Pet Peeves Part 3: Vet Visits
My animals are a pricey bunch. Cute, and sweet, but medically challenged. Between facial fold issues, allergies to grass (seriously, what kind of dog is allergic to grass?), and a cat with apparent manic depression, we've spent a lot of time at the vet's office, at a few hundred bucks a pop.
The last thing that my dog managed to come down with was a grass seed between his toes. He never gave any sign of distress, and I only noticed it when the other dog started sniffing at the wound. Apparently this is common, and you probably won't see it until it swells up and starts bleeding.
The thing is, most of my animals' health issues are annoying and probably painful, but not deadly. And they always occur on a Saturday night, meaning that I have to wait until Monday morning to get them seen by a vet, unless I want to take the to the emergency hospital, which is twice the price of the regular vet.
I've stopped going to the emergency hospital because I've learned to combat pet problems, at least the ones that send us to the emergency room, by being prepared.
Ounce of prevention, pound of cure
Here's a list of things that I keep on hand to keep my animals out of the vet's office:
- A solid pair of rubber gloves, especially if you have to peform some first aid on a cat. Cats don't like you trying to fix them. Actually, cats just don't like you. Nothing personal. They're cats.
- A regular first aid kit can do wonders, if you don't want to go to the trouble of buying gauze and butterfly bandages separately.
- Good pair of tweezers, for removing ticks, pulling out splinters, etc.
- One of those head-cones. You never know when you're going to have to stop your dog from chewing on his butt or licking a wound. Yes, he will look stupid running around the house with one of those things on. Too damn bad.
- Baby wipes. I think anyone who is alive should keep these onhand, pets or no pets. They are incredibly handy.
- Neosporin, for small scrapes and scratches.
- Skin-cooling spray or cream. Hydrocortisone is good, or you can use something with soothing chamomile. Scalpicin works fine, too.
- Hydorgen peroxide, for cleaning small wounds, such as the ones caused by an exiting grass seed.
- A damn good pair of electric clippers, for trimming the hair around a wounded area.
- Pepto-Bismol tablets, for diarrhea. I give two to each dog almost anytime they get runny. Also, egg yolks and yogurt, which are eaten by adventurers the world over to combat traveler's diarrhea, are a great way to plug up a pooch that has a slight stomach upset, as long as you feel that the source of the upset isn't dangerous. For instance, switching (non-contaminated) food brands. Don't get the idea that you can give your pets any kind of human medication, because you can't.
- Particularly flatulent mutts can be treated with sweet potatoes, according to this home remedy from Itchmo.
- Flea shampoo and flea treatments. I don't use these as regularly as some people do, but I keep them around, just in case an infestation occurs. It's very rare for us, but good to be ready if it happens.
- Pet meds. If your pet regularly takes medication, don't fall behind in providing them. It can mean the difference between happy and healthy, and sitting at the pet hospital at 3AM and getting angry at bloggers. [Not that I'm suggesting the Kirk wasn't giving his dog his meds or anything.]
- My vet recommends Benadryl for the times when my shih tzu has a massive allergy attack. Most human meds aren't good for dogs, and you should obviously check with yours before giving anything to your dog. Benadryl seems to be widely accepted for allergy treatments, however.
- Treats. Dogs (and some cats) will forgive you for popping a huge cyst on their foot if a treat immediately follows.
- Lots and lots of towels. You can never have too many towels.
The discussion over pet insurance is a long and tedious one, and I can't crunch the numbers for anyone else. Since pet insurance doesn't cover any pre-existing conditions, I haven't seen any reason to buy it (for my two pups, it would cost me roughly $100 a month with zero coverage of their current problems). I know that very serious diseases can be a problem later on, but I've already decided that I'm not going to let me dogs suffer through harsh treatments for something like cancer. That's my personal decision, and I don't expect anyone to agree with it.
Kitten picture by Simon Jackson.