Stop pet health bills from biting

 

Bill shock can sink its teeth into you when paying for medicines and supplements for your pets. But you can cut the cost for furry family members by widening the search beyond the local vet surgery.

Discounts of up to 50 per cent are available for exactly the same product when bought through online pet medicine suppliers or large pet retail stores.

Veterinarians may also charge dispensing fees between $10 and $50 on top of medication costs.

Buying supplies from online stores is usually cheapest because of their lower business overheads, but be sure to factor in delivery charges when doing your sums.

SHOP AROUND

Always aim to buy pet medicines from a reputable outlet and try to avoid looking overseas, says Pet Insurance Australia spokeswoman Nadia Crighton.

"Overseas purchases may seem cheaper but it is vital to double-check they are the real deal," she says.

"It's always safer to talk to your veterinarian and to ask if there is a cheaper alternative rather than searching online for products overseas."

Crighton recommends shopping around for supplements, with some products such as fish oils and flaxseed oil able to be bought cheaply at supermarkets.

"Do the maths," she says.

"If you are supplementing your pet, could it be better to slowly switch their diet to save money rather than adding to your costs?"

Linda and Scott Sumner with their daughters Alannah, 9, and Lily, 11, and cats Smokey and Bandit. Picture: Damian Shaw
Linda and Scott Sumner with their daughters Alannah, 9, and Lily, 11, and cats Smokey and Bandit. Picture: Damian Shaw

INSURANCE PROTECTION

Crighton says taking out pet insurance from a young age can be a big help.

"Typically offering an 80 per cent benefit on eligible vet bills, a policy may well ease the burden of expensive medication prescribed for your pet," she says.

Linda Sumner and husband Scott have spent thousands of dollars on care, diet and medicines for their ragdoll cat Bandit, who suffers an extremely rare disease that causes thickness in his intestine walls.

She says Bandit is one of just 14 cats worldwide diagnosed with the disease and the family has been fortunate to have some costs paid for them.

"We have pet insurance and were the recipient of $15,000 last year for all of Bandit's troubles," Sumner says.

"We are animal lovers and will do anything to look after our pets," she says.

The Sumners also save money through discounts on prescription diets for Bandit and his brother Smokey by ordering bulk deliveries from a supplier every two months.

Daughters Lily, 11, and Alannah, 9, have shown their own love of animals by raising almost $2500 for the RSPCA in the past year.

TALK TO YOUR VET

The Animal Pharmacy director Susan Dale says not all pet owners realise there could be cheaper options available, and vets themselves may suggest more affordable options if you ask them.

You can try asking for a prescription so you can compare medicine prices.

"Veterinarians still hold and provide many medications, so it is not usual practice for a prescription to be offered," Dale says.

"However, this does seem to be changing and we have seen enormous growth in the number of prescriptions being written over the years."

Dale says unfortunately there is no Medicare for animals, and pet owners must pay the actual cost.

"Take (arthritis drug) cyclosporine, for instance," she says.

"A box of 30 capsules for a human is covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, so the maximum a person will pay is $40.30 despite it being worth considerably more. However, a box of 15 capsules of the same strength for an animal retails around $150."

 

PAY LESS FOR PET MEDICINES

• Do an online search for Australian companies with competitive prices and a good reputation.

• Ask your vet if they are happy to provide a prescription - it does not hurt to ask.

• Have a discussion with your vet about cheaper alternative treatments if you are struggling to afford medication.

• Organise pet insurance to cover unexpected costs, especially if your pet is later diagnosed with a condition that requires lifelong treatment.

Source: theanimalpharmacy.com.au

Originally published as Stop pet health bills from biting

@keanemoney


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