YOU ASK:

What to do when you can't afford a vet?

WE ANSWER:

With the rising cost of veterinarian's fees, it will seem that a vet is something you can do without. But there are still things you can do to get treatment for your pet, even if you think you can't afford a veterinarian.

Here are some things you can do to save up on veterinarian fees:

  • Shop around and get estimates before you have your pet treated. This can help you choose the most cost-effective provider. It can also give you a general idea of how much a veterinarian's services cost in your area. Get quotes from two or three veterinarians and compare. When you compare costs, don't just look at the standard services. Check the other services that are not normally inquired about. Some veterinarians charge low fees for standard services, but tack on extra costs for other services such as medications, pre-anesthesia tests, hospitalization and suturing.
  • Look at animal welfare organizations that may offer discounts or free vet-care services. There are some non-profit humane societies that work to provide veterinarian services to those who can't afford it otherwise. These may include standard services such as spaying or neutering, vaccination and check-ups.
  • Look for cheaper insurance. Again, shop around for the pet medical insurance that fits your requirements and your budget. If you don't have a pet and would like to have one, you can think about adopting from an animal shelter or rescue center. Some pet insurance companies provide discounts for those who adopt from animal shelters. This can help you have adequate but cheaper cover for your new pet.
  • Ask for a discount. It's worth a try, you never know until you ask the veterinarian to give you a favorable price. You can try to haggle so that other areas of the veterinarian's fee can be lowered so that the total amount is decreased. There are vets that provide discounts to senior citizens and to those who have three or more pets.
  • Ensure your pet is in tip top shape. To avoid veterinary fees that you can't afford, the adage "prevention is better than cure" proves to be useful. Thus, be vigilant in bringing your pet to annual check-ups. Give your pet plenty of exercise and make sure that you don't overfeed it.
  • Get your pet neutered or spayed. Doing this will lower your future costs, since your pet would be more healthy and less likely to get into fights.
  • Consider fewer shots. Ask your veterinarian if it's possible to have booster shots or vaccinations every two or three years, instead of yearly.
  • Pay for bills using a credit card, especially for those amounting to $50 or more. That way, you can dispute the bill with your credit card company if the services are not satisfactory.
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