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MAY 2013

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Saving on Pet Care:
What You Can and Canít Get Away With
by Dr. Judy Morgan, DVM

dog moneyThereís no risk in saying we all love our pets. They are lifelong companions who weíve vowed to take care of, but a lifetime is a long time. When we bring a new pet into our family we donít always account for bumps in the road and, as a country, weíve collectively hit a pretty large one. The recession has had us all cutting down. Sadly, some families have chosen to cut their petís care almost entirely. Donít be one of them!

There are ways to manage vet care without completely slashing the budget. This month we will provide an overview of a few things you can and canít get away with.

  • Vaccinations:
    In previous articles we have discussed the dangers of over vaccinating; however vaccinations do serve a purpose. Most veterinarians give a standard list of shots to each pet and require yearly refreshment. The annual cost of these vaccinations can add up, causing many pet owners to avoid the vetís office and the preventative benefits of routine examinations.  What most people donít realize (and what most vets wonít tell you) is that a vaccineís protection, in most cases, lasts much longer than a year. There are also vaccinations that youíll be able to avoid entirely! A holistic practitioner can guide you through what shots can be avoided based on your petís lifestyle. Have an inside cat that never comes in contact with other felines? You might be able to get away with skipping vaccinations entirely! 

    While over vaccinating is both expensive and unhealthy for your pet, the preventative values of vaccinations canít be overlooked. If you donít want to vaccinate, thereís a blood test called a titer that can check your dog or catís natural immunity. Itís important to keep up with these tests.  Vaccines are given to prevent chronic illnesses that are either impossible to treat or very difficult and costly. You canít get away with putting your pet at risk for a serious condition that could easily be avoided with an affordable, routine test.
  • Routine Home Care
    Just as in humans, early detection of disorders is important.  Taking the time to run your hands over your petís body to feel for lumps and abnormalities is a great habit to get into (and your dog or cat probably wonít mind it either!) Also monitor their eating and toiletry habits. Remember that a dog or cat canít tell you when something is wrong.  If they begin acting abnormal, it could be an unexpected health issue and not just behavioral.
    If you notice something wrong, donít try and treat it yourself.  Medication ordered from an unreliable source will likely cause more harm than good. Even herbal and natural products need to be stored and prepared in particular ways to be effective. Thereís also a chance that youíll get medicine that is just poor quality. More than 25,000 cases of adverse reactions are reported yearly from over the counter flea, tick and do it yourself de-wormers alone. Why risk it for a marginal savings?

    You canít get away with playing doctor yourself. Veterinarians and certified technicians have gone through years of schooling and experience that canít be summed up by web articles. Even if they are from a Doctor (like this one!) pet health is on a case by case basis. The best way to save money is to keep a watchful eye on your pet and donít let an emergency situation be the first time you go to a veterinarian for help.  Early detection and medication is normally a fraction of the cost compared to treatment in more advanced stages. If you are interested in cutting down the cost of office visits, check out our article on Pet Health Care (link to our past article on your site).
  • Diet
    Have you recently downgraded from expensive pet store food to the cheaper super market or Wal-Mart brand?  It may save a few dollars in the short run, but the number one way to save money on veterinary care is by providing a high quality, well balanced and well proportioned diet.  Pet nutrition is suffering astronomically due to poor grade kibble becoming the staple food source for the majority of pets. Veterinarians and pet owners are becoming aware that many problems, including cancer, kidney disease, allergies, pancreatic disease, protein deficiencies, hair loss and immunodeficiency, are directly linked to diet. Cheap pet foods are loaded with fillers, substandard meats and dangerous preservatives; but what may be surprising is that many expensive foods are just as bad for your pet.
    It is important that a pet owner can read food labels and understand what to look for and what to avoid.

    Check out the Food Therapy (http://www.claytonvetnj.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=69&Itemid=72) segment of our website for more in depth information on choosing high quality food for your pets.

    So how much will high quality dog foods cost? Most are similar in price to high end pet store diets and a few quality brands are beginning to become mainstream and affordable. If these foods are still out of your price range, we strongly support home prepared and raw diets. Many bones and meat varieties are great for pets and also very cheap. If you get fresh fruits and vegetables for your family, buying in bulk and incorporating your pet into the equation can also be very cost effective. While the idea may sound appealing, home prepared diets are a commitment and must be planned out carefully for nutritional considerations. A consultation with a knowledgeable veterinarian is a must, as they will take into account your specific petís lifestyle, breed and age when formulating a diet. Supplements will also be necessary to balance the vitamins and minerals received by your dog or cat.

    Our final tip is an easy one; have fun with your pet! Regular exercise and interaction is beneficial for you and your petís body, mind and soul!


judy headshotDr. Judy Morgan has been operating the Clayton Veterinary Associates, located in Clayton, New Jersey, since 1993. She is a 1984 graduate of the University Of Illinois College Of Veterinary Medicine and more recently, the Chi Institute of Veterinary Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture.

She has been practicing Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation, a form of veterinary chiropractic, on dogs, cats, and horses for over a decade.

Clayton Veterinary Associates practices a unique blend of traditional Western medicine with Eastern medicine to achieve a more natural and holistic method of treating their patients.  Their ability to utilize both kinds of therapy offers clients the best of both worlds.


Clayton Veterinary Associates

820 N. Delsea Drive, Clayton NJ 08312
Churchtown Veterinary Associates
296 N. Broadway, Pennsville NJ 08070
Visit Us Online: www.claytonvetnj.com
Email at: information@claytonvetnj.com
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