Top 5 Reasons to Take Your Pet to Their Annual Vet Visit

Some pet parents may wonder if the annual vet visit is really worth the time and the cost. The short answer? Yes! Your pet’s annual vet visit plays a big role in maintaining their overall health, and can go a long way in preventing and treating diseases before they become serious or expensive.

So what are the top 5 reasons to take your pet to an annual vet visit? Let’s take a look.

1. A Thorough Once-Over

Your pet’s annual vet visit gives your veterinarian an opportunity to thoroughly examine your pet, from head to paw. Many pets hide symptoms of illness and injury (cats especially are famous for staying quiet when they’re unwell), but your veterinarian knows what to look for, and how. Your vet will feel your pet’s body, coat, and skin, check their ears, nose, mouth, and eyes, and listen to their heart and lungs. They will also take your pet’s temperature, weigh them, and may carry out blood tests. A thorough once-over not only allows your vet to make sure that all parts are in working order, it also gives your vet a chance to detect problems before they become serious or costly to treat.

2. Vaccination Boosters

Vaccines keep pets protected from certain diseases, and after your pet’s initial doses, they may require boosters to keep the vaccines effective. Most pets require 2-4 boosters per year and receive them at their annual vet visit; if you slack on making an appointment, you are putting your pal at risk. Don’t wait!

RELATED STORY: All About Vaccinating Your Dog

3. Heartworm Test and Fecal Exam

These are two important tests that your pet will undergo at the annual vet visit. The heartworm test is a blood test that checks for heartworm disease, which is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by parasitic worms. A fecal exam checks for gastrointestinal parasites that could harm your pet (and in some cases, you) if left untreated.

4. Additional Services

Some pets may require additional services at their annual vet visit, such as dental cleaning if your vet notices signs of dental disease, or allergy testing if you mention that your pet has been itching, scratching, or rubbing their face. The annual vet visit is the perfect time to cover all the bases and take care of outstanding issues.

RELATED STORY: Symptoms of Allergies in Cats and Dogs

5. Opportunity to Ask Questions

Maybe you’ve been wondering if your cat sleeps too much or if your dog’s food is right for them. While you should always contact your veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s health or habits, many pet parents wait when the question doesn’t seem pressing. The annual vet visit is a great time to bring in a list of questions and talk to your veterinarian candidly about your pet’s routines, behaviors, and nutrition. You might end up with answers that can help your pet live a happier, healthier life.

What are you waiting for? Contact your veterinarian now to schedule your furry friend’s next appointment. And if you want to save 25% on vet visits, sign up for PetPlus! Find out more at


Steven the Dog Survives Coyote Attack

Helena Lazaro didn’t think she had any reason to be concerned when she heard her dog Steven barking from her hillside yard back in July 2012.

“He always barked at other animals and dogs that passed by,” says Helena. “So, when I heard him and another animal barking, I didn’t think anything of it.”

Following her usual routine, she called Steven back inside after several minutes, and when he didn’t come right away, she decided to give him some extra time.stevencrosspaws

“Lots of times when he would go out, he would ignore me and not come back. That night, when I went out and called him back in, he wouldn’t come,” Helena says. “Thinking that he was just ignoring me again, I decided to give him more time–something I’ll never forgive myself for.”

After a little while Helena became frustrated and went outside with a flashlight to find Steven and bring him back inside. But rather than finding her dog exploring the hillside terrain, she discovered him in a terrible state.

“[He was] torn to shreds and barely alive, leaning against a tree,” Helena says. “I’ll never forget his face as he turned to look at me, like he had really been doing his best to try to listen to me and come home, but couldn’t.”

Steven had been attacked by a coyote. He had broken eight of his ribs, his body was torn open in three places, and he had a piece of tree bark embedded in his hind leg.

“The vet said that during the attack, the coyote had probably picked Steve up from overhead, shaken him several times, and thrown him into the tree with such force that the bark became embedded in his leg,” Helena says. “They were not hopeful for his survival and recommended we let him go, but I wasn’t prepared to do that.”stevenbandaged

It was the 4th of July weekend, and Helena had a difficult time finding facilities that could offer the life support services that Steven needed until surgeons became available. But with persistence and determination she was able to locate a suitable place for Steven to rest and begin to recover, and once a surgeon became available, Steven underwent several operations.

