The Veterinarian Is In But Are You Counting on an Apple a Day?

doctor1 thumb The Veterinarian Is In But Are You Counting on an Apple a Day?

Preliminary results are in for PetCareRX’s ‘Pet Healthonomics’ study and they’re both revealing and concerning.

Over 1,100 households nationwide participated in the study and I guess it’s not too surprising that 74% of them are concerned about their ability to properly care for their pets as a result of the rising cost of pet healthcare. There’s good reason to be concerned…according to the American Pet Products Association the average annual costs for caring for a dog have increased 15% to $1,649 while cat care costs have jumped 28% to $1,271 per year over the past five years, all while the median income for US households declined 7.5%. One unfortunate result of this is that over half of the pet households are opting to own fewer pets. This means fewer adoptions, leading to heavier burdens on shelters and rescues.

The news is not all grim. Pet parents are willing to  sacrifice for the welfare of their pets, as these results show:

  • 73% agreed with the statement “I would consider paying almost any amount of money to keep my pet healthy.”
  • 83% of respondents would be willing to cut back on eating out or going out to provide better healthcare for their pets
  • 72% would tighten their belts to be more frugal on other household expenses
  • 66% would skip a vacation
  • and a surprisingly high 8% would be willing to move from their current home

But what are these real-world pet parents doing to cut costs right now? A variety of methods are being used and, despite the best intentions some of these can expose their pets to potential health problems and even larger medical bills later on. 35% of respondents are cutting back or skipping vet visits. Routine items like flea & tick  and heartworm preventatives are being cut back or eliminated. Nearly 1 in 5 pet parents have taken one of these potentially dangerous cost-cutting steps involving prescription medication:

  • Delayed buying a recommended prescription
  • Split pills or used less of a prescription than recommended
  • Declined to buy a prescription their pet was prescribed

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And what happens when a pet is diagnosed with a chronic disease like diabetes or cancer?Participating pet parents spent an average of  $611 per year per pet on healthcare related expenses like vet visits, prescription medications and diets, flea and tick protection, and emergency procedures and care. Those pet owners whose pets have a chronic condition spend an average of $935 per year per pet on healthcare expenses, a 53% increase over the average. Owners of pets with very serious conditions like cancer can see their bills skyrocket into the thousands, depending on the course of treatment.

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(Chronic conditions surveyed were Addison’s disease, arthritis, cancer, Cushing’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, hip dysplasia, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, and urinary incontinence.)

There are some smart ways to save…41%  have saved by educating themselves about preventative health and wellness. 22% have consulted with their veterinarian about preventative methods. Buying pet medications online has become more popular – 38% of those surveyed take advantage of the lower prices online. 76% are researching their pet health-related questions online.  I know that I’ve consulted with and taken courses at PetMD University.

PetCareRX wants to help and has come up PetPlus,  a prescription card plan for pets offers savings of up to 75% on prescriptions, and additional savings on vet visits, vaccinations, and more. PetCareRx CEO Jonathan Shapiro will be on The Pet Show with Dr. Katy this Saturday, October 26th, at 11 am EST. He’ll be discussing the Pet Healthonomics findings and PetPlus.The show will air on NewsChannel 8 in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC at 11am EST, and you can catch the episode online at

You can find the results of the initial study of 400 homes that was done last summer here. The preliminary results of the full study can be found on the PetCareRX blog The Wet Nose Press.

Does the rising cost of pet healthcare concern you? Have you taken any cost-cutting measures in your pet healthcare this past year? Are you looking for ways to save? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

PetCareRX has a great sweepstakes running now on their Facebook page. Click on the image below to enter…

ss3 The Veterinarian Is In But Are You Counting on an Apple a Day?

UPDATE: Sadly, beloved Benny of Two French Bulldogs has lost his fight with liver cancer…he gave it his all, but his tiny body just couldn’t fight anymore and he left us last night…Benny had hundreds all over the world fighting with him…Please visit his family and show your support

Benny Forever The Veterinarian Is In But Are You Counting on an Apple a Day?

This is not my typical FitDog Friday post, but I felt the results of this survey were important to share.

fitDogFriday thumb2 The Veterinarian Is In But Are You Counting on an Apple a Day?

I am sharing this information because I  feel it is relevant to my readers. I have not been compensated in any way by PetCareRX.

This entry was posted in dog health & safety, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to The Veterinarian Is In But Are You Counting on an Apple a Day?

