Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Sick Pet Savings
Several weeks ago I read an article in an email newsletter I subscribe to. It was about the cost of pets. There was one glaring problem with the article: the author had only been a pet owner for 3 years. He covered the costs of pet care when the pet is healthy and nothing is unusual, but he left out emergencies and illnesses. He naively said that he believes in letting pets go when it's their time. I actually agree with that last statement, but it completely left out the in-between from disease diagnosis to death. Rarely do illnesses just happen suddenly and take a life. As with humans, they're often prolonged ordeals. And that gets expensive.
It's been nearly 2 years since our cat Calvin was diagnosed with kidney disease. His care started off simply enough with just a prescription diet, but then he kept getting bladder infections that required antibiotics and frequents tests. As his kidney function has declined, the medications have stacked up: blood pressure meds, glucosamine, a drug to help his kidney function, a daily antibiotic to try to stave off his infections, and now even saline IVs.
Additionally, his kidney and bladder problems cause him to use the litterbox way more than he used to. We fly through bags of litter at the speed of light. We use a fairly expensive litter, and now we've added a second, even more expensive litter to the mix. Our costs have skyrocketed, but it's not like we can just not give him what he needs.
I've had to seek out ways to save on his costs. There's really no way to save on vet bills themselves unless the vet's office is running a monthly special, like 15%-off blood work every October. (Our vet does this.) But I can save on some of the medications. I wrote last year about enrolling Calvin in the discounted drug program at CVS. That's saved us a ton of money on his blood pressure pills. I've found his kidney-function pills and glucosamine on Amazon from pet-med sellers there. It's the same stuff I get from the vet, but it's considerably less expensive. The only drawback I've run into is that the kidney med has to be refrigerated. The seller sends it packed with cold packs, but I can only order this during cold or cool weather. Transit through Texas heat melts the cold packs too easily. But it's a savings during those cooler months, and every little bit helps.
We administer all meds at home, including the saline IVs. Steven, who isn't needle-phobic like I am, learned at the vet's office how to give Calvin his IV at home. We only pay for the bag of fluids and needles. We're saving $10 every time we give Calvin his IV, as that's the cost to have it done at the vet's office.
I've also been seeking out cat litter rebates. I can't do this with every bag of litter, but the picture at the top of this post shows a rebate I received yesterday for a small bag of Feline Pine (our regular litter, but a smaller size than usual which was a requirement for the rebate). It refunded me the full cost of the bag. When we empty the bag of our newest litter, I'll be sending that UPC symbol in for a full-refund rebate on that bag. I paid $16 for that tiny bag of litter, so it's a significant rebate.
In the long run, small savings on sick-pet care add up. And knowing that it helps us afford to keep our boy as well as can be makes it that much more important. When we adopted him, we took on the full responsibility of his care, and we intend to live up to that promise until the day he's too sick to endure. But if we can save a bit of money on it, we will.