“All with a very bleak prognosis,” Helena adds.

It was a stressful time for Helena, as it would be for any pet parent. Steven’s recovery was difficult, and he required around-the-clock care for over a month. Helena stayed home from work to care for Steven during that time and when her sister returned from her bartending job each morning, she would take over so that Helena could get some sleep. The sisters alternated this way throughout Steven’s long rehabilitation.

Though the time commitment and worry about Steven’s prognosis were already a lot to handle, Steven’s medical bills also loomed in the background. His treatments cost nearly $5,000.

Helena depleted her savings account, applied for a grant through RedRover, and her sister set up a tip jar at work.stevenhome

“But the real saving grace was the fundraising page,” Helena says.

This was before fundraising sites had become as popular as they are now, and Helena was amazed to see the response from the animal-loving community who saw the page she set up on FundRazr.

“Money poured in from family, friends, and total strangers,” Helena says. “Their messages of hope were deeply inspiring and their support made it possible to bring Steven home, get the medication he needed, and make sure we didn’t go into debt.”

Ultimately, Steven recovered and regained his ability to walk. And when he began disobeying Helena again, she knew everything was going to be OK.

Helena and her sister clearly went above and beyond to save Steven’s life. But for Helena — who has a history of depression — she was simply doing for Steven what Steven had done for her so many times.

“Steven saved my life on more than one occasion,” Helena says. “In my times of deepest despair, he gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. He made sure I got sunshine and exercise, and that I felt loved. Taking care of him mattered even when I had stopped taking care of myself, and so it was that he pulled me through the years-long chronic depression that no medicine could remedy.”

Today both Helena and Steven are doing well. Several of Steven’s ribs were not able to be put back into place, so his midsection is misshapen and he walks a little funny. But despite those issues, Helena says that he is as bold and as spirited as ever.

“This June, we went for a picnic at the Santa Fe Dam and he saw a horse for the first time. He actually dragged me across the ground with his force as he tried to take down an animal twenty times his size,” Helena says. “He hasn’t learned his lesson at all. But now I know it’s my job to make sure he stays out of danger, to make sure I have a plan in case of emergencies, and to always exercise caution in areas with unfamiliar animals.”

To thank Helena for all that she’s done for Steven, we are giving her a free trial of PetPlus so that she can save on Steven’s medications, food, supplies, vet visits, and more.

Thanks, Helena!



Have a story you’d like to share or know a pet-family deserving of a complimentary trial of PetPlus? Contact the Pet Savvy editors at content [at] petplus {dot} com or leave a note in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!


Meet Oscar, The 18 Year-Old Dachshund Who Won’t Give Up

Old Dachshund Dogs

Oscar will turn 19 in August

Dachshunds have a relatively long lifespan of 12 to 15 years, but some amazing old Dachshund dogs and weiner dog mixes have lived well beyond that. Max, a famous Dachshund, Beagle, Terrier mix, lived to be 29 years-old. Chanel, a purebred Dachshund, lived to the ripe old age of 21. And Otto, a Dachshund-Terrier mix, and Scolly, a purebred Dachshund, both lived to see 20.

And today we have Oscar, a purebred Dachshund, who will turn 19 in August.

“He is the energizer bunny,” says Marc Renson, one of Oscar’s owners. “He just keeps going!”

Marc’s partner, Greg, adopted Oscar when he was just 4 months old and the couple has cared for him ever since. While Marc describes Oscar as “the perfect dog,” ownership of an aging canine doesn’t come without its challenges and expenses.

At 9 years-old, Oscar suffered a slipped disc, an injury common in long-bodied breeds like Dachshunds. Oscar became paralyzed and underwent a $5,000 surgery.

The vets thought he might not make it out alive due to his age, but he did, and he even regained his ability to walk.

At 12, Oscar underwent an almost full extraction of his teeth. Again, the vets thought he wouldn’t survive the procedure, but he defied their predictions. At 17, he had a stroke. And at 18, he suffered a rectal prolapse.

“At that point, the vet told us to put the dog down,” Marc says. “We did put the dog down; we put him down off the examination table and walked out of the clinic and went to another clinic.”

And thanks to an antibacterial shot and some medications, Oscar fully recovered.

