A recent CBC Marketplace report claimed that veterinary costs in Canada increased by 90 per cent between 1997 and 2009. According to Statistics Canada, this is incorrect. The reported increase in pet spending includes kennel fees, grooming, pet care items and food, in addition to veterinary healthcare.
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) encourages Canadian pet owners to discuss healthcare options with their veterinarian and work together to make decisions that suit their budget and are in line with the level of care the owner expects.
Just like clothing, groceries and gas, medical services can also be cheaper in the U.S. Pet owners who are thinking about cross-border shopping for veterinary services should keep their pet’s health and welfare in mind and ensure that they know exactly what the alluring price includes.
“Pet owners should keep in mind that prevention is always better for pets and more cost effective for pet owners,” says Dr. Jim Berry, CVMA president. “Every pet is an individual, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.”
Vaccines play a very important role in controlling and preventing infectious disease in dogs and cats and reducing the risk of human exposure to zoonotic disease. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association recommends that vaccines and revaccination intervals be individualized for each pet. The decision to administer any particular vaccine should be based on the risk of contracting the disease and protocols may vary depending on what disease entities are prevalent in any given area.
In Canada, parasite prevention is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, as your pet’s risk of parasitic disease is taken into consideration. Your veterinarian will advise you on the recommended frequency of testing for your dog. Factors that may influence your veterinarian’s decision to test for heartworm may include your pet’s lifestyle, health status, your geographic location, any household considerations that may be relevant and the proposed preventive therapy.
Pet obesity is a big problem for Canadian pets. In a recent study, Canadian veterinarians identified weight control as the number one thing a pet owner can do to increase the length of their pet’s life. Obese pets are at risk of developing serious health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure and arthritis. To put things in perspective, an extra 2-4.5 kilograms (5-10 pounds) on a male English Bulldog would equate to being 7-13 kilograms (15-29 pounds) overweight for a woman of average height. For a man of average height, this would equate to being 8-15 kilograms (17-34 pounds) overweight. A pet’s weight is managed and maintained by eating proper amounts of nutritious food and exercising regularly.
“A balanced and nutritional diet is important in pets’ overall health and that comes from the amount and the quality of food they receive,” says Dr. Jean Gauvin, president-elect of the CVMA. “Pets that eat high quality veterinary food generally have fewer medical problems and pet owners may find that the cost per serving of these diets is actually lower than store brands.”
Many veterinarians also offer prescription diets, which can work the same way as medications and can be used as a first-choice therapy before medications are prescribed.
A valid veterinarian-client-patient-relationship must exist before a veterinarian can prescribe or dispense a medication for your pet. This is referred to as the VCPR and it is required by law. The VCPR usually involves face-to-face communication and an exam of your pet, which allows your veterinarian to determine the health status of your pet before making any treatment recommendations.
“Pet owners and veterinarians can work together to ensure Canadian pets stay healthy,” Dr. Berry advises. “We encourage pet owners to engage their veterinarians in a discussion about healthcare options to ensure they make a well-informed decision for their pet’s medical care.”