America should have universal veterinary care for dogs

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Having a dog is good for your health. For at least half of the roughly 50,000 years that modern humans have existed, it is with dogs hovering around us. And long before we began to breed dogs specifically as companions – from well-groomed guard dogs to professionally trained service dogs – their survival depended on a perfect match with the moods and behaviors of the humans they were looking for. they joined during the hunts. In the course of domestication, dogs have become natural support systems for humans.

It is therefore not surprising that modern science recognizes the benefits they or they have our moods. Dogs have been shown to improve stress and lower blood pressure, and especially to increase physical activity in people who might otherwise be sedentary. Widely deployed, dogs can even help reduce personal, professional and government medical costs. Think of dogs as a tool of public health, in a sense: as more Americans are adopting dogs, we have the potential to become a healthier nation.

Like many preventative health products, dogs are expensive. Dog food prices are on the rise. Group course for basic obedience training mean about $ 50 an hour. Training a dog for support or therapy – that is, turning a dog into a specialized intervention for a health problem – costs even more. The highest expense, however, is the one over which homeowners have the least control: veterinary care. Routine visits can cost between $ 700 and $ 1,500 per year, between doctors’ fees and vaccines. And then there are emergencies. The majority of American dog owners today cannot afford emergency veterinary care. It’s no wonder emergency pet surgeries are such a popular GoFundMe category.

With the world becoming an increasingly stressful place (which dogs are uniquely placed to help with!), I would like to suggest that the time has come for universal veterinary care.

Of course, we should also have universal medical care for humans. If they have a choice between one or the other, people have to deal with their medical bills first, there’s no question about it. But it is clear that our politicians are not going to agree anytime soon on health reform, given that this is one of the most politically divided subjects in the country. Dogs, on the other hand, are something people seem to agree on across the political spectrum. If researchers agree that dogs are contributing to a healthier America, and that Americans’ love for dogs bridges the political divide, then reforming our pet health care could be the path to a more unified conversation about healthier life for all of us.

The similarities between healthcare for humans and pets are hard to miss. The pet insurance industry, like its human counterpart, is somewhat broken. Since the start of the pandemic, it has benefited double digit growth as families try to plan for emergencies for their furry loved ones. But most insurances don’t cover routine visits, vaccines, or pre-existing conditions, helping most owners who adopt dogs with special needs or those looking for a new plan for their sick pet. Plans that offer more comprehensive coverage may cost up to $ 155 per month. To add to the insult, whatever the cost, monthly premiums for dogs are double those for cats. Dogs are both more susceptible to disease and easier to care for than cats.

The most important question shelters and shelters ask potential adopters is: can you afford to take your dog to the vet? To prove that you are able to take care of a dog’s medical needs, you pay a relocation or adoption costs, who run about $ 500 on average. (Four hundred thousand dogs are euthanized per year overcrowded shelters in the United States should lower barriers to dog adoption – not requiring people to prove they have money set aside.) The irony of this is that the people who benefit from the more dogs are the ones that are strive to maintain core stability, and who may have more difficulty paying for costs and subsequent care. The data show extraordinary success with the introduction of dog programs in just about any “at risk” population. Prison animal programs across the country prosper and boast decrease in recurrence among inmates who have worked with animals in training programs. Dog training programs are used to rehabilitate youth at risk, and therapy dogs work in long term care environments such as nursing homes. Service dogs help alleviate everything from depression to PTSD to addiction. But if you are already dealing with your own ailments, it is unfair that you have to pay those of a therapy dog ​​as well. It’s like finding out that your insurance does not cover the drugs your doctor has prescribed for you.

It is increasingly clear how much dog owners benefit from having their dogs always nearby. People buy high tech pet cameras in order to stay connected while being separated, and the dog portrait the industry is booming. Some are buy houses just to give their dogs a better life. Many are struggling for increasingly dog ​​friendly environments, from the workplace to college dorms to the subway (and who can forget the short span of time emotional support animals were allowed on flights?). Many people call their family pets and consider themselves to be their pets. parents. Affordable veterinary care should be the next frontier of the growing importance of dogs in our lives.

Yes, there is a lot of expense when it comes to dogs, from kibble to dog walker services, and not all of us have need that pet portrait or the latest fancy dog ​​food delivered to our doorstep. But those who want to live with dogs should never have to waste sleep wondering how to cover the medical bills of their beloved pets. Life with a dog doesn’t have to be a luxury.

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