Q: Is it important to vaccinate my pets?
A: Yes! Vaccines are used to protect pets from highly contagious and deadly diseases that are still present in the environment. Experts agree that the widespread use of vaccines within the last century has prevented disease and death of millions of animals.
Q:Is it really necessary to vaccinate annually?
A: Yes. Veterinarians customize vaccine programs based on geographic location, exposure to other pets or wildlife, and the number of cases with infectious diseases in the area. Some formerly common diseases have now become uncommon because of annual vaccine programs.
Because of the current economy, we have recently seen a decrease in owner compliance with recommended vaccine programs and an increasing number of disease outbreaks.
Q:Can my family catch diseases or parasites from my pets?
A: Yes. But not all. The diseases passed from animals to humans are called “zoonotic diseases”. This is actually one reason animal health care is so important and why vaccinating your pet for rabies is legally required. Recent studies have shown that 14% of the human population has parasites contracted from their pets. Your veterinarian usually tests for such parasites in your annual vaccine package.
Q:Do I really need to give my dog heartworm prevention?
A: Yes! Heartworm prevention is very important in the gulf coast area since heartworms are contracted from mosquitos. A monthly heartworm prevention will also prevent common intestinal parasites.
Q:Can I get a prescription from any veterinarian?
A: No. For the same reason you can’t walk into any doctor’s office and ask for a prescription for yourself. It is illegal and unethical for a veterinarian to authorize a product labeled for prescription use without a current veteriarian/client/patient relationship. To legally establish this, a pet must be examined annually by the veterinarian dispensing or authorizing the prescription. If a veterinarian did not meet these requirements they would be at risk of losing their veterinary licenses.
Q:Can my veterinarian diagnose or prescribe over the phone?
A: No. A veterinarian can’t make an accurate diagnosis based solely on symptoms observed by an owner. The outward signs may be an indication of a number of internal causes with a wide variety of clinical treatments. A thorough physical exam and possibly other diagnostic tests are necessary to determine the cause and to establish the best course of treatment for your pet.
Q:Why is veterinary care so expensive?
A: Relatively speaking, it really isn’t. Veterinary care has risen very little over the last 20 years, especially when compared to human health care or any other service. Veterinary fees cover the cost of maintaining a suitable facility, equipment and knowledgable personnel. Keep in mind annual preventative health care for a pet usually costs less than one automobile payment. Annual veterinary care is a cost that should be factored in to the decision of owning a pet.
Q:How much should I anticipate spending on a new puppy or kitten?
A: Puppies and kittens need basic health exams, parasite tests, and a series vaccinations. Veterinary clinics will provide estimates by phone. If you check with a few hospitals you will see that fees do not vary that much. When requesting an estimate you need to be sure exactly what you are getting for the fees quoted.
Q:Is there a disadvantage to mobile clinics or using multiple veterinarians?
A: Yes. You lose quality of care for your pet and it could cost you more. Annually you may spend slightly less on a wellness package at a mobile clinic but these places do not deal with prescriptions. To acquire a prescription product you will need to pay for a legally required physical exam at an established clinic. Because of this, owners trying to save money by price shopping and using multiple clinics end up spending more. Using one veterinarian familiar with your pets health prevents confusion, allows accurate care and can save you money.
Q:Should I be wary of ‘bargain’ veterinary care?
A: When you notice significant differences in fees, it is logical to question the type of care given. If fees seem too low compared to other estimates you have received, your expectations for care may not be met. These facility generally see a very high number of pets and surgeries and subsequently don’t have the time for individualized care which could potententially lead to medical error.
Q:Should I get prescriptions from online pharmacies?
A: A number of problems have been reported with new rise of online pharmacies that are contrary to FDA and other regulations. Illegal sales of medications without prescriptions, incorrect product shipments and mislabeled dosing instructions have been widely reported. These drugs could pose a health threat to pets with certain medical conditions or when used in combination with other medications. A close relationship with a single veterinary clinic is strongly recommended to assure legitimate and safe health care. Finding a deal makes you feel great but it’s only a great deal if you’re also receiving a quality product and sometimes the prices are not actually lower.
Q:Can I pay for services later? I just lost my job.
A: Like most professional offices you visit fees are payable at the time services are rendered. Most veterinary facilities accept major credit cards which can be especially helpful during a medical emergency. Veterinarian’s will always recommend the best care for your pet but defining your financial ability prior to treatment can help avoid financial problems later. Consideration should be given to how you will manage the financial aspect of an emergency situation with your pet. Call your veterinary clinic and speak with the office manager ahead of time to inquire about payment policies.
Q:I found an injured stray. What should I do?
A: Veterinarians are often faced with these cases. If you cannot accept financial responsibility for a stray animal it should be taken to your local human society or animal control office. If you choose to adopt or take in the animal you become the owner and therefore are responsible for the animal’s care. Remember expenses are not assessed based on the method by which a pet is acquired.