I'm going to go ahead and get this off my chest as an early post. Please forgive me if I step on anyone's toes, but this is a big pet peeve of mine, and one I deal with almost daily. I never get to say this directly to my clients, so pardon me if I vent a bit.
If you have a pet, set aside the money to take care of it! Pet ownership is NOT a right. If you have a pet, you have a great responsibility to care for it. Yes, this costs money. Sorry, but that's the reality. If you take shortcuts (not getting vaccines, not using heartworm prevention, etc.), you are putting your pet's health at risk, and will possibly face some very expensive treatments. As a responsible pet owner, you need to set aside several hundred dollars per year for veterinary care, good quality food, and preventative medicines (flea and heartworm prevention). I also recommend to set up a separate fund of about $500 just for any emergencies.
Let me give you a couple of examples. Virtually every day I have a client come in just for a rabies vaccine. They do that because it's required by law, and grooming facilities require at least this one vaccine. Depending on your location, it's only about $10-20. However, the client will decline any other vaccines (for diseases that are MUCH more common than rabies), and will decline heartworm prevention. The excuse is usually that they don't have the money for it. Yet within a couple of days, they'll go to a groomer and spend $30-60 to have their dog bathed and trimmed.
Don't get me wrong. I do believe in proper hygine and care of pets, and think groomers overall do a great job. But if it's a choice between spending $40 to prevent a fatal disease and spending $40 to get rid of mats, which is the best choice for the pet?
Example #2. I'll often see a pet for an injury that may require radiographs (x-rays). That can cost $150-200. Some people have to decline it because they don't have the money. The pet is really the one who ends up suffering. That's why I recommend having a savings account just for situations like this.
So to summarize...If you're going to have a pet, please make the decision to actually take care of it. Work the costs of veterinary care into your budget. Be prepared for emergencies. Listen to your vet's recommendations and actually do them. And if you can't afford all of this, don't have a pet!
Okay, now that I have that off my chest, I'll make sure my next entry is a bit more helpful and upbeat.