Do you dread taking your dog to the vet? I know it can be stressful. Your dog is stressed. Then you never know exactly what your vet will say or find. Plus, there’s the cost of going to the veterinary clinic. Sometimes it seems like a good idea to put your head in the sand and not worry about a checkup visit. After all, why ask for trouble if everything seems to be going well, right? That could be a major problem. Today, let’s dig in and discover the top 8 ways dog preventative care reduces costs.
Budget tip: Maintenance is always cheaper than an actual issue. Or dealing with an issue head-on at the earliest start is better than when it’s got a good grip. This is the basic philosophy that holds true over many modalities, including caring for our dogs. Think of a wellness plan for your dog like a maintenace plan. Therefore, the cost of a preventive vet visit to keep up with maintenance issues or catch something early is a great idea! Otherwise, you may end up with a very sick dog and a very steep vet bill. It’s good for your dog’s health and your pockebook. In other words, it's great for your dog's health care routine and a major WIN-WIN!
What is preventative care for my dog?
Basically, preventive dog care is a pet wellness plan or checkup. This is when your vet when gives your dog a good overall examination and provides care as needed.
How often should my dog get a vet preventative care checkup?
It’s recommended that your dog see your vet for preventative care or for wellness exams at least twice a year. That’s what I do with my dog, Henry.
Does preventative care for dogs change by age group?
Yes! Puppies will need a series of immunization shots at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 6 months. Then they can into a basic wellness plan or dog preventative care.
However, as a dog ages and becomes a senior pet, your vet will want to get a baseline of such organ activities as kidneys and heart. This is done with blood work and X-rays. Then your dog will receive a more in-depth (or senior) annual examination.
Since we don’t really know Henry’s exact age, his vet recommended a senior pet baseline a couple of years ago. He now gets one annual senior pet wellness exam in the Fall. Plus, he receives a more general preventative pet care or routine care checkup in the Spring.
During the Spring checkup, he gets his vaccines and an overall examination. However, in the Fall for his senior pet checkup, he gets blood drawn to make sure his organs and body are functioning properly. If anything is suspicious, then his vet orders an x-ray or further tests.
NOTE: According to a recent survey 42% of pet parents would go into debt with a vet bill of $999 or more. Thus, even more, reason to be proactive with preventative vet care.
How does lifestyle impact preventative care for dogs?
Dogs that are outside more or are exposed to higher-at-risk activities will need more preventative care. These activities could include:
Does pet insurance pay for preventative vet care?
Yes! Your pet insurance should definitely cover the cost of preventative care. However, always check your pet’s health insurance policy to make sure.
What if I don’t have pet insurance? How can I minimize the cost of vet preventative care?
There are a few ways to prepare for your dog’s preventive care to minimize cost. First, always budget for it. However, you can also use:
- Pet savings
- Ask your vet about in-house financing, buying into pet wellness plan program, or even a multiple pets discount
Why is preventative care important for my dog?
Any vaccination your dog needs will be given during a preventative care vet visit. This is critical as some vaccines will prevent serious or even fatal diseases. Without a wellness plan or preventative care your dog could contract a disease or fall behind on his/her vaccines.
As an example, during one of Henry’s preventative care appointments I mentioned to his vet that we had loose dogs in the neighborhood that had pooped on our property. Before I knew it, Henry sniffed the poop, which didn’t look healthy. This caused my vet to be alarmed and he immediately checked Henry for contagious diseases such as parvo. Although Henry was up to date on his vaccines, the sickly-looking poop was cause for concern. Thankfully, Henry was fine. I have no idea about the neighbor’s dogs though, unfortunately.
2. Parasite control
Your vet will look for fleas, ticks, and do a test for heartworm prevention and other parasite prevention. Heartworms are very important to stay ahead of with tests and medication as they can be fatal.
Henry’s been on heartworm prevention medication since I adopted him. The good news with fleas and ticks is that they’re seasonal and you don’t need to give medication year-round.
3. Nutrition and weight review
It’s true even for your dogs they are what they eat and how much they eat. One of the first things they will do at the veterinary clinic is weighed your dog and then compare it to the last appointment weighing. While 2 pounds might not seem like much to us, it’s a lot when if your dog only weighs 13.4 pounds.
