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January 04, 2011


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I don't have a pet, and have never had one, so take my opinion with a grain of salt: I feel that if you choose to have a pet, then that animal is your responsibility and that you have chosen to take care of that life, the same as if you had a child. You wouldn't (and can't) put your child down just because their medical bill was $1000, you shouldn't be able to do that with a pet either.

"if your pet was facing an illness/disease that could be treated with a decent chance of success but that would cost you $20,000, would you do it? If your answer is "yes", where would you get the money?"

I wouldn't spend that much on a pet. I would say my absolute upper limit would be $5,000 (realistically $2,000 - I can't imagine any procedure that would cost that I would agree to, but I know for certain I would not agree to a procedure costing more regardless of what it was). That being said, I would pull that money from my emergency fund.

We love my dog dearly, but I would not spend $20,000 on a medical procedure for him. That being said, he's 6 years old and we've already spent well over 10k on him: he's had to have 3 eye surgeries and some chiropractic work on his jaw, in addition to the normal vet visits, dental cleanings, neutering, etc.

I think this is one of those decisions that is extremely personal. I'm sure that some people would spend any amount to save their animals, but I just can't imagine spending that much on my dog - especially since she's a large dog and she is already 8 years old. I love my dog dearly, but that's an awful lot to take out of your emergency fund. What if your child becomes seriously ill and you need to take a leave of absence from work? I don't believe that pets are disposable and mine is treated very well, but she isn't human. We've lost 3 dogs in our family in the last 15 years because of illnesses and old age and I miss them all; but, the reality is that a pet is probably not going to outlive you. With God's blessing, your children will.

I love my dogs. I spent $3000 for back surgery on my 10 year old dachshund and was thankful that we had the money and it wasn't a question of how would we get it. But $20k, sorry, I can't quite swing that for my pet.

Cats and dogs as household pets typically have a 10 year lifespan. Children are currently slated to live about 80 years. A guppy lives about 2 years. A German cockroach only survives for a few months.

Which life is worth $20K; the life of a German cockroach, the life of a guppy, the life of a dog or the life of your child? The "owner" invests days versus weeks versus months versus years to raise each of these critters to maturity. The cockroach comes into your life by chance, the guppy and dog by whim, the child by choice. Perhaps the key is if it is easier to acquire more cockroaches, guppies, dogs or children at any particular stage of your life.

The cockroach, guppy and dog are only destined to be part of your life for a short while children are in your life forever. Losing a pet is heartbreaking, losing a child is catastrophic.

A pet is just a pet. As much as I like my dog, I know I'll like the next one just as much so I treat this decision the same as a car needing work.

If the repair for my car is cheaper than buying a different one, then I'll repair my car.

If the surgery for my dog is cheaper than buying a different one, then I'll repair my dog.

Of course if either the car or the dog is nearing the end of its life anyway, I just replace it.

I can't see myself paying over $100 on my dog.

I love my dog like crazy - I mean, I would be all teary-eyed and blubbery for weeks if he passed. But I couldn't spend more than $500, maybe $1000 on a vet bill for him. 20k? No way. Unless the 20k meant he would magically stay alive for the rest of my life.

I'd rather have to put him down and have him not suffer long than get myself in debt to keep him alive for a little longer, especially if his quality of life would be reduced post-op.

Gotta love AFP on this one. Laughed hard.

I have a three year old dachshund. Great dog. We all really enjoy her, and she's a part of us. But I've already warned her not to eat too much of her rubber toys (I've since taken them away and left her with indestructible hard ones) with parts that can stop her digestive tract up, or do anything that I can reasonably control which will cause a large expense. I just won't pay four figures to fix her unless I KNEW it would get her back to normal and she'd still have a long, active life (a type of medical treatment meeting this criteria includes spaying, for example. Full recovery, lots of life, not too expensive.).

To help quality of life and healthiness, we also walk and run the dog - yes, a dachshund running 2.5 miles is pretty funny looking, but she loves it - and hope that will help keep her healthier as she ages.

So $2000 would probably be my max, and only because the wife would insist. It would come from an emergency fund. The pet insurance industry just looks like a scam to me, kind of like my Fortune 500 company's human health insurance program.

