Friday, September 23, 2011

Diet- Pet Care Tips During Tough Economic Times

In part two of the series I will discuss the importance of pet foods / diets & helping you make a choice during these tough economic times.

Now a day you can go to almost any store and find pet food, whether it is a convenience store, a drug store, super market or pet store. More often than not, there will be many choices of foods from dry to can, store brand or premium brand, regular, all natural or holistic, for specific breeds, good for specific things such as a nice coat, the teeth, sensitive for the stomach or for hairballs and the list keeps going.

So how do you choose between all of these? Now that times are tough you might find yourself wondering if the $5 bag is just as good as the $50 bag and whether or not you will place your pet at risk by feeding a cheaper diet. With all the pet food scares that have occurred what brand do you trust?

Honestly, I have my own dog on a basic diet from one of the major brands, nothing fancy, yet it is from a company that has been around for a long time making dog food.

So what is my recommendation? Well, for starters routine veterinary exams are recommended to make sure your pet is healthy and that there is no reason for your pet to be on one diet versus another. I tell my clients with a healthy pet to pick from any one of the major brands that are out there (usually I throw out a few names in no particular order) as they are all complete and balanced (AAFCO approved). I also ask them to name a few of the brands/types they were thinking about and see if there is any reason to give or not to give that particular product. If there is one you had used in the past or one your family or friends use for their pets without a problem you may think about trying that type.

Having your pet on the right diet will ensure that they are healthy, poor quality diets may cause health problems down the line that may harm your pet and end up costing you a lot more to treat. Also, feeding your pet table scraps is not the best idea. Not only can they develop severe gastrointestinal signs (vomiting, diarrhea) or inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) that requires hospital stay, they are also not completely balanced and missing many of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals a pet needs. If you plan on cooking for your pet make sure you have consulted with your veterinarian before hand to make sure you are supplementing what is necessary to make sure your pet is receiving a healthy meal.

So next time you are contemplating switching foods (for whatever reason), speak with your veterinarian first to make sure it is OK and also to get instructions about slowly changing over to the new diet. Start by purchasing a small bag or a few cans to see if your pet likes it, even if it is more expensive initially. You wont save any money if your pet hates the new giant bag or case of food you purchased. Remember the most important rule, no matter how healthy or nutritious a food may be, it wont work if your pets aren’t eating it!

Next time I will discuss supplements, are they really needed?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pet Care Tips During Tough Economic Times

During tough economic times it may be difficult to make a decision on what to cut back on such as that weekly movie or weekly dinner. It can become especially tough when those decisions involve your pet. The best thing you can do is make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss what is important and what isn't. This will also be a great time to make sure all is well with your pet.

Periodically I will post a tip that will help you make sure your pet stays healthy when you have to make some cuts.

Topic #1: Vaccinations

Make sure that you do not skip on schedules vaccines! This is especially important in puppies that need a complete vaccine series or newly adopted pets that need a follow-up booster. Although it may sound like a good idea to get a vaccine at a vaccine clinic, usually this does not come with an exam.

One tip is to get the first vaccine at the veterinary clinic so that you can speak with the veterinarian about any concerns you have regarding your pet, get tips on everything from which vaccines are needed and when they are due, other necessary treatments (deworm) or preventative medications (flea, ticks, heartworm), best diet as well as training tips. All this information in one visit!

If you really do find a vaccine clinic that is much cheaper and nothing has changed with your pets health since the veterinary visit, it may be ok to head there. Before doing this, you may want to ask your veterinarian if there is a follow-up visit charge or if you will only be charged for the booster vaccine. Even if the vaccine is a little bit more, again, you get the chance to ask questions which could end up saving you more money down the road!

Remember, puppies are very susceptible to infectious diseases that can be deadly or very costly to treat. It is best to keep puppies away from public areas and from interaction with dogs of unknown vaccine history to avoid ending up with a sick puppy, an expensive bill or having to make a tough choice of humane euthanasia if your pet is very sick and you cant afford its care.

One good way to save costs is to make sure that you are not getting unnecessary vaccines. Vaccine protocols have changed and core vaccines (DA2PP for dogs or FVRCP for cats) may be given every 3 years instead of yearly if your pets received an appropriate vaccine series and this was followed 1 year later by a booster. Also, some rabies vaccines are good for 3 years, check with your veterinarian about this. But just because you dont have to vaccinate yearly, this DOES NOT mean that you should skip on that yearly exam though, it just means one less charge at that visit. The yearly exam is still the most important thing you can do for your pets health!

There are other vaccines that may or may not be recommended by your veterinarian. These will depend on what part of the country you live in and your dogs exposure risk to that disease. Again, your veterinarian will speak with you regarding this and make a decision on which vaccines are necessary. Some of these vaccines need a booster every 6-12 months. One vaccine which is given for kennel cough may not be necessary if your dog is indoors all the time, is in your back yard (or purse!) and never interacts with other dogs.

Finally there are two vaccines which are not recommended except in certain specific situations. This includes the Giardia vaccine for dogs and the FIV vaccine for cats.

Again, all of this will depend on your pets situation and your veterinarian will help guide you with your pets vaccine plan.

Next time I will cover what is the best diet for your pet!