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One of the most common reasons for people to surrender their pets to shelters is because of the need for veterinary care and the costs associated with it. We also get a lot of folks who bring their pets to us thinking we can provide medical care, which unfortunately is not the case. Our veterinary services are limited to spay/neuter and vaccine clinics.

One of the things we discuss with potential adopters is their ability to afford regular care, such as vaccines and parasite treatments; this alone can cost a few hundred dollars a year. These things are expected and can be planned for, but what happens when your pet becomes ill or is injured? This can result in hundreds or even thousands of dollars in vet bills, and most veterinary clinics require payment at the time services are rendered.

When our beloved pets are suffering, we tend to be emotional and even a little panicky. Their inability to communicate their distress to us makes it even worse. For this reason, we tend not to think clearly when we get into the exam room with the vet. I made this mistake just last winter when, on a Friday morning, I realized my favorite cat was in some sort of pain. She had not come running for breakfast, and was sitting with her back arched in an odd position. My regular vet was not in, so I was even more thrown off by having to deal with one that I wasn’t really familiar with. Instead of discussing all of the options, I agreed to a bunch of tests – and $634 later, walked out with medicine for an upset stomach. After relaying the incident to my regular vet a few weeks later, she told me she would have tried the simple remedy first before subjecting the cat to X-rays and blood tests.

Live and learn. The moral of the story here is to discuss all methods of treatment with your vet before deciding on anything, just as you would if you were seeking treatment for yourself.

If you are unable to avoid a big bill, many veterinarians work with credit agencies that can qualify you for credit right at the time of service. If you need to do that, just make sure that you completely understand the terms of the loan and know the interest rate. You may be better served by using your credit card, even if you have to call and ask for an increase in your available credit.

You also may want consider investing in pet insurance. This is a growing industry, and there are some good companies out there. You can find websites that compare the benefits of the different entities, but I would first inquire at your veterinary office to see which ones they accept and if they would recommend one in particular.

Source: Do the math: Your pet will cost you

Posted in 2016, SJRAS Articles