“We have been determined to help Oscar no matter what,” Marc says.

“All the joy he brings to our lives; he is like our child. If clinic visits and carrying him up and down stairs is what we have to do, then that’s what we’ll do.”

Some people might wonder what kind of quality of life an 18 year-old dog can have. But Marc says that despite the fact that Oscar is now partially blind, partially deaf, and has a hard time getting started in the morning, his vital signs are strong and he’s a happy dog who travels around the house during the day, plays with his little sister Lucy (also a Dachshund), begs for kibble, loves car rides, and always wants to be in the same room as Marc and Greg.

“But he doesn’t run anymore or save us from the pool,” Marc says. “He used to jump into the pool after us thinking we were drowning.

It was the cutest thing. Bark, bark, bark, then jump right in and doggie paddle over to us. My heart is breaking remembering the memory.”

Fortunately, Marc has more than just happy memories to go on at this point. He still has his friend, who he refers to as a “caregiver” and a “soft, affectionate, and wise old soul.”

And he’s not giving up on him anytime soon.

“As a long-time dog owner, I believe that a dog will always let its owner know when it’s truly time. They will change their patterns, stop eating, hide in corners, or disassociate themselves.

I believe that and after everything Oscar has been through, he’s still loving. I know in my heart, he’s not ready yet. He still has more life that he wants to live. Long live Oscar!”

As a thanks to Marc and Greg for all they do for Oscar, we are giving the family a free trial of PetPlus. PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding, and more. Learn more and sign up at!

Have a story you’d like to share or know a pet-family deserving of a free trial of PetPlus? Contact the editors at content [at] petplus {dot} com or leave a note in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you. 


Should You Give a Pet as a Gift?

Pet as a gift

You’ve seen it before (most likely on the big screen): a beautifully wrapped present is placed on the floor, someone goes to pick it up, and it moves! Ah, and then the delight of opening the box to find a furry angel inside! The pet-as-gift is a charming idea for movies and TV shows, but does it make sense to give a pet as a gift in real life?

Why You Might Consider Giving a Pet as a Gift

Do you have a friend who is always talking about how much they want a dog? Or perhaps you have a family member who lives alone, and you just know that a cat would make a perfect companion. Giving a pet as a gift is a well-intentioned act, and indeed very generous — after all, pets bring such joy and love to their owners. However, while you might be sure that your friend or family member would be delighted to receive a fluffy new friend, they might have a different idea, and it’s important to do your homework before you give.

RELATED STORY: What Are Puppy Mills?

Considerations Before You Give a Pet as a Gift

Here are some things to consider before you give a pet as a gift:

  • Lifespan and health of the pet and pet parent: The recipient you have in mind should be prepared to care for the pet you give them for the next 10 to 20 years, depending on the animal’s age and expected life expectancy. That’s a big time commitment, and all pets need daily care.
  • The annual cost to raise a pet: Pets cost money. While you might be covering the cost of buying the pet, the recipient will have to pay for their veterinary care, food, medications, and other supplies. Can the recipient afford that, or would they want to?
  • Real estate restrictions: Are there any restrictions that would not allow the recipient to have a pet in their home or apartment? Many landlords, for example, will allow small pets but not large pets, and many require a hefty deposit regardless of the size of the animal.
  • Allergies: Is the recipient allergic to any animals? When in doubt, ask.
  • Pet compatibility: Does the recipient own other animals? Do those animals get along with other animals?
  • Dedication, time and patience: When you see pets given as gifts in movies and TV shows, they are usually pudgy puppies or fuzzy kittens. But puppies and kittens are a lot of work. They require training, time, and plenty of patience. Presenting someone with an adorable baby animal may seem like a sweet idea, but consider what the recipient is in for once the gift giving is over and you’ve gone home.
  • Desire and commitment: Be sure that the recipient wants a pet. Saying “I love dogs!” is not the same thing as saying “I want to own a dog, care for it for the next decade, and pay for whatever needs come up!

If you do decide to give a pet, don’t put it in a closed box, even if the box has breathing holes. The pet could get hurt or become scared, and you don’t want the animal’s first experience with their new owner to be a frightening one.

