As a supplement to the story that appeared in the June issue of Family Circle, here are some additional ways to keep your pet's health care costs down.

By Anna Davies

"Preventative care is one of the easiest ways to save money and enhance the quality of your pet's life," says William Fortney, D.V.M, assistant professor of diagnostic medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. These smart tips will ensure that your pet — and your bank account — stays healthy.

  • Get informed. Know which genetic conditions may affect your pet. For example, kittens should be tested for feline leukemia, as well as immunodeficiency problems, prior to purchase or adoption. Some breeds also have a higher risk for certain ailments.
  • Keep pounds down. An extra pound or two on a small animal is equivalent to 20 or 30 pounds on a human. For a midsize dog, a 5- to 10-pound weight gain can be problematic. Overweight dogs and cats are at a greater risk for diabetes, heart disease and joint problems.
  • Schedule annual physicals and blood tests. Once your pet turns 7, she should have her blood tested yearly for early detection of diseases like cancer, as well as liver and kidney problems.
  • Treat teeth. Tartar buildup and plaque can lead to periodontal infection, which can cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream and damage vital organs.

FC Facts About Pets

  • More than 900 companies around the United States offer pet insurance as a voluntary employee benefit.
  • Americans spend $9.4 billion each year on pet health care.