Looking to save money on pet meds? Although pet-care costs can take a chunk out of your budget, there are ways to cut costs while still managing your loved one’s health.
Budget Pet Care: Do’s and Don’ts
DON'T buy the medicine at the vet’s office. “That's often a mistake because vets' markups over wholesale start at 100 percent and frequently hit 160 percent, plus a $5 to $15 dispensing fee, according to the American Animal Hospital Association's latest Veterinary Fee Reference,” advises Consumer Reports.
DO ask your vet if there is a cheaper alternative, such as a medication formulated for humans that is as effective at treating the condition.
DON'T buy from a website that claims “no prescription is required” for pet drugs. The FDA says there are risks that you may end up purchasing products that are unapproved, unregulated, counterfeit, expired, or ones that make bogus claims. In particular, two commonly sought drugs—NSAIDs and heartworm preventatives—require a vet’s involvement, especially since blood work is required before the former can be safely given and heartworm testing is necessary for the latter. Circumventing this only endangers your pet’s health.
DO shop on websites that are accredited pharmacies. Ninety-seven percent of online websites selling prescription drugs are not recommended by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)--an organization that makes sure online pharmacies meet state and federal licensing requirements, assesses for quality assurance and ensures prescriptions are valid. Seek out pharmacies that have been deemed Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (Vet-VIPPS), a status granted by the NABP, such as PetCareRx. You can find other such pharmacies on the NABP website (there are 24 in total). The online retailer should display a Vet-VIPPS seal (as PetCareRx does).
DO ask your vet for advice before shopping online. The FDA recommends asking your vet’s opinions of and experiences with online pharmacies.
DO see if the website is licensed by the state board of pharmacy in the state in which the business is located. You can find the contact information for each state on the NABP website.
PetCareRx is licensed in all 50 states.
NAPB offers these additional don’ts: Don’t buy from online budget pet med retailers that…
- dispense prescription drugs when you fill out an online questionnaire.
- don’t list a phone number or street address.
- make you sign a waiver.
- don’t offer a consultation with a pharmacist, if necessary.
- only offer a limited kind of medicines.
- are international websites, since these aren’t subject to FDA regulation.
- get their customers via spam solicitations.
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Your Pet Budget: Managing Your Pet Care Needs
Managing Your Costs while Still Giving Your Pet the Best
We all have budget constraints, and thinking about how we can fit our pet care needs into our budget will help us be better pet parents. Here are some helpful tips.
Owning pets is fun and rewarding, but it is important to be aware of how much maintaining a pet will cost you each month and how much you can realistically afford to spend. The cost of owning a pet varies as greatly as the types of pets that are available. However, whether you have a dog, cat, exotic bird, or goldfish, the last thing you want to do is to have to give away a pet you have come to enjoy and love because you didn't think about your pet budget. Not to worry; here are some simple tips to ensure your pet's health and well-being -- without breaking the bank.
One way to cut back on your spending, especially in the beginning, is to buy used items. Like shopping for our children or grandchildren, we can tend to go overboard thinking our pet will be so happy to see a shiny new item and that they will love us even more. Pets, however, don't know the difference between used and new. A new ball is no better than a used ball found near a tennis court. A new bed with memory foam and massaging fingers is impressive to us, but the old bedspread you are discarding is more than fine for your dog or cat; plus, it smells like you, which is a real treat for your pet to snuggle up against.
Shop around Before you Buy: Online Stores and Forums
Perhaps going the used and recycled route is not for you, but you still want to be careful with new purchases. There are many ways for you to save money and still enjoy a brand new item. Online stores are one great way to help you compare styles, pricing, and quality before you buy. Many websites have a "top deals" option, which allows you to profit from a company's overstock. While pet medication and flea & tick products are often necessary, they can get costly. Look at customer reviews to make sure you are spending wisely and getting the most for your money. Buying better quality first, even if it costs a little more, is smart shopping.
Another avenue worth exploring is an online pet forum. Get involved with forums that focus on your type of pet and post questions about what you are looking to buy. Reading through the answers, questions, and suggestions will help give you insider tips on the best deals to fit your budget without sacrificing your pet's health.
Be sure to check your local newspapers and free thrifty shopper newsletters that you see around grocery store entrances and newsstands. Local pet stores often advertise sales in newspapers just before the weekend as well, so be sure to check there as well.
As you likely know, vet bills and vaccinations can really add up for pets that require them. Be sure to check with the various vets in your area, and don't settle for the first price you hear. Also, keep your eye out for free or nearly free vaccination days that many of the large nationwide pet stores offer at certain times of the year.
Think about Pet Food
Food may also be an item you can consider spending less on. Before you do so, though, understand that buying cheap food may seem wise short term; long term, however, you might end up paying the price for this. Cheap food that doesn't give your pet proper nutrition can spell extra visits to the veterinarian by depriving your pet of basic nutrients for a balanced diet. High-quality, more nutritious food makes for a healthier pet, which can minimize expensive vet bills later. Look for labels that say the food is "complete and balanced." If you really need to cut costs, think about how much you're feeding your pet. Overfeeding is both costly and unhealthy for your pet. Ask your vet or follow portion suggestions found on food packaging.
Budgeting for your pet does not need to be complicated, tedious, or time-consuming. Like any money management plan, it's all up to you to stay on top of things in order to maintain a balance between your pet's needs and your spending. Start saving in areas discussed here and at the same time focus on "spending" what you can afford, like more time and love for your pet.
How to Care for Your Pet on a Budget
We often refer to our pets as furry babies and ourselves as pet parents. And just like parenting a human child, parenting an animal can be tricky at times, rewarding at others, but also very expensive. With pet care products, pet food, vet visits for illnesses, and vaccines, the cost of owning a pet can get quite high. In order to not spend beyond our means sometimes, we have to budget our costs and cut down on some of the more luxurious spendings.
Here are a few tips to help you care for your pets on a budget
- Find a cheaper vet: There is no way to completely avoid vet visits but this is one thing that can cost a considerable amount. Look at different options in your area and try and find a vet with more reasonable rates. If you have a veterinary college close to you, you can avail of the cheaper services at their clinic which is run by the students but supervised by a fully qualified vet.
- Compare rates of medication: Often if you have to fill out your pet’s prescription at the vet’s office you could be paying more than if you do it at a pharmacy. Shop around a bit and find the most reasonable deals so that you can spend less on medicines for your pet.
- Grooming at home: While taking your pet to the groomers might be easier and more convenient it could cost you a good amount of money. Bathing and grooming your pet at home on your own could save you a lot in the long run.
- Get deals on pet food: Look for places where you can buy pet food wholesale or at a discounted rate to cut down on overall costs. Many stores sell food that is near expiry at a cheaper price than what is marked. Just make sure to use up all the food by the best before date.
- Keep your pet healthy: A healthy and happy pet will require few visits to the vet and less medication. Take good care of your pet by keeping it clean, not over or under-feeding it, and giving it the right amount of exercise. Trim the nails of cats and dogs, brush the fur, and use flea and tick repellent to prevent infestations. Smaller breeds of dogs, and cats might need to be kept warm during cold spells so that they don’t catch anything.
Having a furry baby can be just as expensive as having a human baby. By cutting down on a few extravagant spends and looking for deals on necessities you can manage your costs and care for your pet on a budget.
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