6 Tips to Save Money on Your Dog's Health Care
1. Brush Your Dog's Teeth Every Day
The cost of dental prophylaxis for your dog includes general anesthesia, antibiotics, and often an older dog will need extras, like pre-surgical blood work and x-rays to determine the extent of her dental disease.
These expenses are totally unnecessary, but common because most families do not bother taking care of their dog’s teeth before they develop problems that require surgery.
Avoid all of these costs by doing a little preventative care each day. A larger dog might be able to do fine with dental chews but a small dog whose teeth are crowded together is more inclined to build up tartar and more in need of tooth brushing.
By taking care of your dog´s oral health, you will also be preventing the expense and heartache of some forms of heart disease (endocarditis is caused by bacteria growing on the heart and is secondary to dental disease), liver disease, and kidney failure (which can be caused by the kidney attempting to filter the bacteria shed from the diseased mouth).
2. Buy Inexpensive Heartworm Preventative
Heartworm preventative is important but should be one of the cheapest parts of your dog´s health care expenses. Unfortunately the companies that sell dog heartworm preventative markup the cost of the drugs used unreasonably and veterinarians benefit from this program.
You can buy heartworm preventative online with a prescription provided by your veterinarian, online without a prescription (from sources outside the US), or if you have several dogs or large dogs buy ivermectin and prevent heartworm disease economically.
3. Give Your Dog Core Vaccines Only When Needed
Most of the expense of the yearly visit to the veterinary clinic is due to the vaccines your dog is given.
These vaccines do not need to be given yearly. Not only do all the vaccines a dog needs last a lot longer than used to be believed, over-vaccination actually causes many health problems.
Your dog is safe if she is only vaccinated every three years. Distemper and parvovirus vaccines probably last at least seven years so if you decide to delay the vaccines because of the cost (and the risk to your dog´s health) no medical professional can argue with you about this.
4. Give De-wormer Only If Needed
The most popular brand of heartworm preventative also includes an inexpensive dewormer that is effective against some of the common parasites. Would you take a medication to treat a disease you did not have? Most adult dogs are immune to any symptoms of roundworms and may never need to be treated, but they are still given the drug every month.
A normal dog does not really need to be tested more than once a year so it would be fine to take a stool sample to be checked at the time of her yearly visit. If the sample is negative, there is no need to treat. If it is positive and you only have one dog or a small dog it will not be expensive to purchase the medication at the time of your visit. If you have several dogs you can treat with many inexpensive dewormers available online.
5. Spay Or Neuter Your Dog
Besides avoiding diseases like pyometra (an infection of the uterus), spaying your dog will also prevent her from having puppies. Most people think puppies are a great experience but do not realize how expensive the “wonderful experience” is going to be. A female dog will be susceptible to internal parasites, have other health problems, and need more food; of course you will need to find a home for the puppies when they are about eight weeks old.
When neutering your male dog, one of the main benefits is decreasing his likelihood of roaming. Your male dog may be picked up by the animal shelter and he will need to be “bailed out”, if you are lucky enough to find him before he is euthanized.
If he is not caught by the shelter he may end up in an emergency veterinarian´s office after having been hit by a car. No one is likely to pay for a stray dog and if your dog is not neutered and not wearing tags with your phone number he will likely be euthanized on the spot. If he is lucky enough to avoid the dogcatcher and the highway he will still be out picking up parasites and other infectious diseases.
So get your dog neutered or spayed.
6. Perform Weekly Physical Exams At Home
Performing weekly exams is one of the easiest ways you can save money: prevention is always better than a cure. If your dog has a small growth identified early it can be taken off cheaply and easily; if you let it grow the veterinarian will charge more for the procedure and the dog will be at greater risk. Mild dental disease may be able to be taken care of at home-if you do not examine your dog it will not be picked up until the yearly exam and will be advanced and difficult to treat.
I have seen dachshunds with disc disease presented by owners who noticed the symptoms early. These dogs can respond to an anti-inflammatory injection. If the dog is not examined often and not presented until the spinal cord is damaged, surgical repair is the only option and besides being expensive may doom the dog to lifelong damage.
- Do It Yourself At Home Physical Exam for Your Dog
You should be aware of what is normal in your dog. This is a physical exam you can do at home before taking your dog in to see your veterinarian.
Take advantage of these easy procedures and you can really keep a dog for a lot less than the “experts” will tell you. You can spend the savings in providing your dog a better diet, buying her toys, or maybe your family can use the money for a vacation somewhere that allows dogs. Your dog will appreciate your being alert too!