  1. Pingback: Give Cancer the Paw–The High Cost of Love | Terrier TorrentTerrier Torrent

  2. Interesting information. We have not had to cut back yet. Our vet is very good at managing costs and giving us different options.
    2 brown dawgs recommends Monday Mischief–Just Like GrandpaMy Profile

  3. We have three dogs and two cats and all three dogs have health issues, are on multiple medications and are at the vet for tests and procedures and surgeries that, combined, have cost us a small fortune over the past couple of years.

    We try to save the smart way, by buying generic meds whenever possible, researching online to get the cheapest price (but making sure we buy from certified pharmacies too). Our vet has also been more than generous by reducing and often even waving fees for “re-checks” and “follow-ups”. But it is still a huge hit, and like you said, our income does not go as far.

    Because of this, while we’d do anything for the current animals in our care, we will probably not be able to welcome any new additions into our home in the foreseeable future, even if any of ours should pass. It’s sad to have to think that way, but when you welcome multiple animals into your home, you never think, “what happens if ALL of them get ill at the same time”. But sometimes, they do, and you need to be able to care for all of them, and I wouldn’t want to risk bringing in another and not having enough for the ones we already have.
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  4. Garth Riley says:

    We haven’t taken any cost-cutting measures really – mom & dad would give up something else if necessary – but we purchased pet health insurance for me within the last year, and we’re really glad we did. We recently had a scare when my vet felt an abnormality in my bladder & I had to have an ultrasound. Nothing was found on the ultrasound, and I’m completely okay. And our health insurance paid 90% of the charges after the deductible, which was really awesome because the total was around $800.

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  5. Andrea says:

    I have 5 dogs at this point, 4 of my own and a foster. 1 of them previously had to see the vet once a month or so. 1 of them is a puppy and of course needs all the usual vet visits, and the foster has been in for ear infection/limping/broken tooth/morbid obesity. Eventually she will go in without some dreadful health reason.

    This would get VERY expensive if it wasn’t for my vet and how awesome they are on working with me. It’s wonderful to have them, and because of their kindness, I never have to skip out.
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  6. I haven’t taken any cost-cutting measures for Chester and Gretel healthcare. That is easy for me to say though because they are really healthy. Besides Gretel’s occasional seasonal allergies, they don’t have any physical problems (knock on wood especially because Chester is 11). I had thought about getting pet insurance for Chester when he was an only doggy. The recurring expense didn’t make sense at the time financially. When we adopted Gretel she came with 3 months of pet insurance. It made me think more about potential medical costs. With one dog, if something major goes wrong the cost is manageable. With two dogs it really wasn’t for me though. I wasn’t prepared to make hard decisions of they both got a major illness or injury so I enrolled in pet insurance for both of them. We have Trupanion and pay $80 a month for both dogs. Our deductible per incident is $500 (per dog) which some would see as high but we really only wanted to avoid a financial catastrophe. If something was to happen to both of them at once I can rest easy knowing the most I will pay is $1,000 and the rest will be covered.
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  7. Dogs N Pawz says:

    Great post! It is sad that health costs are going up so much for pets and humans. Heck, the cost of everything is going up:( I don’t know what I will do if any of my dogs have an illness that I can’t pay for. Get another part time job I guess! I just keep my fingers crossed in hopes that they stay healthy.

  8. Ruby says:

    Great info Gizmo! Ma got insurance for her Angel Annie. What the policy SAID they would pay, and what they ACTUALLY paid was …nothing. Nope. Nothing. Ma was seeing red too, because Angel Annie was a sick doggie, and every claim Ma submitted got rejected because they said the vet was charging too much! What??! Back then, it was actually cheaper than other vets in the area, butts more expensive than say Ohio. So they paid NOTHING. Ma tried to complain and protest, butt to no avail. Hence, Ma doesn’t really trust these pet insurance companies.
    Butts, this seems different, this saves you on RXs and maybe some vet visit costs…sounds like it might be something to look into! Thanks Gizmo!
    Ruby ♥
    Ruby recommends I’m BACK!!My Profile

  9. Misaki says:

    Gizmo, you make a handsome doctor! Just like George Clooney in ER!

    We sure cost a lot, what with food, flea and worming treatments etc, but we’re worth it:-)
    Misaki recommends Be safe this HalloweenMy Profile

  10. Mom finally broke down and bought pet insurance for me, the $200 for my upset stomach was the last straw. Love Dolly
    Dolly the Doxie recommends Wordless Wednesday: First FrostMy Profile

  11. Pawsome article Gizmo. Dad can’t see scaling back on vet visits or medication. We get our heartworm pill (without invermectin) and flea & tick topical. Dad is not a big believer in giving us or himself a ton of medicine, he does believe in visiting the vet and making informed decisions.

