3 costly mistakes made by pet lovers

I am very fortunate to work with motivated pet lovers when I perform surgery on their pets. Yet I am always surprised when they make the 3 following mistakes.

1. Allowing their pet to gain weight

Allowing your pet to be overweight increases their chances of getting certain diseases: diabetes, heart disease, urinary issues, tumors, orthopedic problems (such as ACL tears) and arthritis, to name a few.

It gets worse: obesity decreases your pets’ quality of life and shortens their lifespan.

Studies showed that maintaining a healthy weight can extend dogs’ lives for 2 years! The same concept likely applies to cats.

2. Giving your pet “freedom”

Every year, I fix a number of broken bones that could have been totally avoided. If more dogs were on a leash and fewer cats were allowed to go outside in the name of “freedom”, there would be much fewer broken bones.

Dogs and cats will never win the battle against a moving vehicle. The damage can be extensive, even life-threatening. Not using a leash may also increase the risk of your pet getting into a fight with unfriendly four-legged neighbors or even wildlife.

Use a leash – save a life (and money).

3. No pet insurance

Surprisingly, pet insurance is still a fairly new concept for some pet owners. Pet insurance can help with unforeseen emergencies or surgeries.

Similar to health insurance for humans, it will help offset some of the cost of pet ownership. It may give you much needed assistance in the event of an emergency or costly but necessary surgery.

Now… not all pet insurance companies are created equal. Some are good, some are really bad… So do your research to find the company and plan that’s right for you and your pet.

On that note, I’ve heard many pet owners say “I’ve paid for pet insurance for years, and I never used it, so I stopped paying for it.”

Ironically, we typically have this discussion when they need my surgical services (Murphy’s Law)… ie when it’s too late!

With all due respect, this is not the right way to think about pet insurance. Would you ever say “I’ve paid for fire insurance for years, and I never used it, so I stopped paying for it. Man, I wish my house had burned down so I could make my investment work for me!”

Of course you’d never say that!

It’s the same for pet insurance.

It’s not an investment.

When you buy pet insurance, you are buying peace of mind.

You are buying the certainty that if and when your pet needs surgery or some other treatment, you will be able to help your pet without putting your personal financial situation at risk (one big caveat: as with any insurance, there are exclusions!).

So consider getting pet insurance, have peace of mind, and hope you never need it.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified

4 (More) Truths about Pet Expenses

As promised last time, here are 4 other financial concerns to consider with your beloved furry friend.

1. Skipping basic pet care can drastically increase costs

As Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Here are five perfect illustrations of that quote:

. Regular dental cleanings are cheaper (and less painful) than a major dental procedure.

. Preventing internal parasites (e.g. worms) is cheaper than treating their consequences, such as vomiting or diarrhea.

. Preventing external parasites (e.g. fleas) is cheaper than fighting their effects, such as skin irritation or infection.

. Nipping small health problems in the bud is cheaper than treating the full-blown disease.

. Vaccinating your pet is always much cheaper than treating any of the diseases vaccines prevent so effectively. In addition, some of these diseases, such as the one caused by parvovirus, can be deadly.

Treating diseases like those can cost over 100 times the preventive care cost — not to mention that you can lose your pet altogether.

2. Pet proofing your home is worth the investment

Pet proofing your house is very important to try to prevent the need to surgically remove something that your pet should not have swallowed.

Ultra-classic examples include socks, toys and “string” type foreign bodies.

3. Feeding veterinarian-approved pet food will cost less in the long run

All pet foods are the same, right? Wrong! Without the proper diet, your dog or cat can develop many different diseases including:

Overweight or obesity

Skin conditions

Heart disease

Malnutrition

Bladder stones

Urinary blockage in cats

Metabolic issues

Proper nutrition can prevent health problems and large expenses.

4. Pet insurance is not an investment

I am a firm believer that pet insurance can be a life-saver. With one huge caveat: you need to pick the proper plan. They are some very good ones and some very bad ones.

I’ve heard pet owners complain “I’ve paid for pet insurance for years, and I never recouped my investment, so I stopped paying for it.”

Insurance is not an investment! It’s protection against a big expense in case of a serious medical or surgical situation.

Would you ever say “I’ve paid for fire insurance for years, and my house never burned down, so I stopped paying for it?”

Of course not!

Pet insurance gives you the peace of mind that you will be able to care for your pet, should there be a health crisis.

Life as a pet lover can be tough, but by taking the proper steps you can help alleviate the financial burden and take proper care of your loved ones.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified