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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Get Ahead of High Vet Bills: Healthy Lifestyle Lowers the Cost

Jan 06, 2017 07:07PM ● By Mary Oquendo

Last month we established why veterinary treatment could be costly. But what are our options to reduce those possible expenses? There are two avenues to pursue: prevention and preparation.


Prevention has everything to do with maintaining health.


Are we feeding our pets a quality diet or the equivalent of fast food? Many of us already read labels but confusion often occurs because most people read pet food labels as if they were people food labels. They are not the same.

Pet product names are dependent upon a certain percentage of the named ingredient. For example, Beef for Dogs must contain 95 percent beef exclusive of water, while Beef Dinner For Dogs only needs 25 percent. If the label lists “With ‘XYZ’” ingredient, then “XYZ” must be at least 3 percent.

Ingredients are also listed by weight, not volume. It is the exact opposite for human product labeling; that’s where a lot of confusion occurs.

Then there are special names for ingredients that sound good, but really aren’t. A good resource can be found at

A quality pet food is one that is:

1. grain-free,

2. has a whole specific protein as the first ingredient (such as beef, turkey or chicken), and

3. uses human-grade ingredients.

It should not contain corn and soy products, meat by-products or digests, artificial colors or flavors, and sweeteners. BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin and proply gallate should not be listed as preservatives. Ethoxyquin is banned from human consumption. However, it may be used in fishmeal before it arrives at a manufacturing facility and therefore does not have to be listed on the label. The manufacturer will add a disclaimer to the package or website; look for it when buying products with fish.

Moisture content is also important. Dogs and cats need a diet that is 70 percent moisture. If they are not getting it from their food, we must ensure that they are drinking sufficient amounts of water. If not, their organs will be in a continual state of dehydration, which will lead to premature organ failure and other chronic medical conditions.

Some holistic vets advise cooking for dogs the same way we cook for ourselves, with meats and vegetables stewed in broth or liquid in a slow cooker, for example. For those who feel intimidated about cooking for their pets, Paul Gallant of Paul’s Custom Pet Food ( in New Milford works with numerous pet owners and veterinarians, pet nutritionists and herbalists to develop recipes and prepare gently cooked and customized meals for pets’ unique dietary needs. His business began as a way to combat his dog’s cancer and has evolved into much more, benefiting many pets and owners along the way.

The most natural diet for our pets is raw. A good resource to learn more about raw diets can be found at


Regular exercise keeps our pets’ bodies in peak condition. Exercise benefits every bodily system and may reduce destructive behaviors. Destructive behaviors have the potential to result in injuries.

Wellness Visits

Early detection means early intervention. Not only do wellness visits have the ability to extend the life of a pet, but the costs associated with early treatment may be less than with a later diagnosis.


Keeping a pet’s energetic system free from blockages keeps their physical body healthier. Schedule regular sessions with an energetic practitioner before a crisis happens. Choices include Reiki, crystal integrated energy, T-touch, acupressure, massage and acupuncture.

Reducing Household Stress

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 75 percent of all doctor visits are related to stress. When we are stressed, our bodies secrete hormones—such as adrenaline—that our pets can smell. That, in turn, stresses our pets and may cause the same distress on their bodies as it does to ours.

Parasites, Flea and Ticks Preventatives

Flea, tick and mite bites can cause serious and life-threatening disease and illness. Prevention is key. There are all-natural products containing essential oils for dogs, not cats. Please don’t use essential oil products on cats. In addition to monthly spot-on products, we can also treat our yards with natural products containing cedar oil or food-grade diatomaceous earth.


Thorough maintained wellness while planning for the unexpected is ultimately the best way to keep veterinary costs down.

We can’t always plan for the unexpected. There are many pet insurance companies; they all have their fine print. Research and decide on a company that best suits needs.

Home Safety

walk-through of the home and yard at pet level can help to spot and remedy hidden dangers that may result in injury.

Mary Oquendo is a Reiki master, advanced crystal master and certified master tech pet first aid instructor. She is the owner of Hands and Paws Reiki for All. She can be reached at See ad, page 39.

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