How Can I Reduce the Need to Take My Dog to the Veterinarian?
Preventative care, according to Wendy Wallace, DVM, certified veterinary acupuncturist and owner of the Four Seasons Animal Hospital in Lafayette, Calif., is key to reducing veterinary costs. She recommends a proactive approach with the following ten strategies:
Feed Well-balanced, Good-quality Dog Food
A balanced good-quality diet allows your dog to maximize nutrients while eating less, so your wallet benefits, too. “Correcting problems at this level may prevent the development of more serious problems,” says Dr. Wallace. Many human foods, including chocolate, mushrooms, and grapes, can cause serious health problems, so never offer these to your dog.
Keep Your Dog Fit and Trim
Keeping your dog at its right size can increase its life span by nearly two years. Dr. Wallace says overweight dogs are subject to diabetes, heart and respiratory problems, arthritis, increased surgical risks, decreased immune function, and increased damage to joints, bones, and ligaments. To reduce your dog’s weight, look for foods formulated for calorie restriction and exercise your dog daily, with walks, scheduled playtimes, or other exercise activities.
Brush Your Dog’s Teeth Daily
Daily brushing will prevent not only tartar buildup but also periodontal disease— a progressive condition that can, in advanced cases, lead to decayed gums, infection, liver, kidney, and heart damage.
Groom Your Dog Weekly
Weekly grooming will help prevent hot spots, rashes, mats, and painful broken nails, which can require anesthesia to treat. “Hair and skin are reflective of nutritional health,” says Dr. Wallace. Daily inspections of the ears, nose, mouth, teeth, and feet can help you spot minor issues before they escalate into potentially life-threatening and expensive problems.
Keep Parasite Prevention and Vaccines Current
Internal and external parasites, such as ticks and heartworms, and diseases like parvo, distemper, and hepatitis can require intensive hospitalized treatment for your dog, which is a great deal more expensive than the cost of vaccinating.
Spay or Neuter Your Dog
This way, you decrease pyometra incidence (a potentially life-threatening uterine infection), mammary cancer, unwanted pregnancies in females, and prostate infections in male dogs. Spaying or neutering also decreases the tendency to roam, which, in turn, reduces the odds your dog will fight with other animals or will be hit by a car.
Dog-proof Your Home and Yard
Store medications and all toxic products in a safe place. Keep poisonous plants, cell phones, slippers, marbles, dolls, and other hazards out of reach. Secure all fences and gates.
Schedule (and keep!) Regular Checkups
It is imperative to keep those that include laboratory testing, such as blood chemistries, complete blood cell counts, and urinalysis. “This allows detection of disease early when it is likely to be more treatable and prevent or extend the quality of life before more expensive procedures are necessary,” says Dr. Wallace.
Train Your Dog
If your dog is comfortable being handled, having his ears, feet, and mouth looked at, it allows the veterinarian to do many procedures safely. Procedures such as examining and treating ears, removing foreign bodies, and caring for wounds can be done less expensively and without general anesthesia,” says Dr. Wallace.
Consider Purchasing Pet Insurance
Pet insurance can act as a safeguard against unexpected illnesses and accidents. But be sure to shop around. Prices, plans, and coverage vary from company to company.
Following these simple and very doable guidelines will help you keep a leash on veterinary bills. Equally important, they will assure that your dog has the best chance to live a long, happy and healthy life, thereby increasing the enjoyment you share with your best canine friend.
Article written by Author: Tracy Libby