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More threads by David Baxter

David Baxter

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How Much Would You Spend on a Sick Pet?
By TARA PARKER-POPE, New York Times
June 9, 2010

Many pet owners worry they won?t be able to afford veterinary care for their pet.

How much is your pet?s health worth to you?

Most pet owners say that cost is a factor when deciding whether to seek medical care for a sick dog or cat. And about 40 percent worry they won?t be able to afford care when it?s needed, according to a new survey from the Associated Press and the Web site Petside.com.

Most pet owners (62 percent) said they would likely pay for pet health care even if the cost reached $500, but that means more than a third of pet owners said that might be too much to spend on an animal.

What if the bill for veterinary care reached $1,000? Fewer than half of pet owners said they were very likely to spend that much at the vet. Only a third said it was very likely they would pay a $2,000 vet bill.

Once the cost of saving a sick pet reached $5,000, most pet owners said they would stop treatment. Only 22 percent said they were very likely to pick up $5,000 in veterinary costs to treat a sick dog or cat.

The poll, conducted in April, involved phone interviews with 1,112 pet owners around the country.

Cat owners were more likely to quit on a pet sooner than dog owners. Among those unwilling to spend $500 on veterinary care, 26 percent owned dogs and 54 percent had cats. But once costs exceeded $500, there was no difference between dog and cat owners and their willingness to seek medical care for an animal.

Notably, income level didn?t seem to influence feelings about how much to spend on veterinary care. Pet owners who earned less than $50,000 answered about the same as those earning more money.
 

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Working in the pet industry, veterinary bills are a huge topic of conversation.

Alot of people are now purchasing health insurance for their pets, but policies have to be read very carefully as they contain significant maximums and limitations.

It is very easy for vet bills to accumulate, and I've started wondering if vets just assume people have insurance now and therefore either a) charge more, or b) fail to consult before administering treatment.

Some people here know that I lost my dog almost three years ago, and when I lost him his vet bill was $13,000. I didn't have insurance on him, so I was responsible for the total amount. I have insurance on my current dogs, but if I need to file a claim, insurance companies being what they are, they will look for a reason to deny it.

Unfortunately, in many cases $500 doesn't get you far. A simple case of kennel cough can turn into pneumonia and amount to a $3,000 vet bill or more.

When I lost my other dog last year, the bill was $900 and that was for an overnight stay with fluids and then euthanization the following day. They were "kind enough" to waive the fee for the x-ray of her abdomen.

I think how much a person would spend is completely dependent on so many variables. When I lost Jessie (he's affectionately referred to as the $13,000 dead dog) I was initially quoted $4,000-6,000 for his surgery, which I was willing to gamble with. Had they told me it would be $13,000 I would not have proceeded, not because of the cost, but because of the fact that if there is that much wrong with my dog, he's probably lived as good a life as he will. Unfortunately after surgery he didn't get better but didn't get worse, apart from requiring a couple blood and plasma transfusions. Because he was in "limbo" for so long, I didn't want to give up on him. Had he given me any indication earlier that he was going to die, I would have put him down, but he didn't.

So, apparently, I would spend $13,000 on a sick pet, but I'd prefer if they're alive at the end.
 

Jackie

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I don't have any pets due to my work commitments, however if I did I would spend whatever it takes to do get them well. I know people who have sold personal possessions to pay for vets treatments and got into debt but if it gets the pet better then I'm sure its worth every penny.

One thought, if it was a child you wouldn't even question it would you? Can't imagine seeing a post entitled How much would you spend on your sick child! You just wouldn't think about, you would do whatever you could and find ways of getting the money.

In my view life is life, whether a child, pet or adult, thinking about how much to spend doesn't come into it. Just my humble opinion:)
 

Daniel

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Of course, most people tend to be very nice to their pets but are less concerned about other animals. Bacon is often cited as an example when discussing the disparity in animal treatment.
 

luminous veil

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My family's cat died last September. He was having kidney problems. We had adopted him 5 years ago, and he was around 10 at his time of death. Well, we spent a few thousand on his treatment, I think. But like the above case, it would have been better if he were alive at the end. We had to euthanize him because the poor guy was in so much pain. The vet said that he had probably been getting sick for many years but never showed it until the last week or so. :(

My roommate's cat (I guess she's sort of "ours" by now though) goes in for annual checkups. She is 9 and has not had any surgeries or problems since her spay, and that was over 8 years ago... thank god. Apparently she is getting fat, haha, but that can be fixed, just as long as she is not sick. We have her on the "best" food for her (by the vet's recommendation, anyway) now as she gets older. But I think between the two of us, we would foot a fairly expensive bill to keep the cat healthy. But it would be something like, if there is a 50% success rate for the medical procedure, we would pay this much, etc. Gambling.
 

