With an estimated 75% of RVers who travel with their pets, most of us know handling vet visits on the road is important. As a full-timer of two years, here are some tips on how I handle vet visits for my two dogs (but these tips can apply to cats too).
Vet visits for healthy pets
If you have a healthy pet, vet visits can be pretty straightforward. Tyki is my healthy 4 ½-year-old blue heeler. He typically steps into a vet office only for his annual checkups. He doesn’t require any medicine aside from monthly heartworm prevention and flea/tick medicines.
I’m also fortunate that Tyki doesn’t get himself into too much trouble. Since we’ve been living on the road, he’s only had one emergency that required an overnight stay at the vet. Luckily it wasn’t anything too serious and during office hours.
With a pet similar to Tyki, you can look for vets based on reviews, such as Yelp, costs, and special deals.
A lot of vets offer a first-time visit discount. Often this is in the form of a free office visit. This can save you anywhere from $40-50, leaving you only with the cost of the tests, vaccinations, and medications to pay for.
As RVers, you have access to new vets all the time and can save money by visiting a new vet office when it’s time for your pet’s annual checkup.
The downside of going to a new vet all the time is that your pet’s health records will be scattered across the U.S.
This will require more work on your part to call the previous vet and ask for records to be sent over to the new vet. I also like to keep track of all the vets my two dogs go to as we travel around.
On top of that, I keep notes of the office visit and vaccine dates so I’m not reliant on the vet’s records. I also set reminders in my calendar for annual checkup dates and vaccination dates.
If convenience is more important than saving a few dollars, animal hospitals that have offices nationwide like Banfield Animal Hospital or VCA are the way to go. Records can seamlessly be transferred between offices and you have an idea of what to expect at each location.
Vet visits for older and/or ailing pets
Vet visits for older pets or pets with health issues can be more complicated, but they don’t have to be. Tybee is my other dog, a 14-year-old lab/Rott mix who now needs more TLC.
In addition to older pets needing checkups every six months, they often have new health issues that come up unexpectedly.
Banfield Pet Hospital (typically located inside Petsmart stores) offers several annual wellness plans for dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens.
Tybee was on their Special Care Plan, which is ideal for older dogs with chronic conditions. This annual plan cost me $42.95/month. The following services are included in the plan:
- Unlimited office visits
- Comprehensive physical exams (2x/year)
- Diagnostic testing
- Fecal exams (2x/year)
- Deworming (2x/year)
- Dental cleaning
- Urine testing (2x/year)
- Preventive X-rays (3 views)
- Eye pressure test (2x/year)
- Electrocardiograms (2x/year)
- And a 20% discount on a lot of other Banfield services and products (like medicine)
The plan saved me a lot of money.
Banfield offers a variety of other wellness plans for cats and dogs that vary in costs and included services. If you like the idea of your pet being on a health plan and going to the same hospital all the time no matter where you are, this is a great option.
If your pet takes prescription medicine, be prepared for some hassles as you travel from state to state.
Due to drug laws, vets can’t refill a prescription medicine that was written by another vet (especially if it was in a different state). Vets require personally examining the pet before refilling a prescription.
This is where Banfield’s unlimited office visits come in handy. The other option is to use an online company like 1-800-PetMeds to refill medicine without scheduling another office visit.
Do you take your pet RVing? How do you usually handle vet visits while on the road?