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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An Ounce Of Prevention

Remember Ben Franklin's saying, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"? I think about that a lot on a daily basis. Too many people don't realize just how important preventative care is. Many of my clients don't start using flea medication until they start seeing fleas. They don't realize that it's intended as flea prevention, not just treatment. I've had clients that have had a dog treated for heartworm disease, but still don't keep their pets on the prevention (there's that word again). Some people hold off on getting vaccines, and then their dog gets parvo virus and dies.

So what does the saying really mean? It means that the cost of prevention is much smaller than the cost of treatment. Let me give you some examples.

A six-month supply of heartworm prevention can cost $30-50 dollars. Treatment for heartworm disease can cost $800-1000. If you do the math, you could buy 10-12 years of prevention for an average dog for the cost of treating it once. Yet only about 50% of American dogs are on heartworm preventative medication regularly.

Parvo virus can easily kill a dog, and treatment can cost $600-1000. The vaccine is about $20-30.

A bordetella ("kennel cough") vaccine is also about $20-30. Though this isn't a fatal disease, an office visit, antibiotics, and anti-cough medication can easily cost $100.

So why do so many people think that they don't have the money to keep their pet on proper preventative care? Honestly, I don't know. I think that part of it is that they don't know any better (which is part of the reason for this blog). But in my professional opinion, people can't afford NOT to use prevention!

I could give many other examples, but let me end today with an example from this week. A client has an outdoor cat named Simba, who is an un-neutered male. He frequently gets into fights, often resulting in bad injuries. She has been told by more than one vet that neutering him would lower his instinct to fight, and perhaps reduce the number of injuries. Being outside is also exposing him to injuries and illness, especially the risks of serious infectious diseases (such as feline leukemia virus). Yet she hasn't had him neutered, and hasn't kept up with his vaccines. Recently he was in ANOTHER fight, and ended up with a very serious infected wound on his front left leg. She refused to do the recommended care of cleaning the wound and removing any dead or infected tissue, instead opting only for oral antibiotics. Well, the wound isn't healing properly, and she still won't pay for proper care. If the infection doesn't get better soon, he may end up loosing his leg or dying. Neutering and keeping him indoors would have completely prevented any of these issues.

Keep this in mind the next time your vet recommends a certain preventative medication or vaccination. We're not trying to rip you off. We're actually trying to save you money down the road.