Sad Side Effect: Dogs’ and Cats’ Health Suffering as Belts Tighten

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Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Poor Fido is feeling the crunch, too.

Diabetes, heartworm disease and other health problems are on the rise in both dogs and cats. Even preventable conditions, such as flea and tick infestations, are becoming more common. The culprit? The recession.

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People are spending less time on pets’ preventative care than they used to. Since 2006, even dental disease has soared 12.3% for dogs. Cats are getting the brunt of it as well; it has increased 10.2% in cats. It might not sound like a big deal, but given that it now shows up in 78% of dogs and 68% of cats over the age of three, it’s a substantial increase.

Jeffrey Klausner, the chief medical officer at a pet hospital, says that people are spending less time and money on checking up on their pets’ health.  He said people think, “’You can skip a visit to the vet.’ Well, you can, but what you’ve missed out on is a physical exam and a discussion with the vet about what’s next.” That’s not a way to treat man’s best friend.

(More on TIME.com: See pictures of surfing dogs)

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