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April 12, 2016

Reframing Veterinary Costs

Having a trusted vet for your dog is an invaluable asset. *ahem* I said, “vet for your dog”, not “dog for your vet” While the care provided by vets is invaluable, their services certainly have a specific (and often costly) price tag. I think at one point or
Having a trusted vet for your dog is an invaluable asset. Rhodesian RIdgeback, blog, chicago, marking our territory

*ahem* I said, “vet for your dog”, not “dog for your vet”

While the care provided by vets is invaluable, their services certainly have a specific (and often costly) price tag. I think at one point or another we’ve all suffered from sticker-shock when settling our tab at the end of a vet visit.

Rhodesian RIdgeback, blog, chicago, marking our territory

“Maybe I could get away with DIY vet-care,” we might muse…

Rhodesian RIdgeback, blog, chicago, marking our territory

But the undeniable truth is this – proper, professional veterinary care is essential to ensuring your pet lives a healthy life. (Unfortunately, no amount of veterinary care will make your pets find your jokes funny)

That said, vet bills, especially when you have multiple pets, still sting. But over the years I’ve been able to reframe veterinary costs in my mind to appreciate what I’m paying for, as well as encourage me to keep Eko and Penny as healthy as possible.

Here’s what I mean-

First, I remember the familiar mantra, “pay now or pay later.” It’s easy to blow off the vet when your pup is healthy, but the longer you avoid the vet the higher the risk of your pet developing a serious, and unnoticed issue.

Rhodesian RIdgeback, blog, chicago, marking our territory

Eko claims he’s allergic to the vet’s office, but that’s not one of the issues I’m talking about

Same goes for keeping vaccinations and monthly tablets up to date. I’ve seen dogs with parvo, distemper, heartworm and canine influenza. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. I may grimace at the bill, but it’s a small price to pay for preventing these terrible illnesses.

 Rhodesian RIdgeback, blog, chicago, marking our territory

I distract Penny with treats to get her to the vet. That way I don’t have to deal with the constant distraction of worrying she might catch a preventable illness

So, to avoid going to the vet, I make sure I go to the vet. Trust me, it makes sense! Also, I’ve learned the best way to avoid taking care of a sick dog is to take care of a healthy dog. A well fed, exercised and groomed pup is your wallet’s best friend.

When he was younger, Eko used to get semi-regular ear infections. More than a few of which required a trip to the vet for prescription eardrops. I finally realized I should stop checking/cleaning his ears when they agitated him and start cleaning them regularly.

Rhodesian RIdgeback, blog, chicago, marking our territory

Once I put Jacques Cousteau here on an ear-cleaning regime his infections (and vet visits) are down to zero

Rhodesian RIdgeback, blog, chicago, marking our territory

Same goes for grooming. While trimming nails and brushing teeth I always spot-check the pups for any emerging issues. When I saw Eko developing some plaque I was able to beat it back and probably save myself thousands of dollars in expensive dental cleanings down the line

Rhodesian RIdgeback, blog, chicago, marking our territory

Sure, all my poking and prodding can be met with grumbles and impatient looks, but the effort is well worth it

Because the more I take care of my healthy pups, the fewer times I need to visit (and pay!) the vet. And most importantly, the less time we spend at the vet…

Rhodesian RIdgeback, blog, chicago, marking our territory

The more time we can spend doing what we love!

There’s no way around many of the veterinary expenses over the lifetime of your pet, but there are plenty of ways to both reduce costs and improve the overall health of your pet at the same time. A great win-win scenario!

I’m interested to hear from others about ways you’ve managed and budgeted veterinary care for your pets. I’d especially like to hear from those who use pet-insurance to subsidize their costs. I looked into a few programs years ago for Eko, but the numbers never seemed to work out in my favor. Let me know!

Comments for Reframing Veterinary Costs

  1. Victoria says:

    Ear infections -totally true -now that i clean muff’s ears every 2 weeks we havne’t had an ear infection in a year and a half – major for us. And yep on the preventative vaccines – They don’t always work (Muffin got Lyme even though i use a monthly flea and tick and do the lime preventative shots) but you do all you can to avoid the serious illnesses – they don’t stop the other vet visits for things you don’t expect – torn cruciate ligaments or spinal arthritis but you do all you can to keep them healthy. And boy trusted vets are hard won and hard to come by – i had one we all loved (me and the dogs) and she just sold her practice and retired…….so we are back to square one on that one.

  2. we have a pet-insurance for Easy, but it covers only accidents, sickness and surgeries not the annual health checks/shots. Easy understood that systerm and he mostly has to see the vet for things what are covered by insurance…. LOL but seriously I had no clue how expensive injured dew claws, broken toes and yes… the ear infections can be… so I’m glad I’m prepared for the bad things what can happen ….

  3. fredrieka says:

    Prevention is worth an ounce of cure.

  4. nm says:

    well said Will. Every time I took out the flash light before our walks (part of the getting ready ritual in the bathroom), he knew I was going to check out the ears and clean. He knew the difference when I said ‘just checking’ vs “just a quick clean’ and especially when he saw me shaking the bottle of ear cleaner.
    And all the money I saved went to squeaker balls !! win win all the way around.

  5. nerdgrl (Kim S.) says:

    Steffi and now Amara have the wellness plan from the vet clinic attached to the big box pet store. Two comprehensive exams per year, no office visit payments, all her shots, her spading and a discount on any meds/purchases. I’ve saved thousands (which they are kind enough to put on each receipt). The monthly fee comes out of my checking account. Easy peasy and I can rest assured that if I do need to take Amara in, I’m not socked with a office visit bill. We’ve had the same vet at our location for years. Preventative care is essential!!

