Finances & Money

Saving Money as a Pet Owner: Veterinarians

By Shawn (co-author of

I’m a dog person.  My family has had a dog as long as I can remember — my aunt had a dog, my grandmother had a dog, etc. However, I’ve noticed that it’s become increasingly expensive to own a pet.  I’ve seen our vet bills creep up, the cost of food creep up and the cost of grooming creep up.

I love having a dog, but at what point does the cost outweigh my desire to have a pet.  I will say that the costs involved will not affect my decision to keep our current dog.  He’s been a great dog, and he’s a part of our family.  But, the increased costs would make me hesitate getting another dog in the future.

Because of this, I’ve tried to find some ways to save some money.

One thing I found was that our county offers rabies shots for $5.  Consider that it costs me $50 just for the vet appointment and another $15-20 for the rabies shot there, this seemed like a steal.  I did have to wait in line, but, I felt it was worth it.

We only have to get a rabies shot for the dog (in NC) every 3 years, but we need other shots every 6 months.  So, I wasn’t really saving all that much because I still have to go to the vet for the others.  Thus, I’m still paying the office visit, so my net savings on the rabies shot is only $10-15.

Another way I’ve been able to save some money at the vet is by just saying “No”.  I’ve found that the vet is constantly trying to upsell services to me.  I’ve gone to a few different ones, and they all do it.

My dilemma is that our dog is 14 (which is pretty old).  I have a really hard time justifying $300 or so per month in extra services such as acupuncture. I haven’t really looked much into pet health insurance because of our dog’s age (most places won’t take new policies on pets over 10), so I can’t say if something like that would be cost-effective.

If anyone has had experience with any of these plans, I’d love to hear about your experience.

About the author

Clever Dude


  • Every 6 months for shots are you kidding. Our dog only goes in once a year and they give her everything at that time. It only costs $33 and that includes most of the shots (sometimes they’re an extra $5 or $10). One thing I like about our vet is that she tries homeopathic remedies first, recommending easy DIY treatments instead of medicines.

    We also make our own dog food which really cuts down on the cost of pet ownership. I’m like you though, I’m going to seriously consider not getting a dog to replace ours.

  • Yeah it sounds like your vet is trying to cash in on you. When we choose a vet for our pet we went with one who had been open for many years and was located in the ‘cheaper’ part of town.

    Also, when we suspec there is a problem with one of our pets we use ‘google’ to try and trouble shoot what it may be. It has worked wonders. For instance, one of our cats as allergic to Purina Indoor Cat food. We would have spent over $175 in vistis and tests to find out what a website was able to tell us. We simply switched the food and he got better instantly. Of course, if he were not to then I would have taken him to the vet.

    Pet’s are not just animals, they are companions. They are the only thing in the world that will give you unconditional love and to me you cannot put a price on that. If I had a dog who needed thousands of dollars of surgery, it would be worth it. I could never put an animal down simply because I was too cheap. I’d find a way. I think that as pet owners we have a moral obligation to take care of our pets no matter what. If people cannot fathom this, then perhaps they shouldn;t have pets.

    – Neko

  • I’m with Neko. Our two year old mutt has needed about 3000 of emergency care this year, and this number doesn’t make me flinch at all (but $3000 extra of almost any other thing would! we’re not well-off by american standards!) The conditions should not affect the rest of her life but at this point I may look into pet insurance options. Even if they don’t cover anything related to what’s already happened to her, it would help in the case of a bad accident or cancer diagnosis. I have just asked a lot of questions of every vet & nurse we’ve met with. I ask what they would do for their own pet, what lower-cost options exist, what if we didn’t do the services, etc. I know we’ll be lifelong dog owners, no matter what the cost. Just make educated decisions and be a responsible pet owner, and try to encourage other pet owners to do the same! And good for people who realize that maybe they won’t get another dog if they’d rather not pay the costs.

  • Shawn, you have really taken up a valid issue. I used to own a dog myself, but with the increasing cost, I decided to get rid of it. It was a tough decision, but I had no other option.

  • Pet care is definitely a major expense these days. Just have to make sure you have a vet you trust (much like a mechanic), and that they’ll do what’s best for the animal and your finances (without causing harm to the pet).

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