RELATED STORY: Choosing The Right Dog For My Family

Alternatives to Giving a Pet as a Gift

If you still like the idea of giving a pet as a gift but aren’t sure the best way to go about it, consider these alternatives:

  • Give a gift certificate to a local animal shelter or breeder. Adoption is a very personal experience, and most people like picking out their own pet.
  • If you decide to give a gift certificate or money for a new pet but want to find a way to spice up the presentation, consider a care package. Put together supplies that the recipient will need to care for their new pet: food, a leash, toys, a bed, a gift certificate for a first vet visit, etc. That way, they won’t have to worry so much about the details and can start enjoying their new friend right away.

Another great item to add to a pet care package? A membership to PetPlus. PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more. Learn more at

Would you ever give a pet as a gift? Have you ever received one? Leave a comment and let us know.


Houston Animal Rescuer Gives Second-Hand Pet Supplies New Life

While working at a pet store back in 1997, Janet Huey — a long time Houston animal rescuer — had a thought: where do pet supplies go when a pet dies or outgrows them?

“This was way before eBay, Craigslist, etc.,” Janet says. “There was no niche anywhere.”

She decided to leave her job and start Pet Resale Stuff, a mobile microbiz serving the huge pet community in Houston, TX. Pet Resale Stuff does just what it says — resells discarded pet stuff. Janet’s inventory is made up of items that pet owners trade in, items found at thrift stores, and items that she collects through referrals from veterinary clinics.

If you live in the Houston area, be sure to stop by Pet Resale Stuff’s Facebook page to find out about upcoming sales and offers.

“Recycling pet items is increasing in popularity,” Janet says. “Younger people are really liking the ‘green’ aspect.”

At any given time, Janet may be selling crates, beds, leashes, toys, grooming supplies, pet clothes, and more at deep discounts. She also sells non-pet items that become pet items with a bit of imagination.

“Sleeping bags make great, inexpensive beds for big and little dogs,” Janet says. “And pillow shams with a thick piece of foam make inexpensive beds, as they usually come in pairs.”

Because Janet cares about the safety of her two-legged and four-legged customers, she makes sure to clean and disinfect anything she plans to resell.

“For cat trees, for example, I replace the sisal and let the tree sit out in the sun before using lots of carpet cleaner,” Janet says.

And if an item doesn’t meet her standards for reselling, she’ll keep it for herself if she can use it for her own dogs, cats, or cockatiel.

Pet Resale Stuff is mobile and sells at the Westbury Animal Hospital in Houston on weekends. Janet also makes deliveries. Her client base is made up of employees at vet clinics, loyal shoppers who like the delivery option, and a spay/neuter clinic that buys up every crate Janet can find.

“I love everything about my job,” Janet says. “I get the most joy out of keeping a dog in a home when the humans were ready to give up on them. And I’m able to save Houstonians money while keeping stuff out of landfills.”

And if you want to save on pet care and you don’t live in Houston, sign up for PetPlus! PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more. Find out more at

Thank you, Janet, for all that you do!


Pros and Cons of Getting a Second Dog


My husband and I talk about it all the time: should we get a second dog?! We love our dog Wade and we often wonder if getting a second dog would make his life better (and our life better, too!) Of course, there will always be pros and cons, whether you’re talking about getting a pet for the first time or thinking about adding another furball to the family. Our minds aren’t made up yet, which inspired me to put some pros and cons on paper. Let’s take a look!

Pros of Getting a Second Dog

You’ll Have Another Dog!

Call me Captain Obvious, but if you’re already a dog lover (like I am), the prospect of adding another fuzzy face to the picture is sure to fill your heart with joy. Do you love the pitter patter of little paws around the house? What about a fluffy head on your lap while you read? Think about all of those wonderful things — then multiply them by two!

Your Dog Will Have a Companion

Human companionship is great, but there’s nothing quite like another dog when it comes to Fido’s friendships. Your dog will have someone to play with, someone to explore with, and someone to sleep with (aww). Having another dog to pal around with may keep your dog from getting bored when you’re out of the house or distracted at home. And if the new dog that you bring home is confident, it may help to bolster your original dog’s confidence, thus improving their overall behavior.

RELATED STORY: Is My Dog Weird? 5 Strange Dog Behaviors Explained

A Second Dog May Make Losing a Dog Easier

It’s something that most pet parents don’t want to think about, but at some point every dog will pass on, and having another around may help to ease the emotional burden when the time comes. No dog will ever be able to replace another dog, of course, but a second dog may offer comfort and companionship while you go through the grieving process.

