“Keep Your Dog (and Your Budget) Healthy With Smart Pet Care Choices”
As a pet owner, keeping your dog healthy is always one of your greatest concerns. You pride yourself on providing your best friend with good nutrition, a safe place to live and regular appointments with the veterinarian for check-ups, treatments and preventative care. But in tight economic times, cutting down on your veterinary expenses may be a necessary step in tightening the budget. Thankfully, there are ways that you can cut down on your vet expenses, while still keeping Fido in great health.
Best Way to Treat a Problem is to Prevent It
If an “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, imagine what that could add up to in dollars and cents. While accidents and emergencies will always happen, there are many illnesses and injuries common to dogs that can easily be prevented by good care, and common sense.
Vaccinations- Prevention or Problem?
In recent years, researchers in human and animal medicine have begun to reconsider the role of vaccines in health care. Parents and pet owners have become involved in this debate over the merits and drawbacks of routine vaccinations. Lately, research has begun to show that as a whole, our dogs are being over-vaccinated, and it may be adversely affecting their health. By taking a careful look at your dogs vaccine schedule, you may be able to lengthen the time between vaccines, saving you money and more importantly, providing a buoy to your dog’s health.
Vaccines themselves have long been associated with reactions that occur shortly after being administered. These reactions are generally a result of an allergic reaction the pet has to one of the components of the vaccine. Immediate vaccine reactions are quite common, and they can range from a pet simply being lethargic for a day or two post vaccination, to animals developing hives and facial swelling, and in extreme cases, inability to breathe as a result of a swollen airway.
Despite the potentially fatal reaction that can occur shortly after a vaccine is administered, the far more sinister effects of vaccinations can occur months, even years later, in the form of cancers, immune system dysfunction and many other serious, chronic illnesses.
One of the most common diseases that has been linked to vaccinations in dogs is Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia, or IMHA. As the name implies, this is a disease of the immune system, which under normal conditions operates to attack and kill germs. However, in some cases a triggering event, such as receiving vaccinations and the ensuing immune system reaction that occurs as a result, can cause the immune system to short circuit and begin to attack the body’s own red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to all the tissues of the body, and as they are destroyed affected dogs become lethargic, weak, have trouble breathing and it can quickly become fatal even if the dog is treated for the disease quickly and aggressively.
Other health problems that have been linked to vaccinations in dogs include:
- Chronic Skin Problems
- Chronic Gastro-intestinal problems
- Chronic Allergies
Ironically, many of these diseases were far less common twenty years ago than they are today, after the recent “vaccine boom” where more and more dogs have been vaccinated annually for more and more different diseases. While we are preventing the illnesses that we vaccinate against, in some cases new diseases are being created in their wake, as a direct result of vaccination.
If vaccines have the potential for some many health problems, should you vaccinate your pet at all? Unfortunately, there is not one good answer for that, but instead it depends a great deal on your dog, your lifestyle, and your dogs level of health.
There is no doubt that despite their potential for creating illness, vaccines do save lives. The most common types of vaccines routinely administered to dogs all protect from potentially fatal diseases, such as rabies, parvo and distemper. But until very recently, vaccines were limited to a “one size fits all” mentality by vets, where it was recommended that all dogs receive vaccines against all of the major disease on a yearly basis. No consideration was made for the potential exposure level of individual dogs, or nor was any concurrent illness seen as a reason not to vaccinate.
Thanks to countless studies that have worked to prove the link between chronic illness and vaccines, many veterinarians have begun to tailor vaccine protocols to each individual dog. Several licensed three-year vaccines have recently become available, lessening the amount of vaccines a dog may need in his or her lifetime, saving money and reducing the chances of vaccine related complications. Some dogs with minimal exposure and older dogs that have been vaccinated frequently in the past may be able to go without some vaccinations altogether. Most importantly, dogs with any type of chronic illness (cancer, history of IMHA, chronic, chronic digestive problems) should seriously consider suspending all vaccinations, to reduce the risk of exacerbating a already existing health problem, or causing a new one.
What You Eat- and So Is Your Dog
While vaccines may be the most common veterinary approach to keeping your dog healthy, once or twice a day you have access to the most direct route to your dog’s overall health and well being- through his diet.
Responsible for everything from condition of your dogs joints to the quality of his eyesight and almost everything in between, your dog’s immune system is the cornerstone to keeping him healthy now and in the future. Studies have shown that as much as 80% of immune system health comes directly from the digestive system. Only through a balanced, natural diet and careful supplementation can you provide your dog with the tools his body needs to stay healthy and avoid expensive health problems.
What’s In The Bag?
Before you pick up that next big bag of dog food from the supermarket, consider for a moment your favorite breakfast cereal. A little bran, some fiber, a few grains and a couple of dried fruits and nuts- a healthy way to start your day. But how healthy do you think you would be after 15 years of eating only that cereal for every meal of every day.
Dogs that are limited to eating almost any kind of commercial food are eating their own version of your cereal, day in and day out, for their entire lifetimes. This diet of empty calories, carbohydrate fillers and meat byproducts (meat unfit for human consumption) is sorely lacking in its ability to provide the basis for a strong immune system in your dog. In fact, commercial diets have been linked to a variety of health problems in dogs such as allergies and dental disease, both of which have roots in weak immune system.
Equipped to Fight Disease
A strong immune system equipped to fight disease can only come from feeding your dog as nature intended, with a diet made fresh that is rich in high quality proteins, a variety of carbohydrates, grains and vegetables, as well as supplements to ensure that the digestive system is working properly, and that your dog is getting the full nutritional benefit from his food.
Pet Flora is a powerful soil-based probiotic that helps to maintain intestinal balance, as well as assist in nutrient absorption and normalize stools, while reducing inflammation in the intestines. All probiotics are not created equal, and the power behind our naturally occurring, soil-based probiotics makes Pet Flora vital to improving immunity and increasing health.
Super Pet Enzymes is a specifically created formula designed to survive the highly acidic environment of your dog’s stomach to maximize digestion of food and absorption of nutrients, as well as helping to ensure that medications are properly dispersed and digested throughout the body.
The addition of both Pet Flora and Pet Enzymes to your dog’s everyday can help to ensure the health of your cats gastro-intestinal system, encourage nutrient absorption and reduce inflammation in the intestinal tract, a common cause of chronic vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.
Save Money By Keeping Your Dog Healthy
Because the immune system is perhaps the most vital part of your dog’s overall health, careful attention to this component of your dogs body can help to avoid many illnesses throughout his or her life. Many of the most common problems that may require veterinary treatment, such as hot spots, allergies, vomiting, diarrhea, arthritis, ear problems, and even cancer can often be avoided by simply taking a proactive approach to protecting and strengthening your dog’s immune system. Invest in your dogs future by changing your approach to his health, and reap the benefits both financially, and in the long term companionship of your best friend.