    For example Essex is gimpy because of bone spurs on her rear legs. After talking it over with our vet, he decided to opt out of surgery. The surgery was iffy and might make things worse. He gives her an anti-inflammatory when needed.

    Dog Speed

    Essex & Sherman

  12. BoingyDog says:

    Wow, it’s scary that the prices are rising so high. I know several people that are struggling to keep their pets on reliable flea prevention. But reflective of the statistics, they are making sacrifices to do it. For some reason Banfield has gotten quite a bad name but I’m not sure why. I’ve been with them since the 90s when I had my cat and I think they’re amazing. They do sometimes try to sell me things I’m not sure we need but I simply tell them I don’t need it and all is fine – that’s not out of the ordinary for healthcare. They have saved me so much money and make it very easy to keep Kayo’s preventative care under control.
    BoingyDog recommends Get In the Groove With PetsMoveMy Profile

  13. Jessica says:

    I’m putting off going to the vet right now, even as we speak. But it’s not because of the money–I just sigh, pay the bill, and have a little grateful moment that I can afford it. Last time we went to the vet Silas was just so scared (unusually; he always liked his vet), and he needs shots, and I don’t wanna be a meanie.
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  14. It is all so very expensive, but we don’t skimp on vet visits. The dogs come before anything fancy for us! We are smarter now about dental care. We brush the dogs teeth on a regular basis and use a dental rinse. We are trying harder to be “proactive” instead of “reactive” and it’s cheaper!

    Wyatt’s Mom

  15. Cathy Keisha says:

    I’ve paid my respects to Benny.

    The peeps only buy store brand foods for themselves but I get the very best. TW’s been sick all summer and won’t see the doctor cos she says she’s underinsured and couldn’t afford any tests he’d send her to. OTOH, if I sneeze, I’m rammed into the PTU and taken against my will to the evil v.e.t.

  16. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing! Have a great weekend Gizmo. I’m sure you’ll be active as ever. X TH

  17. I’ve found the best way to keep healthcare costs low is to feed Honey premium food. Yes, it feels expensive when you see what a cheap bag of kibble costs. But I’ve observed less need for flea treatments, for example, when I’m feeding my dogs premium food.

    This is a really interesting survey. Thanks for sharing it.
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  18. Susie and Sidebite says:

    Hey Doc, thanks for the info, as for us, are peeps will do just about anything for or health and well being.

    We Miss Our Benny!

    The Mad Scots

  19. Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says:

    Poor Benny. Well, God rest him, he’s not suffering any more.

    I saw on Leslie Olyott’s FB post last night and sent a short sympathy note to his family via Leslie’s post. I didn’t “know” Benny except thru you, Jodi, and a few others, but I was still saddened by the news. I hate it when one of our Blogville family members loses a pet — either to illness or suddenly — but at least we all have each other to understand our deep sense of loss and mourning.

    Run free, Benny, run free. You left your paw prints on your family’s hearts.

  20. Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says:

    I need to get more details on that plan, too! Like Peggy and Jodi, when something comes up with any of my girls, I prefer to go ahead & get it taken care of and “worry” about the $ later. If we catch it and treat it soon enough, chances are better that we’ll nip it in the bud right away. But my Golden Girls are seniors now and I know they might have more issues as they age, despite higher-quality food & treats, more exercise, etc, to keep them fit. At least I have a basic insurance plan for Ducky. (I have to ask Steve or Kate about the plans they got for Jack and Maggie!) I absolutely LOVE our vet — and I’ve trusted him with the very lives of all my girls — and I truly trust his judgment when it comes to their health and well-being. Yes, he’s a bit more expensive than some of the other vets in town; but I want the best I can afford for my furry kids, and IMHO he is the best.

    And, like Kyla said, let’s extend Obamacare — aka the Affordable Care Act — to our pets! (Oh, brother, I can just hear the tirades in Congress now!)

