Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Saga of T.Paws Vet Adventures and How to Manage Your Pet Dollars.

Thanks to some hard thinking and ingenuity, I am able to take care of eleven dogs (and 8 cats and a bearded dragon)  for probably less than what most people spend on one. Here, is a little insight on how I manage it and also a reminder that its Rabies Month in Tennessee!!!

In Tennessee, May is Rabies Awareness Month. Rabies is an acute infection of the brain caused by a virus.  It is usually transmitted from wild animal to unvaccinated pet and then to human. We have been able to make it a rare issue by mandatory vaccination.

Some states require the vaccine every year, while others require it every 3 years. There is no difference in the vaccine, however, the states make the decision based upon the possibility of exposure. For instance, in Tennessee, we live very close to wildlife. Many of us live in the mountains among the forest. While some states allow you to give the vaccine yourself, Tennessee is not one of them. So in Tennessee it is required once yearly to be given by a veterinarian.

The good news is that Rabies Clinics are offered all over the state this month at a discount. A rabies clinic may be held at a local Tractor Supply or feed store. Some veterinarians will pick a Saturday and spend the day giving rabies vaccines. Other vets, like mine, Mount Carmel Pet Hospital   is simply honoring the price all month long. You have no idea what a blessing that is for multiple dog owners.

(For availability in your area, check with your local humane society and check with your vet to see what they will be doing.)

I've decided to use the month as my vaccination month. I vaccinate my own pets for all other diseases, so that's what I did this month. However, I did it a week before I had them vaccinated for rabies simply to reduce the chance of vaccine reaction since most of my dogs are chihuahuas.

I also gave most of my guys a little dose of benadryl (1 mg/lb of body weight) prior to leaving for the vet. This helped them stay a little calmer and also helped to prevent vaccine reactions. 

Since I have 11 "forever" dogs at my rescue, T.Paws, being able to take a few at a time was very helpful. I started out with 3 who had skin issues (Tinker, Blue, Athena) and Ms Ruby, my "right hand dog", who insisted on going.  We discussed the cause, the doctor's recommendation, and cost. They are well aware of the financial challenges I face and are excellent at helping me prioritize and talk things through. I also had the doctor check Tinker's hernia which has been repaired once, and we talked about the possible outcomes of not having it repaired again. I also asked about Ms Ruby's teeth (which they looked at from afar :). She had just had a dental last year, but the tarter was horrible, so dental costs were discussed.  And we talked about the possibility of Blue having a thyroid problem. Then those guys were vaccinated and went home.

Next came Casey. She is my golden retriever mix. She is also absolutely terrified of storms, riding in the car, fireworks, and slippery floors. Dealing with 4 scared chihuahuas is a breeze compared to dear sweet Casey. Not only did she go for rabies, but also to get acepromazine, a common sedative for dogs who are not prone to seizures (it can lower the seizure threshold). Getting there and getting the exam was easy. Even getting the vaccine was a breeze. Getting home was CRAZY! She was so stressed when we got home, she took a sedative and so did I. I was done with rabies shots for that day!

Since the others only needed their rabies vaccine, my dad came over the next day and I had the rest of the clan in two crates. Teddy and Scrappy in one. Pearl, Onyx, Bo, and Panda in the other. We loaded it on the truck and off we went. Teddy was happy to see everyone as he had visited them not long ago, and, being Teddy, wanted to show "his" pack around (he takes his position as the official spokesdog of T.Paws very seriously). Everyone was weighed and vaccinated, and it was a very pleasant visit. Not to mention they loved the ride in the truck.

Here's where money management comes in. As I always do, I put it on the CareCredit Card. As I have mentioned before, this card is a healthcare card that gives me (usually) six months interest free to pay it off.

With a big group like I have, and little money to work with, I try to think ahead and plan on doing one thing a month. In January for instance, I might buy several months worth of Fipronil for fleas even though I don't need it. February, I might purchase extra food, March, vaccines, and so on. So now that I know that Ms Ruby needs a dental, Tinker needs hernia repair, Blue may need blood work, my goal is to put the money I would have been using for flea control (but already bought in January) into my CareCredit and get it paid off.

The doctors both agreed that Tinkers hernia repair needs to be first. So that is what's planned next. Some vets will give you discounts if you have multiple animals having a procedure on one day, so don't be afraid to ask).

But by spreading out the costs of the needs of my animals, using the techniques in Secrets of a Vet Tech , utilizing CareCredit, taking advantage of special discount months, and being completely open and honest with my veterinarian, I am able to take care of more animals for less than some spend taking care of one. And THAT is the secret of living as a rescue here at T.Paws.

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