Tag: saving

How Not to Break the Bank

How Not to Break the Bank

I cried with a client the other day.  I had examined his dog and given him a generally good bill of health…except for one problem.  This particular pooch seemed otherwise okay and was full of spirit except that the one abnormality was the cause of some discomfort & pain.  This owner was very certain that he did not want his buddy to be in any pain.  He had made the heart-wrenching decision to euthanize his beloved dog.  Why?  Because he couldn’t afford to do anything for his pet.  It doesn’t matter what the problem was.  Broken leg, bad teeth, bladder stones….  All examples of relatively “simple” problems that can be treated and pain relieved.  I use the term “simple” here to describe medical problems that are straightforward with the potential for very easy resolution.

Now before we go any further, I’m not here to get into an argument over the cost of veterinary care.  Believe me, it ate at me to have to euthanize that dog and it probably will for a long time.  In some ways, I do feel the cost is high but I also have to respect the other side in that I myself am not yet a clinic owner so I do not know all of the additional costs to run a clinic.  I can attest to the fact that veterinarians graduate with a high amount of student debt.  What I am aiming to do here is maybe help others find ways to defray the costs and avoid losing their pets.

piggy bank bandageFirst off, I feel the need to remind everyone that a pet is like a child in that it is a responsibility.  Having a pet is a wonderful thing and it can offer so many benefits to a person.  But in return, that pet deserves to be cared for so keep that in mind when adopting or “rescuing” an animal.  There is no socialized healthcare for pets unfortunately and I too would like to claim then on my tax return.  Veterinary clinics are privately owned businesses, much like an auto repair shop or a restaurant, where payment is for services rendered.  So how can we help ease the strain or plan for those unexpected emergencies?

Save for that rainy day...

Save for that rainy day…

Save a little:  Set up a savings account for your pet, whether it be at a bank or in a mattress.  Each paycheck put a little something away…$5, $10, $25…whatever.  Over time, this will build up for those emergencies that might happen.  Surgeries & dental procedures aren’t inexpensive so you should start saving up anytime when you get a pet.  Face it, if you adopt a chihuahua, it’s going to need dental work at sometime.  Adding that male cat to your house?  Prepare for possible urinary problem.  To also help with savings, cut back on eating out and your doctor would agree with saving money on not buying addictive things.  I think this option for saving up is the best idea of what I’ll present.

Save a lot:  This focuses on the idea of preventative care.  Nothing hurts more than watching a puppy fade away due to parvovirus (despite our best efforts) because somebody chose not to vaccinate it – treatment is easily 4-5 times more expensive than vaccines.  Just because your cat will “never” go outside doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be spayed – a spay surgery will save you at least $1000 by having the procedure done when they are young & healthy rather than when already ill.  Preventative care is there for a reason…to try and keep your pets healthy and have a good quality of life.  With your senior pets, it is far better to check some blood tests while they seem healthy because often the results can show an abnormality before the patient will show signs of the disease.   Also, if we send your pet home with a cone of shame, it’s for good reason – if they chew out their stitches, not only will it hurt them but it will cost you; so keep it on to avoid unnecessary vet visits.

It's not a cone of shame but a cone of protection

It’s not a cone of shame but a cone of protection

Carry extra protection:  Yes, I’m talking about insurance.  Pet insurance is so much simpler than human insurance andinsurance-claim you can even choose your pet’s doctor!  Lots of insurance plans will cover for accidents and illnesses while some will even cover basic wellness care such as vaccines, dental cleanings, and heartworm prevention.  It is best to research plans before you commit to one and many of them will have a trial period.  Some of my favorite plans here in Canada are PetsPlusUs, Trupanion, Petplan, and Petsecure.  Your veterinary clinic may have a relationship with some insurance companies that may offer special deals so be sure to discuss this option with your veterinarian.

Community support:  In many parts of the country (USA or Canada), there may be city or municipality programs that can help defray costs.  Here in the city of Kingston, they have instituted a program to provide $250 vouchers to have your pet spay or neutered for people with financial hardship.  Similarly, there are groups that help TNR (trap neuter release) feral cats in order to help decrease overpopulation and keep more animals safe.  In Kingston, one such group who does great work is the Spay Neuter Kingston Initiative (SNKI) and if you support a feral cat colony, they might be able to help.  So check in the area where you live to see what might be available.TNR

Use common sense:  These are things that might seem obvious but I’ll put them here are reminders.  Keep your dog on a leash and your cat indoors.  This can avoid fights, bite wounds, and being hit by a car.  Brush your pet’s fur if it is long.  Ask your veterinary clinic to show you how to trim nails safely & properly.  Brushing your pet’s teeth daily (okay, at least 3-4 times a week) with an enzymatic pet toothpaste can help reduce the severity of dental disease thus lowering the cost.  Don’t let your pets get overweight.  And lastly, don’t keep putting off a vet visit for a problem thinking it will get better…the longer you wait, the worse it can be and subsequently cost more.