Cons of Getting a Second Dog

Double Your Expenses

This is perhaps the biggest reason why pet parents nix the idea of adding a second pet. Expect to double your expenses when it comes to veterinary care, medicine, food, supplies, boarding, dog walkers… you get the idea. While many boarders offer deals for multiple dogs and you can purchase foods and supplies in bulk, at the end of the day you’re still looking at more spending.

Travel Can Be Tricky

If you like to take your dog everywhere with you, you’ll have to get used to the idea that many public places allow one dog, but not two, and that getting two crates into the car can be a bigger hassle than assembling just one. In addition, as mentioned above, boarding two dogs will cost more than boarding one. If you’re a real jetsetter, this may be an important point to consider.

RELATED STORY: What Are the Best Dogs to Travel With?

It’s Possible That They Won’t Get Along

Yep, it’s true, and I’ve seen it happen. The best way to avoid this situation is to make sure that both dogs are well-trained and free of behavioral issues, such as anxiety, fear, or aggression. Behavioral issues can not only cause tension between the dogs, they can also spread from one dog to another (so if your first dog wasn’t aggressive, they might become aggressive if you add a second dog who is).

You’ll want to introduce the dogs slowly; don’t just toss them in the same room together. Let them get to know each first other on loose leashes (a tense leash can stress a dog out), and then through a barrier like a baby gate. Don’t force interactions, but do allow the dogs to sniff and introduce themselves. Look for signs of tension or aggression, such as growling and stiff postures. Once the dogs aren’t engaging in greeting behaviors (such as sniffing) anymore, and you don’t see any signs of fearful or threatening behavior, you should be good to go.*

*Note: this is just a brief explanation of how to introduce two dogs for the first time; it’s always a good idea to consult a trainer before actually trying it yourself.

So what do you think? Should we get another dog? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.


One Woman’s Mission To Help Homeless And Needy Pets

Financial hardship doesn’t only affect people; it affects their pets, too. Lynn Molnar realized this back in October 2011 when she noticed people around her struggling to keep their pets and began hearing stories of abandoned pets.

“I remember being at the dog park and a woman who was a realtor came in with her dog, and she shared a story about going to a house to look at it and finding a Golden Retriever abandoned inside,” Lynn said. “I think this was the clincher for me, because I have a Golden Retriever, and I know how much they love and want to be a part of a family. I couldn’t imagine the anguish that dog went through to be left alone, then my heart turned toward the people — imagine their pain, their fear, their tears.”

Lynn decided to start Thankful Paws. Thankful Paws is a pet food bank located in Bel Air, Maryland that serves financially needy people, with a priority given to veterans, the homeless, and the elderly. Thankful Paws delivers pet food and supplies once a month to homes and a homeless resource center.

“Anyone is eligible if they fall within the Federal Poverty Guidelines,” Lynn said. “But we are small and deliver food personally, and try to keep our client base to the elderly, veterans, and the homeless. We help those we can. The first year we were in full operation, we delivered 12 tons of pet food. Last year that number jumped to 20 tons! The need is great!”

Paw Sign


Fulfilling The Needs

When delivering to homes, Lynn and her team take food right up to the door. Because delivery is once a month, they try to offer a month’s worth of food and supplies. When delivering to the homeless resource center, the provided supplies are based on a sign-up sheet where homeless pet owners can list what they need.
“Homeless populations go through leashes and collars at a much faster rate than non-homeless because of the constant wear-and-tear,” Lynn said. “We usually bring a big box of such supplies and let them take whatever they need. I believe in totally respecting a homeless person. Can you imagine living in a tent with your dog — rain, snow, heat? It would be so easy to abandon the dog and go to a shelter, but many take the harder way because of love. We serve them because of love, too.”

In doing this work, Lynn has seen some extraordinary compromises made by financially needy pet parents.

“Last year, an elderly woman shared with me that before we came to deliver food, she stopped taking her medicine because she couldn’t afford the medicine and cat food,” Lynn said. “Now, she is healthy and so is her cat! It may seem like a small thing – cat food – to but some it is like bars of gold!”

