Lexington, KY – It seems that America has gotten a bit of a financial wake-up call, and we are all starting to pull our belts a little tighter. Fortunately, by learning to spend your veterinary dollar wisely, you can save money without compromising your pet’s health. Follow these dos and don’ts to get the most for your veterinary dollar.
Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. A skipped parvovirus vaccine will save you less than $20, but if your dog gets parvo, the treatment can cost 100 times that. Many parvovirus treatments end up costing between $1,000-$2,000.
Don’t skimp on parasite control. Ticks, fleas, intestinal parasites and heartworms, like parvovirus, are much cheaper to prevent than treat. Depending on which heartworm preventive you choose, you will be paying between $5-$10 a month for heartworm/intestinal worm prevention. Heartworm treatment is not only very expensive, it is dangerous and can even be fatal. Even if the parasites are successfully treated, the damage they have done may be lifelong.
Likewise, if you treat fleas either ahead of time, or as soon as you see one, they are controllable with monthly medication. If you wait until your pet has several fleas, or you have fleas in the environment, they will be difficult and expensive to get rid of and you will probably need an exterminator. Don’t even think about some of the cheap, over-the-counter flea preventives. Just because they are applied the same way does not mean they work the same. Almost all of these are ineffective, and some are dangerous. Ask your veterinarian.
Don’t over-vaccinate. The days of every pet getting every vaccine every year are gone. Your veterinarian should tailor your pet’s vaccine schedule to your pet’s needs. Does the dog that stays mainly in the house get the same vaccines as the one who goes camping at the gorge and splashing through Elkhorn Creek every weekend? No. Does the cat that is never around other cats get the same vaccines as one who roams the neighborhood? No. If your veterinarian is telling you your dog or cat needs four or five vaccines every year, your pet is being over-vaccinated. It is not only a waste of your money, but potentially harmful to your pet.
Don’t forget the teeth. If you grew up like I did, with the family dog wandering around the neighborhood and eating table scraps, this one is hard to get used to, I know. But brushing your dog’s or cat’s teeth can save you a ton of money. Yes, they will still have to be cleaned by us sometimes, but not nearly as often, particularly if you are careful to get all the surfaces of all the teeth. This will not only save you money, but will also reduce the number of times your pet has to be under anesthesia. You can ask your veterinarian to show you the best toothpaste and brush and to show you how to brush properly.
Don’t let your pets roam free. A free roaming cat or an unleashed dog is an accident waiting to happen. If your pet is hit by a car or attacked by another animal, the result is often tragic. It is these accidents that are often the most dangerous for your pet, and the most expensive for you.
Remember: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Or in this case, $20 of prevention is worth $2,000 of cure. Preventing the preventable will save you literally thousands of dollars over your pet’s lifetime.
Ask questions at your vet’s office. Which vaccines are really necessary? How often do they need to be given? How can I prevent this problem in the future? Can you show me how to trim those toenails myself?