  21. Madi and Mom says:

    Gizmo….you might want to consider dressing as a Vet for are most handsome.
    Benny taught us all to live life with gusto.
    Hugs Madi your BFFF
    Madi and Mom recommends My Friend BennyMy Profile

  22. Interesting post. We spent a small fortune when Abby had bone cancer. Some folks questioned that, and I would say that I figured it was similar to what you might spend on a couple of splurge family vacations – and what would you have to show for that? Great memories and photos of course. Well, we have 15 months of wonderful memories and photos with Abby post her diagnosis. Totally worth it – but, still, crazy expensive.

    With Rita we got insurance! We joked that now that we have the insurance, she’ll stay healthy – but hey, I’ll take that!

    I read an interesting study in the Wall St. Journal once that said if owners went to the vet and said, “I’ll pay whatever it takes, just make my dog well,” then the vets tended to only offer the most expensive solution. However, if owners said, “It’s just a dog and we’re not made of money,” the vets would present 2 or 3 different options from low to high cost. So… even though we all feel the first one, we have to pretend to be the 2nd way – in order to find out what the real options are. Either that, or be sure you truly trust your vet to tell you ALL the options.
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  23. Jodi says:

    We made the switch to raw food, which if it works correctly should help cut down on some health issues. I also stretch the heart guard to six weeks as opposed to every four, this was decided after discussing with my vet. Certain items I buy online where it’s a bit cheaper and finally, I bring them to the vet at the first sign of anything I consider abnormal. In this way I’m hoping to catch something while it’s small and before it becomes a bigger problem.

    Isn’t it the same with other things too though? Everything has gone up in price, except my pay. :-(

    Great post Gizmo~
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  24. easy rider says:

    Thanks for such an interesting post, Dr. Gizmo! I’m very sad today too and I will miss my hero Benny. every day.
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  25. Nailah Bone says:

    I think I’d be in that 8% of people that would move to smaller house to save her pet… It’s really interesting to see all those statistics, makes me really think about all I spend on Nailah’s vet bills. Thanks for the article! :)

  26. SlimDoggy says:

    We recently picked up insurance for Jack & Maggie knowing that as they age those vet bills pile up. I’m hoping we can get more folks to see the correlation between the fitness level of their pets, the food that they are fed and their general overall health. The more fit they are, the lower those bills will be. Thanks for sharing this – it’s great information…and ammunition for our cause ;)
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  27. Mollie and Alfie cost me a fortune, they are both insured for operations etc but the day to day, worming, flea general care stuff. My babies have to have the best I can give them, So so sad to hear about poor darling Benny. xxooxxx

    Mollie and Alfie

  28. Frankie and Ernie says:

    WE get our meds On Line…. butt discuss them with our Dogtor furst… and have a prescription for them… from our Dogtor.

    We will MISS our Buddy Benny.

  29. Thanks so much for sharing the survey information. I’m not surprised at any of it, but the results are definitely a cause for concern. Recently had a conversation with my own vet about the economy and he confirmed the survey results. Thought many “experts” claim and recession is over and the economy is healthy… it is not in my area. Re: the Rx plan – I wish I’d had something like that available when my Lucy and Tucker were still alive. It certainly would have helped the budget!
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  30. A furry interesting post. Other hoomans often ask Mummy why she spends so much on us, saying whee are just guinea pigs but Mummy says it is no different to a dog or cat. She has spent a lot of money on caring for us when whee are sick and whee all get vet checks efurry six months even though there is no set check up amount you are supposed to do. It give the hooman peace of mind and keep us happy so it’s all worth it in the end!

    Nacho, Noah, Buddy & Basil
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  31. emma says:

    Oh no, we read a post from Benny yesterday, knew he wasn’t doing well, but heard he was going home. So sorry for that loss, the little one was a real fighter! We have five pets, so the vet costs do add up. Us dogs have insurance that often helps with procedures and unscheduled illnesses. People need to plan and save for the check ups as they are a big key to keeping a pet healthy. We need quality food, the preventative tick, flea and heartworm meds are so much cheaper than a pet getting those issues and then having to pay for the care. Nothing in life if free, but people need to plan if they have a pet as it can be expensive. Mom spent a huge chuck this week on my surgery, Bert had teeth cleaned and Bailie her rabies, but it was planned and insurance will pay some of my costs. We are healthy pets, but even we can have things come up. People need to be aware and plan.
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  32. You look great as a dr. So sorry about yr friend benny. My sympathys to his family.
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  33. Vet Bills can be very scary. Australia has Pet Insurance but not a lot of people have gone down that line. There was a radio program the other day about a scheme to help people that have just been hit by an exorbitant bill just to save their pet. It offers assistance for those in real need which I thought was a great idea. Well done for tackling this gnarly subject
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  34. Sammy says:

    Wow….the numbers speak for themselves….healthcare for humans AND animals is super expensive and anything that can help just makes sense. Thanks for sharing this information….it’s important.

