You don’t have to pay the full price at a veterinarian’s office to take care of your dog or cat. Instead, consider these low cost pet vaccinations options at Walgreens and Petco.
Everything seems to cost more these days: utilities, gas, rent, cable, internet, food, and more. At the end of the month, it’s increasingly difficult to have any money left over.
For those who struggle financially, owning a pet adds to the financial burden. Especially, when you first get a dog or cat.
Going to the vet can cost deeply when you have a puppy or kitten. While, there is such a thing as pet insurance, there are two problems with it.
Firstly, it’s not free. Do you have to pay out of pocket for your own health care? Then you might not have any funds to pay for a health insurance premium for your furry best friend.
Secondly, traditional pet insurance policies most often only cover illness and injury. Most plans do not cover preventive measures such as immunizations.
The good news is, you don’t have to go to an expensive veterinarian to protect your four-legged family member.
Low Cost Pet Vaccinations
Live in a high-cost area like Boston, San Diego, or New York. Going to a vet and getting the full range of shots can cost several hundred dollars.
While it’s true you don’t have to pay all of that at once, even for the puppy’s first year, on average you’ll end up paying at least $100.
Animal shelters are a good alternative. Usually, shelters charge much less. You can save up to 75 percent in comparison to having the shots at a traditional vet.
And if you get your dog from a shelter, sometimes you won’t even have to pay for shots. That’s because the dog will most likely already have been vaccinated.
If you have to pay for an adoption fee, it usually includes the cost of the pet’s previous shots.
Another way to save money on shots is to visit a local chain store. Petco and Walgreens are two examples. Let’s look at what the former offers….
Low Cost Pet Vaccinations At Petco
Petco’s “Unleashed” brand of stores is basically a Petco without any animals. Or, more specifically, live ones. (They may sell stuffed animals for your furry friend).
The reason Petco introduced this concept? To focus on customer service instead of just the pets.
Unleashed is essentially a much smaller Petco with the look and feel of a mom-and-pop pet-supply store.
But there is one service Unleashed offers that is pet-centric: low cost pet vaccinations.
Unleashed offers times when licensed veterinarians visit the store. The vets offer affordable preventive services.
Don’t have an Unleashed store in your area? Petco still offers shots in their stores, through its registered “Vetco” veterinarians at Petco program.
And here’s how much it costs for vaccines there….
The Healthy Dog/Puppy program is currently $79 in our area. This includes protection against the following: distemper & Parvo; Bordetella; Lepto, which is optional; and, if necessary a round/hook dewormer.
For an extra $20 you can get a heartworm test. And for an additional $10 on top of the extra $20, your pet can get checked for tick-borne diseases.
So for about $100, you can have piece of mind to protect your dog.
(However, as we’ll explore further on in this post, it’s possible that your canine companion doesn’t need all these shots.)
There are even more add-ons you can get for your dog or cat. Let’s finish with offerings for canines first.
For an extra $42, you can have your pet vaccinated against rattlesnake bites.
Live in, say, Chicago? Then, of course, you can skip that one. But if you live in Tucson, or elsewhere in the Southwest, you might want to consider it.
In addition, Vetco also offers influenza and Lyme vaccinations. The Rabies (1 or 3 year) is just $25 nationwide.
Vetco Low Cost Pet Vaccinations For Cats
There’s only one combo shot package for felines at Vetco. For $75, it covers the FVRCP vaccine; feline leukemia (FeLV) and the same dewormer as for canines.
While paying this fee might be a financial burden, in the end, it’s a small price to pay for the health of your pet.
Consider that the FVRCP offers protection against three deadly viruses.
One of them (rhinotracheitis) is the result of the common feline herpes virus. Another disease this combo shot protects from is distemper.
Distemper is very easily spread amongst cats.
As for feline leukemia, it’s the leading cause of death via disease. It kills about 85% of cats that come down with disease.
If your cat has received all its shots but needs, say, a booster for feline leukemia, Vetco offers low cost pet vaccinations for these as well.
For example, a stand-alone feline leukemia shot is only $41.
Low Cost Pet Vaccinations At Walgreens
Walgreens, also offers affordable shots for dogs and cats.
In partnership with the giant discount drug store is ShotVet. The ShotVet program manages the Walgreens Pet Vaccine Clinic on weekends.
There are no exam fees. Another advantage to this program is that you don’t have to make an appointment.
Like the Vetco program, the people administering the shots are professional veterinarians.
Essentially, the reason why these chain stores can offer such affordable vaccinations is they cut out the middleman. The vaccinations come straight from the manufacturer.
Therefore, unlike, a veterinary practice, which has to purchase the shots and then upsell to profit from it, stores like Walgreens are able to sell at cost. That’s why Walgreens can offer packages starting at $99.
Free Dog Vaccinations
If you’re really in an economic pinch, is there anywhere that offers no-cost vaccines?
There are non-profits or veterinary schools that may help.
For a full list of resources available to low-income pet owners, check out the Humane Society’s website.
Keep in mind, some of these non-profits focus on pets with cancer.
Conveniently, the Humane Society lists aid groups by state.
Mobile Pet Vaccinations
In every populous community around the country, there are mobile pet businesses. They also offer vaccines for your pet a lower price than traditional veterinary offices.
For example, a Southern California-area business, VetCare, offers shot packages that are comparable in price to Walgreens and Petco/Unleashed.
VetCare offers four dog and three puppy vaccination packs. These packs range in price from $47 to $88.
In addition, VetCare offers and eight-week puppy vaccine series. This saves about 20% over the cost of individual vaccines, and includes a free physical exam.
The higher-priced VetCare vaccine series starts at $148.
Cheap Pet Vaccinations
Yearly vaccines are recommended by many vets. However, similar to the heated debate about vaccines in children, it’s also a hot topic amongst pet owners.
Some people believe that bombarding pets with cheap vaccinations can overload their immune system. This is the same core argument that many parents express with children.
On its website, it says, “There is a difference of opinion about having your adult dog vaccinated every year.”
And it’s not just pet owners who think there are too many shots given.
“Some vets believe too many vaccinations in adult dogs pose health risks,” says the AKC.
Still, many other vets disagree. They believe shots will prevent dangerous diseases.
While it may seem the antithesis to low cost pet vaccinations, visiting a holistic pet doctor may save you money in the long run.
If your dog or cat gets an autoimmune disease from shots, it’ll cost you a lot of money to take care of your loved one. So although the cost is higher initially, it is a great way to save money for the future by preventing pet illness.
However, a holistic vet can test for titers. Titer tests measure a pet’s immunity levels. If titer levels are high to begin with, the holistic vet may tell you that certain vaccines are not necessary.
Furthermore, a holistic vet will take into account your pet’s lifestyle. For example, if your pet stays home all day, it might not be necessary to give them shots for bordetella.
(But if you board Spot at a kennel, it’s probably a good idea to give him a shot for it.)
However, don’t skimp out on one series of low cost pet vaccinations: rabies. Every state in the U.S. requires it by law.
First published on August 7, 2018. Updated on May 5, 2021, with the most current pricing information.