Don't be forced to choose between your pet and your mortgage payment

Don't Lose Your Pet to a Bad Economy

by Lori Pasternak


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Do we pay the mortgage or surgery for the dog? That's the question a lot of pet owners face in this challenging economic landscape, and unfortunately, it's a question that's coming up a lot more often.

The same thing that is happening to people who can't afford healthcare is happening to pets, only with pets it's worse. When people can't afford healthcare, they self-treat their colds and flus and ignore serious symptoms until they eventually land in the emergency room. With pets, the same takes place, but in many cases, it leads to the pet winding up needing expensive treatments or surgical procedures that the owners cannot afford. The result is that they end up allowing the pet to be euthanized, simply because they cannot afford the much needed treatment. What's even more tragic is that it can be avoided with a few simple and affordable steps.

Pet owners should consider the same kind of preventative medical visits that their own doctors recommend for them. My suggestions include:

Pet Healthcare Plans - Many pet clinics and veterinarians offer some variation of a pet healthcare plan in which the owner pays a nominal monthly fee of $20 to $30, which entitles them to a number of free check-ups and wellness visits for their pets. Some plans even include a limited selection of prescriptions and diagnostic tests in that plan, or they discount them deeply. Routine checkups can catch some serious illnesses before they become serious, and prevent a situation in which the treatment is not affordable.

Preventative Dental Cleanings - The most common way for dogs to get infections is through their mouths, so keeping their teeth and mouth clean is a great way to prevent disease. Keep in mind that one of the most expensive procedures for dogs is dental work. What's worse, because your pet doesn't know how to complain, you won't know how bad its teeth are until after your dog stops eating. Just because they are eating does not mean they don't have tooth pain. They will eat until they cannot stand it anymore. Then it may be too late. Routine dental cleanings will go a long way to improve your pet's health. Most infections are introduced through the mouth, so keeping the mouth healthy will help keep your pet healthy.

Pet Your Pet - Pet and rub your pet often and all over. Not only will they enjoy the attention, but also it will enable you to easily determine if they have any bumps or lumps that could be indicators of infection or disease. These growths are much easier and less costly to remove if taken off when smaller than a quarter, so actually petting your pet can help your ability to detect these anomalies early.

Being a pet owner is not only a joy, but it's also a responsibility. They depend on us for everything and ask for nothing in return but our love and attention. The best part is that keeping them healthy is a lot easier and affordable than allowing them to get sick. Our goal is to eliminate economic euthanasia and we hope that every pet owner can help us accomplish that by doing their small share in helping all our pets live longer and healthier lives.


Lori Pasternak, DVM, graduated from Virginia - Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1998. She worked in a full-service practice in Richmond, VA for 13 years prior to opening Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care, where her mission is to help pet owners avoid economic euthanasia by offering "bare bones" fees for services and accepting creative forms of payment. Visit her site Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care at www.helpinghandsvetva.com.

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