I’m not going to lie; pet health care is expensive.  NOT counting food, beds, toys, or fun outfits, the average cost for pet in their first year of life (all core vaccines, spay/neuter, deworming, etc.) just in terms of basic care and maintenance can be approximately $600-$1200 depending on species, size, & gender AND assuming no other problems arise.  This is why it’s important to plan ahead and not get a new pet on impulse.  Hopefully, some of the above advice can help your pet enjoy a happy long life with you.  Lastly, one final way to save money when getting a new pet is to adopt from a shelter or rescue group.  Many of these pets will already be spayed/neutered, have some vaccinations, and tend to be less costly for an adoption fee rather than purchasing a purebred – oh and they’ll love you just as much if not more!!

Adopt_a_Pet

 

Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

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To Spay or Not to Spay…Spay please!

Spaying Has It’s Benefits (more than just keeping pets out of shelters)

 

So you love your cat or dog?  You paid a lot of money for that purebred too right?  And you want to have them or a part of them around forever?   Oh, and you have kids of your own?  Great, let’s get to work breeding your pet so that you can get some money back from selling puppies, have a new puppy from your dog, and let your kids see new kittens or puppies being born!

3 day old kittens that adopted my dad

3 day old kittens that adopted my dad

 

Alright, now forget everything you just read and prepare for the truth.  Those are all the excuses I often hear when discussing spaying and neutering pets.  Many pet owners will commit to “fixing” one of their pets but not both.  The usual factors are cost, machismo, or just not being fully aware of the risks.  For now, we’re just going to focus on the girls, with particular attention to the health aspect…we’ll get to the boys later.  Even though your dog or cat may be an “only” dog or always indoors, there are still more reasons to have her spayed than to leave her intact.  There is currently a pet over-population crisis where hundreds of thousands of animals wait in shelters for someone to take them home, or in too many cases, they are euthanized.  Aside from saving lives by spaying your animals, there are many other splendid reasons to do this kind gesture for your pets.

 

So, you think people are the only ones who get breast cancer?  Guess again.  Intact dogs and cats are also prone to mammary cancer.  While in dogs it has a 50-50 chance of being malignant, in cats there is a 90% chance of malignancy.  Aside from malignancy, these tumors can burst open causing pain and infection.  If they are spayed before their first heat cycle, these cats & dogs have a significantly reduced chance of developing these tumors.  A spay surgery, properly called an ovariohysterectomy, removes the entire uterus and ovaries.  This also eliminates the chance of ovarian cysts or cancers as well.

 

Now imagine a large abscess developing inside your furry loved one’s belly.  When it involves the uterus, we get to use the icky word “pyometra.”  If your pet is draining from its’ vulvar area, this is better than no drainage but still not a

A pus filled uterus I removed

A pus filled uterus I removed

good thing.  If the uterus is not draining, your cat or dog will get sick quicker as the bacteria invades the bloodstream and in the worst cases, the uterus can pop like a balloon.  These patients often present to the veterinarian for vomiting, lethargy, a decreased appetite, or increased drinking & urination.  Ultimately, the best way to fix this is surgery which is riskier and also more costly than a routine spay.

 

My dad called me the other night.  A stray cat had followed him home and she looked pregnant.  A few days later, he called me back saying “There’s some blood coming out of the back end.”  A minute later, “There’s a large bubble coming out now!”  “Congrats! It’s a girl!,” I jokingly told him.  Fortunately, she delivered all 6 kittens that night without the need for a c-section.  Yep, you heard me; people aren’t the only ones who need c-sections!  And wouldn’t you know it; these things always happen at 3am on a Sunday morning.  Then don’t forget dewormings and first vaccinations after they’re born.  These things all do cost money so that should be taken into account before considering breeding your pet.

Bottle feeding at 2am

Bottle feeding at 2am

Kittens & puppies can be a lot of work, and much like a newborn child, can include nights of little to no sleep.  Then comes finding homes because face it, 2-3 cats can be difficult to manage, but 7-9 is even more a difficult.  With all of the stories you may hear of pet over-population and shelters that do not follow a “no-kill” policy, it just makes sense to do this simple act to help our domesticated animals.  Below you will see a cat who had a pyometra and her family could not afford to treat her and they were left with the unfortunate choice of euthanasia.  Luckily for this young girl, were were able to find a foster home for her but she is a rare case as most of these patients do not get a second chance.  I hope I’ve laid out the facts enough so that informed and well thought out decisions can be made for the health of your pets as well as any that may follow you home.  UPDATE: Check out my revised spay/neuter position.  Please sound off in the comments if you have anything to add or if I’ve forgotten something!  Thanks again for reading, share if you like, and be sure to check back often for more posts!

Post-op pyometra recovering before going to her foster home tomorrow!

Post-op pyometra recovering before going to her foster home tomorrow!

Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

Don’t forget to check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest to see more events in my day & more shared info!  And on the right side of my blog you can now subscribe so you can always get the updates when a new post is published!