We all like our pets and want them to have a healthy long life. And concerned reviews in the Animals category on PissedConsumer prove that. To answer multiple questions reviewers have regarding taking care of their pets, we decided to take it to an expert to provide the best advice possible.

In this interview, we spoke with Dr. Lindsay Butzer, a highly experienced veterinarian with a profound passion for animal care. The expert shared valuable insights into the veterinary field, common pet health issues, and best practices for pet owners.

Here are the points a vet expert discussed in the interview:

About Dr. Lindsay Butzer

Dr. Butzer: My name is Dr. Lindsay Butzer. I'm a small animal veterinarian. I've been practicing for six years. I work in Boca Raton, Florida, and I mainly see cats and dogs. I can see pocket pets like hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs. Things like that come in occasionally, but mostly we deal with people's dogs and cats, which are their pets at home, their family members. We mostly take care of those animals at our clinic.

The Cost of Owning a Cat or Dog

Pauline: Is it expensive to keep a cat or a dog today?

Dr. Butzer: I don't think it's that expensive to feed them, give them water, and have them live in the house with you. It's not terribly expensive, probably $50 a month for a cat and around $100 a month for a dog, with food and toys, caring for them, and cleaning up after them. That is the cheapest dollar amount. It can get out of hand. You could definitely buy these new dog food brands that are out there, and it can get really expensive. Food is one topic, and then health care is another because taking care of your pet is going to be expensive too for vaccines, flea and tick medications, and heartworm prevention. And then if they get hurt or you're worried about something, you can spend a lot of money at the veterinarian hospital. It depends on the owner and how much they want to take care of their pet or how observant they are. If their cat is straining to pee a lot and they catch their urinary infections, we're going to treat them, and then that animal is going to live longer and be more comfortable. Pets that aren't treated a lot might have a shorter lifespan than an animal whose owners really take care of them.

You spend more when they turn eight years old. After 10, they're geriatric. So you're going to spend more money on them, making sure they're healthy, getting them more comfortable beds. They're going to get sick a little bit more often. It depends on the pet. As they get older, your expenses are going to be more. I always tell people, open up a savings account for your dog now, and then in 10 years you'll have the money for them and you won't be stressed out.

What to Consider Before Bringing a New Pet Home

Pauline: Lindsay, what should a pet owner know about pet care before taking one home?

Dr. Butzer: You need to know the basics. You're going to have to feed them, give them water, take them on walks, and give them time. It's like a baby. Financially, veterinary medicine is so expensive, more than it's ever been, which I think is unfair. We own a private practice, so I'm really lucky that we get to set our own prices and rules. But now with corporate medicine, they charge people so much. It's sad to see how medicine has gone for animals. My dad is the owner of our hospital, and he does everything from the goodness of his heart. We have to run a business with 70 employees, but it's like an animal that came in a dog with worms or something, he charges them like nothing, like 20 bucks, and then deworms the pet and they leave. We're a private practice versus another place, where they could leave with a bill of $250 for a new puppy.

What is Pet Insurance?

Pauline: Lindsay, can you please tell us what pet insurance is?

Dr. Butzer: I think it's worth it. At the beginning, I was skeptical of it, and there were so many new companies and a lot of scam companies, but there are some pretty good big companies that really help cover medical costs for people. I think it's worth it now. Four years ago, I was kind of like, I don't know, just start saving for your pet. But now they're making it pretty good that it's worth it. It could be $25 a month up to $100 a month depending on the breed of the dog. They have veterinarians working at these pet insurance companies who assess each dog and what health issues they can get.

Pauline: What are the types of pet insurance and how to choose the one that's suitable for your pets?

Dr. Butzer: You just need to research your plan. There are many options: ASPCA, Fetch Pet Insurance, Wagmo, Embrace. You just have to call them and see what they cover for each pet. You want to get it right when you get your pet, as a kitten or a cat. You go to the vet, have a physical exam done, and they put what are pre-existing health issues. Pet insurance can deny you for anything.

Pauline: What are the most common claims for pet insurance?

Dr. Butzer: Common claims for a disease in cats would be kidney disease. They get sick and need fluids. An outdoor cat with FIV or feline leukemia virus has low immune systems. I don't know exactly what pet insurance companies cover for those types of dogs or cats. Dogs can get Parvovirus or distemper virus, things we vaccinate for, or kennel cough. If they get sick with just a cough, it can cost someone $400 at the vet for an appointment and chest x-rays. Boarding at daycare can lead to kennel cough. Dogs get sick and need treatment, or they can get pneumonia and die. But now medicine is so great with veterinarians that that doesn't happen anymore.

