What you can do to protect your pet's health

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Six of the most common pet illnesses and how you can prevent them

Pet ownership can get expensive, especially if your beloved companion suddenly comes down with an illness.

The costs associated with providing proper veterinary care when medical issues arise can be sky-high, but just as eating right and exercising can help you stay healthy, so can scheduling routine wellness exams for your pet.

Providing preventive care through annual wellness visits won’t only help to stave off medical bills, it’ll give you peace of mind in knowing that your four-legged family member isn’t being burdened by a painful ailment.

"The cornerstone of good veterinary care has always been catching diseases early,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, chief veterinary officer for Nationwide. “I strongly recommend that pet owners schedule routine wellness examinations with their local veterinarian."

Preventive care measures

"Being proactive is in your pet's best interest," MicConnell added. But in order to provide preventive care, it’s important to know which conditions most commonly plague dogs and cats.

To clue pet parents in, pet health insurance provider Nationwide recently sorted through its database of more than 600,000 insured pets to provide a cost analysis of the five most common preventable ailments.

The following cat and dog conditions can be avoided through preventive veterinary care, says Nationwide.

  • Dental diseases. Cavities, tooth infections, and other dental diseases cost an average of $390 per pet to treat, but only $180 to prevent. Brushing your pet’s teeth can help keep dental diseases at bay, but the most effective preventative treatment for dental disease is having your pet’s teeth cleaned annually by a veterinary professional.
  • External parasites. Tick-transmitted lyme disease and allergic dermatitis caused by fleas can cost around $250 to treat, but just $121 to prevent. Nationwide suggests using preventative flea and tick medications, keeping your home free of fleas and ticks, and checking your pet for fleas and ticks after outdoor activities.
  • Internal parasites. Heartworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and Giardia cost roughly $200 to treat, but only $35 to prevent. Similar to external parasites, preventing internal parasites can be achieved by keeping your pet and home flea-free. Additionally, annual fecal exams and preventive medications can reduce your pet’s risk of being affected by a parasitic infection.
  • Infectious diseases. Parvovirus, Lyme disease, and feline leukemia virus can incur costs of over $800, but preventive vaccination against these diseases costs less than $100 per pet. Your pet’s exposure risk (whether they are an outdoor cat, if you live in an area with a large population of ticks, etc) can help your veterinarian determine which vaccines to recommend.
  • Reproductive organ diseasesIf your pet’s reproductive organs become infected or inflamed, it can cost up to $600 to treat. But preventing reproductive organ diseases costs roughly half that amount and can be achieved by spaying or neutering your pet.
  • Respiratory infections. Treating canine kennel cough or feline upper respiratory virus costs almost $200, but preventing respiratory infections with a Bordatella vaccination costs only around $25 per pet.

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