Saturday, December 27, 2008

Preventive pet care during challenging economic times

One major issue in these days of challenging economic times is looking for ways to cut back on expenses. Dr. Tracy Acosta, D.V.M. at the Biloxi Animal Hospital says in an article written for the South Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association and published by the Idaho “One area you don't want to cut back on is the basic preventive care for your pets. So, how do you define basic preventive care? First, keep in mind that prevention is worth a pound of cure and that prevention is always less expensive than treatment.
Depending on how dire your economic situation is, will help to determine where you should trim the budget. The best place to look for help with those questions is your pet's personal veterinarian. Your veterinarian knows your particular pet and its health status best, and can definitely help make critical decisions with you. Be honest with your veterinarian about your situation; while at the same time explain that you don't want your pet's health to fall to the wayside either.
The bottom line for most pets' basic requirements include good nutrition, parasite prevention and necessary vaccinations.
As you can see, a fancy bed or collar is not on that list. Not that those items aren't nice, but they can be added later once the basic health care needs have been met.
In regard to good nutrition, this is one area you can truly make a difference in the quality and length of your pet's life. You get what you pay for. I do not encourage any pet owner to ever skimp when it comes to feeding their pet a good quality food. At the same time, I don't believe you have to pay a fortune for quality food. Now, with so many different foods and choices, any pet owner can be easily overwhelmed and find it difficult to make a good choice. Remember, quality commercially produced pet foods are available. So, ask your pet's veterinarian to give you a couple of brands they think would be a good choice for your particular pet's needs. Remember, with the better quality foods, you actually will have to feed your pet less, because it has less fillers, which in the end (literally) means less fecal output.
As far as parasite control goes, no owner can fail to do their part to provide their pet proper external and internal parasite prevention. The paramount reason is many parasites can pose a health risk to the humans who live with them. The Centers for Disease Control encourages veterinarians to be vigilant against any disease or parasite that can have a zoonotic potential, which means can be passed from animal to human. Most pet owners are aware of the dangers of ticks on their pets as a source of a zoonotic threat, but most, unfortunately, are unaware of the serious dangers their pets' intestinal parasites can pose, especially to young children.
Where you and your pet live in the United States, will determine what types of parasite prevention will be necessary. Some of the top parasites of concern: fleas, ticks, heartworms, roundworms and hookworms. Consult your local veterinarian on this area of preventive care for your pet. Not only will your pet be healthier, but you will also assure the health of your entire human family.
Vaccinations for your pet are another critical aspect of a healthy pet and a healthy human family. We have come too far in absolute preventive care with the use of proper vaccinations in both human and veterinary medicine to let this aspect of care be ignored.
Where you live and the lifestyle of your pet, help determine the best vaccination protocol to keep your pet healthy.
There is no "blanket" approach to vaccination protocols, so discuss with your pet's veterinarian what your particular pet needs.
Hopefully, I don't have to remind pet owners that rabies is a disease that poses a human risk. This is only one of the zoonotic diseases that we vaccinate pets for routinely, so be sure to have your pet properly vaccinated.
Those are just a few of the basics of pet health care that should not be cut back. Every pet has its own special needs and should always at least have an annual physical exam by a veterinarian, or twice a year if over the age of 7 years. Veterinarians believe prevention is imperative when it comes to every pet's health. So, I encourage all pet owners to provide the best they can for their pet's health since it not only promotes a healthy and happy pet, but also promotes a safe environment for its human companions. “
For my taste, Dr. Acosti places a whole lot of the burden on the pet owners’ veterinarian community. While I am not saying don’t follow her advice and disregard your vet completely, I would say though that running to your vet with every little issue and question you have is not necessary. Since the objective was to come up with some money saving strategies and ideas, I also would say that frequenting your vet is certainly not the way to save money. After all, his/her business nowadays seems more and more to be making money, rather than following his original veterinary ideologies, which as far as I see it were to make sure that you don’t need him or her, rather than making you more vet dependent. Related to pet nutrition, definitely an area of my expertise, if you are a follower of my blog, you know already that I am not a fan of the idea of having the vet make decisions or recommendations about pet food. Most of them do not have the required knowledge of a nutritionist and adopt pet food just as an additional profit center for their offices. Yet in most cases their prescribed or recommended diets are, as we have found and shown many times, often questionable and certainly leave room for discussion.

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