35% of Pet Parents Are Skipping Vet Visits in Order to Save Money, New PetCareRx 'Pet Healthonomics' Study Reveals


Pet parents do many things to save money. Some opt for low-quality pet food, while others prefer low-quality pet medication. This can lead to several issues, but the major issue arises not when pet parents buy inferior quality pet supplies or cheap dog and cat food. It arises when pet parents stop going to the vet to save money.

This summer, PetCareRx began a study of hundreds of pet parents that showed the rising costs of pet healthcare are dramatically influencing pet parents’ lives and lifestyles. The initial report findings proved how vital a conversation about navigating the rising costs of pet healthcare is. The survey was expanded to over 1,000 pet parents in October.

New insights into the real effects of pet healthcare costs have come to light, including how dramatically costs can rise when a pet is diagnosed with a chronic disease like diabetes or cancer.

How pet parents are managing these costs is changing, and PetCareRx is evolving to meet the needs of a pricier, higher-stakes pet healthcare landscape.

Vast Majority of Pet Parents Concerned About Their Ability to Care for Their Pets in the Face of Rising Costs

Over 1,100 pet households nationwide participated in the expanded study by PetCareRx this October. This summer’s initial findings held true: 3 out of 4 pet parents are concerned about the rising costs of pet healthcare and their ability to afford care for their pets. Over the past five years, the annual costs for caring for a dog have increased 15% to $1,649, while cat care costs have jumped 28% to $1,271 per year, according to the American Pet Products Association. During this same time, median US household income declined by 7.5%. Given these competing trends, more than half of the pet households surveyed are opting to own fewer pets due to the costs.

What Households Sacrifice to Pay for Pet Healthcare

"I would consider paying almost any amount to keep my pet healthy," agreed 73% of pet parents polled. Dedicated pet parents are willing to make many lifestyle sacrifices to fund care for a sick pet.

• 83% of respondents would be willing to cut back on eating out or going out to provide better healthcare for their pets

• 72% would tighten their belts to be more frugal on other household expenses

• 66% would skip a vacation

• 8% would be willing to move from their current home

How Pet Parents Are Managing with Less and Doing Without

Pet parents are employing different tactics to manage the costs of their pet’s healthcare. Some of these tactics are dangerous, despite intentions to provide the best care for their pets. 

The most common cost pet parents are cutting is veterinary visits. 35% of pet parents are cutting back on or skipping recommended vet visits to save money. Flea and tick protection, vaccinations, prescription medications, and heartworm protection are other areas pet parents are choosing to cut back on. That is potentially exposing their pets to dangers – and large health care bills – down the line. Pet parents are not even considering online vets as an alternative. Even that has become expensive to them.


A Concerning Trend: Skipping Recommended Medications to Save Money

12% of pet parents have taken one of these potentially dangerous cost-cutting steps: delayed buying a recommended prescription, split pills or using less of a prescription than recommended, or declined to buy a prescription their pet was prescribed.

Pet Healthcare Costs Increase 53% when the Pet has a Chronic Condition

How much do the bills go up when a pet is diagnosed with a chronic condition? 

The study found that, on average, pet parents spend $611 per year per pet for healthcare-related expenses. These include vet visits, prescription medications, diets, flea and tick protection, and emergency procedures and care.

Pet owners whose pets have chronic conditions spend an average of $935 per year per pet on healthcare expenses. That is a 53% increase over the average. Some pet parents are paying much more (in five figures) for pets with serious conditions like cancer.


Savvier Ways to Save

Facing the growing costs of pet healthcare, pet parents are highly motivated to make the most of every dollar and find better ways to get more value.

An encouraging 41% report they have saved by learning more about preventative health and wellness. 22% of pet parents surveyed reported taking steps with their veterinarian to invest in preventative methods.

Buying pet medications online is a popular way to save money – 38% of pet households surveyed take advantage of the lower prices online. In an age of information proliferation, 76% Google their pet health-related questions to find answers and guidance online. On PetCareRx.com, pet parents can find over one thousand veterinarian and expert-verified articles and medication guides, all available to help them learn more about caring for their pets.

