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How to Be Prepared for Your Dog's Veterinary Bills

Veterinary costs for dogs; you can prepare for dog vet bills.

Dogs are among the greatest joys that many people have in their lives. However, they do come with expenses and chief among those are the veterinary bills. How can you be prepared for these veterinary costs so that you can focus on providing the best care for your dog?

Research and Prepare for the Costs of Routine Care before Acquiring a Dog

All dogs will require a certain level of routine preventative and maintenance care.

  • Ensure that you have the money to care for your new dog's ROUTINE needs before you acquire the pet. Many people just don't know how much a dog, especially a puppy, will cost in a year. Prepare yourself by calling several veterinary clinics to find out what your new dog will need and how much it will cost before you adopt. You may have to wait and save a little bit, but you'll feel better being able to properly care for your friend.

    • If you adopt a puppy, he will need at least the following: a series of vaccinations, possibly a spay or neuter surgery, dewormings, and flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives.
    • If you adopt an adult dog, he will need a wellness exam bi-yearly or yearly, periodic vaccinations, fecal sample checks, and preventative medications at a minimum. Some veterinarians also recommend screening tests such as bloodwork at intervals as well.
  • Providing your dog with good routine care can save you money in the long run. Lots of problems can be prevented with vaccinations and preventative care. Your veterinarian can identify current problems and potential problems earlier when she examines your dog routinely, too. Keeping small issues from becoming big problems reduces the associated costs.
  • Shop around for price but also get recommendations for veterinarians from family and friends. The saying is that you can't tell a book by its cover and you also can't tell a veterinarian by her prices. Shopping around to find out what the veterinary clinics in your area recommend yearly for dogs is a great idea and you can rule out any clinics that are too expensive. But don't automatically choose the cheapest one or the one with the fewest medical recommendations. Tap your friends and family to find out which veterinarians they trust and use that information together with the results of your phone shopping to choose a doctor for your new dog.
  • Make sure you factor in food and gear. Routine costs like food, kennels, beds, leashes, collars, and toys can add up so you'll want to be sure that you consider all of the costs of a new dog before you commit.

Be Prepared for Emergencies and Common Problems

Dog vet costs climbing; prepare for dog vet bills.

Hopefully your dog will never experience an emergency but it could happen. If it does, having a plan beforehand will ease your stress about the costs and allow you to focus on your dog's health.

  • Know where to go in the event of an after-hours emergency. Does your regular veterinarian see emergencies? If so, how much will she charge for the exam? Does she allow for payment plans for diagnosis and treatment or will you need to pay in full at the time of the visit? If your veterinarian does not see after-hours cases, research the emergency clinics in the area so that you know their prices and payment options. Ask your regular veterinarian what emergency clinic she recommends.
  • If your dog engages in activities that are associated with common injuries, or belongs to a breed that is predisposed to certain health conditions, know the common costs of treatment and save up ahead of time. Talk with your veterinarian during your dog's regular wellness visits about this. Based on your dog's lifestyle, breed, and state of health, she may be able to foresee certain problems and give you an idea of their associated costs.
  • Be prepared for toxic ingestion emergencies by knowing who to call. It's important to call a pet poison hotline rather than a human one if your dog has ingested something and you aren't sure if it's toxic. Pet poison helplines have large databases full of animal-specific information. Good sources are:

While there are sometimes costs for calling these hotlines, doing so will help you to determine whether there is truly a problem that requires a veterinary visit. This can save you money. Also, if your dog has ingested something toxic and you wait for symptoms to begin before visiting the veterinarian because you aren't sure if it's really a problem, you are likely to spend a lot more money to treat him at that point. Your dog may also suffer more in these cases. The hotlines can help you make these decisions, potentially saving money and your pet's life. Once you have your case on file with the hotline, the specialized veterinarians there will be happy to talk with your veterinarian and help her treat the toxin using the latest available knowledge base.

Ask for Discounts

  • Many clinics give discounts for senior citizens or those with multiple pets. They may not advertise this so don't be afraid to ask.
  • Ask if the clinic has a referral program. You can often receive discounts for referring your friends and family to your favorite veterinarian. If your vet doesn't already have a program like this, your suggestion may prompt her to start one.

Care Credit

  • Care Credit is a credit card with a zero or low percent interest rate for veterinary care, and the card can be used for certain human health care needs as well. You can apply online at before you go to your veterinarian to see if you qualify. Be sure to call and ask if your veterinarian accepts this form of payment before your appointment. Having a Care Credit card in your wallet just in case your dog ever has an emergency or a big illness will give you peace of mind.

Pet Insurance

  • Apply for and get on pet insurance when you first acquire your dog. Don't wait until your pet has been diagnosed with a problem to apply, as the issue won't be covered then.
  • Shop companies and be sure to compare "apples to apples." Make sure that the plans you are comparing offer the same coverages. There are lots of pet insurance companies out there and more are emerging all the time.
  • Here at, we recommend Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation. They have easy-to-understand plans, no caps on pay-outs,and cover anything that isn't a pre-existing condition. They also allow you to see a specialist if you need to or go to the emergency room with your dog. Get your free quote today!

Second Opinions

  • If your dog has an illness that isn't improving or if he needs a big procedure or surgery, get a second opinion. If your pet is not in an emergency situation and your veterinarian is recommending something that costs a lot of money or if she has been treating a problem for a while and it isn't improving, get a second opinion from another veterinarian. A second perspective can help you feel better about the course of your pet's treatment and may save you money.

All dogs will cost some money to care for properly. If you are offered a free dog, remember that no dog is truly free. Use these tips to help prepare for your dog's veterinary costs, and you will be able to relax and enjoy your pet, knowing that you can provide him with the best care.

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