5 Ways to Prevent Barking-Mad Vet Bills

When it comes to illness and disease, prevention is as important for pets as it is for humans. Nobody likes vet visits. Not the pets being treated, nor the owners who pay. But there are ways to avoid costly vet bills. 

From the outset, pet insurance is a good idea – spend a little today to save a lot tomorrow. Be sure to shop around and double-check on details like excess and waiting periods to avoid any nasty surprises. As a start, whether you've got a cat, dog or rabbit, get your pet spayed or neutered is considered a must to improve your pet's health, behaviour and life-span. Then follow these pet health tips to keep your new best mate pet happy and healthy.

1. Choose your pet (and your vet) wisely

Do your research. Some breeds are prone to particular health problems. You may want to avoid certain breeds or at least be prepared for when the problems arise. Find a vet you trust. Shop around. Some may be more willing than others to work within your budget. Others may not have experience with ‘exotic’ pets – which includes the humble bunny!

2. Keep your pet safe

Always make sure your pet is safely contained, controlled and supervised. This is the best way to prevent devastating (and expensive) accidents and altercations. Keep choking hazards and toxic chemicals, such as snail pellets, out of the way. When walking your dog, keep it on a leash where required and enlist puppies in doggy school which will help them socialise better with other dogs. Kids are great with kittens, once they've been taught how to handle them.

3. Keep your pet clean

Wash your pet at home rather than paying someone else. Some owners like to enlist professionals to trim nails and clip coats; others like to save money by doing it themselves. Train your pet from a young age so that it gets used to nail trims, coat clips, and ear and paw inspections. Dental care and good oral health can also prevent expensive cleanings and treatments.

4. Keep your pet healthy

As with humans, pet health is directly linked to its nutrition. Depending on what your pet eats, try making your own healthy pet food: a weekly cook-up of meat, vegetables (even leftover vegetable scraps) and grains means high-quality food at a much cheaper price. Always give them plenty of water, especially in summer, and be careful not to overfeed. Obesity is a huge and costly problem for pets. Vaccinate your pet on schedule to prevent serious and costly illness and disease. Some problems, such as heartworms, intestinal parasites and flea infestations, can be avoided with home-preventative medications. An annual health check is a good way to catch potential problems before they become more advanced.

5. Keep them active

Pets need regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight and prevent weight-related complications such as diabetes. Make sure your pet has enough run-around time. For dogs, regular walks are vital to keeping your dog (and you) healthy. Pet ownership can be expensive. But with a little research and preventative action, your furry best friend can remain healthy and happy – and so can your wallet. Dogs are still Australia's favourite pet. According to the RSPCA, there are 19 dogs for every 100 people in Australia. The cost of a dog doesn't end when you take it home for the first time. Here's a breakdown of costs for your (small, medium or large) dog, including registration, vet fees and daily care.  

Approximate upfront costs of your dog

Microchipping: $60-$80 Desexing: $200-$500 Worm and flea treatment, and heartworm prevention: $120-$300 Puppy vaccinations: $170-$250 Council registration: $40-$150 (desexed/undesexed) Car restraint: $30+ Bed and/or kennel: $100-$200 Puppy training: $170 Collar, leash or harness: $40-$100 Grooming: $70-$90 Toys and treats: $50+ Food and bowls: $800

Approximate ongoing yearly costs

Worm and flea treatment: $120 Annual health check: $90 Grooming: $70-$90 Toys and treats: $30+ Food: $600+ Kennelling (basic board): $25-$40 per day Medicine, treatment and surgery: can climb into the thousands of dollars.

Hit with an unexpected vet bill this month? Get sorted and get back in control.

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