We love animals at our house! For a few years, my husband and I fostered dogs for a local animal shelter – until our work schedules got in the way. In that time, we also adopted 3 amazing dogs. And, over the years, we’ve experienced a lot of pricey pet medical issues, including having to feed them expensive, yet necessary, prescription pet food.
The reality is that sometimes our pets have to go on prescription diets for specific health reasons or food allergies. And whether it’s prescription dog food or prescription cat food, these special diet foods can be insanely expensive! Here are some tips that I’ve learned along the way to help you save money on your dog or cat’s prescription food costs:
Decide Where to Buy Your Prescription Pet Food
You can choose to order the prescription diet food online or directly from your veterinarian. There are a lot of online retailers to choose from, including the websites of some of the big box pet supply stores. If you buy online, home delivery will save you time by not having to run to and from your vet’s office. You’ll also likely benefit from the store’s discount or reward program.
In my case, I found the pricing at my vet’s office comparable that that of the websites I checked. Plus, if I buy directly from my veterinarian I can use coupons, which can make them cheaper than ordering from an online store. And, while your dog or cat is trying out different special diet foods, or if they should pass away unexpectedly, many times your veterinarian may allow you to return unused portions of the food for a credit or refund. You’ll want to ask them about their policy.
Use Coupons for Prescription Pet Foods
I use coupons in pretty much all parts of my spending life. I was excited to discover that, on the pet food manufacturer’s website, there were coupons for my dog’s prescription diet food! And they were pretty high value too. Now, I make sure to look on the manufacturer’s site for prescription pet food coupons before I head out to my vet’s office.
Sometimes, the manufacturer’s website doesn’t have coupons – ugh! But, if you ask, it’s likely that your veterinarian will. In fact, there have been times when I’ve arrived with a coupon and I’ll ask them if they have coupons better than the one I walked in with – and many times, they do! Cha ching!
Ask Your Vet About Home Cooked Pet Food Options
The option for a nutrition consult for my dog’s special needs diet was first offered to me during a vet appointment at a local veterinary college after I asked for alternatives to her expensive prescription food. During this nutrition consult, we would have discussed her health needs and created recipes for a home-cooked meal plan based on her specific situation. Sadly, my dog’s prognosis was not good – she was terminal, so we didn’t get to use the service. I was left curious about it, so I looked into it more. This is what I found:
Animal nutrition is a science. This is important to note before you start cooking your newly found pet food recipe at home. This means that you should seek professional guidance before starting. Speak with your veterinarian. They may be able to help you create home cooked pet food recipes that are nutritionally balanced and address your pet’s special diet needs.
If your veterinarian is unable to help you, ask if there is (or search for) a local animal nutritionist you could consult. A good place to start your search is at this site for the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. This specialist should have formal veterinary training in animal nutrition. While there may be a charge for this type of specialized service, you could potentially save a lot of money in the long run by cooking for your cat or dog at home.
But it’s important to always create a home cooked pet food meal plan with the aid of a veterinary professional. While home-cooked pet meals may appear more wholesome to us humans, without nutritional guidance from a professional, chances are they will be lacking in the nutrition your dog or cat needs to stay healthy.