Pauline: Is it worth insuring an old cat or an old dog?

Dr. Butzer: I would say start with your puppy and kittens. If you have an old cat and it gets diagnosed with something, they can deny you. If you have a cat that just gets sick and there's a record of it, those companies might not insure you. So you have to be really careful with that.

Signs Your Pet Needs a Vet Visit and How Pet Food Affects Their Health

Pauline: What are the signs your pet should be taken to the clinic?

Dr. Butzer: Coughing is common for puppies. Diarrhea, bloody stool, anything going on with their bowels and stomachs should be taken to the vet. Older pets with diarrhea, fluid loss leading to dehydration, lethargy, not wanting to walk or play as much, should be checked for tumors or abdominal cancers. A cat straining to pee is common.

Pauline: Could you please tell us about pet food and feeding pets for a long life?

Dr. Butzer: When people get into food stuff, wanting their pet to live the longest life, feeding them a real human food diet might not make your dog live to 20. Certain breeds have a maximum lifespan. People personalize them or humanize them, thinking if they eat a certain way, they'll live longer, but they might just live a healthier life. Feeding them human foods might make their stomach sensitive. We don't have enough data to know if people feeding them human-grade foods is better. I see appointments for diarrhea with fancy dogs and have to tell them to go on a regular diet kibble, just dog food that's easier on their stomach.

Pauline: What is balanced food for a cat or a dog?

Dr. Butzer: There are formulas for a balanced diet by veterinary professionals and veterinary nutritionists. Brands like Science Diet, Royal Canin, Purina, formulate diets for dogs that make sure they develop well through all life stages. People don't like dog foods or kibbles, saying there are fillers in them, but these fillers can be fiber, which is actually okay for their stomachs. I've had dogs my whole life only eat kibble and canned food, and they live long.

Pauline: Do you think some pet food can impact the animal's health?

Dr. Butzer: I think there is a link between Freshpet and Addison's disease in dogs. I want to let the consumer know about this issue to discuss it with their vet and probably save their dog's life.

I've done YouTube videos for Freshpet. I fed their food to my dogs. They love it because it's fresh food. It comes in packages you put in the fridge. I read that review, and we don't know how old that dog is in the review, any history of that dog, or the age or breed. The dog could be prone to kidney failure. A diet is not going to cause kidney failure acutely. It can happen from old age or genetics.

Protecting Your Pets from Poor Quality Food

Pauline: How can pet owners protect their pets from poor quality food?

Dr. Butzer: The new fad is feeding dogs prepackaged meals that are human-grade instead of kibble. People don't like kibble anymore. Be careful with prepackaged foods. They can be more expensive. Prepackaged foods are $30 for a small bag that lasts 3-4 days. Kibble can be kept fresh in a sealed container and doesn't need refrigeration. Prepackaged foods can cause upset stomachs and overgrown bacteria. I've tried them, and it's hard to keep up with. Kibble is easier and lasts the whole month.

Pauline: Would you recommend any cat or dog food brands? Which ones to avoid?

Dr. Butzer: For dogs with sensitive stomachs, stay away from grocery store brands like Little Caesars. A dog past eight years old that gets pancreatitis shouldn't eat those diets. Beneful and cheaper diets might cause upset stomachs but not cancer. Cancers can be genetic or environmental. At a certain age, switch to a prescription diet like Hill's Science Diet, Royal Canin, or Purina. These are not expensive compared to Freshpet and other fresh foods. Stay away from cheaper brands of dog food that have more salts and sugars. Kibble is mostly safer.

Pet Care Advice to Keep Your Pets Healthy and Happy

Pauline: What is your key message to pet owners? Could you provide some tips on how to keep your pets healthy and make them happy?

Dr. Butzer: Exercise with your pets, give them a lot of love. Your pet might live longer if you love them more. Treat them like they're your baby. These are things that will keep your pet living long.

Do you have a pet, or are you considering getting one? What is your experience of taking care of them? Share your stories and comments with us in the comments below. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay updated on the latest experts’ videos and consumer video reviews. 


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  1. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide any legal, medical, accounting, investment or any other professional advice as individual cases may vary and should be discussed with a corresponding expert and/or an attorney.
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