Can’t Afford the Vet?
You have probably heard the phrase “if you can’t afford the vet, you can’t afford the pet” and it is true to a degree. Pet ownership doesn’t stop after the purchase of the animal and it is my personal opinion that getting a pet when you know you cannot afford vet care is selfish.
There are of course many people who fully intend on taking their pet to the vet but life happens: they lose their job, family members get sick, the pet gets hit by a car, etc. What do these people do? The absolute best thing to do is be prepared as much as possible. Get pet insurance! For something like $25 a month you can get your pet insured and it will cover most illnesses and accidents. Get a savings account. Put money away every month, as much as you can afford and use it only for vet visits. If your dog gets hit by a car or needs emergency surgery it can easily cost $5,000.00 so try to have that much in savings ready to go.
Go see the vet at least yearly. I cannot stress enough how much preventative care does exactly that: prevents illnesses. I have caught heart disease, cancer, retinal disease and more just doing annual exams. The owners had no idea their pet was ill. By taking care of these things before they got worse these owners saved thousands of dollars. Vaccines are important too, especially for puppies and kittens. A parvo vaccine may be $20, treating parvo can cost into the thousands.
Understand that you don’t have to do everything your vet recommends, but also understand the repercussions of declining. For me personally, I cannot sleep at night knowing I didn’t offer every single pet owner the very best care. Who am I to judge what people can afford? On a more selfish level, if I didn’t offer the best care and a pet died or became ill and the owner filed a board complaint, I could be fined or even lose my license. This is true for all vets. So please understand we must offer the best care and at least give you the chance to understand what you are declining. If you do decline testing or medication, understand that this limits what we can do for you. I had an owner decline testing a lump on his cat but he became very angry when I couldn’t tell him what the lump was. We offer tests for a reason. Also understand that sometimes if you decline care your only option is euthanasia. People do not like it when vets suggest euthanasia but sometimes this truly is the only other option. It isn’t right to send an animal home to die a slow and painful death simply because the owner cannot afford treatment but refuses to do the right thing and euthanize.
Also understand that wasting time on Google and pet care forums wastes precious time and money. I can cite numerous cases where an owner spent months or more researching and trying things on their own and it was something a vet could have fixed in a single visit. By the time the pet comes to us it is too late. By all means get care advice from other trustworthy sources but if an animal is ill, the internet is not your friend.
I know that there are those out there that will say they cannot put anything in savings, they cannot afford pet insurance, and they cannot even afford basic vaccines. To you I say, don’t get a pet. It just isn’t right to take a living thing into your home knowing you cannot provide it the care it needs. If you want that connection with an animal go volunteer at a shelter and walk dogs, babysit friends pets, there are lots of other ways to have animals in your life without owning one.