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July 15, 2010


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Interesting statistics, however I disagree and think that pet owners probably underestimate how much they would spend to save their companion friends. As a dog owner, my "imaginary" boundary on a large vet bill in my head is around $800 but when push comes to shove if the vet says it will cost $1200 to save little fluffy I think I would cave. I don't think I would be able to sleep at night knowing that I put my dog to sleep to save a few extra bucks.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to drop 5k on a doggie liver transplant or anything, I just think that most pet owners would probably err on the side of overspending than penny pinching when it comes to their pets.

About 7 years ago, one of our two cats was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, which is terminal (the cat was only about 4 years old at the time). At the time, we had no kids, so these two cats basically were our children. Aside from the considerable cost for the vet to diagnose this, there were ongoing costs. We were supposed to buy an IV fluid bag about once per month (one bag lasted about a month) for about $60, as well as needles. Every night, for about 15 minutes, we had to stick the poor kitty with a needle and give her "subcutaneous fluids" to help flush her kidneys out. As time went on, the cat came to hate doing this. And the cat's health deteriorated pretty fast. She went from about 8 pounds to about 4 pounds over the course of about 7 months. And she no longer could control where she urinated (and she often urinated blood), so we had to put down drop cloths all over our house to try to minimize the damage. So we paid a fair amount of money each month, and went through a fair amount of hassle, and the cat's quality of life was not particularly good. It was sad, but we finally pulled the plug after those 7 months. I'm not sure I would do the same again for the other cat. Especially since she's 11 years old now.

sounds kind of scammy but as with probably most things there is insurance for this.

My wise vet of over 20 years had a philosophy on family pets. He believes in healthy pets, healthy home and healthy family. I now understand what that means.

When my young (10 year old) cat began having litter box problems we spent about $2500 for surgery. He got worse so we spent $1000 for further diagnosis; we balked at the recommended $2500 MRI. We even went to an acupunturist/herbalist for pain control ($150 a pop). As time went on we had lost all of my vet's three healthy criteria. (I so understand Bad_Brad's drop cloth tactics.) Total cost about $5,000.

When we finally made the decision to put him down after over six months of pallitive care, it was one of the saddest days of my life. In hindsight though, we should have done it sooner; as I think we kept him more for us than for him. We "told" his sister that she will go more quickly than her brother did; she seemed glad.

I agree with Neil. I think at least some people will underestimate how much they'd actually spend. Its a lot easier to say you don't want to spend over $500 if its an unemotional theoretical phone survey. But if you're faced with a sick dog or cat and crying kids then you might be more willing to go ahead and fork over $750 or $1000 rather than have the family pet put to sleep. In fact I spent over $1200 recently on our dog and if you'd asked me a month previous to her getting sick if I would be willing to spend so much then I'd probably have said no.

We have three brother cats and they are basically our children. I'm pretty sure we would be willing to spend thousands of dollars on care for them if it meant that it would save their lives and they would live out the foreseeable rest of their lives without pain. If they had a terminal disease like the other commenters above posted about, and we knew they would be in pain and suffering for the rest of their lives, then we would likely pull the plug. We would want what's best for them, not our wallets. We are fortunate enough to have enough savings to do that.

After reading JM's note, I want to add a further note.

I don't think I would have gone down the path we did if we knew what was wrong with our cat. Unfortunately, vets can only diagnose with testing, and only guess at the pain. In our case, we always hoped our cat would get better; no one had a clue as to what was wrong with him. Every vet that saw him just wanted to do more testing or try a new drug.

Pets can't tell you what is wrong, and cats in particular tend to mask their pain way beyond what other animals and humans do. Only when we realized he wasn't getting better did we put him down.

I too agree with Neil. We always had a $1000 figure in the back of our mind, and that's what we put in our care instructions to pet sitters. But first it's $1200 for surgery and you say okay it's still in the ball park; then it's another $300 for tests, then $150 for pills, etc.

My number is again $1000 for the sister; but more because I don't want to put her through what the brother went through. I hope for her sake I hold my number; as I think to do anything else might be cruel.

MasterPo and Mrs. MasterPo will spend (and have spent) pretyy much whatever it takes to heal our pets.

They are as much family as our children.

But there is a point of comparison to cost vs. longevity and quality of their life.

Can't point to any specific figure though.

The whole problem is that we get so attached to our pets, partly because they don't have all the emotional hangups that we complicated humans have. You can scold them severely or even hit them when they do something really bad when puppies but they they never harbor a grudge and love you just the same as before.
We have have owned two Shetland sheep dogs, small versions of Lassie. "Highland Laddie" known as Laddie, was the first, and "Bonnie Prince Charlie" known as Charlie was the second. With Laddie, we gave him a diet of cooked chicken necks (bones removed) - he loved it - but we realized later it wasn't good for him. When he became quite sick the Vet diagnosed a failing liver and we had him put away. Charlie, on the other hand, we fed a high quality dry dog food and he lived a much longer life. I got up one morning and let him out into the yard - I looked out about 15 minutes later and he was dead on the lawn from a heart attack.

So Vet bills weren't the problem, the problem was my emotional wife. She was so attached to them that after each death she was distraught for many days. I made a pine coffin for each of them, dug a grave, we placed flowers on the coffin, had our own service and buried them in a corner of our property near a cherry tree.

We were never very happy leaving them in kennels when we went on vacation, and nor were the dogs so after the children left home and we started travelling much more we haven't owned a dog and I don't believe either of us ever will again, even though they were such great companions while we were raising our three children.

It's more than a financial decision for us; it's about quality of life for the pet. Our cat Moonshadow became diabetic at age 5. For $75/month, we could purchase enough insulin and syringes to keep him perfectly healthy. Was it worth it? Yes, we felt that we had taken on an obligation to keep him healthy when we adopted him into our home. So for 9 years, we bought him the insulin and gave him daily shots.

