A popular formula that more and more pet parents are using on their dogs and cats every day is particularly dangerous because it seems to be beneficial, has no apparent side effects and is inexpensive.
But this thing, which has no taste or smell, may appear to be good for you and your pet now, but it will assuredly ruin the health of your dog or cat later, animal welfare advocates warn.
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The seemingly harmless formula: Skipping routine veterinary visits and buying cheap pet food to save money.
Dr. Rebecca Ruch-Gallie of the veterinary teaching hospital at Colorado State University says the number of sick pets visiting animal clinics has been increasing, an indication that owners are skimping of food and health care.
"We're seeing more emergency and problem visits rather than just routine checkups," she states in a media release. "It's probably due to people cutting back."
This short-sighted approach to pet care is actually more expensive in the long run because your dog or cat is more likely to get sick from poor nutrition and lack of health care, resulting in much higher medical bills, animal welfare advocates say. They say providing routine health care now for your pet - which includes regular exercise, quality diet and preventative maintenance - is a better healthier formula that will avert costly veterinary expenses in the future.
Dr. Ruch-Gallie offers these suggestions to keep your pet healthy:
- Feed your pet high-quality food. Less expensive foods often have lower nutritional value because have non-digestible fillers such as grains. Ultimately, any savings by buying low-cost food are eliminated because a pet needs to eat more of it to be satisfied and to obtain good nutrition.
- Groom dogs and cats daily or every other day at home. Brushing distributes oils in the animal's coat, which improves the health of their skin and fur, decreases matting and lowers risks of skin infections and irritations. Also, people who groom their pets often notice changes and abnormalities in skin and coat and may notice body changes, lumps or other indications of the early stages of illness. Finding illnesses early often means treatments are less expensive.
- Practice good dental hygiene. Daily brushing of a pet's teeth - particularly against the gun line with an enzymatic, pet specific toothpaste - has significant returns. It decreases the risk of infection in a pet's mouth which often spread to the blood and into organs such as the kidney or into joints.
- Be creative when giving treats. If you only feed a dry food, consider giving a small amount of canned food as a treat.
- Curb impulse buying. Shop around for treats, bones, toys. Significant savings can be found online or at discount stores.
- Buy fewer toys, and trick pets into thinking those toys are new. Pets need toys to keep their minds and bodies engaged. Keeping a stash of five to 10 toys and rotate a few of them periodically to make them appear to be new.
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Nager, who was named pet sitter of the year by Pet Sitters International, urges owners to make careful choices about pets, health care and household budgeting. “As pet owners, let’s not forget that a pet should be included on a family's priority list.”