How to Be a Better Pet Owner: Finalist 5

Top 5 Ways to Keep Your Dog, Cat and Your Wallet Healthy

 Sharing your life with a dog or cat is a rewarding experience.  Pets provide unconditional love, help keep you healthy and provide wonderful examples of how to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.  Careful consideration of the potential costs of caring for a dog or cat might make you think a goldfish would be a better companion!  Finances are a serious consideration before entering into a life-long contract with a dog or cat but following these 5 easy steps will help keep your pet and your wallet healthy.


#1 Flea and Tick Control

Fleas and ticks may be harmful to your pet and to your family.  Fleas not only cause serious discomfort to the animals on whom they feast but they can also cause allergic reactions and spread serious blood-borne diseases like Bartonella and Rickettsiae.  Ticks too spread a number of diseases like Lyme and Erlichia.  Not only can these diseases be fatal but the cost of treating them could easily be $350 or more.  What is even worse is your pet could suffer relapses after treatment of many of these diseases so you may have to continue to spend money in the future.  In addition, flea extermination in your home can cost up to $400.  Now the good news – the average cost of flea and tick prevention can be as low as $9 per month.


#2 Clean Teeth

Dental disease is the most common disorder that affects dogs and affects up to 68% of cats.  If left unattended minor dental problems can lead to more complicated issues that may require tooth extractions.  The cost of dental procedures that require extractions can cost $150-600.  More importantly, severe dental disease can lead to bacterial infections that can spread to the liver, kidney, heart and other organs.  While it is impossible to estimate the costs associated with these more serious diseases, it is easy to see how to prevent them.  Brushing your pets’ teeth as infrequently as once a week can go a long way to preventing dental disease.  The cost of toothpaste for animals is as low as $7.  Combining regular brushing with annual teeth cleaning lowers the risk of serious disease substantially more.  The average cost of an uncomplicated dental cleaning is only $170.


#3 Heartworm Prevention

Potentially fatal heartworm disease is one of the top 3 health risks for pets, especially in the Southern United States.  Although 80% of dogs with heartworm disease survive with treatment, it is almost always fatal in cats – even with treatment!  In addition to being expensive (It can cost as much as $1,000!), the treatment for heartworm disease in dogs is slow, tedious and dangerous.  Sometimes dogs even suffer permanent lung damage.  When considering heartworm disease, the smartest course of action is by far to prevent it.  One year’s supply of heartworm prevention can cost as little as $35-80, depending on the weight of your animal. 


#4 Maintain a Healthy Weight

Keeping your pet at a healthy weight is probably the most simple and effective thing you can do for you pet.  It is most certainly the cheapest thing you can do!  Obesity can lead to joint problems, diabetes, heart disease, breathing disorders, skin problems and has even been linked to cancer.  The cost of the diseases associated with obesity can be enormous.  On the other hand, reducing the amount of food you feed your animal will actually SAVE you money.  The easiest way to maintain a healthy weight in your pet is to increase her exercise and restrict food intake.  The first step is to choose a quality pet food.  Next, you need to determine how much food your pet needs each day.  Your veterinarian would be happy to help you figure out your pet’s ideal weight and calculate a food “dose” for her.  Dividing your pet’s food dose into two or three meals per day will help her feel full.  The third important step is to closely monitor any snacks or treats you give your pet.  It is easy to get carried away feeding table scraps or treats to our beloved animals.  We often think that giving a snack is a sign of love and affection.  But try to remember that a healthy pet is a loved pet!  If, however, snacks are a part of your animals daily routine make sure her meals are a little smaller. 


#5 Yearly Wellness Exams

Finally, the importance of yearly wellness exams by your veterinarian for your dog and cat cannot be over-estimated.  For example, the average the cost of treating five common illnesses is $420 per incident.  In contrast, the average cost of an annual wellness exam is only $120-150.  Many diseases can be detected in their early stages when the cost of treatment is significantly less expensive.  Early detection of all most ailments is the key to keeping your animal and your wallet healthy and happy for years to come.  

 A quick look at the chart below shows how much money pet owners can potentially save by following these 5 simple steps – a whopping $2,335 per year! 


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