Having my Service Dog’s teeth cleaned twice a year is a wonderful option. The Vet Tech at my veterinary clinic is skilled, gentle and quick. Unfortunately, the process still requires anesthesia and the cost for all that is currently $217.00. My Service Dog is older now and I am reluctant to anesthetize him for anything but life saving measures. My other and more viable option is to brush his teeth regularly with “doggy toothpaste” and to do this with him fully awake. We’ve had to develop some patience with each other to accomplish the goal of dental health. I have also included some dietary changes that contribute to his dental maintenance.
He also requires a heartworm check annually, a blood test that costs $93.00 and monthly meds to prevent the insidious critters from destroying him. Since he is a Standard Poodle, he must also be fully groomed monthly, bathed weekly (since he is in so many public places). I must also immunize him annually for Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvo and Corona. Then there’s Kennel Cough; that’s every six months. His Rabies vaccine, by law, must be administered every three years after the first one year vaccine at 4 months (again, by law). I can obtain and administer every item except Rabies vaccine. That’s controlled by law, too, and may only be administered by a licensed veterinarian. I could elect to “titer” him for verification of the correct levels of protection being blood resident. That process requires a blood sample and an external lab fee. I can also purchase all the vaccines online (except Rabies) and administer them myself.
Of course, I also have concerns about fleas and ticks. It’s not enough to treat my dog, I must also treat the inside of my home and the outside, too. Sprays, bombs, the list is never ending. In order to support my family members, I buy special foods, cook favorites, and make a special effort to meet their needs (regardless of the species … lol). The most interesting observation is that I would have the same challenges for a Rescue or a Champion.
So now, by my “kitchen math” calculations, I’m up over $600.00 and counting and haven’t even bought any food yet. I feed a special food that contains no wheat and no corn and has many added good things that he needs to stay healthy. I feed yogurt twice a week to maintain good gut health and treats to keep him smiling (The big 2 lb. bag of Puperoni costs more than $10.00). Toys, of course, collars, leads, cape and harness (and the Saddle Soap and Mink Oil to maintain it) are also a requirement. Are you beginning to get the point? The cost of love, and the help my Service Dog provides are not cheap.
There is good news, however. The items purchased to maintain my Service Dog including food and health care (and Working Dog health insurance) are all deductible from both Federal and State Income Tax. In the final analysis, everything I ever needed has come with a price. This is one that I’ll gladly pay.
Beverlee J. Engle, HSD, PhD.
Volunteer Trustee/Executive Director/Whatever Else Needs Doing
The Jasmine Charitable Trust