Taking care of one’s pet is a task that most of us, responsible pet owners acquit ourselves with reasonably well. But however well we think we’re doing, there’s always room for improvement, and in this article, we will talk about the essentials in pet care.
This seems like a no brainer but some studies suggest that in the United States, only 50% of dogs and 40% of cats are vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases. It’s worth pointing out that by the sheer enormity of these numbers, it’s a wonder that major animal health crisis hasso far been averted.
Without sounding alarming though, and simply put, vaccination could save the life of your pet!
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:
“Vaccines help prepare the body’s immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which look like the disease-causing organism to the immune system but don’t actually cause disease. When the vaccine is introduced to the body, the immune system is mildly stimulated. If a dog is ever exposed to the real disease, his immune system is now prepared to recognize and fight it off entirely or reduce the severity of the illness.”
A pet’s vaccine requirements depend on his or her age and region of residence. As with young children, puppies and kittens need a few rounds of vaccines to jumpstart their immunity with boosters every year or every few years afterward.
Pet owners decline to vaccinate their pets for a number of reasons.
- The first one is that they can’t afford the cost and whilst it is a valid point, it is one that must be paramount in the mind of potential pet owners when he or she decides to adopt a pet. Don’t even think of bringing a dog or a cat home if you cannot afford the cost of vaccinations. And if you do want to adopt, always go to your local humane society where any animal you fall in love with will have already been vaccinated. Just don’t forget that some vaccinations need to be repeated at regular intervals.
- Another reason for deciding not to vaccinate is that the pet is going to live indoors, or in a fenced garden, and therefore will unlikely be subjected to potential risks. The reasoning is that if pets don’t run the risks of encountering diseases, why they would therefore need core vaccines. It is a sound argument, in theory, but your cat could accidentally get outdoor, your dog might encounter another dog during a daily walk, or a latent disease might suddenly flare up.
Most of us understand that an annual medical visit is recommended and the same is true for our pets. Annual visits are important to make sure your pet is in good physical condition and to detect whether you’re pet might be at risk for future illnesses. But what can you expect to pay for that annual check-up?
- Office call: Average cost is $45 to $50 (depending on where you live). That is the cost of a regular appointment which will include a physical examination
- Vaccine boosters. If you thought that vaccination was a one of event, think again. Vaccine boosters are shots that are administered on an ongoing basis to maintain the efficacy of the vaccine. Cost $18 to $25
- Test for Heartworm which is a serious and potentially deadly disease for your pet. It is caused by worms that act as parasites and the test requires blood to be drawn. Cost $45 to $50
- Fecal exams are needed to identify gastrointestinal parasites, responsible for a variety of illnesses in recent years. Cost is $25 to $45
- Dental cleaning, needed to treat gingivitis
All of the above treatments are part of what can be called routine care for your pets. In some cases, unfortunately, pets also suffer from the same degenerative diseases as we do, such as diabetes, heart problems and more. The cost of treatment for these types of conditions can be counted in hundreds of dollars, even more if surgical procedures are necessary.
For that reason, it is recommended to seek a health insurance plan for your pet which will make it possible to cover some of the above costs
End of life arrangements
Finally, within the scope of this article, it is important to talk about end of life measures. There are times, in spite of our best care and intentions when euthanasia becomes the only option to alleviate the pain caused by a debilitating illness from which the pet has no way out. While some pets die of old age, some may become so seriously ill or injured that keeping them alive becomes inhuman. When such cases occur, vets will generally offer two options:
- Cremation (the most common choice)
- Burial. (To locate a pet cemetery near you, check with the International Association of Pet Cemeteries.)
Both options are costly and might set you back a few hundred dollars, depending on where you live.
Pet care is an important part of the relationship we, humans have with our pets. Of course, love and affection is a paramount necessity to ensure our pets are happy and health. But responsible pet owners need to understand that sometimes, pet care comes at a cost.
And finally, the above is of course, but the tiniest of items that need to be taken care of by responsible pet owners. Safety of the animal is also of paramount importance. So is making sure that the animal is well fed, receives plenty of clean and fresh water and is allowed space and time to exercise. We all know that the life we lead can be frantic and sometimes circumstancesmight make it difficult to take your dog out for his or her daily walk for example. The good news is that you can get help by hiring a dog walking service provider who will come to your house, and take your dog for his much-needed walk.