Get your Bordetella Vaccine With Your Annual Shots (chs. 28-32)

Is your dog likely to be going to a boarding kennel this year? Most good kennels require that he or she has a bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine. My advice is to be pro-active and get the vaccine done with your dog’s annual shots and not to wait to see if you will need it later. Often I will have clients who aren’t sure if they are going to be boarding their dog and they ask if they can have the vaccine done just before boarding the animal.

Having the vaccine done with your regular shots will cost an extra $15-$25. However, if you need a separate visit to do the vaccine you will be paying an office visit fee ($40-60) on top of this.

Buy your prescription meds in bulk

Is your pet on a long term medicine such as thyroid medicine, arthritis medicine or bladder control medicine? If so, you can save money by buying the medicine in large  quantities.
In many cases, the prescription fee is the most expensive part of the medication. You can ask your vet if they can dispense 6 or 12 months’ worth of medication at a time to save you money.

About anal glands

Does your dog have his or her anal glands expressed regularly? There are some vets who will express a dogʼs anals with every annual visit (and charge for it). Personally, I donʼt think this is necessary unless your dog is  showing signs of irritation (scooting, licking at the anal area) or if the dog has had a history of anal sac problems.

For those pets who do need to have their anals done, what about having your groomer do them, or even doing them yourself? This is definitely not something that I recommend. While some groomers are good at expressing anal glands, most of them will express them from the outside. When a vet expresses the glands they will put on a glove and insert a finger into the anus to be able to feel the entire gland. They can also feel for signs of anal sac cancer or possibly see signs of infection. This is an area where I feel it is definitely necessary to spend the money to have a professional do the job.

When Your Vet Wants to Give an Injection

I am not one to advocate second guessing your vet, but when your vet wants to give an injection you can sometimes ask if you can save money by skipping the injection. (Again, if your vet feels it is necessary, it’s not an issue I would argue about… but it is worthwhile to ask.)

For example:
If I see an animal who has some soft tissue pain I will often prescribe an anti-inflammatory such as Metacam or Rimadyl. Sometimes we will give the owner the option of starting off with an injection and then follow up with oral medication. However, in most cases, the oral medicine will be in to the pet’s system within 30-60 minutes of administration. If the animal is not in serious pain it may save you some money to ask if you can skip the injection. An injection can cost between $10 and $30.

See if your vet will consult by phone

If you have a good relationship with your vet, in many cases they will be willing to give you information about your pet over the phone. Sometimes this can take the place of a recheck visit or even a regular office visit. For many cases, if you are a regular patient the vet will not charge you to consult over the phone. Sometimes the vet may charge a phone consult fee but this is usually significantly less expensive than an office visit.

Here are some examples of cases where a client could save money with a phone consult:

  • If a client calls me and tells me that their animal has some diarrhea but is otherwise eating well and happy I will usually consult with them about what they can do at home and suggest that if the problem continues another 24-48 hours that they come in to visit me.
  • Let’s take the example of an animal with a skin infection. I have put them on 3 weeks’ worth of antibiotics with instructions to see me when the medicine is finished to determine if we need to go for longer. After 3 weeks the owner notices that the infection is mostly cleared up but there are still some spots present. Rather than coming in to have me look, they can call me and we can discuss going on 2 more weeks’ worth of pills. I can then do the recheck after these are done. By consulting on the phone, the clients saved themselves the price of a visit.

Remember we talked earlier about being an “A” client? If you develop a good relationship with your vet then they are more likely to be willing to consult with you over the phone.

Article by Dr. Marie

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