Let’s be honest: nobody really “enjoys” paying their bill at the end of a vet visit.
In fact, handing the receptionist your credit card and telling her to charge whatever you owe can be especially painful if a serious health issue brought you and Whiskers to the office in a hurry—emergency treatment, after all, can cost hundreds of dollars or more. Taking your pet to the vet for an annual checkup and round of vaccinations is part of being a responsible owner, so there’s no avoiding that. But some common maladies that strike our pets are completely avoidable…and, for the sake of your budget, you’d be wise to try to avoid them!
#1: Intestinal Obstruction / Foreign Object Removal
Like human babies and toddlers, our pets aren’t always the best judges of what they should and shouldn’t put in their mouths. Ingesting a non-food item usually just results in vomiting and/or diarrhea, but in some cases, the object can become stuck in your pet’s intestinal tract and cause a life-threatening blockage! Even finicky fur-babies aren’t immune to this—a cat who will turn up her nose at everything but her favorite food might still chow down on a wad of cellophane because she likes the texture and crinkling sound. Always make sure that the toys you give your pets are the appropriate size and suitably durable, and don’t let them “inspect” the garbage can. Also, if your pet has a habit of “gutting” plush toys and ingesting the stuffing or squeakers, then stop giving them toys with stuffing or squeakers!
#2: Heartworm Treatment
Here’s the good news: for many pets, contracting heartworms is not necessarily a death sentence. It’s an extremely dangerous condition to have, but it is treatable! The bad news, though, is that options for treatment—including injections, hospitalization, medication, and “kennel rest” for the patient—tend to be complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. Save yourself, your pet, and your wallet from stress and hardship by simply giving your pet a heartworm preventative every month. These mediations, which usually come in the form of chewable tablets or topical gels, are relatively easy to administer and work as a temporary vaccine against heartworm infection.
#3: Canine Parvovirus Treatment
Like heartworms, parvo isn’t always fatal—but it can be, and treating it can be extremely expensive, as well as stressful for both you and your dog. Fortunately, a vaccine for parvo exists, and it’s available for puppies as young as six weeks old. Getting your dog inoculated against parvo is quick and easy, and it’s relatively inexpensive (especially if you take the time to research low-cost shot clinics!). Vaccines and boosters should always be part of your pet’s regular health regimen, so talk to your vet if you think Rocket’s not up-to-date on his shots.
#4: High-Rise Syndrome Treatment
Apartment renters and condo owners, take heed: if you like to leave your back door open to let in some fresh air or hang out on your balcony, please make sure that the area just outside the door is safe for your pets! Small dogs and kittens can easily fall through the barrier bars if they get excited or startled, and it’s not unheard of for larger dogs and cats to jump over the railing for one reason or another. Pets who are fortunate enough to survive a fall off of a second- or third-story balcony usually wind up with severe injuries, like broken bones or trauma to their limbs and face. To prevent Cookie from taking a “shortcut” to the courtyard below, keep the balcony barrier blocked off, and enforce a strict paws-off policy when it comes to leaning, standing, or resting on the railing. And never give your pet unsupervised access to a balcony!
#5, #6, and #7: Treatment for Pyometra, Mammary Tumors, and/or Testicular Cancer
These three issues might seem completely unrelated, but they’re grouped together here because they share a common method of prevention: get your pet spayed or neutered at a young age! Companion animals that have been “fixed” tend to behave better (that is, they’re less aggressive, less prone to wandering, and less likely to urine-mark their territory), and they can’t contribute to the rampant problem of pet overpopulation that’s currently plaguing our country. More importantly, though, spaying/neutering is good for your pet’s health. Testes or a uterus that are removed early on can’t become cancerous or infected, and mammary tumors are significantly more likely to occur in un-spayed critters. So, unless you’re a licensed, experienced breeder who knows exactly what they’re doing, there’s really no good reason to avoid having your pet “altered.”
#8: Dental Emergencies
Regular maintenance is key if you’re going to keep your pet’s teeth and gums in good shape. For this reason, you shouldn’t wait until Maggie has completely stopped eating, has a clearly visible open sore in her mouth, or has repulsively stinky breath before you talk to your vet! Brushing (or otherwise cleaning) your pet’s teeth can make a world of a difference when it comes to their long-term health, and so can giving them chew toys that are appropriate for their size and bite strength. Don’t let your Pomeranian chew on the rocks he finds in the backyard, because that’s an easy way for him to break a tooth!
#9: Poisoning Emergencies
Again: pets don’t always use good judgement when they’re trying to decide whether or not to eat something they find lying around the house. And while Bella probably won’t die just from licking a bar of hand soap, if she ingests even small amounts of certain chemicals, you two may be spending the evening at the pet Emergency Room. Always keep household cleaners and any pesticides locked up; ingesting these substances cause serious damage to an animal’s kidneys or liver. Be especially wary of antifreeze containing ethylene glycol! This chemical has a “sweet” taste that animals often find enticing, so keep it far away from your pet!
#10: Ongoing Treatment for Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic condition, so while it’s not terribly difficult to manage, the costs associated with keeping it under control can add up over time. Some pets (especially certain dog breeds) seem to have a genetic predisposition to developing diabetes; this is similar to how some humans have a family history of the disease. However, also like humans, there are steps that you can take to significantly reduce your pet’s risk of developing diabetes later in life. The main thing is to watch your critter’s diet; feed him a high-quality food that’s appropriate for his age and breed, and try to limit (or completely forbid) table scraps. In particular, carbs break down into sugars, so avoiding high carbohydrate foods and opting for specially formulated low carb dog foods like our Muenster Natural Chick & Pork formula is also a good option. Adequate exercise will help him stay healthy, too. And if your vet says that Duke needs to lose weight, take that advice to heart!
Please note that there’s no way to guarantee 100% that your pet will never get sick or injured—even goldfish have health problems from time to time! However, the old saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” also applies to companion animals. Our pets rely on us to keep them out of harm’s way, and when disaster strikes, they rely on us to get them necessary medical treatment. By showing some initiative, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars in vet bills…or your pet’s life.
American Heartworm Society
Greg Dunlap on Flickr
Pet MD (1)(2)(3)