Most of the food and supplies that Lynn delivers come from PetValu, a pet food and supply store. Thankful Paws also receives donations from the Maryland Food Bank and individuals. While food donations are great, Lynn says that Thankful Paws is in need of financial donations, too.

“We are growing and need to hire staff,” Lynn said. “So far it has been all volunteer, but the workload is too demanding and we need a warehouse, trucks, and some paid positions. In the first quarter of 2014 we already picked up 7 tons of food!”

The Value of Giving Back

Despite all of the hard work, Lynn says that her job brings her tremendous joy. As a pet parent herself, she is familiar with the unique love that pet parents feel for their pets, as well as the value that a pet can bring to your life. She has a cat named Happy and a Golden Retriever named Hero.


“I knew early on that something was special about Hero, and it taught me that universal love — the unconditional love of a dog — is something we all need. People need love and to be accepted. People should do that for one another, but somehow we are forgetting to do so. Dogs represent that love and never judge us and always welcome us. We can learn a lot from dogs!”

Just last week, Lynn put those beliefs into practice when she saw a homeless man standing on a median with his dog. She stopped her car and talked to the man, and found that he’d fallen on hard times. She offered him a bag of dog food and a box of Milk Bones that she had in her car for Hero.

“After I left him and I was waiting for the traffic light to change, one of the man’s homeless friends came over to him and asked about the bag of dog food,” Lynn said. “I couldn’t hear everything, but what I did hear warmed my heart. He said to his friend, ‘I don’t know, this lady came out of nowhere and gave me the bag.’ That’s all I could hear. The light changed and Hero and I went home. I chuckled to myself, ‘this lady came of nowhere…’ I kind of felt like a superhero for a minute.”

We definitely think that Lynn is a superhero, and to thank her for all that she does, we are giving her a free trial of PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more.

If you want to support Thankful Paws, head over to the website to make a donation or volunteer:



5 Not-So-Obvious Ways To Save On Pet Care

Owning a pet is a wonderful experience, but it isn’t always cheap. The American Pet Products Association found that Americans spent approximately $55 billion on their pets in 2013, and that number is expected to climb to $58 billion in 2014.

If you own a pet, chances are you feel the financial crunch from time to time. But fortunately, there are ways to save on caring for your pet, and they might not be what you’d expect.

1. Spay or Neuter Your Pet

If you think that spaying and neutering only serves to keep your pet from getting pregnant or impregnating, think again. While controlling the pet population is a very important reason to fix your pet, it’s not the only one. Spaying and neutering can also save you money in the long run by improving your pet’s behavior and cleanliness and preventing certain diseases that could be costly to treat down the road.

Spaying or neutering improves your pet’s behavior by reducing the likelihood of sex-related aggression that can lead to fighting and expensive injuries. Spaying and neutering also controls marking around the house, which can help you to save on cleaning bills. As far as preventing costly diseases, neutering eliminates the possibility of your male cat or dog getting testicular cancer, and spaying keeps female pets from developing uterine cancer and reduces the risk of breast cancer.

These routine surgeries very rarely have complications, and most veterinarians suggest that you spay or neuter your pet around six months of age. To save on the procedure itself, you can search for low-cost spay/neuter programs in your area on the ASPCA website. A benefit of PetPlus is Pet Assure, which provides 25% off vet visits and procedures at participating vets.

RELATED STORY: How Much Should Spaying A Pet Cost?

2. Buy In Bulk and Consider Splitting Supplies

Buying in bulk tends to be less expensive, whether we are talking about packs of paper towel or bags of pet food. Buying in bulk might be something that you already do if you have multiple or large pets, but if you have a small pet or only one furry friend, it might not seem convenient.

It can be, however, if you have the space to safely store bulk items. Food should be kept in an airtight container, and food that won’t be used within a month should go in the freezer. If you don’t have enough room to store a bulk purchase, find someone who wants to share in the haul. Maybe you have a neighbor who owns a dog, and they’d like to split a bag of healthy food. Or perhaps you have a few cat-owning friends who would want to get together and throw down on a massive sack of litter. Reach out to your network; saving on your pet’s supplies might just be a phone call away.