Take the Capstar for Cats flea medication as an example. This flea medication for cats usually costs $47. However, on the PetCareRx website, it costs $35. So, you get to save $12 by buying it online.

Enter PetPlus, the First-Ever Prescription Card for Pets

Most pet parents are concerned about the cost of pet healthcare. Many are taking action to lower costs. Some of these actions – skipping vet visits and declining prescriptions – are dangerous. Others, like buying medications from reputable online pharmacies and learning more about preventative health, make a big difference in pet parents’ financial situation and are also poised to improve their pets’ physical health. That win-win thinking is the spirit of PetPlus.

PetPlus, the new prescription card plan for pets from PetCareRx, offers savings of up to 75% on prescriptions and additional savings on vet visits, vaccinations, and more. To learn more about this new way to manage the cost of pet healthcare, visit PetPlus.com.

Plus, Do Not Miss Us on The Pet Show with Dr. Katy

Tune in at 11 am this Saturday, October 26, to catch PetCareRx CEO Jonathan Shapiro on The Pet Show with Dr. Katy, where he will discuss the Pet Healthonomics findings and PetPlus. The show will air on NewsChannel 8 in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC at 11 am EST. You can catch the episode online at ThePetShow.tv.

Americans Giving Vets the Cold Shoulder, Putting Pets' Health at Risk


As a nation, our dedication to pet health care has slipped in recent years -- according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), annual visits to the vet are down 21% for dogs and 30% for cats since 2001. Our survey of over 1,100 pet parents, the PetCareRx Pet Healthonomics Report, revealed that as many as 35% of pet parents have chosen to cut back on vet visits as a way to save money.

As a nation, our dedication to pet health care has slipped in recent years. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), annual visits to the vet have been down 21% for dogs and 30% for cats since 2001. Our survey of over 1,100 pet parents, the PetCareRx Pet Healthonomics Report, revealed that as many as 35% of pet parents have chosen to cut back on vet visits to save money.

The decline in vet visits is not the only recent pet health concern either. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, there are 37% more obese dogs and 90% more obese cats than there were 5 years ago, leading to a litany of other health problems. For example, cases of arthritis have gone up 38% in dogs and 67% in cats in the past 7 years.

Budgeting in Tougher Years

This shift is, in part, due to the recession, with pet parents everywhere forced to cut their family budget. There may also be a general unwillingness to take a pet to the vet just to find out that there is nothing wrong, with 10.8% of dog parents and 27.1% of cat parents saying that they believe a vet visit is only necessary for the event of an emergency, according to the AVMA.

An easy way to grasp the importance of routine vet visits for our pets is by looking at relative lifespan. If the average cat or dog lives to be 13 years old, that means every year they do not see the vet would be like a person not going to the doctor for 7 years. Imagine the changes that could happen to your health at that time.

One way you can save money for vet visits is by buying pet food in bulk or in larger quantities. Suppose you have a dog, and you need to feed it dry dog food, preferably the Royal Canin Dog Food. The 7.7-pound bag will cost you $38. However, if you buy the 26-pound bag, it will cost you $98. Do the math, and you will see that you are saving almost $30. 

Committing to Healthier Pets

It is vital to take your pet to the vet at least once a year. If you plan to take them to the vet only when something seems wrong, it could end up costing you a lot more money in expensive treatments. Not to mention, it puts your pet's health in jeopardy. Catching a condition during a routine checkup often leads to cheaper and less invasive treatment.

Remember that illness moves quickly – by the time a symptom presents itself, it may already be too late for the simple solution. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, if your pet has not been to the vet in over a year, it is time to schedule an appointment.

A Special Thank You to Our Blogger Partners!

The Pet Healthonomics study wouldn't have been possible without the help of these dedicated pet bloggers. Thank you for spreading the word about our study!

The Tiniest Tiger - ConservationCubClub.com

Gizmo's Terrier Torrent

Nikki Moustaki


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