How to Avoid 5 Super Expensive Vet Bills

According to the Synchrony Pet Lifetime of Care study, 25% of pet owners will have a financial issue with an unexpected vet bill of $250. Another 21% will be seriously stressed over a bill between $250 and $500. If you’re anything like almost half of pet owners, you’d rather avoid an expensive vet bill than have to figure out how to make it work later.

Not every expense related to pets can be dodged, but there are plenty of high-dollar vet bills you can avoid, if you’re careful. With a little bit of extra work, you’ll save yourself a ton of cash and help your pet live a healthier, happier life. Try these tips on for size.

1. Be cautious about what you give your pets to eat and chew on

Believe it or not, a huge amount of money is spent by worried pet owners every year due to things they gave their animals. Dogs are notorious for swallowing things like parts of rope, bones, or indigestible food from the trash, like corn cobs, and ending up having emergency surgery to remove them. But it doesn’t stop there, as foods like grapes can kill dogs quickly and treats can damage teeth.

When my dogs were younger, my vet was constantly reminding me not to give them anything too hard to chew on. How hard, you ask? He said if it was hard enough I’d not want to hit myself in the elbow with it, that it risked fracturing their teeth (he’s also a certified veterinary dentist). Pet insurance can help ensure that you’ll be able to cover any of these events, but it’s always best to avoid them the best you can so your pet can live their best lives.

2. Stay up to date on vaccinations

Vaccinations are the number one thing you can do for your pet to keep them healthy for the long run. There are all kinds of things in the environment that will make your pet impressively sick if they don’t have protection, and rabies vaccines are pretty much required by law everywhere in the United States.

One of the most preventable and tragic diseases a young dog can get is called parvo. It comes from micro-organisms in the environment and can linger for years. Without proper vaccination, even the best pet insurance for your dog can’t always save them, so it can be a real gamble. Too many dogs are lost to preventable disease simply because they’re not vaccinated.

3. Always have your pets spayed/neutered

Having your pet spayed or neutered is considered par for the course most of the time, but having a female pet spayed is absolutely crucial. Female animals can develop a deadly uterine infection called pyometra that can cause sepsis and a painful death if not treated immediately.

That treatment is generally a spay operation, along with antibiotics and other supportive measures. Routine spays are cheap, emergency spays at 3 a.m. when your cat or dog is going downhill fast are much more costly.

4. Regular dental checks

I mentioned above that my primary vet is also a certified veterinary dentist, so I am constantly reminded about dental checks. They’re so vital to your pet’s health. Without knowing that your pet is having dental problems, it can lead to huge bills, like the one a coworker had from his cat’s oral surgery.

One of my terriers nearly lost a canine in a freak accident (he’s prone to those) but fortunately, his teeth were in great shape due to regular dental checks. In my case, the tooth was able to be saved for a few hundred bucks, versus the four-figure bill it might have been if I’d not been better with regular dental care.

5. Keep your pet at a healthy weight

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to avoid super expensive vet bills is to get your pet to a healthy weight and keep them there. High-quality pet food is a good start, but dosing it out as regular meals, rather than free-feeding also helps. Not all pets can self-limit their consumption, which can lead to severe obesity, increasing their risk of problems like arthritis and diabetes.

I have a friend with a diabetic cat, and the insulin alone is frighteningly expensive. Not to mention the blood sugar checks, dealing with complications, and the endless parade of shots the poor creature gets (and my stressed-out friend, who has to be present to give all those shots). If your cat has pet insurance, it will cover some of these expenses, but you’re likely to meet your caps with many plans.

Super expense vet bills don’t have to be in your future

According to a USA Today Blueprint survey, 91% of pet owners have experienced some amount of financial stress due to their dog’s bills in the past year, but you can avoid a lot of expensive vet bills just by being proactive and caring for your pet like you would a child.

Simple moves like having their regular check-ups, making sure they get all their shots, feeding them nutritious food, and making sure they’re not putting weird stuff in their mouths will come back to you in the form of lower pet-related bills and longer, happier lives for your pets.

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