How to Reduce the Costs of Pet Care
As a responsible pet owner, we have an obligation to care for our pet family members. Here are some tips to help you save some money on health care for your pet.
Spay or neuter your pet to prevent serious health problems. Spaying females can greatly reduce the possibilities of mammary tumors later in life (often malignant) and eliminates the possibilities of pyometra (life threatening infection of the uterus) or ovarian cancer. Neutering your male eliminates the possibility of testicular tumors and will greatly reduce the likelihood of prostate problems that are very common in older, non-neutered dogs. You will save the cost of replacing carpeting and furniture as neutered male cats are much less likely to spray and neutered male dogs are much less likely to urine mark in your home. The difference in rabies tag fees in Charlotte County - $30 every year for an intact pet compared to only $12 for a spayed/neutered pet, will often more than offset the cost of the surgical procedure.
Schedule regular exams with your veterinarian. It is much more expensive to treat illnesses than to prevent them. In most cases, early detection of health problems allow them to be treated at much lower cost than when they are more advanced, or may not be treatable.
Customize your pet's vaccinations based on your veterinarian's recommendations. Your veterinarian can help you decide which vaccines are necessary for your dog or cat based on lifestyle. Some vaccines are very important for health and/or legal reasons, such as rabies (cats and dogs), distemper-parvo combinations (dogs), and upper respiratory-distemper combinations (cats). Others are optional. If your dog doesn't get boarded or go to the groomer or the dog park, then you probably don't need the bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine. If you spend your summers in the Northeast, borreliosis or lyme disease vaccination probably should be given to your dog. We vaccinate against leptospirosis depending on your dogs circumstances. Canine influenza is also a “lifestyle” vaccine. Strictly indoor cats may not need to be protected against feline leukemia, although this vaccine protects against a very fatal and untreatable disease.
Protect your pet from internal and external parasites. Heartworm prevention is critically important for dogs and some cats. Heartworm disease has become increasingly convenient to prevent with twice yearly injections for dogs and monthly chewable treats or topicals. If diagnosed early enough, heartworm disease can be cured in many dogs, but with some risk and a lot of expense. This is where the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, is very applicable.
The prescription flea, tick, internal parasite, and combination products are very safe and effective. A flea infestation or tick “explosion” can cause serious health problems and can be very expensive to address.
Brush your pet's teeth. Dental disease can be uncomfortable, lead to difficulty eating, and can result in serious (expensive) or fatal heart, kidney, or other problems. Consult with your veterinarian on which products to use to keep your pet's teeth and gums healthy. A proper dental routine can greatly reduce the frequency and expense of dental prophylaxis (teeth cleaning by the veterinary clinic under anesthesia).
Consider health insurance for your dog or cat. It may be wise to invest in pet health insurance while your pet is healthy if the cost of serious illness or emergency veterinary care would result in a financial strain. There are many companies offering pet insurance ranging from comprehensive to catastrophic.
Secondhand smoke is bad for pets too. It can cause asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory disease as well as lymphoma and oral, nasal, and lung tumors. Not smoking around your pet will save you money on veterinary bills.
Groom your pets at home. You can reduce or eliminate the price of a visit to the groomer with regular brushing and nail trimming. There will be less pet hair around your home and your cat will have fewer hairballs. Some clients purchase a good set of clippers and learn how to groom their own pet, which can save considerable stress and expense.
Feed the right amount of a quality diet. A pet food that is formulated under the guidelines of the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is going to be more nutritionally complete and less expensive than a homemade diet. Overfeeding your pet will lead to a long list of preventable, expensive health problems and usually a lower quality and shorter life.