Monthly Archives: November 2016

Pet health care costs rising

Dog healthcare

Americans treat their pets as family.  From fluffy beds to health care, pets are treated as humans.  And as the heath care costs for human beings rise, so do they for pets.

The US healthcare system has been rendered inefficient in terms of services and cost by many.  This is often blamed on the federal health insurance benefits that prevent customers from making decisions about costs and reimbursements, and give no reason to the industry to make its more efficient.

A recent study found that the situation was pretty much the same in the pet industry, with a couple of big differences:  Only about 1 percent of all pets have health insurance, and pet healthcare is not subject to strict government regulation.  But similarities did exist:

  • Rising expenses: spending on pet purchases, medical supplies and veterinary services show patterns similar to human health-care spending from 1996 to 2013 (US Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns) – rose 60 percent for pet health care, and 50 percent for people.

  • Growth in sector: the growth in the supply of physicians and veterinarians has been very significant for the years 1996 to 2013.  Medical service centers have also grown at similar rates.

  • Spike in spending in the last month: in the study, pets cited for comparison were 23 dogs that died of lymphoma at one California pet hospital between 2011 and 2014.  The humans were 125 Medicare patients who were diagnosed with lymphoma and died in December 2008, 2009, 2010 or 2011.  In the last month of their life, healthcare spending for both increased – for humans it was more than double of regular monthly spending, and for dogs it was nearly 3.5 times more.

The results draw striking parallels between the two systems, although one has much less government regulation.  This suggests that the increase in costs cannot alone be attributed to insurance benefits and government regulation.  Perhaps, it is time to check lifestyles, and make sure that both the pet and owners are keeping healthy through a balanced diet, exercise, and regular check ups.  Preventive measures should take care of rising bills till the government and other establishments have a better plan.  


Why your dog can live with you, and on your food!

Dog eating bread

Dogs have been human being’s best friends.  This relationship started long ago.  Today, dogs cannot only live with us in our very own domestic environment, but eat our food and survive equally well on it.

According to research, the dog’s ability to digest our food the same way we do developed millennia ago.   When human beings first domesticated dogs, and scientists have different theories on that, they taught dogs to survive with them, in their resources.  And dogs seemed to respond pretty well.

Dogs have been domesticated from wolves, many researchers claim.  Some suggest that ancient hunters used wolves as hunting companions, and came to gradually training and taming them.  These eventually became known as our present domesticated friends.  But some scientists argue that domestication started later, when wolves started stealing food from farms of agricultural settlers.  They eventually started eating food that was consumed by humans, and developed a tolerance for it, and this was the first step towards the domestication of dogs.

Dr Morgane Ollivier of ENS de Lyon, France has claimed that human cultural development has influenced the first domesticated animal, the dog.  DNA samples from 8,000 to 4,000 years ago show the dog’s ability to digest starch is ancient – hailing back to a time when hunter-gatherer societies adopted agriculture.  “As it was absent in samples coming from hunter-gatherers’ contexts, we linked it to the development of agriculture in early farming society,” Dr Ollivier told BBC News.  “This probably constituted an important selective advantage for dogs feeding on human leftovers within a farming context.  It’s a lovely example of parallel evolution of human culture (emergence of agriculture) and the dog genome.”

There are others who have a different perspective: dogs may have evolved from wolves but the reasons and causes of domestication cannot be assigned to one event in history, but multiple social and natural phenomenon.

What we know for sure from present day studies is that modern dogs possess genes for digesting starches, which cannot be found in wolves.  And this process of evolution started around 15,000 years ago, when the dog is said to have split from the wolf.