3.  Feed Your Pet The Right Amount Of Food

Seem obvious? You’d be surprised. According to a recent study by The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 50% of pets are overweight, and overfeeding is one of the leading causes of obesity in pets. Overfeeding therefore not only harms your wallet, it can also harm your four-legged friend. Ask your veterinarian to help you determine the correct portion size for your pal.

Remember that the portions indicated on most pet food labels refer to the average pet, and depending on your pet’s size, age, health, and activity level, their needs may be different. In addition, you should avoid free-feeding your pet, and you should serve your pet’s portion out of a measuring cup (as opposed to a scoop or coffee cup) to be sure that you’re doling out the exact recommended portion.

RELATED STORY: Your Dog Food Questions Answered

4. Alternative Boarding

Travelling tends to be expensive even if you don’t have a pet. If you do, you’ll need to add to your spending the cost of boarding your pet for each day you’ll be away. Going with traditional means of boarding such as a kennel can cost between $25-$45 per night. However, there are other options out there, such as in-home boarding. In-home boarding has become very popular not only because it is less expensive than kenneling (some in-home boarders charge as little as $15 per night), but also because your pet stays in a comfortable home environment, receives individualized attention, and is less likely to catch diseases that sometimes show up in boarding facilities. is one website that makes finding an in-home boarder incredibly easy. You can search by geographic location, browse profiles of boarders who have already passed a background check, and read reviews of boarders by pet parents.

Want to save even more on pet boarding? Sign up for PetPlus and get $50 off dog boarding services.

5. Buy Your Pet’s Medications Online

When your veterinarian prescribes a medication for your pet, you don’t need to purchase it then and there at the vet’s office. In fact, buying medication at the vet’s office is considerably more expensive than buying online. Why? Because according to The American Animal Hospital Association, vets mark up medications from 100 percent to 1000 percent!

These markups are so drastic because vets need to compensate for the fact that they aren’t purchasing medications in bulk, mostly because they won’t be prescribing large amounts of specific medications, but also because they don’t have the space to store bulk orders. Online pharmacies, however, do have the space and do buy in bulk, and therefore can pass those savings on to you. With PetPlus, for example, you could save up to 75% on your pet’s medications.

Do you know some other not-so-obvious ways of saving on pet care? Leave a comment below!


The 5 Biggest Pet Expenses

We know that pets aren’t cheap — what with vet bills, food, toys, medications, pets can quickly end up costing you a pretty penny. Beyond the obvious, however, there are a number of underlying ways your new furry pal could end up shrinking your wallet. Here are 6 of the most common, yet unexpected, pet-related expenses.

1. Emergency Vet Visits

petexpensesBeyond your pet’s annual, which (all things considered) should not leave such a hefty dent in your bank account, should your pet fall ill, or end up injured, you are going to have to take them to the vet; and this time it might end up seriously costing you. Depending on the cause of the emergency trip, a last minute vet bill can quickly range into the thousands of dollars.

2. Bye-Bye Security Deposit

If you are renting, chances are you laid down a considerable amount of money at signing time, fully expecting to get that money back. Well, should your new pet decide to claw at any corners, or make the living room carpet their wee-wee pad, you can kiss a considerable chunk of that security deposit goodbye.

3. Pet-Proofing Your Home

It may not look it, but your house probably has a few aspects that, in your pet’s mischievous paws, could end up being dangerous. Things like making sure that every trash can has a lid, hanging up all your potted plants, or fencing in the yard — while only one time expenses – can certainly start to add up.

 4. Replacing Destroyed Possessions

Most pets are unaware of the fine line between “theirs” and “yours,” which can quickly become a problem when they get bored with their chew toy and decide to gnaw on your iPad. Not only can this be dangerous to their health, but constantly having to replace things like shoes, belts, phones, pocketbooks, stuffed animals, or anything else they can get their paws on, can quickly add up.

Not to mention if they are not housebroken

5. Vacation Expenses

Next time you get home from a vacation, take a look at how much you spent. Then tack on an extra $40 a day and see what that number looks like, because that is what it will probably run you to have your pet put up in a boarding facility.

6. Bump Up That Insurance!

Pet related incidents make up for almost a third of all homeowners insurance claims, and insurers are no dummies. They know exactly how much risk they are assuming by insuring you, and are going to adjust your premium accordingly. So, if you have a dog (not to mention a breed that is considered dangerous), insurance companies can quickly start to jack up the price on you.

