Owning a pet can be expensive, especially when it comes to their veterinary care. My beloved cat, Sara, died last year after she was diagnosed with cancer, but not before I broke the bank by spending about $600 on tests and medications to make her comfortable. In the end, there wasn’t much I could do for her. When she passed away, I cried as though I had lost my mother.
One thing I learned from the whole experience is that there are ways of saving money on your pet’s health care. Some veterinarians take the “here’s how much it will cost to treat your pet” mentality, and then let you decide whether you are going to spend the cash to keep you pet healthy, or in some cases, alive. If you can find a vet that will give you several treatment options, keep them. They are worth their weight in gold.
The veterinarian treating Sara was truly a saint. He took her home at night so he could keep an eye on her progress, and he suggested many different tests and treatment options, and didn’t even charge me for some of them. He even sent some of her lab work to the local veterinary college, where students and instructors did the tests for free. I’m lucky enough to live in an area that actually has a veterinary college, and if you have one in your area, definitely check and see if they will treat, vaccinate or run tests on your animals. Their students need the experience, and many times you can get this done for free or at low cost.
Now I have a new cat, Charlie, as well as two dogs: an 11-year-old Border Terrier named Winston, and a Jack Russell Terrier named Lucy. Total cost of my pets: $0. That’s right, they were all free, even though my dogs are pure bred animals. Winston came with an apartment my family moved into 11 years ago. The previous renters were moving to an apartment that didn’t allow pets, and they had to find him a new home or take him to the pound. We took him in and he’s been a great pet. Charlie was a stray that wandered into our yard shortly after Sara died, and he wouldn’t leave, so we kept him. Lucy was part of a litter of puppies that the owner didn’t want and didn’t have papers for, so she was just given to us.
However, we have been experiencing an abnormal rainy season here in Oklahoma this summer, and the flea infestation of my back yard has been unbelievable. All three of my animals use the back yard, so every time they come back into the house they are covered in fleas. Now, I don’t know if you have priced flea repellent lately, but it is quite expensive. Luckily, there are several dollar stores near my home.
I had to run out today and find some flea repellent and kitty litter. I went to the two major pet store chains first, PetSmart and PetCo. Depending upon the brand, flea repellent was going to cost me about $70 to $80 for the two dogs, plus another $20 to $40 for the cat. The kitty litter was also about $5 to $10. I was looking at potentially spending about $130 for my pets’ supplies today, money I definitely don’t have or want to spend.
So I went to the nearest dollar store, just across the street from PetCo. There, I found flea treatment for the dogs with the same active ingredients as many of the brands I found at the pet store, a flea collar for the cat, and an 8 pound bag of kitty litter. I even picked up a package of dog biscuits. Total cost: $5.46. Total savings: about $125. Not bad for spending an extra 10 minutes shopping around.
The pet stores also had a number of different chemicals to get rid of the fleas in the home. These ranged from $10 to $30. Luckily, I am a big fan of books about using “home remedies” and items you find around your home to solve cleaning and pest problems around the home. I had read that spreading ordinary table salt on carpeting will help kill off the fleas and dry up their eggs and larvae that may be in the carpet. I’m going to give that a try tonight. My wife picked up about 5 large containers of generic table salt for about 50 cents each. Total cost: $2.50. Total savings: about $27.50. So, today alone we have saved about $150 on our pets’ needs and pest control. Without having to spend so much money on their care today, they truly are my “best friends”.