You Shouldn’t Get a Dog If…
• You cannot afford to take it to a vet when it gets sick or injured.
• You cannot afford dog food and heart worm and flea prevention.
• You cannot afford annual rabies and parvo vaccinations.
• You cannot afford to have it spayed or neutered.
• You do not have a stable living situation which allows dogs.
• You do not have a stable job or income.
• You don’t plan to keep it inside and leash walk it or you don’t have a secure fenced area.
• You don’t plan to socialize it to people and other pets and obedience train him.
• You plan to leave it outside without much attention. Dogs who are left neglected outside become unhappy and cause barking problems or worse.
• You are getting the dog just for your kids. You will be the one responsible for its care, so never get a dog just because your son or daughter want one.
• You aren’t committed to caring for it for its entire 10-20 year lifespan.
Contributed by DogsDeserveBetter.org
Excuse Me, It Costs What???
Everyone wants a dog or kitten to care for and have as a companion. But how many of us think about the cost of providing good health care for our pets? As a veterinarian in Los Angeles, I see many people who adopt animals but cannot afford to provide adequate maintenance health care.
First of all, kittens and puppies need vaccinations and deworming every three weeks until they are 16 weeks old. Kittens need to be tested for FIV and Feline Leukemia virus and puppies for heartworm. Also, a huge part of pet health care in the southern states is monthly flea medication. There are several great topical medications and one oral tablet available for flea prevention that lasts a month at a time.
Many people do not plan for that expense, even though everyone knows we do not have a frost in Los Angeles and therefore fleas live year round. Regular maintenance flea control costs about $10-$13 per pet per month.
Most pets are reasonably healthy in their younger years. However, all owners should save for an unexpected pet emergency, such as the dog that ate the garbage or the cat that has a blockage. I have seen people euthanize their young male cat instead of paying for a catheter and a few days of care. Every pet owner needs to have accessible at least $1500 of emergency medical money in case of that type of emergency.
A planned trip to your local veterinarian will save you a lot of money, rather than waiting and then running to the emergency veterinarians. So plan ahead. If you think your pet is not doing well during regular business hours, get them in for an appointment instead of waiting until only emergency hospitals are open and spending more money.
Also, think about senior care for your elderly pet. Pets are considered seniors after age eight. It is very helpful to have an annual physical with blood work and urinalysis as preventative measures and look for trends between years. Trends can establish low-level disease of some organs and start early treatment to slow down aging problems.
Also, pets develop arthritis just as us humans do – aches and pains as we age or do excessive physical activity. Many of my clients tell me that their dog is just slow to get up and accept that as normal for that age. Maybe the pet would get up more easily if it had anti-inflammatory medication for the pain of arthritis? There are many vitamin supplements for arthritis as well as prescription pain and inflammatory medications available for dogs and cats.
Those medications require a physical exam by a veterinarian and usually some blood work. Then the medications can work to provide your pet with a pain-reduced senior life. When your pet is a senior, there could be extra expenses for you in order to provide a pain free life, such as x-rays or yearly blood work. Sometimes alternative medicine such as acupuncture can be very helpful, yet require pet owners to incur additional expenses.
All of these routine, age-related health care practices need to planned for by pet owners. I often see people adopting another pet when they haven’t provided for the needs of their existing pets. The lure of a new kitten or puppy is always exciting but can you provide for all of these pets? It is a soul-searching question you must answer before you adopt a new pet.
I am an advocate of pet adoption, to be sure. I’d like to think that new adoptive owners have thought through the financial ramifications of their decision before they adopt. Pet ownership is a wonderful experience, but it does require commitment, a financial obligation, and planning.
Dr. L. Birr, DVM
Community Veterinary Center
10617 Burbank Blvd.
N. Hollywood, CA 91601
Getting a New Dog
It’s time to get a dog . You have seen all the movies and can’t decide on a golden retriever Airbud, a Chihuahua Legally Blonde, a golden lab Marley and Me, a dalmation 101 Dalmations or any number of dogs you’ve seen in movies or on TV. Your logical choice — a shelter or an animal rescue group.
You can certainly find any breed rescue imaginable online if you want a pedigree, or view what choices are available at your local shelter (also online), or take a trip to the shelter. You’ll probably want to go to several, or visit a local rescue organization.
Our readers’ choice: a shelter. Most of our readers know that by going to a pet store to buy a particular breed, there is a risk of a multitude of health problems associated with certain breeds due to the puppy mill syndrome.
Eventually, the recessive genes become dominant in many of these puppies and although some pet stores offer a guarantee, the truth is, that unless you are willing to pay thousands to a responsible breeder who cares about the health of his or her dogs and the integrity of the breed, you could wind up paying thousands to the vet for expensive treatments.
When I worked at the Humane Society, I met a number of good breeders. They are not in it for the money because a good breeder doesn’t make a lot of money with all of the medical tests to make sure that the dogs are healthy and able to breed properly.
A puppy mill operator (from where many pet stores get their puppies) or a backyard breeder is less likely to care about their animals’ health or the integrity of the breed.
Puppy mills are large-scale breeding operations where animals often live in filthy conditions that foster disease and frequently suffer from the absence of even basic veterinary care.
A shelter dog, frequently a mixed breed, is more likely to have fewer health problems than a pedigree and will give you more love, companionship, and puppy-love therapy than you could ever hope for.
Author: Bruce Malter, PawPassion.org