DH and I have no kids, however when we got married he had two cats (brother/sister). The female cat got very sick suddenly and we realized she was in renal failure. It was too late to do anything so we had to euthanize. After that, we kept a closer eye on the health of the male and when he started showing signs of renal problems we were able to catch it in time and give him several more quality years with medical treatment. Over the course of those years we did spend about 20K all told on his care (includes routine stuff like food, boarding, etc and the 20K was spread out over multiple years). This came out of our emergency fund and did not cause any cash flow problems.

The decision on how much to spend on a sick pet is a personal one. For us, it was not a monetary hardship and we were able to spend a few extra quality years with a pet that we both really loved before saying goodbye. We are in that 22% who would spend $5000 (or more). But we can afford it. Some folks either can't afford to spare even $100 on a pet, or see pets as replaceable (as mentioned by a previous poster). I have no problem with this viewpoint as long as the animal doesn't suffer needlessly. At a minimum I would hope that any prospective pet owners would be willing/able to spend at least the amount required to humanely euthanize a pet if something catastrophic were to happen.

I have two old cats who both are on special medication and special diets, to the tune of $100-200 per month. This is manageable. At this point (and probably no point) would I be able to justify spending that significant amount of money to save them.

I don't think I'd spend $20k on a vet bill. But my wife might convince me otherwise. I know we'd be prepared to spend $5k-$10k cause we talked about it recently. But we never discussed anything in the $20k range. Whether you pay a large vet bill like that depends a lot on the situation too. If the ailment is terminal then I think euthanasia is often best choice.

I also think that you can keep costs lower by going with vets that have more reasonable fees and being more selective on what tests to do and what treatment to get.

That's one of the reasons I don't have either a dog or a cat---I believe that if you do get one, you need to commit to maintaining their mental, emotional and physical health for 10-15 years or until they die a natural death.

My kids want a pet, but I know I'd end up taking care of it after the last kid goes away to college in 6 years. I don't want to be tied down by having a pet, and I also think it is cruel to leave a social intelligent animal alone in the garage all day while I'm at work. So my kids will have to be content with the gerbil.

In the past, things were simpler. When I was a kid we got a German Shepard on the farm. When she broke her leg, my Dad just took her somewhere and shot her--that was what you did with animals who were hurt and couldn't heal on their own. Sadly, it's even done today in some rural areas, where money is usually very tight.

"So here's the pet question for the day: if your pet was facing an illness/disease that could be treated with a decent chance of success but that would cost you $20,000, would you do it?"

Yes, if it would ensure a high quality of life for years to come.

If your answer is "yes", where would you get the money?

Emergency fund, I believe you advocate having one, yes?

Of course, I treat my pets like they were my own children, unlike most people. They're still much less expensive than having a kid, and less annoying too.

I dunno, if a pet such as a cat or dog needs $20,000 worth of work, the quality of life they're receiving probably won't be very good. They'd be in pain, scared, and wondering why they're hooked up to a lot of machinery. That's a lot to ask of an animal. The more humane thing to do would be to put it down so they're not suffering.
It's not a money issue, it's a humane issue.

But if it's just a couple thousand dollars to remove cancer or an illness from a cat or dog, and there's a very good chance that the cancer or illness will not come back, then it's worth it for the pet, since the quality of their life will be greatly improved. Again, not so much a money issue as an issue of what's best for the animal (since they'd be a member of the household).

Personally, I'm broke, so the only pets I have are two Madagascar Hissing Roaches. They're easy to care for, hardy and very very cheap. :)

I 100% agree with you BD, I couldn't have said it better myself. I have a old dog and I've been blessed his medical expenses have been very small. I've had and awesome 17 years with him (I tell him sometimes I think he is going to outlive me lol) and he's been a best friend through thick and thin. He is family to me. If it were to come down to a serius sickness I would have to comtemplate what his quality of life would be like during and after treatment. He deserves the best possible option. I have to consider that it may be best to euthanize him, instead of letting him suffer. I love him way to much to see him go through a lot of pain.

I've often read pet insurance is pretty scammy. I love my cat so much, but I think REB said it best: what would their quality of life be? From anecdotes I've heard, pretty much anything over $1000 means the animal is quite sick and won't have a high quality of life. So I'd probably say my limit is $1000.

My sister has spent over 15K on her dog over its 7 year lifespan. I'm not including food or supplies, just vet bills. It is obscene.

just because it's extreme doesn't mean that it can't happen to you. Therefore, you need to be prepared for such an expense.

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