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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Health

Recession is endangering your pet's health

Hard economic times are forcing nearly half of pet parents to skip routine veterinary visits and wait until their animals have obvious problems before seeking medical care, a trend that veterinarians say is dangerous for a pet's well-being.

Almost 50 percent of pet parents say they are delaying visits to a veterinarian until their companions have visible problems and 80 percent cite financial concerns as the reason, according to an online survey by Bayer Animal Health.

"Missed veterinary visits are missed opportunities to identify and address potentially serious health issues and complications as your pet ages," Bayer veterinarian Marty Becker states in a media release. "It's far easier and more economical to prevent a health problem than to treat one."

Dr. Becker says routine health care is even more important for dogs and cats because they age much faster than people. "For some breeds, they can go from adolescence to middle age in a few short years," he said. "Since their health issues can develop and progress faster, regular veterinary visits are critical for checking health status and any new health developments."

The survey of pet owners, conducted by Bayer Animal Health in January and February, found:
  • 35 percent have cut back on veterinary services and indicate they are considering scaling back on grooming and teeth cleaning.
  • 20 percent are considering cutting back on veterinary wellness visits.
  • 50 percent cited the cost of clinic visits and exams as barriers to taking their pets to the veterinarian.
  • 30 percent say they have not taken their pet to the veterinarian for routine and preventive care in the past six months.
  • 35 percent have cut costs on personal and lifestyle items (clothing, beauty products, home accessories, etc.) to afford their pet's health care.
In a separate phone survey, veterinarians confirmed that pet owners have scaled back on veterinary visits and preventive pet care in the past six months and expressed worries about the trend.

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The survey of veterinarians found:
  • 98 percent believe preventive care is one of the best ways to lower a pet's medical costs and treatments in the long run.
  • 90 percent expressed concern - and half expressed deep concern - about the future health of pets because of the decline in veterinary visits.

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