$ and ¢ of Having a Dog

puppy with a vetYesterday my friend facebooked that her new kitten’s fall had cost $500 and lamented how high vet costs are and how vets now do it for the money, not love of animals. Medical and vet costs are definitely high, especially in a small market with a strong monopoly like vet care does in Singapore.  

Vet care is an integral part of having a dog, partially because we don’t understand dog physiology as well as we do ours and partially by law for vaccinations, especially when relocating. Vets are needed to diagnose conditions and for surgery and clinics for bloodworks. We do need them and vet care is an important and maybe the single most costly aspect of dog ownership. Being aware of the financial side of responsible dog ownership is essential before deciding to have a dog.

But there are definitely ways we can help to minimize vet costs. I take the complementary and holistic route, like I do for myself. This just means that looking at health beyond the physical body.

According to the Singapore Veterinary Society, there are 2 Honorary Members, 184 Members, and 19 Associate Members and nearly 30 vet clinics in Singapore. In comparison a google search for Vancouver Canada turned up with 733 results. I didn’t look through the listing and surely there are branch locations included that were taken out of the 30 for Singapore. It’s not an apple-to-apple comparison but good to get an idea. When there are a fewer vet clinics, the industry standards in pricing have a narrower range. Unlike Vancouver, we don’t have many low-cost vet care options either.

Vet clinics rely heavily on expensive equipments like x-ray and ultrasound machines and require facilities like surgical theatres and labs. Vet care, especially in Singapore, is mostly curative, rather than preventative. Many people don’t understand their dogs, with under-exercising, poor diet, and just a general lack of awareness that something is off. Purebreeds are still the preference, with most bought from pet shops, which source from puppy mills, giving rise to a high incidence of genetic dis-eases.

I don’t think vet costs will come down in the near future for Singapore.  It’s a new business. Vets need to pay for their expensive schooling and their high-tech equipment. But I do think we as dog owners can help buffer some of these costs.

Holistic Animal Care
Holistic animal care means taking care of all your dog’s needs from a wholistic point of view. Everything is connected and affects everything else. This means understanding the dog as a dog, what a dog needs in terms of proper diet and exercise, mental stimulation, emotional support, etc. A dog is a whole being.

Complementary Vet Care
Alternative therapy can help get to the root of the cause, rather than pander to the symptoms as allopathic medicine does. Giving medication that only brings down inflammation, for example, does not address why there is inflammation in the first place and the symptoms will recur, perhaps even as different ones. Repeated malaise wears down a dog’s immunity over time, usually giving rise to bigger problems.

Complementary vet care may include homeopathy, flower essence, jin shin jyustu, animal talk, and bioresonance therapy. A few clinics, such as Animal Recovery Centre with Dr Ly, offer bioresonance therapy. This is where I took Blackspot for her allergy test. Since finding out that she is indeed allergic to lamb and pumpkin (which was the main part of her diet) Blackspot’s skin and general immunity has improved. Previously we were told that her allergy is to grass!

I hope that as more vets become trained in complementary vet care, the knowledge passed onto owners for preventative care and whole-being healing will increase. 

A dog cannot be fed low-grade supermarket dog food and be expected to thrive. Sure some dogs do fine, maybe even their entire life but if you knew how they manufacture commercial dog food, I don’t think you’d feed it. Studies show the incidence of modern day diseases like arthritis and bladder stones in dogs coincide with the switch to commercially prepared dog food. Dogs were not always fed this way.

I personally feed my dogs raw food, which is still controversial. There are a lot of high-quality, human-grade dog food available, like Honest Kitchen, Timberwolf, and Orijen. Home cooking is also a better alternative than low-grade dog food. The key is to watch how your dog responds to the food and adjust accordingly.

Dogs need to be exercised to maintain physical and mental health, which is intricately connected to emotional balance. When the mind-body connection is strong, dogs, like us, can fend off imbalances and dis-eases much more easily. Exercise is a tricky thing because it’s individual and age-related. Puppies, for example, shouldn’t be jogging – the constant pounding against the concrete is bad for bone development. Forcing a dog to walk or run, just to burn off its energy, can cause damage as well. Exercise should be fun and it should be their time. Let their nose guide you and make every walk as varied and adventurous as possible.

Pet Insurance
This is not a new concept elsewhere in the world. It’s a complex issue and the “pay-out” of having insurance, pet or otherwise, can be difficult to gauge. Obviously we hope we never need it! Pet insurance is not as common here as it is in the United States or Canada. I did find a few agents (AVIVA, AIG etc) but it’s only applicable for dogs between 3 months and 8 years so neither Creamy nor Blackspot qualify. It’s important to read the policies, especially since pet insurance is such a new thing in Singapore, and peruse the client testimonials. If possible, obviously it’s better to speak with people who’ve had experience with making claims. 

What’s Really in Dog Food
The Truth about Commercial Pet Food
Jin Shin Jyutsu for Animals


One thought on “$ and ¢ of Having a Dog

  1. Pingback: Giving What’s Best For Your Dog « wAcky dRag

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