Rising cost of pet care...

schoolhouse_gwAugust 24, 2009

I read the article sylvitexas posted about the household items to have on hand for pets in emergencies, thanks for posting. In order not to hijack her thread I'll begin this one.

I also read one of the related stories on that page about the rising cost of pet care, someone's dog had a heart stint put in; cost was $15,000. Who can afford that? When euthanasia was brought up, she commented that "she would never do that - my dogs are my kids. A soul was trusted to me". I'm dealing with making a decision right now about putting my dog to sleep, this woman makes me feel extremely selfish AND confused. Should I get a second opinion? Did I really do as much as I should have? Will I be haunted by the "what if's?"

I have had alot of dogs and ended the lives by euthanasia of some; for some reason, I'm hesitating this time.

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I have never based the decision to put a dog down on money. Of course I've only had one dog I've had to put down. Two years before she died she got cancer....it cost us thousands of dollars but saved her life and we had her for another two years. Only you can know whether you are making the correct decision. I do not know what the problem with your dog is....is it in pain? Is it fixable? These are questions only you and your vet can answer. When I put my baby to sleep it was only because the vet said there was nothing they could do. I prayed for her to go on her own, but when she didn't and was still in pain and could not walk or eat I made the decision. It was the only one left. Good luck with whatever you decide.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 8:34PM
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How old is your dog, what is wrong with it, and what is the treatment?

I have put two dogs to sleep in the past 3 years. They were old and sick. It still tore me up. However I would not have spent more than I could honestly afford to extend their lives. If I felt I had options, I would weigh many pros and cons, including cost and putting them through painful or stressful treatments vs. letting them go in peace.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 8:55PM
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I have an earlier post titled: "Quality of life after eye surgery" on this forum that I started when just surgery to remove the eyes was the only problem I was having to deal with; but later, this morning, the vet said it appears she is in kidney failure. She'll be 11 next month was diagnosed with glaucoma July 22nd. and has been on meds that were doing some good, but now eye pressures are elevating again. She is completely blind in both eyes.I have never seen any symptoms of kidney problems, i.e.drinking water to excess, peeing constantly.

I was prepared to go ahead and schedule the removal of both eyes when the vet did blood work and found out she was anemic and her kidney values were very low. Thus, he did not want to go ahead with the eye surgery in her condition.
She has not eaten for five days, except for a handful of boiled chicken, today nothing. Still drinks water and pees,but neither to excess.

Perhaps I want to believe that the eye pain (she is taking a morphine-like med as of today) has caused the loss of appetite and malaise. The vet had given her a bag of fluids Saturday which perked her up some and he even said that the fluids he gave her may have caused her urine to be diluted (when tested this morning). He also said that I could bring her in and they could treat the kidneys by flushing but that would be something that would have to be done every week? Not too clear if I heard him right.

I'm wondering if I should take a urine sample to another vet for a second opinion.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 9:44PM
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With such a life/death decision to make, I would take the dog to another vet for a second opinion on the kidney thing, if it seems the pain is under control.

I have pet insurance so that I do not have to make healthcare decisions based entirely on cost. I know that I will get at least a portion of the cost back from the insurance company. For Bina, her insurance is around $300/year. Her CT scan to diagnose her stuffed-up and snotty nose cost $2000. I got about $750 back from insurance.

If I did not have the insurance, I could easily be in a situation where I had to decide that euthanasia was best. I love my dogs dearly, but I know their lifspans are short compared to ours and I know there are thousands of mutts out there waiting to fill the empty spot in my heart and home, so there is a limit on how much debt I will acrue for a dog's illness. I could not tell you right now where the limit is, but I would not feel that I was wrong to decide in favor of ending suffering instead of treating an ongoing medical problem - especially if there were other chronic problems. I think my tolerance for veterinary debt would depend on the situation with the dog and with my finances at that moment.

Each situation in unique and I don't think we can judge other people's situations. You try to balance your own need for the dog, your bank account and debt tolerance, the lifespan of the dog, the pain or mortification the dog must endure, and your ability to provide needed care or not(in situations like incontinence). You do your best and that is all you can be expected to do. Unlike people, dogs have the option for euthanasia and we should not judge others if they chose it in good faith.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 10:50PM
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People are as passionate about the subject of Euthanasia as there are dog breeds. Don't let one persons misjudgement of your situation guide you. She only knows a part of the story. I feel it is wrong for anyone to blatantly put that out like that. End of life issues are fraught with what if's and only you and your vet can properly read your dogs behavior and physical issues.
At present I live on a limited income. In the past I have spent $8K on my dogs back legs, and it really put me into debt for a very long time. Did I regret it - hell no, my dog was young and vibrant and he offered me a specialness in that he was trained to be a service dog for me as well as just being a very cool pet. Now he is 14 and my limited income is even more limited due to budget cuts. That my dog is as healthy as he is I treat as a miracle, every day I think about what might be around the corner and how I will deal with it. Would I throw as much money as I could at him in hopes his treatment would give him extra years or is he too old to really physically appreciate and rebound from any treatment available? These are ONLY questions that you can answer and I dont think the availability of money would change my mind one bit on what type of treatment he would get.
Even if you know in your heart you are doing the right thing, you will always question your decision - it is the way we humans are.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 11:17PM
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It's such a difficult decision to make about a pet. I've had to make it for twice for my cats but both times they were very old and it wasn't a matter of doing that or something more expensive. I have one cat now who has had the most "investment" in medical care - several eye surgeries plus two chronic ailments. Even that doesn't seem like it's been much compared with what some people spend - and it's been over time so it doesn't seem so bad. I've had people ask me how much I'd spend on a cat's medical care - if I have a limit. I honestly don't know the answer to that. It would depend I think on my perception of quality of life and how much longer the cat would live. The thing that really gets to me though is how much trauma will I have to put the animal through for heroic medical care. And to what extent am I doing that for myself because I don't want to go through the pain of losing the pet. I love my cats and they have a great life - we don't have kids so it's one of those situations. However I am able to keep perspective that they are pets not humans and thus we have different choices about not prolonging their suffering. It's a very personal decision you have to make based on your situation and you kind of have to tune out what everyone else thinks or it will drive you crazy.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2009 at 10:43AM
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schoolhouse Im just wondering, has your vet put her on a special diet for her kidneys? I wonder how much of her nausea and loss of appetite is being caused by the kidneys and not her eye medication. Ive had two old dogs now develop kidney disease and both times the first sign was loss of appetite and some vomiting (not necessarily food, often it looked like bile or fluid being brought up). with my current dog the Science Diet Kd food has been amazing, we were also told our little dog only had a few weeks because she was so sick and her values were so bad - that was 8 months ago! and she's been in great shape during that time.

Honestly, if she isnt eating then it may be time, but if the vet thinks her kidneys are very bad then trying the kidney food and perhaps some antacid and anti nausea meds might get her back to herself. If your vet hasnt recommended these things then I would speak to another vet and get a second opinion. with my first kidney dog the vet didnt suggest any of these things and we lost her very quickly.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2009 at 1:46PM
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