According to APPA―American Pet Products Association―it is estimated that in 2013, USD 55.53 billion will be spent on pets in the United States. Out of this, USD 14.21 billion will be spent on vet-related pet care.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 218 million pets in the United States of America (not taking into account the millions of pet fish). A survey also revealed that in 2011, the money spent on pets―approximately USD 500―was more than the amount spent on alcohol (USD 456), clothes for men and boys (USD 404), and residential landline bills (USD 381). Even during recession, there was a drop in money spent on restaurants, however, the money spent on pet food remained constant.
According to research statistics carried out by APPA, the maximum amount spent on pet care, goes towards their food―which in 2013, is estimated to be USD 21.26 billion! The second most expensive segment is vet care. In 2012, the total amount spent on vet care in the U.S. was USD 13.67 billion, compared to the estimated USD 14.21 billion for this year. While it is necessary to provide our beloved pets with all the necessary healthcare services, there are ways through which one can minimize the cost of vet services. These ways include both preventive measures and educating oneself about the organizations/groups that work for animal welfare.
Ways to Save Money on Vet Care
We all choose to include pets in our lives because we know how loving, adorable, and cheerful they can be. In fact, most pet owners treat them like their own children. The BLS states that the maximum expenditure on pets is done by married couples who do not have children. Though our pets may mean the world to us, spending a significant amount of money on them may prove to be burdensome, especially when it comes to vet care. The following ways will help―to a certain extent―reduce the financial liabilities that crop up in this area.
Get Pet Health Insurance
There are many instances wherein pet owners have to make a difficult choice between spending thousands of dollars on a pet's treatment, or putting it to sleep, thereafter, living with the guilt for the rest of their lives. Insurance, in this case, may prove to be of immense help. Most people underestimate the costs that come along with a pet. I remember reading an article in The New York Times that was published in 2006. It stated a calculated estimate done by veterinarian Dr. James F. Wilson, who pointed out that the cost of caring for a medium-sized dog may go up to as high as USD 100,000, especially for pet owners who had a strong bond with their pets. The average expense for a cat may come to around USD 10,600. However, these figures were for 2006; imagine what the expenses are today, after 13 years! The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers various pet insurance plans, that provide a huge range of affordable choices.
Check with Colleges that Offer Veterinary Medicine Programs
If you happen to have a university or a college that runs programs in Veterinary Medicine in your state, then it would be a good idea to contact them and inquire if there are any programs that enable you to use vet services at a lower price. Organizations such as, American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), and Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance (FVEAP), have special programs to help pets who need funds for medical assistance.
Contact Trusted Non-profit Organizations for Grants
There are various non-profit organizations that provide assistance to those who are unable to keep up with the medical expenses of their beloved pet. Organizations such as, Angels4Animals, The Pet Fund, Hearts United for Animals, and RedRover, may help in providing grants to pet owners in need of help. You can either check their official website or find more details about these organizations on ASPCA's website.
Opt for Care Credit - A Credit Card for Vet Care
I found the details of this company through ASPCA. They provide healthcare credit cards that can also be used to pay your vet bills! This card can be used at more than 150,000 enrolled providers across the USA. This option may not lower your vet bills, but it would definitely give you an option to ensure your pet gets the best services without having to worry about arranging for immediate finance.
Take Care of Your Pet
Prevention is always better than cure! If you have taken the responsibility of a pet, ensure that you are providing it with a loving and safe environment. There have been various instances wherein pet owners failed to give them their due share of attention. Pets such as dogs and birds may go into depression, or have behavioral problems if their owners fail to spend enough quality time with them. Lack of adequate playtime―which gives pets a chance to exercise and bond with their owners―leads to many health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and heart-related issues. Ensuring that your pet gets proper dental care, and is groomed, vaccinated, immunized, and put on a nutritional diet, on a regular basis, which will help prevent a majority of health issues that are likely to prove costly in the long run.
Take Help of Your Social Network
Social networking has become a very powerful means indeed. This tool can also be used to seek help from those who love animals and would willingly offer financial assistance. There are many pet owners who post pictures of their pets, while explaining the situation to their friends/followers. Likewise, you'll be overwhelmed with the positive response and help that is received.
Speak to People in the Pet Business
When in any doubt or dilemma, it is always better to share your concern with those who deal with pet-related queries on a day-to-day basis. The first person to speak to, would be your vet. Check with him if there are any discounts that you can avail of, in the given situation. Many veterinarians do offer certain payment plans to retain their loyal clients, since they wouldn't want to lose out on a customer just because of a financial difficulty. Another option would be to speak to your local pet store owners, who may have knowledge about groups/organizations that can prove to be of help.
While these are some ways to reduce the load of the financial weight on your head, it is important to understand that these methods are just ways to help you in times of trouble, and are not a permanent end to your vet care obligations. The best way to dodge a financial bullet in the long run, is to make small yet necessary expenditures in the present.
Many people do not anticipate what may come if they avoid basic precautionary steps such as, regular medical checkups, due vaccinations, regular grooming activities like fur trimming, parasite prevention, and so on. Another important step is to neuter/spay your pet to avoid the additional cost of taking care of newborns; it is also good for your pet's health. Most importantly, give your pet lots of love and quality time―that is the biggest investment you can make to get the maximum returns.