Every day some people take a handful of pills – one for high blood pressure, one for high cholesterol, maybe even one for arthritis. The associated costs for prescription drugs can be costly. Imagine the family member that requires several medications is actually the family pet. More and more people are putting their pets on long term health care regimens, which often include prescriptions.
The Guffords in North Carolina spend a lot of time and money on their 12-year-old dog. Brownie is diabetic – he gets a blood sugar check and shot of insulin daily. He also takes pills, mixed into a bowl of tuna and canned carrots. Brownie has been medicated for several reasons in the past year: diabetes, infections, high blood pressure and upset stomach. He has also been medicated for anemia and a spider bite.
Brownie’s owner, Ann Gufford, told local press that “He’s our baby, he’s a family member, I would want somebody to do that for me.” Gufford has spent an estimated $5,000 keeping Brownie healthy.
Pets are now medicated as much as their owners, or more in some cases. They are medicated for the same health problems people have – arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes… Pets have even been medicated with Prozac or Valium. Owners sometimes get prescriptions for their pets filled at regular pharmacies, or even pay with health insurance.
Pet drugs are becoming big business. Americans spent $2.9 billion on pet drugs in 2005, increasing the market by half since 2000. The FDA has approved over 40 new drugs for pets in the past five years.
Your dog can now take diet pills like millions of Americans already do. Slentrol, the first approved ‘slenderizer’ for dogs, was approved in January. You can also place your pet on chemotherapy, which could cost $3,000 over three months.
As with human medication, some pet medications are discovered to be harmful. Rimadyl, originally for humans, was approved by the FDA to treat dogs’ arthritis. Rimadyl ended up causing kidney and liver damage, and has been linked to 3,000 pet deaths.
Pet medication is tested on a few hundred animals, so side effects may not be known until after they are on the market. Also, a drug may be fine for cats, but not dogs; or a drug could be dangerous to specific breeds. Over 700 drugs are used for pets even though they have not been approved for that purpose.
Pet health insurance is also becoming readily available. Veterinary Pet Insurance, based in California, currently has 400,000 policies. The premiums are about $30 per month. By 2010, the market could climb to $500 million.
Thank you for reading up to this very end. For my next post, I will be discussing products for the skin. I will be starting with a vitamin c serum for face. I hope you stay tuned in this page for more information.