I-TEAM Money Saver Alert: The cost of keeping your pet healthy

DAYTON — Anyone with a pet knows they are like family but the costs to keep them fed, healthy, and happy can really add up. And, for some, paying for medication is a particular burden as certain types of medication can cost hundreds of dollars.

Daril Bradley adopted his pit bull mix King about a year ago, and like anyone who cares for a pet, he’s learned expenses can add up.

Bradley lives in Pittsburgh and says, “You got to think of – you’re paying for their food, medication, and toys. I don’t want to compare it to having a kid, but it’s kind of like that.”

The cost of medications can particularly come as a shock. Take it from Steve Irvin after his 14-year-old pup Casper ended up with ticks.

“The vet suggested Nexgard, so we got it and HeartGuard. She just last week got a one-year supply. It was $377 and that was with an $80 rebate so that’s one dog,” Irvin said.

Using a rebate was a smart choice to shed some of the cost. We went and visited Animal Friends to ask what else can pet owners do to save money.

Lead Veterinarian Dr. Donald Consla said when it comes to something like HeartGuard, there are good generic brands, but some meds – the name brands work better.

“Sometimes that’s where it gets tough – do you go with the one that’s proven to be the most effective, or do you gamble a little bit and try and find a generic,” Dr. Consla said.

While some folks look to online retailers to save a buck or two on drugs, Dr. Consla said that can also be a gamble.

“A lot of online pharmacies, we just don’t know how they store and handle their drugs. They might be doing a great job, but we don’t know. I’ve seen counterfeit products like Seresto collars,” Dr. Consla said.

And so – he says buying through your vet’s office is the safest bet. But, if you have sticker shock, consider calling your pharmacy, your pet’s drug may also be something prescribed to humans.

“See if there are any good prescription coupons and oftentimes, they will take those and that can get you a reduction in the prices and they’re dispensing a lot more medications so they can buy in bigger bulk and something that can lessen the overall cost a little bit,” Dr. Consla said.

He said a great way to avoid needing to buy costly meds is to keep your pet in good shape and stay on top of preventive care like vaccinations.

Buying pet insurance as medications are sometimes covered for treatments. Dr. Consla said there are also pet care credit cards like CareCredit. And another option is to your call your vet or local shelter or non-profit and ask if they have programs to help cover your costs.

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