Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He works mostly with dogs and exotic animals.
You already realize that you should be saving money on your dog´s health care. Here are some of the best and easiest ways you can do that.
1. Brush Your Dog's Teeth Every Day
The cost of dental prophylaxis for your dog includes general anesthesia and antibiotics. An older dog will often 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 to 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 de-wormer that is effective against many 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 de-wormers 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. Besides being expensive, it 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.
Spend more time enjoying your dog.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Mr Edward Roberts on July 20, 2020:
In my opinion having a pet dog Is very expensive our dog has just been diagnosed with diabetes online diagnosis £30 blood test and diagnosis £250 insulin needles £s Blood glucose monitoring system £82 plus lances and chips
Plus 14 needles a week then every time you want insulin you have to have a prescription which is £20 a go Vets and Dentists charge what they like I’m a pensioner and I would have her put down as much as I love her but my wife won’t hear of it
Dr.m.s.saravanan on July 11, 2020:
To reduce the cost of medicine expenses for dogs,Rearing dogs native to the area is the best option. Native dog breeds free from many diseases or resistant to many diseases.
dugans on March 09, 2015:
we have done the 4 weeks of 2 a week - wish we could say we have seen huge improvement but not yet!! perhaps a little less grumbling from her around her shoulders when we play and massage - going for the 6 months post operative cancer check in 2 weeks and will see if our vet can get more range of motion out of her front legs then - i love the chicken feet idea and sibes have a natural instinct for chickens (not healthy for the chicks though), so am looking into this!
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 05, 2015:
Sorry dugans, I have had great results with Adequan too but have not tried Chondro-Protec. At the moment I am using all natural glucosamine supplements like chicken feet and raw beef trachea, and have had excellent results. Here is an article to read about the subject:
Good luck and be sure to let me know how the treatments go.
dugans on February 04, 2015:
Hi Dr Mark: we have followed your tips on heartworm prevention and our two older sibe rescues are doing very well indeed on the "sheep dip", at 45 day intervals. However, as it is as we all age, we are now about to treat our girl (who also has a sarcoma in the inguinal area that we surgically excised but didn't get a good margin) for stiffness in her shoulders and some weakness in her back legs. We have had great success with Adequan shots for our last little girl (who died 3 weeks short of 17 years of age) and our question is about the off-label use of Chondro-Protec as a substitute for Adequan. Is it just as effective? Novartis goes to great lengths to convince you otherwise, but that would be expected as they would like to protect their revenue from Adequan against the competition. But Adequan costs $120 for 10ml and the Condro-P $60 for the same amount! Do you have any experiential knowledge of the efficacy of either, or do you have a preference? Thanks again for all your help! Dugan and his sister Nova!
Rachel on July 07, 2012:
Some of these tips are really helpful. I had no idea that you could buy heart worm medication outside of the country without a vet's prescription.
SmartAndFun from Texas on July 03, 2012:
Thank you so much! I was just about to reply to you with my dogs' weight but now I'll pop over to the other article instead. And yes, this is for heartworm preventative, not for deworming. Thanks again, I really appreciate it!
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 03, 2012:
Hi SmartandFun I just wanted to let you know that I included doses for the sheep product at https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Heartworm-Preventative... . I hope that helps!
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 02, 2012:
I have a hub about using ivermectin for heartworm prevention but using it for deworming is dangerous; the dose required to kill some hookworms and roundworms can be fatal in some dogs so it is better (and cheaper) to purchase a dewormer like pyrantel pamoate. The dose of 1% ivermectin is in the article about heartworm and it takes only a small amount so I use it on my own dog. If you planning on using the 0.08% ivermectin for heartworm prevention let me know how much your dogs weigh and I would be glad to help figure their dose.
SmartAndFun from Texas on July 01, 2012:
These are all very practical and doable ideas, Dr. Mark. Thanks for sharing. I do have a question - I am considering purchasing a bottle of sheep drench ivermectin for my dogs in place of their monthly heartworm tablets. I have heard it is safer and easier to measure than the type for cattle. How much sheep drench should I give my dogs? I have seen varying answers to this question. I would love it if you wrote a hub detailing safe instructions for giving this to dogs. Just a friendly suggestion. Thank you!