8. Be proactive to protect your pet’s health

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Take steps and precautions to reduce your pet’s chances of requiring expensive medical care:

Spaying females prior to their first heat cycle nearly eliminates the risk of breast cancer and totally prevents uterine infections and uterine cancer. Neutering males prevents testicular cancer and enlargement of the prostate gland, and greatly reduces their risk for perianal tumors.

  • Getting wellness checkups. Prevention is always better (and cheaper) than a cure. Make sure your pets get annual wellness exams. Keep up with the vaccination schedule, and make sure you discuss heartworm prevention with your vet.
  • Pet-proofing your home. Keep dangerous foods out of the reach of pets and avoid bringing toxic plants into the house. Check out the ASPCA’s list of people foods your pets shouldn’t have and its toxic and nontoxic plants database.

9. Compare treatments

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If your pet has a serious medical condition, the most expensive treatment may not be the best course of action. Consumer Reports recommends you ask your vet about treatment options and cost, as well as the likely prognosis for your pet.

Have you faced a situation in which your pet required expensive care? Share your story on our Facebook page.

Karen Datko contributed to this report.


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