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Dr. Pickett in the Reading Eagle: Saving Money at the Vet

Dr. Pickett was featured in a Reading Eagle article this past weekend! The article is below. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Berks vet weighs in on how to keep down costs when caring for a dog or cat ——————————————————————————– By Susan Shelly Reading Eagle correspondent Anyone who has ever rushed a sick dog or cat to an emergency vet in the middle of the night knows how expensive health care for pets can be. And although routine care also can be pricey, there are ways to minimize the costs of caring for your animals, said Dr. Lee Pickett, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School who practices with Bernville Veterinary Clinic. Pickett, whose pet advice column runs weekly in the Reading Eagle, talked recently about keeping down costs when it comes to caring for domestic animals. Pets may be expensive to care for, but Americans love them. Collectively, Americans own: – 70 million dogs & 74 million cats Of all American homes: – 36.5 percent have at least one dog – 30.4 percent of homes have cats present. Cat owners are more likely than dog owners to own more than one. The cost breakdown:
  • $248 for routine vet visits
  • $407 for surgical vet visits
  • $419 for food, treats and vitamins
  • $274 for boarding
  • $78 for travel expenses
  • $73 for grooming
  • $1,499 the average cost of keeping a dog in 2012.
That’s just $162 less than what the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average homeowner spent on electricity during the same period of time. How to save on preventative health care costs for pets Dr. Lee Pickett of Bernville Veterinary Clinic advised that prevention is always less expensive than treatment of disease in pets. “I will tell you that the secret of saving money on wellness care is prevention,” Pickett said. Here are some of her suggestions on ways to save: – Spay your pets. – Use worm preventatives. Worms are expensive to treat. – Keep your pets at healthy weights by not overfeeding and making sure they get sufficient exercise. – If you know your pet is at risk for diabetes (like many overweight cats are) purchase a glucometer, such as Alpha Track, which allows you to check blood sugars at home. – Give your pets a place inside the home. Pets that live outside suffer more illnesses and accidents than those who live inside. – Pay attention to oral health. Most pets that are 3 years or older have dental disease that can affect their overall health. Pickett said professional veterinary oral care is best, but you also can brush your pet’s teeth yourself with a enzymatic toothpaste, use a special pet rinse or give your pet products designed to promote dental health. – Keep up with vaccines. Every pet needs certain vaccines in order to avoid the potential for serious diseases. But not every pet needs every available vaccine, depending on its lifestyle. How to save on medical health care costs for pets: If your pet does develop symptoms, but the illness is not an emergency, Dr. Lee Pickett of Bernville Veterinary Clinic recommends that you consider all your options before deciding what action to take. And, she said, you can cut costs and increase your pet’s chances for recovery by providing any and all information that might help your vet to diagnose your pet’s condition. If your pet is sick, your vet may recommend trying a bland diet for a couple of days. If the pet’s health doesn’t improve, blood work and a fecal check may be suggested. Or, the vet might push for dietary changes, blood work and an X-ray. Discuss with your vet which option makes the most sense for your pet and when; don’t assume you need to move right to the most aggressive diagnosis techniques. If your pet is diagnosed with a disease, ask about each option available for treatment, and consider them carefully before choosing. Cancer treatment, for instant, can range from chemotherapy and surgery to medications to relieve suffering to euthanizing. Don’t confuse financial concerns with quality-of-life concerns. It’s possible that your pet could be treated for a moderate amount of money and enjoy many more good years of life. Conversely, it’s possible to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a pet who will never achieve good quality of life. Get a second opinion from a specialist if you don’t agree with your vet’s diagnosis or want further treatment advice. If you want to find treatment for your pet, it is available. Advocate for your pet. You know your pet better than anyone, and are ultimately responsible for its medical decisions. Be true to what you believe is the best for your pet. Resources to help you save money while caring for your pet: For more about spaying or neutering your pet, see the Humane Society’s site at tinyurl.com/y94wnxn To determine your pet’s ideal weight and learn how to achieve it, see Project: pet slim down, from Purina at www.projectpetslimdown.com/home/obesity For a list of products recommended by the Veterinary Oral Health Council to help you care for your pet’s teeth, go to www.VOHC.org To learn which vaccines are necessary for your pet, see the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website at www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/vaccinations