View more from Sam Bourne

Some of the extra costs associated with having a pet are unavoidable, but over-paying on pet medication is not one of them. If your pet is taking any medicine, prescription or not, consider ordering them the savvy way, and learn more about PetPlus.


How My Puppy’s First Vet Visit Nearly Cost Me $1,000


I adopted my first dog back in October. Lexi, a 12-month-old mixed breed, is a loving, licking doofus. She’s my new sidekick and constant companion.

Yet, even though I work in the pet industry, puppy ownership has already thrown me some curveballs, especially Lexi’s First Vet Visit.

Earlier this week, I took Lexi to get spayed at the vet. At the front desk, I was told the price would be $340. When I actually met with my vet, though, she strongly recommended I upgrade to the $740 spay package with “more reliable medication and anesthesia.” She was quite insistent about the upgrade and pushed hard.

Unfortunately, I simply can’t afford that. I went with the less expensive package. It was hard to turn down the advice of a professional I respect and worse, I feared it meant my dog was somehow not “worth” the expense, or that I was being judged for making this tough decision.

My point isn’t that vets are bad somehow. In fact, I believe a great vet is essential to any pet’s health. But maybe there’s a problem with the system. Who wants to choose between saving money, and doing what’s best for their pet’s health? Not this guy.

Luckily for pet parents, a new normal is on its way. Pet insurance is working well for many Americans to manage these costs, but what about a program that doesn’t charge more for older pets or pets with pre-existing conditions? PetPlus is that, and so much more.

I’ll talk more about it below.

The Battle Over Pet Medications

While at Lexi’s vet visit, I also asked for a prescription for heartworm medication, and for the post-operation pain medication. Unfortunately my vet’s office was not cooperative in handing over the prescription, suggesting it was unsafe to get them elsewhere. Again, a great vet is great ally in any pet’s health, but there’s a problem here.

The truth is that the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) runs an accreditation program called Vet-VIPPS (Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites), and according to the FDA, all Vet-VIPPS accredited online pharmacies:

• are appropriately licensed in the states from which they ship drugs

• have successfully completed a 19-point review and online survey

• undergo yearly VIPPS review and re-accreditation

• undergo NABP on-site surveys every three years

Many veterinarians have gotten used to making a sizable chunk of their income from pet medication sales. The status quo has been that vets sell the medications they write the prescriptions for, which, not surprisingly, has kept market competition from allowing pet owners to get the best price.

So I opted to get Lexi’s medications through my company’s membership plan, PetPlus, and paid $70 instead of the $170 I would have paid at the vet’s office. (Note: That price difference does NOT represent an employee discount. That’s the price anyone can get on PetPlus with a PetPlus membership, starting at $3/month.)

A Scary Turn

I got a call later that day saying that the spay went well, but that the vet found a lump on my dog’s belly, which needed to be checked out at the lab. That would cost another $140. I had the choice to refuse, but in case it was something bad, I decided to get the test.

Luckily for Lexi and me, the biopsy showed that the lump was a benign tumor that should take care of itself in a few months’ time. I’m certainly glad I got the test done, but it was a good chuck of change all the same.

Of course I was fiercely worried about my dog’s health, but also on my mind was the amount of money I paid. I also knew that my veterinary expenses could potentially skyrocket if the results of the biopsy showed something bad. And I know I’m not the first pet parent to feel these conflicting fears!

As I worry over these costs, I think about ways that I can save money here and there on my dog to try to balance them out. I didn’t think having a 1-year-old puppy would be filled with lab tests, biopsies, and medical costs, but that’s just the roll of the dice with a pet.

So What Can a Pet Parent Do?

I admit that maybe I’m a bit biased in that I work for PetPlus, but I prefer to call it more informed. I would only ever try to make the best choices for Lexi and myself.

In my opinion, since you never know what’s coming down the pipeline in terms of your pet’s healthcare, options like buying medications online or signing up for PetPlus are really worth it. It was worth it for me.

James and Lexi

James is the Assistant Merchandiser for PetPlus. He was born and raised (and still resides) in New Jersey, and enjoys sports, camping, Oreos, and visiting his family in Cape Cod, MA.

Lexi is an adorable puppy.