Pet Medicine for Less

When Candy Fisher's dog, Chrissy, was attacked by a pit bull two years ago, she spared no expense getting her the best medical treatment at her vet.

Candy says, "I don't even think about these things. I take her all the time because I want to be sure that she's taken care of."

Candy's not alone. Even during this recession, spending on pets grew to $48-billion last year. But Consumer Reports finds there are plenty of ways to tame your pet costs and still get good care.

First, comparison shop for veterinary care. A good benchmark is how much a vet charges for a physical exam.

Greg Daugherty with Consumer Reports says, "You probably won't find huge differences in the costs, but this could be a good indicator of other costs, such as major procedures that can add up to a lot of money."

Also, if your pet needs any medication, don't automatically buy the meds from the vet. Vets typically charge at least 100% more than wholesale and sometimes even more than that.

Greg explains, "Some medicines have an even bigger markup, like a whopping one-thousand percent markup on the antibiotic amoxicillin."

And if your pet is taking a medicine that's also prescribed for humans, check into filling the prescription at your pharmacy. You may be able to save a lot of money.

Also consider new money-saving options for flea and tick control treatments. Some highly effective ones are now available since the patent expired on a key ingredient in Frontline Plus.

The savings - a three-month supply of Walmart's PetArmor Plus costs $28, less than half of what Frontline Plus goes for.

So there are lots of ways to save without sacrificing care.

As for pet insurance, Consumer Reports says it's rarely worth the expense.

In its latest comparison of pet-insurance policies, Consumer Reports found that only in the most uncommon cases - when medical bills reached the high four figures - did it pay to have pet insurance.

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