For example, when I adopted Henry he weighed 17.5 pounds. However, he wasn’t eating properly, he needed to be groomed, and he wasn’t exercising. Over the year he dropped down to 14.3 pounds. That was over 3 pounds of his weight, which was nearly 20% of his overall weight. But he was healthier and his vet was happy with his weight. Since then he’s dropped one more pound and his vet now claims he’s “the perfect weight”. I wish I could make that claim about myself. But I digress.
4. Behavior counseling
Often a health issue will start with a behavior issue. Such as a licking issue. Or rubbing a bum across the ground. Those can be easily addressed and most likely solved during your preventative care visit. You may even want to address sleep issues, which could be the signs of onset dementia or breathing issues. Again, your vet will have solutions for you and your dog.
For example, a friend’s dog suddenly started bumping into furniture and other items. On his preventative care visit, it was determined he had diabetes, which allowed his human parents to help him adjust to his new eyesight. Also, it helped his parents become aware of proper food for his condition so it didn’t get worse.
5. Early detection of health issues
This is really a big one. Your vet will be able to detect issues in their early stages and take action before they are major issues. This could be a suspect tooth or even a weird-looking mole.
Moreover, dogs are notorious for hiding pain and health problems. They are as much like cats when it comes to pain. Unlike other animals, such as horses who will paw a hole in China to bang their heads in their stall until they are bleeding. Dogs can appear healthy but be in tremendous pain or have a hidden illness. Thus, a preventative care appointment can detect pain in your dog and hopefully prevent a major health issue.
For example, a couple of years ago, I pointed out a very small lump almost the size of a dot made from a pen (yep, tiny). But my vet explored it and actually took a biopsy of it. Thankfully, it was determined to be just a mole. Henry’s vet warned me that it could grow but to not worry and he’d watch it as well. I’m very grateful for that warning as it has grown slightly. But it’s still just a mole.
6. Improved quality of life
Your vet will ask if your dog is drinking, eating, sleeping well, or having any issues with movement. Additionally, your vet will examine your dog’s eyes, ears, joints, and teeth. If your dog has any issues with any of these, your vet will suggest ways to help your dog.
For example, Henry showed some signs of arthritis a year or so ago. At that point, his vet suggested a supplement to aid in his moment. This has seemed to help.
7. Ease of mind
Simply knowing your dog is in good health and your doing everything you can to aid your dog, is a huge relief. I know I always breathe easier knowing Henry’s had all his vaccines, had a thorough examination, nothing major was discovered, and he’s in pretty good health. The stress of not knowing wears on us as pet parents, which can eventually manifest physically. I think it’s best to know and then tackle whatever you’re given.
8. Reduce overall vet bills
I bet you’re wondering how you can reduce your vet bills with preventative care. Well, with preventative care or a pet wellness plan your vet is able to catch issues before they become a major health issue. The cost of early detection is always much more affordable than treating a full-on health issue.
Think of how you do preventative breast examines or dental examinations. You don’t go to the dentist simply to have a tooth exacted. Instead, you go for a cleaning and X-rays which may detect other issues early before you need a root canal. I know I like to avoid those if I can.
For example, if there’s the start of any issue like dental disease, your vet will show you how to prevent it from getting worse along with actionable dental care tasks for your dog. While having your vet clean your pet’s teeth might be pricey, it’s better than teeth exactions, which are very pricey. Plus, most pet health insurance policies pay for dental care cleaning. Although always check with your pet insurance company policy to make sure what’s included in your coverage.
So, how does vet preventative care reduce my dog’s expenses?
This is the interesting part. Or the bonus part. Not only does preventative care keep your dog healthy, but it saves you money. If you were to forgo preventative care, consider the following possible treatment costs:
|Parvo||up to $8,000|
|Fleas or ticks||$75-400|
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Summary of ways dog preventative care reduces costs
Are you surprised that a simple act like preventative care for your dog could be so impactful? It’s one of those foundational or essential pieces to dog ownership. Think for a moment what would happen if you bought a Bugatti La Voiture Noire and simply drove it. Okay, I confess. I’m not a car person. That’s actually, a very fancy richy rich car worth over $18.7 million.
So, what do you think would happen over time if you just drove this car around without changing the oil, rotating the tires, or doing any of the other basic maintenance? The car would break down sooner than it would otherwise. Now, that’s not to say your dog is a car. But to me, Henry is priceless. So, I will keep up with his maintenance and do all his preventative care.