Pets are more popular than ever in the US. Most households have at least one pet and more often than not, it is a dog or a cat. What is so special about these adorable little creatures, aside from their inherent cuteness?
For one thing, they are life givers, literally! Twenty-five years of research has proven that living with pets prolongs human life. Pets offer something every person needs unconditional love. Anyone who has ever had a dog or a cat knows that they are more than cute and cuddly animals; they are great friends. The history of pet ownership proves this.
Dogs were the world's first pet. They were domesticated from the gray wolf around 15,000 years ago. But seniority is not what earned them the moniker of "man's best friend." In fact, dogs were originally used as workers in early human settlements. They were exceptional hunters, herders, and sentries. Over the years, however, man formed a close connection with the dog and began to keep them as companions. A few thousand years later, people also fell in love with the cat.
Where are we now?
The US has the highest percentage of households with dogs and cats, according to a recent international study. An astonishing 57 percent of U.S. homes contain either a dog or a cat. The numbers have been steadily rising. There were 77.5 million owned dogs and 93.6 million owned cats at last count. As you might imagine, pets are big business in America.
Most people treat their dogs and cats like members of the family. They feed them, pet them, bathe them and care for them when they are sick. American dog owners spend an average of $225 on veterinary visits each year, while cat owners spend $203. Tragically, many pet owners cannot afford the rising costs of prescription medications for their furry friends. Some of them are even forced to choose between their own medication and pills for their pets.
Dogs and cats are extremely popular with elderly Americans. As we mentioned earlier, studies have shown that owning a pet has numerous health benefits, especially for older people. We know, for example, that pet owners who have suffered a heart attack have a survival rate that is five times that of patients who do not have a dog or a cat. It isn't magic or even very complicated.
Pets give people someone to exercise with, someone to take care of and someone to love. Perhaps the most important medical benefit they provide actually comes from taking care of them. Pet owners feel responsible for their dogs and cats.
But because most elderly pet owners live on fixed budgets, they often cannot afford the high cost of prescription pills when their friends get sick. The good news is that there is an alternative. Online pet pharmacies offer substantial savings over the average veterinarian.
About twenty percent of pet owners now buy prescription medications for their pets on the Internet. It is all perfectly legal and savings of 50 to 80 percent are not uncommon on most generic medications. So what are pet owners buying?
Prescription medication for pets is a growing industry. Americans spend around forty billion dollars each year caring for their furry friends. About one-quarter of that, or ten billion dollars, is spent on prescription pills. As different as they may be, dogs and cats suffer from many of the same ailments.
The most common, of course, is flea and tick infestation. These troublesome little insects can cause a variety of health problems for pets. In addition to the incessant scratching, flea and tick bites can cause allergic reactions, tapeworms and anemia in both dogs and cats.
Dogs can also get Lyme disease from ticks, which can be fatal. And both animals can get the Rocky Mountain spotted fever, another potentially fatal illness. The only way to be rid of infestations is with prescription flea and tick products.
Because dogs typically spend more time outdoors than cats, they are more susceptible to heartworms. Spread by infected mosquitoes, heart-worms can be deadly if not treated. Cats also get heartworms and their survival rate is even lower than dogs when they contract it. When a pet is diagnosed with the illness, he must be put on prescription medication immediately. Heart-worm pills for dogs and cats are top sellers on the Internet.
Many pet owners worry that they might offend their veterinarians by not buying medications from them. But that is generally not the case. Most vets love animals, that's why they do what they do. They also understand that virtual pharmacies offer deep discounts. In the end, most vets will be pleased that you did what you had to do to get your pet the medicine it needed.
Jackson Pauloski is a freelance writer who writes about pet care and pet meds.
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