Everyone loves to save money these days, including loving pet owners. But while saving money and cutting back on costs, the last thing you want to do is compromise your pet’s health. Regardless of what tips you may read, by providing your pet with regular preventative care, you are taking essentials steps to help ensure your pet has a long and healthy life. All vets can attest that an initial investment in preventative healthcare can reduce your long-term pet healthcare costs. Preventative care can help prevent diseases and conditions that put your pet’s life in jeopardy and that are expensive to treat. Regular vet exams can help catch conditions that can become bigger problems if left untreated, which can save your hundreds or thousands of dollars and possibly save the life of your pet.
When selecting the right vet, the cost may be a major concern but shouldn’t be the only consideration. There are several different factors to consider when shopping around for the best vet. Some of those factors may include convenient office hours, the personal belief system of the vet, and payment options available. While cost is certainly an important factor, it may not be the most important one. When shopping around, the old saying, “You get what you pay for” is often the case, and there is no exception when it comes to shopping for a vet. While some services may seem to be offered at very low rates, they may not be comprehensive and may lack in quality. Make sure you compare apples to apples when shopping around. For example, a lower cost surgery estimate may only apply to the surgery alone while a higher cost estimate may include pre-operative bloodwork and postoperative care as well.
Whatever you do, please don’t decide that Dr. Google is your best, affordable option. As the Internet becomes more readily available, more and more pet owners are looking online for information and guidance on health issues. It can prove to be quite challenging to sort out reliable information from junk online. While the Internet can be a great starting place for exploring your pet’s health and treatment options, no decision or action should be made based on online information alone. The Internet can never replace the knowledge behind a real-life veterinarian and while one story may sound similar to yours, it is always best to have your pet’s treatment plan tailored specifically for them. The AVMA urges all pet owners to use extreme caution when relying on any information that comes from a source other than a professional veterinarian.
All veterinarians will emphasize the importance of at least annual preventative healthcare exams and regular preventative care, including vaccinations, testing, exams, and evaluations for saving the lives of pets and ensuring they are healthy and happy. Regular care not only helps your pet’s health but also helps to keep your costs down. In comparison, the cost of preventing preventable health conditions is almost always cheaper than treating them. Regular exams may also help to detect diseases and conditions when they are in their earliest stages and are the easiest (and cheapest) to treat.
All pets need at least an annual wellness exam, and some pets (such as aging or ill) may need even more frequent exams, according to Dr. Michael Cavanaugh, American Animal Hospital Association executive director.
“Many people ask me, ‘How often should my pet see their veterinarian?’ My typical answer is at least annually, and it depends. Depending on the pet’s life stage, lifestyle, and overall health status, they may need to be seen more frequently. The individual pet’s veterinarian is best positioned to determine how many visits per year are in order,” Dr. Cavanaugh said.
Regular preventative healthcare exams can help reveal subtle problems, that if left undiagnosed and untreated, could lead to bigger and more costly consequences later on.
Dr. Nan boss, the owner of Best Friends Veterinary Center in Grafton, Wisconsin shared her story about a cat named Gabby who hadn’t been seen by a vet in many years and was finally brought into her clinic with neurological problems. Gabby was so weak she couldn’t even walk.
“She’d had a stroke because of high blood pressure caused by hyperthyroidism, which can lead to a number of other health problems including weight loss, and heart and kidney disease. If we had been checking her thyroid level regularly, we would have caught the disease earlier and had her on medication, plus we would have been monitoring her blood pressure. She would never have had the stroke,” Dr. Boss said.
Gabby was able to live about five more years on her thyroid medication but was never the same cat again and suffered from weakness in her back legs until she died.
Dr. Boss shared another story, about a dog named Kay who came into her clinic for a routine dental exam. During the exam, Kay was diagnosed with atrial tachycardia, a potentially life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm. Dr. Boss found the condition while administering the standard ECG screens prior to the dental anesthesia. Kay was rushed to an emergency clinic where she was able to receive an echocardiogram and medication. Her life was saved due to a routine dental exam.