Drugs and the Rising Cost of Pet Healthcare
I attended (and presented “My Dog at What?”) at the BarkWorld Conference last week. It was a fun event with many great presentations on a wide array of topics that are relevant for today’s pet industry.
There was one presentation on the rising cost of pet medicine, by PetCareRX.com (an online pet drug store), that really got me thinking about the way we treat our pet’s health problems. During the session, the presenters revealed some survey data that they had collected which included the following nuggets:
- About 75% of pet owners said that they would modify (scale back) their life style in order to provide better care for their pet.
- The survey also revealed that many pet owners are cutting back on the dosages of their pet meds in order to save money.
When I asked about the apparent inconsistency in these two results, the presenters suggested that, despite the pet owner’s best intentions to provide the best care, the high cost of prescription drugs was forcing pet owners to reduce dosage amounts. Who knows, maybe this is true. It also could mean that the answers provided in response to a survey have little bearing to reality, especially when reality means shelling out cash. 😉
No matter the survey results, it seems to me that we are missing the bigger story here. Why is it that we look to solve our health problems by way of medications and pills? We do this as humans; have you seen all of the television commercials which describe all the wonders of the <insert color here> pill? Believe it or not, there is a commercial for a pill to help people who take another pill. Unfortunately, our reliance on meds is not limited to ourselves; it appears that we do the same for our pets.
Maybe instead of worrying about the high cost of medication, we should focus on reducing the chances that our pets (or ourselves) get these diseases to begin with. How can we do this? Proper diet and exercise for our pets. Having an overweight pet can lead to:
- high blood pressure
- respiratory problems
- type 2 diabetes
- kidney disease
- shortened life expectancy
These and so many other health conditions can be avoided by keeping our pets fit and trim. But because more than half of our dogs and cats are overweight or obese, we are spending billions of dollars on medicine and treatments that could be otherwise avoided.
In my opinion, the best way to reduce your medication and overall pet healthcare costs is to learn how to properly exercise and feed your pet so that they maintain a healthy weight and strong muscular-skeletal system for their entire life. When we first rescued SlimDoggy Jack, he was on both Prozac and Rimadyl. I realize that Prozac is not ‘typical’ but Rimadyl and other pet anti-inflammatories are very common. Did Jack need to be taking Rimadyl? The vet said that he needed it for his joint pain. Did he really? Or did he simply need to lose 20 lbs and get proper exercise to build muscle and tendon strength to take some of the load off of his poor overloaded joints? For those who don’t know, Jack lost the weight and both of these medications in three months, saving his family several hundreds of dollars a year in medicine costs.
Here is another way to think about this. If I was a doctor and said I could provide a treatment to increase life span, reduce the incidence of cardiovascular and many other diseases, could ensure an active lifestyle and improved mobility, make you look years younger, and maybe even give you a little ‘buzz’ too, there would be a line several miles long to see me. Well guess what, there is such a treatment. It is called proper diet and exercise. And this treatment is currently available to both humans and their pets. So line up. Or at least line up your dogs.
I do understand that there are medical conditions that are unrelated to body weight and that medicine can improve the quality of life for the stricken pet. But we really need to change our thinking about medicines and stop running to the pharmacy to ‘solve’ our health problems. This goes for both humans and our pets.
Who’s with me?