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Everyone has tips and ideas about saving money, but when it comes to pet care, a lot of the ideas that are out there just make me worry about their impact on the health and happiness of our animal companions. I’ve seen advice in (otherwise) respected publications that suggests vet-shopping for price, or skipping veterinarian visits entirely in favor of feed-store vaccine clinics and at-home medical care. Other articles say there’s “no difference” in pet foods, so buy the cheapest.
Much of this advice couldn’t be more wrong. That's even true of much of the “expert” advice, when it doesn’t draw from the expertise of the only true experts in pet care: veterinarians.
Instead of worrying about saving money when treating a severe illness or an injury resulting from an accident, work on preventing those problems instead. Prevention is almost always less expensive than treatment, and that’s where your investment should be.
But do you know what prevention means? There are still many well-meaning pet lovers who think “wellness care” means vaccinations every year from the feed-store clinic, and that is simply not correct. Today, vaccines are tailored to a pet’s lifestyle and commonly given at far less frequent intervals, so if you think your pet is covered by a yearly combination shot — without getting a veterinary exam — you're well off the mark.
Saving money by getting “shots” every year puts pets at risk from overvaccination, and — more important — means that potentially serious health problems go unnoticed and untreated. That’s why saving money means investing in wellness care, with a complete veterinary wellness check at annual or even semiannual intervals. Health problems that are caught earlier can usually be treated more easily and less expensively.
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