Kiplinger

Trim the Cost of Pet Care

It happened in a flash. One minute Dan Perlowitz of West Orange, N.J., had his dog Gracie's leash in hand, and the next she had broken away and run onto a nearby highway. She was hit by one car and rolled over by another, but, thankfully, she suffered only a broken rib and a concussion and healed with no complications.

The bill for Gracie's hospital stay and veterinary care-$4,063-could have been painful, too. But Dan and his wife, Jamie, had purchased pet insurance after adopting Gracie in 2014. "Because we didn't know much about her past or what medical issues she might have, we wanted to have the insurance just in case," says Dan. The policy from Healthy Paws, which costs $48 a month, paid for all but $659 of the tab, after excluding certain charges, applying a $100 deductible and a 10% co-payment.

In 2016, U.S. pet owners spent $66.8 billion on their pets, compared with $38.5 billion in 2006, according to the American Pet Products Association. Almost half of that was for food, almost one-fourth for vet care, and just over one-fifth was for supplies and over-the-counter medicine. But there are smart ways to save while providing the best care.

Mutt or purebred?

The Perlowitzes found Gracie, a Labrador retriever mix, at an adoption event held by a rescue group at a local pet store. The fee was $350, and Gracie was spayed and up to date on her shots.

The assumption has long been that mixed-breed pets are healthier and thus less expensive to own than purebred ones, which often suffer from inherited disorders. But a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found no difference between purebred dogs and as well.)

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