Vet & Pet Bills – How to Minimise Them?

Bowie had a long history with vets especially due to his leg injuries. In Bowie’s first two years of life, he had visited 4 different vets over 35 times.

3 times for vaccinations and general checkups.
2 times for diarrheas.
1 time for emergency induce vomiting.
2 times for sultanas episode – Read my post ‘Did you know – Grapes, raisins and sultanas are toxic for dogs’.
1 successful attempt (and 1 failed attempt) for desexing – due to sultanas episode.
5 times under anaesthesia.
10 times for leg injuries – Read ‘Bowie’s Injuries & Road to Recovery’.
16 times for rehabilitation.
0 pet insurance.
Vet costs only – close to $10,000 in Bowie’s first two years of life.

Are we just unlucky? Maybe, but we can’t predict. Do we regret not getting a pet insurance? Maybe. For some pet owners, pet insurance could be very beneficial, though in our case, I suspect the insurance would not cover his leg injuries (ie. waiting period, pre-existing conditions, claim limit etc). In retrospect though, we could have avoided some of those vet visits and minimised the expenses.

Did you know that the cost of owning a dog over its lifetime can be up to $25,000? – not including unexpected health problems.

(Source: BankWest Family Pooch Index) estimate the total costs for a domestic pet in the first year to be between $3,000 to $6,000 which vary according to the breed, age and size of the animal, if they have ongoing health issues, and if you choose to take out pet insurance. Below is only a guide of some of the expenses you might be paying when you get a new pet. Always do your own research.

Buying the dog – depends on the breed and where you get it from. You can always consider adoption if you’d like to save monies – plus it’s rewarding. Stay away from puppy farms and backyard breeders.From $200 to $3,500 plus
Vet expenses – microchipping, vaccination, desexing, vet check upsUp to $1,000 in first year, then about $450 every year after
Health expenses – flea, tick, wormingBetween $300–450 each year, depending on your dog’s size
Dog food – wet food, dry food and treatsAbout $800 per year for premium dog food, PLUS treats
Accessories – collar, harness, leash, car restraint, winter coats, bowls for food and water, kennels and beds, toysUp to $500 initially to set up, then about $100 per year
Local council registration – a desexed dog is cheaper to registerCouncil registration fees can cost between $30–$190 per year
Dog obedience trainingUp to $30 per group class session, and more when it’s one-on-one session
Dog walking, day care and boardingDog walking costs between $20–25/hr. Dog day care and boarding services can cost between $30–60/day.
Dog grooming – depends on the breed of the dogBetween $50–80 per session
Pet insuranceBetween $20–$60 per month, per pet

There are some expenses that can’t be avoided, but there are also some things that you can do yourself to save monies – like walking your dog, DIYs, dog grooming, making sure you puppy-proof your home to avoid accidents, and looking after your dog’s health and wellbeing with good diet and exercise to avoid complications and vet bills later in their life.

Always do your research before deciding which dog’s food, flea and worm products and accessories to buy – what’s the best for you and your dog in the long run. Shop around for best deals.

Here are some tips that can save you from vet bills based on our experience:

It’s very common for your dog to have tummy upsets now and then (as I’ve found out having a non-discriminant eater). Try limit your dog’s diet to small portions of bland food – like boiled chicken and rice for a few days – and gradually add his regular diet. Don’t be surprised if your dog is constipated afterwards. The tummy just takes its time to settle down and does its thing. Your dog’s food might also be the culprit of your dog’s soft stools. We tried 3 different dog food brands before finding the right one for Bowie. In time, your dog’s tummy becomes more resilient and you know what triggers your dog’s upset tummy. Please consult your vet if diarrheas persist.

When your dog eats something he shouldn’t have…
Have soda crystals handy at all times as first aid for inducing vomiting immediately. They could save you monies and trips to the vet. They have saved us when Bowie ingested a liquor chocolate with its wrapper and a cricket ball leather covering.

Do your own research and get second opinion before committing into anything
Not all vets know everything. Find a vet that specialises in what your dog needs, especially when it’s not a common case, like Bowie’s (Read Bowie’s injuries here). It’s worth spending a bit more money to get a full diagnosis for the correct treatment. We ended up spending much more money and having to put Bowie in pain and unnecessary procedures by not getting a proper and correct diagnosis in the first place. We could also have prevented his injury getting worse and/or other injuries if we were fully and correctly informed. Do your research, ask plenty of questions and be informed before making any decisions, and make sure you feel confident and comfortable with your vet.

Of course you want to give the best to your dog and will go the extra mile for your dog’s wellbeing. However you’ve also got other bills to pay, groceries to buy, family to support and having pet is not cheap. It’s a lifetime commitment, yet unconditional love in return. Best of luck x

The cost of a pet

This infographic explores pet ownership, average costs and pet insurance in Australia to see how much a pet really costs. Click thumbnail below to view full size.