I’m a pet lover! I’m not a fanatic. I love my dogs and am well known as one who will pull out all the stops when my dogs need extensive veterinary care.
There are those out there who would say, “You spent $5,000 on a dog???” Actually, it was closer to $15,000 when my 200 pound Great Dane, Pooba, had a spinal stroke that left him lame in one rear leg. The physical therapy put me in the poor house and once Pooba was up and walking, the last thing I wanted to hear was, “I’m sorry, he has bone cancer and won’t live a year.” HUH? Is someone really telling me that no matter how much money I have to spend, it won’t be enough? Pooba lived 2.5 years post diagnosis (almost unheard of with this type of cancer).
If you’re reading this and thinking the blogger has a lot of money, guess again. I’m a middle class working person who has learned a lot about how to cut veterinary costs. You have to get desperate to learn. The worst thing for me would be to give up on one of my pets without so much as a diagnosis. But what happens when you love your pet but simply can’t afford extensive veterinary care? Don’t worry! There ARE resources out there to help you. I want to share some of those with you.
Compare pricing for office visits. This is a no brainer. Let’s talk about prescription drugs. Did you know there are human equivalents for many of the drugs dispensed through a veterinarian? Ask your vet to write a prescription for the drug then take it to WalMart. WalMart has a $4 prescription drug program that can save you a lot of money. Example, my Great Dane needed a drug called Rimadyl. It is a drug for arthritis. There are several drugs in this class, called NSAIDS. A month supply of this drug or most in its class can be as expensive as $100 per month. Three others in this class that are widely used are Deramaxx, Previcox, and Metacam. There is a human equivalent for Metacam called Meloxicam. I asked for a prescription for this drug (Meloxicam) to fill at WalMart and ca ching…I saved $96 per month. The drugs in this class can bring your dog lots of comfort but they can also cause significant harm. Always have blood work run when beginning any drug in this class. Many of the drugs your vet dispenses in the clinic can be obtained through WalMart at a fraction of the price. If your vet charges a fee to write that prescription, go somewhere else!
If your dog (or cat) is diagnosed with another illnesss go to www.yahoogroups.com or even Facebook and search for the illness under Canine plus the illness name. You can tap into some great groups of people who are going through the same thing you are and can offer tips to save money or for veterinary care. Coming soon….fight cancer and stay out of the poor house.
There are groups of people that do nothing but fundraise to provide financial support for pet owners who own a specific breed of dog or pet. Labrador Lifeline http://www.labradorlifeline.org, Sam Urgency (Samoyed), http://www.samoyed-rescue.com, Caring Rescue and Education for Border Collies, http://www.care4bcs.com , are just three examples. Ask your vet if she/he is aware of these resources that provide financial assistance. Check out the Kern Foundation operating in the Milwaukee/Waukesha area.
There is a really great exposition every year on Super Bowl Saturday, the Great Lakes Pet Expo (www.petexpomilwaukee.com), that is a charitable event. The event raises money to distribute to various breed rescue groups who need assistance with medical bills. It’s a great event and a lot of fun for everyone in the family. The group will also provide financial assistance to community pet lovers in certain circumstances. You can follow that group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greatlakespetexp. Another group is Pennies4Paws, http://www.facebook.com/#!/pennies4paws . This group was founded by someone who said, “if everyone just gives one dollar, we’d have enough to help many people.” This group has raised thousands and helped many animals.
Annual wellness exams are a must. You can now get them at Pet World Warehouse or other pet supply chains that offer wellness clinics. There is a “Pet Wellness Clinic” coming up Tuesday, November 29 at the Pet World Warehouse Outlet on S. 108th Street in West Allis (www.healthypawsclinics.com).
Watch those vaccines! There is research out there which suggests that annual booster shots can and should be given every THREE years (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000 Oct 1, 217(&): 1021-4. Twark L, Dodds WJ). Some say that over vaccination can explain why our pets die of cancer at alarming rates. Check out research by Dr. Jean Dodds done in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine (Ron Schultz) then talk to your vet about vaccinating once every three years and only as needed after age 7. Check with your local humane society and ask them if they offer low cost vaccines or spay and neuters for the public, www.madacc.com . Please spay and neuter your pet. I can’t emphasize that enough so I’ll say it again, PLEASE spay and neuter your pet.
Owning a pet is a responsibility. To those who say, “it’s just a dog,” I say, PLEASE DON’T OWN ONE! To those who love their pets, do your research, be informed, and don’t give up without trying! Your pet provides a lifetime of unconditional love and, let’s face it, where else can we get that?
In Pooba’s Memory,