The Cost of Unconditional Love

Row of Puppies and Kittens

Pets are a wonderful thing; they give us unconditional love and expect virtually nothing in return. We turn to them in times of stress and sorrow, and with a tug of a rope toy or a goofy lick of our faces, our troubles seem to disappear. Furthermore, when these pets become specialized service animals, they can touch peoples’ lives in unimaginable ways – from improving the lives of seniors in assisted living, to sensing when their owner is going to have a seizure, to helping a young child with autism overcome his social anxieties and calm them during times of turmoil. There’s nothing like the jubilation your dog expresses when you come home from a long day of work, or the feeling of that warm cuddly cat on your lap in front of the fireplace.

But there is a cold and ugly truth to pet ownership – and that is the cost. Many people are unaware of the potential costs that can arise from pet ownership, which can lead to very difficult decisions when it comes to your pet’s care. In this entry, our hope is to illuminate pet owners and soon-to-be pet owners on the potential costs associated with pet ownership with specific focus on veterinary care. It is important that we give our pets top quality veterinary care, but we understand that sometimes the costs associated can be a source of stress. Luckily, there are routine things that pet owners can do to alleviate some of these costs, and we’ll be touching on that as well.

Adopting a new pet is always exciting – from naming them, to buying them their first collar, their first food bowl, crate, etc. But more importantly, new puppies and kittens need to be properly vaccinated. Many first-time pet owners are unaware of a young pet’s vaccination schedule; puppies and kittens need a series of boosters, and should be spayed or neutered at 6 months of age.

  • Puppies require a series of 3 Distemper boosters, periodic deworming’s, a Rabies vaccine, and heartworm preventative. The cost of neutering/spaying of your dog varies based on age of the dog, weight, sex, etc.
  • Kittens also require a series of 3 feline Distemper boosters, periodic deworming’s and a Rabies vaccine, as well as testing for Feline Leukemia/AIDS. The cost of neutering/spaying a cat or kitten should also been taken into consideration.

Making sure that your pet is up-to-date on their vaccinations and care is an excellent way to keep track of your pet’s health, and to make sure there are fewer surprises. Regular veterinary care is imperative in making sure that most minor health issues do not become major (read: costly) issues. Keeping up with annual exams and recommended bloodwork is crucial. Though basic bloodwork does cost money, it is an excellent indicator of any internal issues going on with your pet’s organs. Bloodwork can determine if your pet’s liver and kidneys are functioning properly, if there are any possible infections present, and can even indicate the presence of cancer. It is important that regular bloodwork be obtained in order for your veterinarian to have points of reference in your pet’s care.

Dental care can also be costly, especially if your pet has any teeth that need to be extracted. Luckily, regular daily brushing greatly decreases this risk, just as it does in humans. In addition to making sure your pet’s teeth are healthy, it will greatly improve their breath!

We encourage pet owners to seriously consider pet insurance. There are many different plans available, and it can be overwhelming, so research is key! Many insurance plans only cover illnesses and accidents, though there are a few that cover wellness care (annual visits, vaccinations, heartworm tests/preventatives). Many of these insurance companies can provide online quotes, and are reachable by phone for more in-depth questions. The right insurance could be the difference between getting your pet the care they need and having to make a difficult decision. Too many pets are tragically euthanized at a young age because the cost of emergency care is too great.

Care Credit is also a valuable resource to have – it acts as a medical credit card, and is widely accepted at most veterinary clinics. They have special financing terms that can help owners deal with the cost of pet emergencies (i.e. a broken leg, a cat swallowing a sewing needle, a dog swallowing rocks, etc.). Many emergency clinics require payment in full at the time of service, and can cost several thousand dollars. Having insurance or Care Credit can give owners the financial assistance they so dearly need.

Though pets can certainly impact our wallets, the positive impact they have on our lives is immeasurable. Where would we be without our furry friends? As always, we here at Steinway Court Vet strive to give your pets the best care possible, and to be a source of information on all things pet-care!

Be sure to double-check your pet’s records – are they overdue on vaccinations or an annual exam? Call us today so that we can give your pet the care they deserve!

Microchip Your Pet

Sad puppy

Enough is enough.  We have had at least four lost/missing pets this past week alone.  This is four too many.  For the most part, assuming no foul play you can be reunited with your pet.  Signs can be put up both in your neighborhood, calls made to all the local area veterinarians. The animal care and control (http://nycacc.org/LostFound.htm) even has a website that allows you to both look for and post information about your lost pet.  However, the best way to get your pet back is by making sure your pet has a microchip.  A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice that is inserted behind the neck area of your pet via an injection.  The microchip has a number on it that is just for your pet.  The number needs to be registered with your contact information.  The microchip contact information must be kept up to date in order to be reunited with your pet.  If not, it will be very difficult if not impossible to reunite you with your pet.

