Adding a new pet to your household is an exciting time, but your first trip to the pet store to stock up on necessities, such as pet food, toys, and a leash, may leave you with sticker shock. Owning a pet comes with many obligations, and every pet deserves an owner who is financially prepared to provide for her needs. In addition to basic care, such as feeding, grooming, and enrichment, we encourage you to plan ahead. Every pet requires regular preventive medical care to maintain health, but you also need to prepare for unexpected illness or an emergency.
What are my pet’s basic medical needs?
If you have adopted a puppy or kitten, your family veterinarian has likely explained the importance of vaccination to prevent your new family member from contracting a dangerous disease. A new pet requires several veterinary visits for vaccine administration, deworming, and parasite prevention, and to address any medical concerns that may arise.
To keep your pet healthy, she will need to visit your family veterinarian yearly for a general health check-up and preventive care. During this wellness visit, your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam to ensure your pet is in good health, and also address other important aspects of her care, such as:
- Annual vaccine boosters to maintain immunity against common infectious diseases
- Fecal analysis to check for intestinal parasites
- Heartworm testing to ensure your pet has not contracted this deadly parasite
- Heartworm, flea, and tick prevention
- Dental care, since dental disease is the most common clinical condition to affect pet dogs and cats
What if my pet develops an illness or injury?
Despite the best prevention, most pets will become sick at some point, and you will need to plan for unexpected illnesses or injuries. This will become more important as your pet ages, as older pets are more likely to develop chronic health conditions. Veterinary treatment for a pet with chronic health conditions can cost from several hundred to thousands of dollars.
Common health conditions that affect dogs include:
- Gastrointestinal illness
- Ear infections
- Dental disease
- Heart failure
- Cranial cruciate ligament rupture
Common health conditions that affect cats include:
- Gastrointestinal illness
- Urinary tract disease
- Thyroid disease
- Dental disease
- Kidney failure
- Heart disease
What if my pet needs emergency medical care?
Each year, approximately 1 out of 3 family pets require emergency veterinary care. Emergency fees, diagnostic testing, medications, and life-saving surgical procedures can quickly add up to thousands of dollars, and most pet owners are not prepared for such an expense. You must be financially ready to provide immediate veterinary care for any life-threatening emergency that affects your pet.
Emergencies that commonly affect pet dogs and cats include:
- Ingestion of foreign bodies, such as rocks, bones, toys, or garbage, with the potential for gastrointestinal obstruction
- Traumatic injury, such as a car accident, broken bone, or a bite wound
- Toxin ingestion or exposure
- Urethral obstruction
- Allergic reaction
How can I financially prepare for my pet’s medical needs?
You can take these actions now to prepare for your pet’s future medical needs:
- Discuss expected health-care costs with your veterinarian — Find out approximately how much your pet’s annual wellness visit, including vaccines, parasite testing, and prevention, will cost so you can plan ahead.
- Make pet care a monthly budget item — When planning your monthly budget, add a line item for your pet’s care so you can set money aside for normal expenses.
- Start an emergency pet-care fund — Start saving now to build up a fund of several thousand dollars so you are financially prepared for an emergency. Readily available funds will alleviate this stressor, and allow you to focus on your pet’s recovery.
- Enroll in a pet health insurance plan — Pet health insurance companies offer a variety of plans that cover a range of costs, from preventive health care to specialty and emergency treatment. The earlier you enroll your pet, the more benefit you will receive from a plan.
- Apply for a health-care credit card — Credit companies such as CareCredit offer credit cards specifically for family medical costs, including your pet.
Start planning today for a lifetime of care so you can enjoy a long and healthy life with your pet. If you have questions about planning for your pet’s health care, call your family veterinarian or contact us.