Pet owners can save hundreds and even thousands of dollars on veterinary costs each year by taking pets to their veterinarian for routine examinations. Preventive care is one of the most important factors for pet owners to maintain their pet’s health, and has the added benefit of minimizing total expenses on veterinary care. Nose-to-tail wellness examinations are an excellent way of catching any potential – and likely expensive – problems early on.
Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, recently sorted its database of more than 485,000 insured pets to determine costs associated with the most common preventive canine and feline conditions in 2012. Following is a cost analysis of the five most common ailments that can be avoided through preventive care:
Dental Diseases :
Definition: Diseases caused by, or directly related to inflammation or infection of the gums or teeth due to overgrowth of bacteria.
Examples: Tooth infection or cavity and periodontal disease.
Average cost per pet to treat: $531.71
Average cost per pet to prevent: $171.82
Prevention tips: Routine dental care, such as brushing teeth or feeding pet foods designed to help reduce dental tarter, can result in improved overall health. The most effective preventive treatment for dental disease is a professional teeth cleaning which will remove plaque buildup and tarter before it leads to more serious oral issues, such as tooth decay and periodontal disease.
Internal Parasites :
Definition: A parasite is a plant or animal that lives within another living organism (called the host). Pets may acquire conditions caused directly by a parasite or the pet’s response to the parasite living within its body.
Examples: Round worms, tape worms and giardia.
Average cost per pet to treat: $179.93
Average cost per pet to prevent: $29.51
Prevention tips: Keep your pet and the environment free of fleas. Clean up your pet’s feces immediately, and eliminate exposure to the feces of other animals when your pet goes for a walk. As recommended by your veterinarian, annual fecal exams and preventive medications can greatly reduce the chance of a parasitic infestation.
External Parasites :
Definition: A plant or animal that lives upon another living organism. Pets may acquire conditions caused directly by a parasite or the pet’s response to the parasite or its bite. Some conditions are the result of a toxin or organism (e.g. bacteria, virus, etc.) transmitted by the parasite which can cause an illness.
Examples: Heartworms transmitted by mosquitoes, Lyme disease transmitted by ticks and flea allergic dermatitis.
Average cost per pet to treat: $180.67
Average cost per pet to prevent: $84.89
Prevention tips: Keep your pet and the environment free of fleas and ticks. Thoroughly check your pets after outdoor activities and remove any ticks you find with a pair of tweezers. As recommended by your veterinarian, use preventive medications and vaccines to limit your pet’s exposure to fleas, ticks and the diseases they carry.
Infectious Diseases :
Definition: Conditions transmitted via bite or contact with another animal which carries a transmittable or communicable disease (virus, bacteria, fungi, etc). Transmission of disease can occur in various ways including physical contact, contaminated food, body fluids, objects, airborne inhalation, or through biological vectors (any agent that carries and transmits an infectious pathogen into another living organism).
Examples: Parvovirus, Lyme disease and feline leukemia virus.
Average cost per pet to treat: $678.24
Average cost per canine to prevent using core vaccines: $85.14
Average cost per feline to prevent using core vaccines: $73.52
Prevention tips: Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent contraction of common canine and feline infectious diseases. A vaccination protocol will be recommended by your veterinarian, which may include additional vaccines based on your pet’s exposure risk (e.g. outside cat, area with high prevalence of ticks, etc). Keep your pet and the environment free of fleas and ticks to limit exposure to organisms that external parasites carry. In addition, keep your pet away from any other animals that may be sick.
Reproductive Organ Diseases :
Definition: A reproductive organ is any of the anatomical parts of a pet’s body which are involved in sexual reproduction. Pets may develop conditions caused by, or directly related to, the pet having intact reproductive organs.
Examples: Pyometra (infection of uterus), prostatitis (infection or inflammation of prostate gland) and ovarian neoplasia.
Average cost per pet to treat: $531.98
Average cost per pet to prevent: $260.69
Prevention tips: Spay (removal of the ovaries and uterus of a female pet) or neuter (removal of the testicles of a male pet) your pet, as recommended by your veterinarian.
“As the data above shows, regular pet preventive care can significantly lower potential costs,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Similar to ensuring that all members of the family see their doctor regularly for wellness visits, it’s just as important for pets. Taking preventive measures can avoid more serious and expensive medical conditions from arising down the road and helps keep our furry, four-legged family members on track for a long and healthy life.”