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7 Overpriced Veterinary Costs and How to Avoid Them

Just because your pet’s veterinarian sells a product doesn’t mean you have to cough up the cash.


By Deb Hipp, Debt.com

Did your last veterinary bill make you want to hiss, arch your back and climb the back of the nearest piece of upholstered furniture? If it makes you feel any better, you’re not the only one paying high veterinary costs.

Every six seconds, a “pet parent” is faced with a veterinary bill for more than $1,000, according to Petplan, a pet health insurance provider. Pet emergency costs can’t always be avoided. However, that doesn’t mean you have to buy every product your vet is selling.

Click or swipe through to learn about 7 things you’re probably paying too much for at the vet.


Prescription drugs


Next time your veterinarian says your dog or cat needs antibiotics, painkillers or any drug that you can get at a neighborhood pharmacy, don’t buy the pills from the veterinary practice, which likely marks up the cost to make a profit.

Ask the vet to write a prescription so you can get the same drugs at a cheaper price from your pharmacist instead. Save even more by joining Walgreen’s Prescription Savings Club for pet drug discounts on generic or brand-name medications. You can even get a pet medications discount card to save on pet meds at Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid, Walmart, Costco and other pharmacies.



Supplements and vitamins


Nobody wants their creaky, old dog to struggle to stand or walk. You may want to buy your pet glucosamine or other joint supplements that your vet suggested. But don’t buy them at the veterinary clinic, where the price is usually marked up, when you can buy online for much less.

For example, glucosamine supplements for my dog cost $120 when I bought them from the vet. Next time, I went online and got the same brand for around $80. When shopping online for supplements, purchase only from reputable vendors to ensure quality.



Heartworm and flea preventative


Heartworms can kill your dog or cat, so it’s wise to give your pet a monthly dose of heartworm preventative. It’s a good idea to give your pet preventatives for fleas and ticks, too. The problem is, these products can be expensive, especially when you buy them all at once.

Some vets have discount coupons from the product manufacturer or offer special bulk prices. At the same time, if you compare prices at sites such as 1-800-PetMeds, Chewy and other online pet product sites, you can probably find lower prices, especially when the company throws in a discount coupon to sweeten the deal.



Vaccinations


This one can be tricky, since you don’t want to skip annual examinations at the expense of your pet’s health. However, you may be able to come out ahead on cost if you stay on top of annual exams at the vet but get your dog’s or cat’s vaccinations elsewhere.

Many cities have low-cost spay & neuter clinics that also offer discounted vaccinations, a huge savings, especially when you own multiple pets. Also keep an eye out for good deals on vaccinations at weekend mobile clinics that spring up around town.



Microchips


When you get a microchip implanted in your dog or cat, a scanner at the vet or an animal shelter identifies its owner so you can have a tearful yet happy reunion with your little fluff ball. Microchipping isn’t expensive, typically running between $25 and $50, but that doesn’t mean your veterinarian won’t gouge you for more.

Even on the low end of that range, multiple pets can run up the bill. For the best prices on microchipping, get the chip implanted at local animal shelters, rescue events, low-cost spay & neuter clinics or pop-up microchip weekend clinics.



Pet odor eliminators


While you’re waiting to pay your vet bill, stay away from displays tempting you to buy odor eliminator products like candles, sprays and bottles of enzyme cleaners. Remember, your veterinarian isn’t a retail store so can’t get the lowest prices to pass along. As a result, you’ll probably pay a significant markup.

Instead of grabbing that $15 scented candle, take time to shop online and at local pet stores to save on pet odor eliminator products. For the best prices, buy in bulk.



Leashes, harnesses and other accessories


Your veterinarian doesn’t make most of his or her money from pet accessories such as leashes, harnesses and collars. But the vet needs to make some profit, and unlike retail stores and pet product sites that buy huge quantities at wholesale prices, vet clinics typically charge more.

Take time to shop online and compare prices while on the lookout for coupons, discounts and free shipping. Or support your local pet store and buy accessories when they’re on sale or discounted with the store’s rewards card.

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Bloom Magazine: 7 Overpriced Veterinary Costs and How to Avoid Them
7 Overpriced Veterinary Costs and How to Avoid Them
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