Penny Pinching

February 16, 2010

In 2009 and 2010 we have all been pinching pennies as we try to get through a recession, but try not to cut back on your pet’s preventive care. If you skip even a few heartworm pills, you might save 30 or 40 bucks, but if your dog gets heartworms, you could be looking at a $1000+ bill to treat him. If your cat gets heartworms, then you are really in trouble, because there is no treatment for them. Neither case scenario is really worth the savings.

Here are some tips to help you continue to keep your pet healthy while you save money.

Don’t just vaccinate for every disease under the sun. Just because there is a vaccination for a certain disease, it doesn’t mean that your pet would ever be at risk for that disease. Have your pet vaccinated for the diseases that he is likely to be exposed to and avoid those vaccines for diseases that are avoidable and treatable. Your veterinarian can help you choose the right set of vaccinations for your pet, if he or she isn’t willing to have this discussion, find someone who will. Certainly, there are what we refer to as “core vaccinations” that all dogs and cats need, but vaccinating for everything every year is not always necessary.

But, that said, don’t skip that annual, or semi-annual trip to see your veterinarian. This is when you should have that discussion with your veterinarian about vaccinations and when you should have your pet screened for any problems. Some diseases get more prevalent at certain times, requiring a new set of vaccinations. For instance, Leptospirosis became a lot more prevalent in our area when dogs and wildlife were moved up here from the Gulf Coast after Katrina, so we started vaccinating susceptible dogs. And, catching a disease process early can save you a bundle. Removing a dime size lump is a lot less expensive, and a lot less stressful for your pet, than removing a lump the size of a half-dollar.

Keep your pet lean and active. This helps prevent diseases like diabetes. Just the supplies for diabetes cost $50 a month, and that doesn’t include frequent visits to the vet for lab work and exams. Cats are especially susceptible to diabetes, so keeping them on a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet can really pay off later in life. Lean pets also have fewer problems with arthritis. Arthritis medications for dogs can cost $50- $100/month and additional treatments like nutritional supplements, acupuncture or even surgery can double and triple that number.

Consider pet insurance or a savings account for emergencies. There are pet-insurance plans that cover all the preventive care, but there are also catastrophic plans that will just cover your pet if something really bad happens. The latter tend to be more affordable. God forbid that your pet ever need it, but fractures repairs and treatments for severe diseases can easily run up to $3000. It is best to be prepared. The website http://www.petinsurancereview.com has many plans listed where you can compare policies and pick one that is best for your pet.

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