Schedule and Keep Annual Veterinary Visits
This is the most important tip. By catching an illness in its infancy, there is a greater chance that your pet can be cured. The costs will be lower too.
Spay or Neuter Your Pet
Cats and dogs that are spayed or neutered are healthier than those that aren’t. Also, the cost of having litters is high. To find a low cost or no-cost spay/neuter clinic near you, click here.
Buy Pet Food in Bulk
When you visit your local pet supply store, notice that the bigger bag of pet food and the larger quantity of canned wet food is cheaper by weight than buying smaller bags or individual cans. Several online stores discount pet food when you buy in bulk. As to whether it matters if you buy high-end or low-end food, veterinarians have told me countless times to buy what I can afford. When looking for dog or cat food, make sure the meat is listed first—not meat-by-products.
Don’t Buy Meds from Your Veterinarian
If your pet needs medicines, they usually cost more when you buy them from your veterinarian. Ask for a prescription and take that prescription to your local pharmacy. If you want to save more, you can get a free Pet Medical Discount Card by clicking here.
Brush Your Cat’s and Dog’s Teeth Daily
It sounds like a lot of work, but it really is easy. Daily teeth brushing can add two to four years to your pet’s life. For tips on how to brush a cat’s teeth, click here. For tips on how to brush and care for your dog’s teeth, click here.
Make Your Own Treats
Just Google How to make pet treats, and you will get more than a million recipes. (Or click here for a recipe from Parade contributor Nisa Burns.) It's cheaper than buying treats at the store, and you can create healthy alternatives.
Keep Your Pet’s Weight in Check
Just like with humans, being overweight increases the likelihood of serious health problems such as diabetes, arthritis, and cancer. A fit and trim pet is a healthier pet.
Consider Pet Insurance
Full confession: My pets don’t have insurance. I have cats, and I follow all of the previous steps. All of my cats have lived long lives. So, I am not a proponent of pet health insurance. But if you have a specific breed of dog that's prone to an illness like hip dysplasia, then it may be worth looking into. Just make sure you read and compare different types of insurance; many insurers offer a wide range of coverage. It is essential that you read the fine print.
Don't Miss Galleries:
The most common question I get concerning pet care is about the costs. Everyone wants to know how to save money on veterinary visits, whether it really matters if you buy top-of-the-line pet food, and whether health insurance for pets is really necessary. Click the slideshow to find out the answers.
Michele C. Hollow writes the animal advocacy blog Pet News and Views. She also writes investigative animal stories for Who What Why. She is the author of The Everything Guide to Working with Animals. You can follow her at Twitter.