Statistically, in both human and animal medicine, preventative medicine has a much higher ratio of positive outcomes. In addition, early detection and treatment of disease or illness provides a much higher comfort level for both people and their pets. It is also a less costly way to care for yourself and your companions. Think about it, if you identify a problem early on, it is less advanced, and there are fewer complications. The sooner treatment is initiated, the more likely for a good recovery, the less likely for secondary illnesses; and often a shorter term of care is needed.
There are several disease processes that I see in practice on a daily basis, in which the clients who participate in preventative efforts for their companions not only greatly improve the quality of life for their dogs and cats; but also greatly minimize their veterinary expenses.
Heartworm prevention is often neglected. Heartworm is a life threatening disease, that is passed to both dogs and cats from mosquitoes. It is in issue in our area; and indoor pets are also at risk. There is no treatment for cats. For dogs, the treatment involves the use of Arsenic, and is risky, as well as costly. Patients need to be strictly cage confined for several weeks following medications. For a large breed dog, treatment is almost $2000. Please keep in mind, that a year of preventative for a small dog with Heartguard, is about $55. That is less than $5 per month, to protect the life of your cherished companion--about the cost of a drink at Starbucks. For a large dog, it is under $7 a month. Trifexis is another preventative option, that is oral, and it also includes flea protection.
Routine exams at least once a year for every pet both cats and dogs are really important. In addition to identifying disease in the early stages, this also helps to make sure that your companion is receiving appropriate care for his or her particular life stage. As your companion becomes a senior, twice a year evaluations as well as laboratory panels are recommended. Remember that animals age much faster than we do, and changes in organ systems can happen rapidly. Animals, especially cats, are very good at hiding illness. Often you will not see symptoms of a problem, until it is advanced. It is all about identifying issues in the early stages, because early detection of illness leads to better outcomes.
Dental care is a huge problem in veterinary medicine, with 80% of patients having some level of dental disease. It often goes undetected, and many clients are fearful of having their pets sedated for dental cleanings. Remember, that dental disease is not just confined to the mouth. As oral infections progress, bacteria from the mouth goes into the bloodstream and affects organs such as the kidney, liver, and heart. There are some easy steps that you can take today, to help prevent your dog or cat from developing significant dental disease. First, feed a high quality diet and eliminate or limit people food. A good diet will help to leave less residue on the teeth. Provide some level of routine oral care; there are many options available including brushing, treats and chews, oral drops and rinses, oral paste, and products to add to the water. Schedule dental cleanings at the earliest point that this procedure is recommended. When a cleaning is done early on in the disease process, the anesthetic time is shorter, extractions are less likely; and it slows down the progression of oral pathology, so your cherished companion experiences less pain overall.
Not only is important to try to prevent disease; but it is equally as important to act quickly when a problem arises. This helps to minimize the chance of secondary illnesses, and provides comfort for your dog and/or cat as soon as possible. Again, when problems are treated in the early stages, there is a much greater chance for a positive outcome. By acting on problems in the early stages, you often minimize costs because often a shorter cycle of treatment is needed. Please remember that options such as Care Credit exist, which helps you pay for medical care over time for several months without interest. Please visit their website for more information www.CareCredit.com .
Please remember, by acting now with small amounts of effort and financial investment, it really pays off big in the long run. Your pets are depending on you for their care. With small changes, you can give them the best chance for a long, high quality life.