Sometimes your pet needs special food.
Maybe they’ve got an upset stomach, and they need something to soothe it. Or maybe they’re a little chunky (shhh… don’t tell them) and could benefit from a veterinary diet. Sometimes they have weird allergies, so you’ve got to be choosy in what you feed them.
Whatever it is, you’re happy to splurge because they’re part of the family, but this can get expensive pretty fast. (Why is Fido eating better than you?!)
If this is your current situation, here are a few ways to treat Sparky like the king he is — and save money:
1. Don’t Automatically Assume the Vet Has the Best Price
Chances are, you’ve already forked over a good amount of money for your pet’s vet exam, especially if he needed blood work.
So now the vet gives you authorization for a veterinary diet. They might have it in stock at the vet office, but it’s worth comparing prices elsewhere. What you might not know, is your pet store probably carries this stuff — and you could get a discount on it. (Just make sure to get a prescription from your vet!)
Just check on Petco’s website to see if it has what you need. You can choose to pick up the items in store (or curbside) or order them for delivery.
Even better: When you order online and pick it up, you’ll get 10% off. Or, if your pet needs this food long-term, set up repeat orders, and you’ll get 35% off your first order.
Not so bad, right?
2. Think Ahead and Research Pet Insurance
If you don’t already have pet insurance, this little hiccup with Spot just might be the push you need to start researching it.
Here’s how it works: You pay a monthly fee for the insurance, then it covers any big, qualifying vet bills in the future. Like all insurance, it’s a bit of a gamble, because you never know if you’ll really need it, but the chance of facing at least one expensive vet bill is pretty high.
We recommend looking for plans with comprehensive coverage, so read the fine print and make sure the policy will cover what you might need. The best plans will cover everything from accidents to hereditary conditions to lab tests to emergency visits.
Some of the most popular pet insurance companies include Trupanion, HealthyPaws and Figo, if you want to start your research there!
3. Find a Payment Plan That Works For You
If Daisy’s new diet resulted from a lengthy process of tests, X-rays or bloodwork, you might be facing a pretty hefty vet bill right now.
If you’re in a pinch, there are some programs out there that won’t send you into a spiral of credit card debt. For instance, Scratchpay is an online payment plan. If you qualify, you have 90 days to pay off the bill balance with no interest.
There’s also CareCredit, which is pretty popular. It’s basically a credit card for your vet expenses. If you make the minimum payments and pay your tab off within the promo period (usually six to 24 months), you won’t have to pay any interest.
You can ask your vet more about these alternatives. Again, just be careful to read the fine print!
We all want what’s best for our four-legged friends. Now you can make sure they’re taken care of — without breaking the bank.
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.