Most pet owners will visit the veterinarian at some point in their lives for something unexpected and costly. This could be a result of a pet swallowing something they shouldn’t, taking a turn too quickly while playing, or developing a bad habit over a long period of time—like eating a little more than they should do. While you can’t always prevent these things from happening, there are a few simple steps you can take to improve your pet’s overall health and reduce your chances of making costly visits to your veterinarian.
According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent an estimated $15.92 billion on veterinary care in 2016. But how much of this spend is preventable? We talked to our staff veterinarians to find out about some of the most common pet owner mistakes that lead to costly veterinary bills and the simple steps you can take to keep your pet at their best.
Not pet proofing your home
Pet-proof your home—especially if you have puppies or kittens—and consider any potential hazards, including cords, string, cleaning supplies, and toxic foods. To up your game, take some extra time to practice “leave it” and “drop it” so your pet will not pick up any toxic foods or plants around your home or on walks. Ensuring your pet has a sound understanding of these commands will prevent a stroll through the park from quickly turning into a trip to the veterinarian.
If you need to leave your pet unattended, be sure to pet-proof the room or kennel where they will stay so that they can’t swallow toys or catch their collar on anything while you’re gone. If you will be gone for a long period of time, consider asking a friend or pet-sitter to stop by to check on them.
Feeding your pet too much
An estimated 58% of cats and 54% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. By keeping your pet at a healthy weight, you can reduce the chances of your pet developing an obesity-related condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or musculoskeletal issues.
Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s diet—what to look for in a high-quality diet and how much to feed them. Feed your pet at set meal times and avoid the temptation to feed them table scraps or too many treats during the day. Even a handful of treats can add a significant number of calories to their daily intake.
Not staying up to date on your parasite preventative
Parasites vary based on your region, but prevention is always less expensive and easier than a cure. Talk to your veterinarian about common pet parasites and the best preventatives for your region to keep fleas, ticks, heartworm, and other common parasites at bay.
Not maintaining a regular grooming regime
Overgrown claws, skin complaints, injuries and infections can all be prevented by adopting a regular grooming routine. What’s more, getting to know your pet better through regular grooming will help you check for lumps and bumps and stay on top of any health problems as your pet gets older. If you plan to clip your pet’s nails yourself, always seek advice from a veterinarian or groomer to ensure you’re clipping safely and correctly.
Forgetting to brush their teeth
Maintain your pet’s dental health with a regular dental care routine and get some special chews or treats for the time in between brushings and cleanings. Most pets have periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old, so getting your dog or cat used to a toothbrush early on will help keep tartar at bay. This will help reduce the chance of any expensive extractions or dental work in the long run.
If you have questions about how to brush your pet’s teeth, ask your veterinarian. They can show you toothpaste options and the best way to kick start a good dental care regime.
Failing to invest in your pet’s health
Be sure to schedule your pet’s wellness appointments each year—this is a great time to talk to your veterinarian about any questions you may have about your pet’s health overall. You can get up to speed on basic first aid for your pet, keep your pet up to date on vaccines, and catch any underlying issues that you may not see at the surface. Early diagnosis is always best.
While keeping your pet in good health and monitoring for early signs of illness can help keep veterinary costs down in the long-run, it’s still important to invest in pet medical insurance to ensure your pet is covered should the unexpected happen. Consider medical insurance for your pet to cover the cost of any unexpected veterinary bills from the start. While it doesn’t cover any pre-existing conditions, medical insurance for pets can help you pay for costly veterinary bills for any unrelated injuries or illnesses your pet may face throughout their life.