    Pam (and Sammy)
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  35. urban hounds says:

    This is interesting. I am glad people sacrifice, but I am also getting angry about the pet care costs. Particularly in the big city. Ownign a pet shouldnt be a luxury. There a people who are not deciding between a pet and a vacation but between a pet and their rent or their mortgage or their childrens clothing. As someone with 8 pets I know how expensive they are. I also know owning this many pets is a luxury btu as someone with a good job and a partner with a good job and no interest in vacataion and pet insurance for half my pets paying bills should be easier then it its. I would like to see an investigation into why costs are sky rocketing and some efforts to lower them

    urban hounds

  36. Don’t get us on the topic of vet bills or we will be here all day. Ours are very expensive and we don’t buy any meds from them as we get them at half the price online. They cost a fortune just to walk through the door. Oh and don’t mention insurance….that is another one that will get us going. Have a fabulous Friday.
    Best wishes Molly
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  37. I fear this is a problem that will always be with us, and is the same whether applied to humans or animals. Science has done a wonderful job at devising effective treatments for many chronic illnesses, but these do not come free. Often, I say, rather flippantly, that owning a dog in the UK has made be appreciate our National Health Service. But of course, healthcare costs money, whether it be via the tax payer, insurance or the private citizen, and it all come down to how much we are prepared to value (and pay for) good health, human or animal. Of course, the less money that gets diverted to intermediaries (e.g. administration costs of overly complex health insurance schemes) the better.

    Phew, go that off my chest!

    Cheers, Gail.

  38. We’re always looking for ways to save. So far this year, it mostly has been preventative measures. Mr. N eats good food, we exercise and I brush his teeth. I am thinking of giving up or switching his insurance though. The premiums keep going up an insane amount every year.
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  39. Wow!! As an owner of 7 dogs… yes seven, I take preventative measures like the food they eat to keep them healthy, exercise, etc. Having a terminally ill dog for the past two years I found it difficult at times to keep up with the costs (no health insurance at his age) but I would have done, and did everything in my power to keep him healthy (2-3x week visit to vet). I have a fantastic vet who taught me a lot so I could save money, ie giving fluids, taking care of tummy aches, etc.
    But it is a scary thought if something were to go through my house and hit all the dogs at once, not in the fact that my vet wouldn’t treat all of them, because he would… I would probably spend the next 6 months following the incident to pay him off.
    Though Riley has insurance, it would be nice to have a maintenance / preventative insurance plan available to all the dogs… it’s nearing the end of the year and I need 3 dentals done by the end of December. :( Merry X-mas to me!
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  40. Bev Green says:

    Gizmo it is heart breaking that costs are so high for people..our precious babies always need to be cared for the same as any family member..we have pet insurance in Australia too but the costs of this are prohibitive..especially when you have two dogs four cats and three sheep..we find we are better off saving money in a separate acct for the pets and using it if needed..we also have found that it a fantastic diet,exercise and trying to keep maintain good dental care is a good start to preventing many diseases..a regular annual check up also important..of course there are accidents and illnesses that you cannot help..we just go without for ourselves if needed..i did a blog on pet ownership and the ‘free’ pet myth awhile ago ..we all have times it is hard to find the money but we also need to be aware things happen..a ‘free’ pet still needs you to pay for it’s care..there should be cheaper insurance for pet owners..there are so many and they are family!! great post Gizmo have a great weekend hugs Fozziemum
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  41. Kyla says:

    I’m really upset. The current system is prejudiced in favor of the elite species. Let’s extend Obamacare to pets!
    Kyla recommends The deadline has pastMy Profile

  42. Peggy Frezon says:

    I’d like to learn more about that plan. When we go to the vet we end up with an itemized bill a mile long. It’s difficult to handle. But even when Brooks needed surgery we went ahead and had it done, and figured out how to pay for it later. And now that Ike has needed some expensive testing, we’ve had it done as well. But in general, we go over all suggested treatments and tests with the vet and figure out which ones have to be done, which ones can be delayed, and which can be done a cheaper way. They have been good about that. For instance, for Ike’s allergies we could have bought the allergy medication from the vet, but we found an equivalent in the pharmacy that was significantly cheaper (the vet approved.).
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