  6. Kismet says:

    I’ve never had an ear infection. Then again, I never had any ears.

  7. Sue says:

    I have pet insurance for my dog. There are different levels of coverage and we chose the level that covers accidents and illnesses not precluded by specific breeds. It isn’t expensive and we have used it several times. Now that our yorkie is entering his more mature years, we will probably have to make claims more often. But, it has covered ear infections (from swimming), bacterial gastro problems, and now, a heart murmur that will require more monitoring. It is also important to get a healthy puppy from a breeder who keeps the brood bitches healthy, not over-breeding or back-to-back litters, or overly large puppy litters. Plus, make sure you read up on the current medical news for pets. Cornell University puts out a great newsletter for that purpose.

  8. Emmadog says:

    We do make regular vet visits to check on our health, and we do all the stuff at home we can do like ear cleaning, baths, teeth brushing, etc. We do have insurance because if something big happens, the bills can be sky high in no time. For Mom it is like car insurance, you pay and pay and never use it making it seem like a waste, but if you ever need it, you are happy it is there. Katie is now off her insurance as they won’t cover any more costs with her heart tumor, but over the years so far, we have used the insurance for so many tests, infections, and surgeries. Some years we broke even, some years we paid in more than we got out, but if something big hits Bailie or me, we will be ready.

  9. Ellen Quilty says:

    Nikki’s routine vet care is the easy part.It’s the unforeseen,out of nowhere things that are the problem.Where should I start?Lets see maybe with the bone she swallowed whole that had to be surgically removed from her esophagus.Then there was the one piece of glass in a two hundred acre field that she found that sliced through her tendon and artery.Surgery and three months of physical therapy later she made a full recovery.Then last fall she had a small lump the size of a lentil removed that turned out to be a mast cell tumor.Two surgeries later she is cancer free and is expected to remain so.Ear infections? Hah!I wish!

  10. U r correct Will, regular maintenance to the pups saves thousands of dollars. I have 6 n i could be rich without grooming, yearly shots, n heartgard but i would not be as happy.

    Love Eko n Penny expressions

  11. Jan & Rusty says:

    I discovered pet insurance too late. Like most human health insurance, there’s a pre-existing conditions clause that won’t cover illnesses the dog already has. The monthly premiums for other coverage are too high. So no insurance coverage for Rusty. Like you, I budget for his expenses.

    I LOVE Eko’s and Penny’s pictures! They make me laugh every day. Their faces, your photography, perfect!

  12. Hiya!
    I just recently found Banfield Vet Health and wellness plans. They are part of PetSmart/PetCo. All the routine stuff (and more) is included. Emergency stuff is highly discounted. Meds are discounted too!

    This is NOT insurance…. That is crap 90% of the time. They so rarely pay-out and disqualify you for every “pre-existing” condition even when they are acute conditions and not chronic.

    I’m sporting two huskies (8 &10) and two adult cats.
    I love the DIY approach to pet Heath care, but eventually with your good care your dog gets older and big medical issues just happen.

    Just this past month a teeth cleaning and mass-removal was quoted at $3800 and Banfield Wellness plan (dog) saved me all but $80 for meds.

    Over all for the four animals I pay about $110 a month but I ALWAYS have access to vets ever during any emergencies.

    My eldest lab past away a couple years ago. Before that he was healthy as a horse and got bloat. $8500 in vet bills for the surgery at our regular local vet that I liked.

    Even with the healthiest of dogs the vet bills sneak up on you and get huge fast!
    Check them out here:

  13. Cupcake says:

    I like the vet best when I am not sick. So besides saving money, it also saves doggie stress to go in for the regular checkups.

    Love and licks,

  14. Much like two legged kids, you have to keep their best health interests at heart. A vet once told me they can do anything for a dog just like for human’s, the only limitation being how much you can afford which is why insurance policies are perfect for taking care of the four-legged versions of kids. 😉

  15. I do have pet insurance and it is great, mine is through Trupanion and their customer service is superb (but they do not cover pre-existing conditions). Cody was sick the year before last and I was reimbursed at approx 90%. I also have Care Credit…it can be used for Veterinary Care, human glasses, etc………..would be lost without it!

  16. rose says:

    I have pet assure. It’s a discount plan…not insurance. 25%off services.

  17. I too keep a close eye on Sam and attempt to avoid extra trips to the vet for things I can get a handle on myself. Sam has to go to the vet every four months now because of his thyroid condition, but all the other little things – ears/eyes/teeth/nails are things we can keep up with at home. A good vet is worth the money though when you know that he or she cares as much as WE do about our pets. Don’t know anyone who has pet insurance but I’m sure for some it’s a must.


  18. Yo! says:


    Just curious. Do you have an actual Facebook page where you also post? Many of your topics I’d love to just click and share on my local community page… I still do however FB direct is a tad quicker a click:)

    Thanks for the consistently great (& fun) posts:)

    Yo! (Yes, that’s my real name:))

    Sent from my iPhone

  19. Eann Rains says:

    We don’t have pet insurance, but we did apply for and get a Care Credit card. It has really come in handy, especially when one of our Labs had a ruptured disk and needed an MRI, and again when he developed a mast cell tumor and needed surgery, Xrays, ultrasounds, bloodwork, and chemotherapy. We used Care Credit to pay the bills, then had 6 months or a year (depending on the clinic) to pay the bill off at no interest. We use it for his older brother’s underwater treadmill rehab now. You can also use it for human hearing aids, eyeglasses, and the like. It’s worth looking into.

    Love your blog. Never a dull moment at your house!

  20. Such great information, you are spot on!

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