However, last year at age 14, when his kidneys failed and the vet suggested dialysis, we asked 2 key questions -- how much, and how long will it help? When we found out that the treatment would only give relief for a month, we decided it was time to have him put down. 9 years of additional expense for quality of life? Yes. $2000-$3000 for a treatment which would only extend his life a month? No, that didn't make sense for us...or our pet.

@Alex, Wow 9 years of insulin injections... your cat was lucky to have you as an owner! My dog was diagnosed with canine diabetes at age 2, and we've been giving him twice daily insulin injections for almost 5 years. We are willing to spend quite a bit to keep our pets healthy. Pets are important, but I would caution those who think that pets are good substitutes for kids. Many pets don't even live long enough to become teenagers, and it is very sad when you lose them.

I can identify with those purchasing insulin for their dogs. After being told it would likely be for no more than a year until my dog finally passed, we've been paying about $150/month for insulin for over three years. Not sure how much longer our dear friend will need her medicine, but we'll keep giving it to her as long as she needs it. I have a dozen other places I could have spent the money, but it wouldn't have been the right thing to do.

Personally as a vegetarion I find it amusing that people will spend 1000's on their dogs and cats (my mother in law spend 100/month on her dog for 6 years) to keep them alive but the USA (i'm australians and we're jsut as bad) eat 8 billion! animals a year. It's just weird.

If your vet offers a wellness plan, buy it. It costs around $23 a month and covers everything from vaccinations to dental treatments to comprehensive exams and all sorts of lab work. Pet wellness plans even cover free checkups when you notice something out of the ordinary. The plans might be the best, most underpublicized deal in all of commerce right now. One routine tooth cleaning for your dog can end up running $600 without a plan, and God forbid if your cat needs to be dewormed or something. With a pet wellness plan, it’s all covered.

/spent $8000 on a dog once
/would have spent more
/wouldn't have done the same for a kid

I had a cat for 18 years that I went above and beyond for. Everyone thought I was crazy to give him insulin shots twice a day and rearrange my life and home because of litter box issues. I have to say now that he is gone I agree! I was crazy to keep him around and run my life around him. I think I did it because I got him when I was 15 years old. I had spent more than half my life with that cat.

Now I have two wonderful and special dogs. Both have minor medical problems which I happily pay for. I judge the extent I am willing to go for them not on the dollar amount but on the medical procedure. I take into account the long term health and benefits for the pet and myself.

I have diabetic cat (going on 3 years now) and I will actually start spending less money now then I have in the past. Vet switched her from feline insulin to human. I will be spending $36/month instead on $70/month.
I looked on line and found places to save money on insulin syringes...never buy your syringes from the vet's office or your local pharmacy because you are paying retail.

go to California Vet Supply for insulin syringes and other diabetic supplies

@Benjamin Bankruptcy -- I find it amusing that you are a vegetarian. To each their own though.

@Benjamin - my desire to eat a particular animal is in inverse proportion to how cute it is. Cows and chickens and fish are not cute. Dogs and cats are.

Hope that helps clarify.

I see a lot of overweight animals these days. I think if a lot of people took better care of their animals in the first place they wouldn't be paying for hip replacement and insane surgeries for animals that should be trim and fit. I have two dogs and don't deny they are insanely expensive -- I have boxers, which it seems people buy and subsequently feed vats of Crisco to, so they look like overgrown bulldogs. These dogs can be tremendously expensive... especially if they are fat.

One of my dogs I have had since I was 17 (I am 26 now), and the other is a rescued dog from a shelter (both boxers). I'd probably spend up to $1000 on saving their lives, but if either of them had cancer or anything I'd put them down. No dog deserves to suffer through cancer or terminal illness, not even through the pain of (possible) recovery. I love my animals and would do anything for them... including suffering the pain of putting them to sleep to spare them the toil of cancer treatment or any other terminal illness. My dogs are my kids, but boxers only live 12-14 years anyway; I think this $500 mark proves that pet lovers are overwhelmingly more rational than non-pet owners expect them to be.

If you had asked me a year or two ago, I would have said that my pets better not cost more than $500 a year each or bye-bye babies...yeah, I was full of it.

I have laid out more than $1500 on my allergy-ridden adopted Pug in the last 9 months on allergy problems, ear infections, and teeth extractions. I know for a fact that my Pug will never cost less than $500 a year to keep healthy even when we get him there ($200 for eye drops and $200 for checkups and at least $100 for his allergy pills and other random expenses).

Yeah, it's a lot of's insane. All I can say is he better stay cute because he's as big of a fun expense as our housekeeper and cable. He costs more than our cell phone plan.

On the flip side, it is possible to get lucky and adopt a perfectly healthy dog. Our dachshund-mutt has cost a grand total of $300 extra in 5 years (a teeth cleaning and 2 big checkups)...even if you add in her food and monthly heartworm pills and flea medicine, she's cost less than $2000 (less than $400 a year).

I warn everybody that owning a pet can be work and will cost money. I'd suggest having a miniature emergency fund just for them...

My dogs are my children, I spent 7,200.00 on a Siberian Husky my neighbors gave me last year. He had a cancerous tumor removed and had 18 radiation treatments. He is doing well with NO signs of the tumor growing back. I would do it again as long as the prognosis is good. All we have to do is look in his big blue eyes and know the green we spent on him was worth ot.

You have to make the same type of decision with family members also. I haven't had to go through this with any of my animals yet and am strongly considering pet health insurance.

Benjamin Bankruptcy, I don't see the correlation between pets and eating meat...I'm not eating dogs and cats (to my knowledge). I'm betting most meat-eaters I know wouldn't correlate the two either, lol. :-)

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