Did the title grab your attention? With the state of the world's economies nowadays, it probably did. Everybody (myself included) is trying to find ways to pinch pennies and save a little money. That also includes at the vet. I have spoken to many clients in the past week that are price-shopping or trying to cut corners. They skip many vaccines, take their dogs off heartworm prevention, decline recommended services, and so on. Honestly, that doesn't save money in the long run. Let me give you several examples.
Heartworm prevention for an average dog will cost about $40 every 6 months ($80 per year). Treatment for heartworm disease can easily cost $800-1000 without complications. Treatment is also rough on the body and carries risks. Do the math really quick and you'll find that for the cost of treating it once, you could have bought prevention for at least 10 years. Which is the most cost-effective or saves you the most money? Which could you more easily afford?
A vaccine for parvo will cost about $30-40. Treatment for parvo can easily cost $600-1000 or more. Which one can you most easily afford? Remember that parvo is usually fatal without treatment, so this is only counting the financial aspects and not the emotional ones.
Taking a less serious example, a vaccine for bordetella (kennel cough) is about $25. This isn't a fatal disease, but does require antibiotics to clear the infection. Between the office visit, cough medications, antibiotics and simple blood cell counts, you can easily spend over $100. Is that more affordable than the vaccine?
Remember that health care is about value, not about actual cost. I know that times are tough, and you have to make sacrifices in order to make ends meet. I'm also fully supportive of making sure that your human family members are taken care of before the furry, feathery, or scaley ones. However, when you're "counting the cost", make sure to look at the ultimate, long-term cost and not just the immediate one. You might find that spending a little money now will save you a lot in the long run.