All dogs should have a microchip.  Dog’s can get off their leash, be left in the yard or run out of an open door in a matter of seconds.  However, a microchip is not only for dogs.     But…my cat is an indoor cat, it can’t get out.  Really?  For the most part that may be true, however what about the rare instance when the door is left open and your kitty wanders out, and down the hall etc.  Sounds far-fetched, but it does happen.  Or are you one of these people that think that your cat needs to go outside?  Bad idea, you may be asking for trouble.  They can get into fights, contract fleas and become lost.  Please keep your cat indoors and safe.

If you have adopted your pet from a shelter or rescue group, they usually have a microchip inserted.  Did you register the chip in your name?  Not sure?  No worries.  If you have the chip number you can check online at www.petmicrochiplookup.org   If you do not know the number of the microchip we can scan your pet.  The scanner is able to ascertain if a chip has been inserted and indicates the number of the chip.

New Puppies and what to feed them the first year

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large breed puppies

large breed puppies

Spring time is here and it seems everyone is getting a new puppy!  There are always a lot of questions regarding a new puppy but one of the most important is what to feed your puppy during the first year of its life.  If you have a large breed dog i.e. Great Dane or German Shepherd , or a small breed  Dachshund they each have  different nutritional needs, not just more food.  Too many calories for a large breed dog can put on excess weight and cause skeletal problems in overfed puppies.  If puppies are under four months of age they can eat whatever they want.  But as they age they require fewer calories per pound.  At that junction it is appropriate to limit the food intake.

Puppies that grow slower will still reach the same size as there over fed counterparts, just a bit later, and healthier.

 Too much calcium in the food is just as bad as too much.  Too much calcium can cause the bones to reshape as excess calcium is deposited on bone tissue, causing abnormalities.

Protein is important for your dog as well.  However  the needs for a large breed dog vary from the needs of a small dog.  For example, for a large breed dog  the food should contain about 26% protein. Because of these variations  It is best that you purchase food that is either breed or  size specific.

Following these guidelines are  very important, by doing this you do NOT have to provide any supplements to your puppy, but rather the food itself will provide all that is needed – Again, this will  vary depending  on the size of your pup.

Good nutrition is important  for proper development of the bones and joints.  After your dog reaches one year of age, unfortunately it is not a puppy anymore.  At this time the food will again need to be changed and transitioned to age/breed and size specific food.

What to think about before you bring a new pet into your home

Have you been itching for a new addition to your family but not sure where to begin?  We have put together a few things you may want to consider before either adopting or purchasing a pet.  If you can adopt a pet it goes without saying that you making a difference in that animal’s life.  Keeping a pet from a shelter and unknown fate feels terrific.

However before you take home your new cute furry friend from the shelter please make sure that you are right for each other.  Is the pet that is up for adoption there because it has a behavior issues or because the previous owner is under financial distress?  If it is a behavior issue, it may require you to put in more time to “straighten things out”.  If this is something that you are unable to take the time to do, perhaps this particular pet might not be the right one for you.  The last thing we want is to take home a pet and then have to “return” him/her because it did not meet up to our expectations.  In addition if you are adopting a pet that is a bit older you may be in for some additional expenses that you were not expecting.  For example perhaps they have very bad periodontal disease that needs to be taken care of.  Easily rectifiable, but needs to be in your budget.

If you have a specific breed in mind (remember to double check breed specific genetic dispositions) then perhaps you need to think about going to a reputable breeder.  But before you do please take into consideration a few things.  Does the temperament of the pet fit in with your lifestyle.  If you have small children perhaps you may not want to get a “high strung” dog like some of the terrier breeds.  Or for instance a Border Collie was bred to herd cattle and sheep.  A Border Collie needs a huge amount of exercise/space.  Would you be able to meet their needs?  If not, then that is not the dog for you.

Do you live in a four story walkup?  Then you may want to think about what would happen if you have a larger size dog that can’t go up and down the stairs anymore?  Are you able to carry the dog up and down to do his business?

Last but not least, please do not take home a pet if you are allergy prone.  Perhaps you can spend the day with a friends’ pet prior to adopting to ascertain if you will have a reaction.  Children who are asthmatic may have a tendency to be more allergic.  Please discuss with your pediatrician prior to bringing a new pet into your home.

These are just a few of the things you need to consider beforehand.  If you have any questions please give us a call.