I recently had to rush my dog to the Veterinarian because he was having issues breathing. My Pharmacy knowledge ended up saving me $70 off of my already painful bill. I realized that many people may not know the tip that I used and it needs to be shared. I have also added a few other tips that I have discovered over the years.
1. Ask your Veterinarian if they can write you a prescription for your Pet's medication to be filled at a retail pharmacy - A lot of people do not realize that regular pharmacies will fill scripts for animals too. This trick is what saved me $70 off of my bill. I was able to pick up the two medications at Walmart for $4 each vs. the almost $80 my Vet charged for the same medications. Keep in mind that there are some medications out there that retail pharmacies will not have. Ask your Vet or even Google the medication on your phone to see if the med is used in Humans. If it is, get a prescription and fill it yourself at a retail pharmacy.
2. Search for cheap resources in your area for Vaccines and Spay / Neutering Services - You can normally have your animal fixed and get their vaccines done for much cheaper at specialty centers than you can at the Veterinarian. You can use this ASPCA search link to get you started. I have a place right up the road from me that does $15 rabies shots without an appointment on certain days. There are also lots of free services if you are a low income family. Spend a few minutes doing some research and you may save a lot of money.
3. Call around for prices and ask friends / family for recommendations - If you have the time to do some research before visiting a Vet, it may save you quite a bit of money. Make phone calls and ask about office visit prices, discounts, coupons, etc. It doesn't hurt to ask. You can also ask your friends/ family for recommendations on a good but fairly priced Vet.
4. Ask for an estimated bill before agreeing to any treatment and ask questions - My Vet office will bring us a typed bill before we agree to any X-rays, exams, labs, etc. I always ask a lot of questions and why each thing is necessary. If the cost is too high, ask your vet if any of the items can wait until a later time.
5. Be honest and open with your Vet - If there is no way that you are going to be able to afford that $500 Echo, then tell your Vet. Do not be embarrassed or feel bad. Most people are unprepared for expensive Pet bills. Explain to them that you are worried and love your Pet, but you just do not have the money (no explanation is needed). Then ask them if there are any other treatment options or anything else you can do.
I would also like to stress that you should always have an emergency fund in case anyone in your family becomes ill or injured (including your Pets). It can be hard to save and feels like a daunting task. However, if you transfer just $20 a week to an emergency fund, you can have $1120 saved in one year. Just make sure you don't touch the money unless it is an emergency!
Do you have any tips on saving money at the Vet? Please share!