The story of little Susie is one repeated altogether too often in the United States. It is a sad tale of a puppy who got excellent care as a new baby, finished the puppy series of vaccinations, had her spay surgery, and never saw a doctor again.
You can substitute kitten for puppy and neuter surgery for spay surgery, and any of the sixteen possible combinations, and the story is repeated over and over.
What happens to these babies? Why is their medical care neglected after such a good start?
We know that a high percentage of pets surrendered to humane shelters simply got in the way. Too big, too expensive, ate too much, barked too much, couldn’t be housetrained, we don’t want him/her anymore, had too many puppies/kittens, won’t walk on a leash, the list goes on and on.
Sadly, too many people don’t think before they get a new pet. They’re cute when they’re little, but people become disenchanted.
What becomes of these pets who get no further treatment by their veterinarians? Susie is by far the exception. She has lived 15 years and, thanks to being rescued from being hit by a car when she strayed last week, may well live a little longer.
Without regular care most pets will live only about two to five years.
Without vaccinations they become susceptible to Distemper, Parvovirus, Panleukopenia, Feline Leukemia Virus, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, Rabies and other infectious diseases. Both dogs and cats succumb to heartworm disease as they go without heartworm preventive and intestinal parasitism due to failure to have regular stool tests. Illnesses that go untreated cost many of these pets their lives. Heart disease causes untreated pets to drown on their own fluids, when they could have had medication to control the fluid. Cancer victims suffer from growths that ulcerate, become infected and eventually spread to the lungs, choking the pet to death.
It’s not pretty.
All because the pet isn’t cuddly anymore? Does he deserve this fate?
Life is not happy for most of these pets. Gum disease and calculus buildup make every meal painful. Untreated skin problems result in constant itchiness, pain, often with bleeding, infected lesions. Painful limping and arthritis result from broken bones and dislocated joints that were never repaired.
Routine preventive care with one doctor visit per year can cost as little as a dollar a day for a medium-sized dog. Of course, you will have to expend a little time and a little caring. If medical conditions occur, the annual cost might double or even triple to two or three dollars each day. Still very affordable for most Americans.
Like people, as pets age medical problems arise more often, potentially increasing annual costs.
A pet savings account, or even some cash stuffed in a fruit jar, can help you to be prepared for annual visits and emergencies.
Some of our clients even “pay ahead” on their pets’ care because they know they lack the willpower to save. Most veterinarians’ computer systems can handle credit balances.
One major medical pet disaster will make you a believer in pet health insurance. It can make the difference between life and death, between repairing a fracture and amputation, between financial peace and bankruptcy. MyPetsDoctor.com recommends PetFirst Pet Health Insurance, a well-established insurance company with excellent underwriting.
If you have a pet that has been more than a year since his last doctor visit,please know it is never too late to start getting care again. Even if there are problems that can’t be fixed, the status of those problems can at least be improved.
Even if it has been fourteen years since your pet’s last visit, like Susie, quality of life can be improved as your pet’s doctor evaluates the problems and sets up a series of steps to alleviate the problems found.
If you are thinking about adopting or purchasing a new pet, think beyond tomorrow. How big will he get, how much will he eat, can we afford the puppy or kitten series of vaccinations and the spay or neuter surgery? Are we truly committed to ten to twenty years of caring for this new baby?
Caring for a pet can be a big responsibility, but it is also an opportunity to share love with one of God’s creatures that yields rewards like no other relationship in your lifetime.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.