A page from Dr. Becker's book: Top tips for saving money on pet care

Patty Khuly, DVM
Published: August 12, 2008
A page from Dr. Becker's book: Top tips for saving money on pet care

I’m going to jump on Dr. Marty Becker’s bandwagon today. Since this PetConnection team member was on Good Morning America today showing most of the US how to save money on their pets I thought you, my tinier audience of devoted pet people, would like a top eight from my own files (with Dr. Becker’s points added in):

1-Feed your pets what you eat as a supplement to their regular diet.

Cook meals you both can share. (I confess, I do love Rachael Ray’s recipes for dual-purpose human/pet food.) This helps cut down on your commercial food expenses (if you feed mass-produced pet food) and recruits your pets’ skills as natural compost bucket.

2-Make a “must-go” stew at the end of every shopping week.

My own dogs will often get a “must-go” stew made of veggies, stray grains and the week’s still-fresh leftover dishes. This means that every week no fridge food goes unused.

Tip: Stay away from alliums (onions, garlic, etc.) unless they’re well cooked, grapes (and raisins), chocolate, heavy spices and any ingredients you know sits poorly with his digestion or clashes with her allergic profile.

3-Buy commercial pet food in bulk.

This is Dr. Becker’s suggestion, too. You get much better deals this way. The problem is always the freshness issue so make sure you split the bag into portions. I’ll sometimes freeze the extras in large Ziploc bags, mushing them into the corner of my freezer for space considerations. Having a freezer thus stuffed also helps you get better energy efficiency from this appliance.

4-Adopt healthy, adult mixed breeds from community facilities.

Sure, easier said than done. Nonetheless, everyone knows that (statistically speaking) mixed breeds suffer fewer genetic diseases, pre-altered adults tend to be less expensive and many pricey temperament/health challenges are more visible at a later age.

5-Brush your pets’ teeth!

Nothing works to curb tartar accumulation and keep gum disease at bay like brushing. Brush your pets’ teeth daily and you’ll see what I mean. That $400 dental every year? Now it’s a $175 dental every two or three years.

6-Slim ‘em down!

Exercising with your pet keeps your pets from suffering the health effects of excess weight (for example, arthritis, which is very expensive to treat) and saves you money on gym fees, to boot. Studies also show that people who exercise with their pets to lose weight are more likely to adhere to their regimens and drop more pounds as a result.

7-Ask for scripts.

Dr. Becker also goes out on a limb and tells America to shop smart by asking for written prescriptions for veterinary pharmaceuticals. Though the stalwart vet establishment has a thing or two to say about this (in the negative), I agree with Dr. Becker. Why pay $15 for a bunch of Amoxicillin from your vet when you can get it for $4 at the place you get the rest of your meds?

But always consider gas prices and the price of your time when going for these savings. And don’t forget that some online sites are less than reputable. Always make sure the drugs and products you buy are what they say they are by getting them at a reputable source (often more expensive).

8-Start up a health saving's plan or consider pet insurance to hedge against big hits to your cash flow.

Take my lead. Borrowing money to pay for your pet's healthcare can end up increasing the real price of your pet care exponentially. Plan wisely.

OK so these are my top recommendations for saving money on pet care. Have you any to share?

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