Americans are the proud owners of 143 million dogs and cats. But having a pet these days doesn't come cheap. Spending on medical services for animals of all kinds has reached 18 billion dollars a year. So how can you afford the high cost of 21st century vet care? Consumer Reports has discovered plenty of ways for owners to save.
Kathy Welsher is no stranger to the high cost of veterinary care, thanks to Bear, Sinbad and Thunder.
"Especially Thunder, with his allergies and just general checkups, he gets kind of costly."
Consumer Reports says the average vet bill has increased 100 percent in the last decade. And owners like Kathy are willing to pay.
"He's my baby, so anything it takes to keep him healthy."
Consumer Reports says don't despair. There are ways to save on veterinary care. First, you have to do some price comparisons.
"Even for routine services, get an estimate from several different vets. And if your pet has a serious problem, make sure you get a second opinion before you consent to costly tests and treatments."
If your pet needs medication, like Thunder does, realize you'll pay more for it at the vet. Consumer Reports says you're better off getting a prescription from your vet, then shopping around for the medicine.
"Animal medicines are often the same ones prescribed for people. Our research found that you can save a lot of money if you just go to a regular pharmacy, either locally or online."
Other ways to save on pet care:
• Talk to your vet about getting booster shots every three years instead of annually.
• Buy frequently-used medicine in bulk.
• And ask your vet about discounts on exams — many will cut the cost of annual visits if you bring three or more pets.
If you follow these tips, you can save money while making sure your pets stay in the best of health.
Consumer Reports says another way to save before you get a pet is to choose your breed of cat or dog carefully — some are predisposed to genetic disorders because of inbreeding. For more information on how to save money on your pet's medical expenses, go to ConsumerReports.org. Click on "20 Ways to Cut Vet Costs." This information is available free until July 7th.