More than 23 U.S. households—nearly one in five nationwide—have adopted pets during the pandemic, According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Additionally, in 2021, people spent more than $123 billion last year caring for their pets, with the majority of that spending on food, veterinary care, and over-the-counter medications.
No matter how much our pets incur, they are worth it to us, but the truth is that many of these costs, especially those associated with emergency room veterinary care, are avoidable. That’s because the cost of preventing disease and disease is always lower than the cost of treating it. But which preventative procedures will ensure your pet gets the best health and save you the most money? Here’s a rundown of the top 5 things you can do for your pet that will help prevent problems that could cost you more than $10,000 over your pet’s lifetime.
Also read: 10 Dog-Friendly Restaurants in the Valley
Stay up-to-date on vaccines
Vaccinations are the most effective way to prevent common infectious diseases in cats or dogs. This also applies to indoor pets – many infectious diseases are airborne or can remain in the environment for months. Parvovirus, for example, is extremely contagious and drug-resistant, and can be spread by anyone, animal, or object that comes in contact with the feces of an infected dog.
Compare costs: If a dog is infected with parvovirus, the average cost of treatment per pet is $800 to more than $2,000, depending on the severity. Alternatively, the DA2PPV dog vaccine that includes protection against parvovirus is just $25. Another is canine flu. Most dogs recovered within 2 to 3 weeks without any further health complications. However, if there is a secondary bacterial infection, the flu can progress to pneumonia, which can cost between $500 and $1,400 to treat and can be life-threatening.
neutered and neutered to prevent disease
Spaying and neutering your pet will not only save you the cost of caring for a litter of kittens or puppies in the future. The money spent on these procedures can prevent very painful and potentially fatal diseases of the reproductive organs, such as pyometra (infection of the uterus), ovarian tumors (ovarian tumors), and prostatitis (inflammation or infection of the prostate gland).
Compare costs: For prostatitis – which occurs most often in unneutered male dogs – it usually involves a lengthy round of antibiotics (4 weeks or more). However, if your pet develops an abscess, it will most likely require surgical intervention, which can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000. For female dogs, the solution to a pyometra is surgery, which can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,200 for treatment (and can be more expensive if it’s an emergency procedure). Also, whenever surgery is involved, keep in mind the extra cost of antibiotics.
take care of their teeth
Unfortunately, poor dental health in pets can not only lead to bad breath, but can also have devastating (and costly) effects on their overall health—such as tooth loss, gum disease, inflammation throughout the body and spread to the heart, liver, and kidney.
Compare costs: Depending on the severity of the case and associated treatments, the cost of treating periodontal disease can range from $500 to over $3,000. But keeping your pet’s teeth clean year-round can help you avoid these costly surgeries in the future. Maintaining good dental hygiene at home with your pet is an affordable way to make a big difference, but it’s better to have your teeth checked by a veterinarian every 6 to 12 months. Traditional veterinary hospitals charge $650 to $1,000 for dental exams, but Dr. Kelly’s dental procedures start at $220, including exam.
protect them from parasites
Parasites can infect your pet at any time of the year. External parasites such as fleas and ticks may not be a problem in some seasons, but internal parasites can be present year-round with serious consequences. Internal parasites such as heartworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and giardia can be fatal if ignored, but are highly preventable with medication.
Compare costs: Annual fecal exams, screening for tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis, and preventive medication can greatly reduce the chance of parasitic infections and even save your pet’s life. Consider that checking for heartworm, ehrlichiosis, and Lyme disease costs less than $40, while heartworm prevention medication can cost as little as $5 to $15 a month, depending on the size of your pet. If your dog develops heartworm disease, you may end up paying $1,000 or more to treat it.
Keep up with health checks
There is no doubt that annual or biennial checkups at the veterinarian will cost less in the long run than not doing so. A veterinarian knows exactly what to look for in a routine checkup. Whether it’s a bacterial infection, weight problems, corneal ulcers or worsening joints, back or buttocks, regular veterinary checkups can help catch problems and illnesses early.
Compare costs: Undiagnosed diabetes can lead to a fatal emergency called “diabetic ketoacidosis,” which can cost up to $5,000 to treat. Or, if the cancer is allowed to grow uncontrollably, when it is finally discovered, the cost of treatment can run into the thousands of dollars. Consider regular inspections that cost an average of $100 to $200. Not only do these “start-to-finish” inspections reveal any hidden problems, but they also give you the opportunity to discuss behavioral changes or other issues you’ve noticed.
Preventive care for our pets is always better than reactive care, and it always costs less than treatment, surgery, or emergency veterinary care. Educating yourself about prevention and health care is the first step.
author: DVM’s Dr. Kelly Patriquin and CEO Doug Patriquin are owners of Dr. Kelly’s Operating Room, a dedicated veterinary practice that provides affordable and convenient procedures for pets at 6 locations in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas care. Services include a variety of low-cost surgical care, including neutering/neutering, tooth cleaning and extraction, bulk removal, and more. Since 2016, Dr. Kelly’s operating room team has performed more than 120,000 affordable procedures. For more information, visit https://www.drkellysvet.com.