While Apples looked adorable, I remember thinking how much responsibility it took to take care of something like that.
After the visit, I didn’t hear about Apples for weeks.
When I asked about Apples later, I was surprised to learn that my relative gave the dog to a friend. Apples had a sensitive stomach and would spontaneously evacuate its bowels.
My relative got tired of cleaning up after it and was also afraid of potential ailments and future pet medical bills.
It’s not an uncommon occurrence.
The Financial Reality of Owning a Pet
According to the ASPCA, there over 86 million cats and 78 million dogs in the United States.
About 44% of American homes has a dog and 35% has a cat.
Most pet owners even identify themselves, as, “pet parents,” and ostensibly treat their pets unto extensions of their families.
And, they are willing to pay generously for the honor of that title.
That is more money than the gross domestic product of 39 of the world’s poorest countries combined.
It can cost anywhere between $27,000 to $42,000 to pay for the lifetime care of an average dog.
The average lifetime financial cost to take care of a cat is $30,000.
About 98% of pet owners polled in a survey believed that the lifetime costs of animal maintenance wouldn’t surpass $6,400, an arbitrarily guessed amount.
Depending on the breed and pedigree of certain dogs, you may end up paying over $83,000 for lifetime maintenance.
For appreciable personal finance context, the average wedding costs about $34,000.
So, now that we have established that pet owners are willing to pay a lot of money for their pets, lets break down these lifetime maintenance costs.
The average pet owner with an average sized pet may have to pay $400 annually for their pet’s needs, not including medical.
It might cost you $23 monthly, or $276 annually, for generic dog food. If you buy the premium, high-end pet food, that cost can top $500.
It could cost another few hundred, or even a $1,000, for toys, gifts, leashes, beds, and other pet-related home or backyard equipment.
The biggest shock cost for many pet owners are the medical-related costs.
Pet Care Medical Costs
You might need to budget at least $1,500 annually for veterinarian care services.
And that is just a conservative estimate that does not include medical emergencies that might befall your pet.
Depending on the size, breed, and pedigree of your pet, annual medical maintenance could be higher.
Such costs include:
- Spaying and neutering costs
- Heartworm medications
- Flea-control medications
- Dental care
- Ear care
- Nail trimming
The cost of a pet medical emergency requiring surgery could cost as much as $5,000, but that is just an average.
Then there are the incredibly high costs of pet medical insurance. All policies are different, but they are all very expensive.
A monthly premium might cost $35 for a puppy, or $420 annually. At age 8, that premium increases to $83, or, $996 annually.
You could end up paying $11,200 over 13-years for pet medical insurance alone.
Many Americans struggle with their cost of living expenses.
Over 40% of people couldn’t produce $400 on-the-spot to pay for a financial emergency that presented itself.
The greater point of all these statistics is that you could be setting yourself up for tragedy if you get a pet without fully appreciating the financial cost.
Imagine having to choose between paying for a mortgage, rent, car repairs, medical care for yourself or your kids, food, and so on, or paying thousands of dollars for emergency medical care for your pet.
It’s a financial and moral dilemma many pet owners find themselves dealing with. And, its ultimately the pets that pay in the end.
The ASPCA estimates that over 47% of dog owners and 42% of cat owners, “rehome,” their pets because they couldn’t cope with their physical growth, aggression, and burgeoning health problems.
Many abandon pets on the street.
Consequences of not Appreciating Pet Maintenance Costs
Over 6.5 million former pets end up in animal shelters annually. About 1.5 million animals are euthanized in shelters annually due to overcrowding, medical necessity, tray animal population control measures, and other reasons.
Meanwhile, only about 3.2 million animals are adopted annually.
By some estimates there could be as many as 70 million stray animals on the nation’s streets.
This isn’t to imply that all pet owners are heartless and waiting to unload their pets at the first moment of inconvenience.
However, the cost of owning a pet becomes progressively more expensive as it gets bigger and older. Especially when it comes to medical costs.
Before getting to a point where you may be forced to make hard choices about a pet’s medical care, there are many options for affordable pet medical treatment you may not know about.
Affordable Pet Medical Treatment Options
Here are a few options to secure affordable pet medical care treatment:
Get Medical Care at a Nearby Veterinary College
You could get discount and possibly free medical help at a local veterinary college.
Always inquire first and never assume.
Call up one near you and ask if arrangements can be made.
Certified and trained veterinarians usually oversee all procedures performed by students.
Ask the Humane Society for Help
Representatives from the Humane Society can help you find affordable pet medical treatment suited to your needs.
The Humane Society has a directory on its website listing affordable pet care resources by state.
Bestfriend.org has a list of organizations that offer financial aid for pet owners seeking help to medically treat their pets.
These sources may also be able to direct you to affordable pet medical insurance companies.
Shop Around Online for Cheap Pet Prescriptions
A veterinarian is going to overcharge for the pet medications they sell. There are many online sources where you can buy generic and cheap pet meds. These include:
Also, big retailers like WalMart, Target, Kroegers, and others, are offering pet medications with delivery options. Shop around.
You can also negotiate with your veterinarian to match prices you find competitors offering.
If there is one thing that should be clear by know, is that a sudden medical emergency can strike an animal just like a human.
An animal can get ill, develop cancer or some other disease, become injured, or suffer some medical ailment that requires immediate medical attention.
You should open a bank account as an emergency fund to mitigate any surprise medical treatments that occur in the future.
Plan Ahead for Your Pet’s Health
Calculate all of the monthly and annual costs of pet maintenance before acquiring one.
Consider getting a smaller pet. The bigger the animal, the more money you’ll spend to care for it.
Make sure you have enough living space for the size of animal you own. Large, full-sized dogs need more space for exercise than a cramped apartment.
You must take care of an animal like a human being, especially when it comes to medical care.
Do as much pre-planning as possible to ensure your pet lives a long and healthy life.
Money Considerations when Buying a Pet
If You Can No Longer Afford Your Pet, Help is Available
Allen Francis is a full-time writer, prolific comic book investor and author of The Casual’s Guide: Why You Should Get Into Comic Book Investing. Allen holds a BA degree from Marymount Manhattan College. Before becoming a writer Allen was an academic advisor, librarian, and college adjunct for many years. Allen is an advocate of best personal financial practices including saving and investing in your own small business.