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Tips to Save Money on Pet Care and Vet Bills

Every little bit counts

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Pets not only require our time and attention, they require our money, too. Food, vaccinations, and veterinary medical care all add up. In today's tough economy, people are rethinking their personal expenses and cutting the budget where they can. Here are some tips to keep your pet in good health while saving money.

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1. How to raise funds for pet and vet care bills

For emergencies and other unplanned veterinary costs, the expenses can be staggering. In some cases, it becomes a life-and-death situation just because the funds are short, not a medical shortcoming. Other times, and animal may "find" us; they may be homeless, injured or otherwise healthy but incurring unplanned-for-expenses. Here are some ways to raise funds to help.

2. Online Coupons

Many online retailers offer discounts and money-saving coupon on pet supplies and food. Find out how to start saving here.

3. Pet insurance or wellness plans

Shopping for health insurance, whether for humans or pets, is confusing. So many options. So many exclusions. We can't predict the future -- what plan will best suit our needs and grow with us? Asking questions is the first step to ruling out plans that won't work and finding plans that will.

4. CareCredit

CareCredit works like a credit card, but is exclusive for veterinary care (and other human health care services). Not every provider offers CareCredit or all of the available payment plans through CareCredt. Talk to your veterinarian to see if CareCredit is an option for your pet's care.

5. Vaccination clinics or other specials offered at your vet's office

Low-cost vaccination clinics are offered at some practices (found commonly in large pet supply retailers) or animal feed supply stores. The thoroughness of the exam varies at vaccination clinics. The clinics are usually advertised as "free examination with vaccination" and animals who are sick or not feeling up to par should not be vaccinated under any circumstances.

Veterinary practices may also offer other specials on pet foods, dental cleanings, spays and neuters, and so on. Speak to your veterinarian to see if they run any regular or seasonal specials on services.

6. Split the cost of "large ticket items" with a friend

Food and pet treats are always less expensive when purchased in large quantities. This is a great way to save money, but sometimes a large quantity is just too much -- for the pocketbook and for the pet. Foods stay fresher in smaller quantities and smaller quantities allow for better variety.

Splitting the cost of large quantity food purchases with a friend helps save money and offers a choice of fresher foods for your pet.

7. Sooner, rather than later, veterinary examinations

This is a tough one for people to accept, but I am adding it in anyway. If your pet is sick or injured, getting a diagnosis and treatment plan started as soon as possible will save money in the long run. Of course, each case is different, but getting things fixed before more things "break" definitely saves money.

8. Save for your own pet emergency fund

This is often easier said than done, especially in tight financial times, but having some money put away for the unexpected veterinary expense can make a huge difference in the outcome. These funds can also be applied to payment plans or other options, such as CareCredit mentioned above.

9. Trade labor for veterinary services

This tip will not work for all situations, but it may be worth it to speak to your veterinarian about trading your labor (in the office or special skills) for veterinary services for your pet(s) or emergency situation.

10. Volunteer at a local shelter

Volunteering at a local shelter will often put you in touch with animal care personnel, and perhaps veterinary technicians and veterinarians as well.

11. Share your favorite cost-cutting tips

Rejoice over Touch © cnynfreelancer on Flickr
Rejoice over touch © cnynfreelancer on Flickr

These are tough economic times for people and pets, and sadly, record numbers of animals are being abandoned and surrendered at shelters. Some people are even having to make difficult decisions regarding euthanasia when faced with pet health problems and high vet bills (also known as "economic euthanasia").

Please share your money-saving pet and vet care tips. You can help others who may be in a stressful financial situation with their pets.

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