The Mortgage or Surgery For The Dog?

That’s the question a lot of pet owners are facing during these challenging economic times.

Posted: September 27, 2011, 3 a.m. EDT

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“The same thing that is happening to people who can’t afford healthcare is happening to pets,” says Lori Pasternak, DVM, of Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care in Richmond, Va. The result? "Economic euthanasia," where owners have their pet needlessly euthanized because they can’t afford to pay for care. “What’s even more tragic is that it can be avoided with a few simple and affordable steps,” Pasternak says. Read on for her advice:

  • Seek out vets who offer a pet healthcare plan. Many vet clinics offer some variation of a pet healthcare plan, which allows owners to pay a nominal monthly fee (typically $20 to $30) for free check-ups and wellness visits. Some plans even offer discounts on prescriptions and diagnostics, while others include a limited selection of prescriptions and diagnostic tests in the plan.
  • Routine dental cleanings will go a long way to improve your pet's health. The most common way for dogs to get infections is through their mouth, so keeping your dog’s teeth and mouth clean is a great way to prevent disease, Pasternak says.
  • Pet your pet. Pet and rub your dog often and all over. “Not only will they enjoy the attention, but it will enable you to easily determine if they have any bumps or lumps that could be indicators of infection or disease,” Pasternak says. These growths are much easier and less costly to remove if taken off when smaller than a quarter, so actually petting your pet can improve your ability to detect anomalies early. “Keeping our dogs healthy is a lot easier and affordable than allowing them to get sick.”
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