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I had my "healthy" dog at the vet this past week because she was coming up lame in her back end. As it turns out, she needs a $4,500 surgery that - you guessed it - isn't covered by insurance. This is on top of the surgery my other dog needs that is going to be about $7,000 for the "cheap" option up to about $12,000 for the "more expensive" route. Again, insurance has denied the claim on that. I'm seriously considering cancelling my policy and putting that money in a savings account each month.

For now, I don't know what to do. I don't want her in pain, and I have her on painkillers but they are hard on her liver. I don't really have the $4,500, but it looks like I'll be maxing out a credit card or two to pay for it. She deserves to be pain free and being so young, euthanasia isn't an option.
 

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Ok, well, I'm happy to say that I can eat my words! My dog's insurance company called me today and they are approving her surgery. They cover up to 90% and I pay the remaining 10%. This is a HUGE help for my dog. Also, they have a "no increase" policy, so my rates won't go up because of this claim. The way it works is you basically get a $20,000 "pot" for your dog's life...so this will take $4,500 out of the pot, leaving us $15,500. I'm really relieved because she's been in so much pain and really needs this surgery. I was going to have to do it either way, but this at least makes me relieved I've been paying these premiums.
 

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Should you shell out for a dog's MRI scan when there are queues at the local food bank?
6/5/2014; Retrieved 4/6/2019

...Each consultation, I go through all the treatment options and their expenses in detail. Some people are embarrassed that they do not have enough money for the treatment. I praise them wholeheartedly – out of relief that they can spend their money more appropriately. I was once appalled to hear that a client had needed to move house, having spent £5,000 on futile colic surgery for her horse. It is a weakness that must not be exploited by vets.

Besides, there are usually cheaper ways of doing things. Try another practice, for example, as the prices are arbitrary and differ vastly. I have removed a cat’s thyroid (thyroidectomy) in three different practices for £200, £500 and £800. Same surgeon, same procedure, same equipment. I find it extraordinary that clients rarely compare prices on surgery...
 

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Are we barking mad to spend £1.2bn a year on pet insurance? | Daily Mail Online

Are we barking mad to spend £1.2bn on pet insurance? Premiums are rocketing, it's a nightmare to claim and it can now be cheaper to insure a home than a dog

  • Pet insurers made £425m in a year, selling policies worth £1.2bn
  • It now costs more to insure the average cat than a home and its contents
  • Calls to the Financial Ombudsman about pet insurance are up 113% in five years
  • More than one in three pet owners now say insurance is not worth the money
 

Daniel

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I am finding that at least in some parts of the U.S., there are also non-profit vet clinics and even non-profit animal hospitals!

For example, I found two non-profit clinics in Phoenix that offer lower-cost pet surgeries in addition to low-cost pet dental and spay/neuter.

Even some for-profit places around here will do low-cost dental and spay/neuter.
 

David Baxter

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Up here, they do have low cost neuter clinics a couple of times per year.
 

Daniel

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We called our regular vet/hospital and they wanted well over $300 US to neuter our one-year-old chihuahua. And in the past, they have quoted well over $600 for a dental cleaning. I understand they have more equipment for anesthesia emergencies, etc., but the pricing is way more than we were used to in Florida.

So off to the low-cost clinic he went :) We also had them do a dental cleaning (since that is their main business), and they include digital x-rays for no extra cost. The low-cost dental clinic doesn't have a single negative review as far as animal care, so they seem to always do a great job.
 

David Baxter

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There's a place like that in Ottawa. They have all the latest veterinary equipment - MRA, ultrasound, whatever - so of course they like to use it, and even if they don't they have to pay for it. They are by far the most expensive vets in the area.

When my son's dog was ill, they used everything they had to try and identify the cause and to try to avoid exploratory surgery. In the end, after all the tests they still didn't know so they did exploratory surgery to find and remove half a frisbie he'd eaten.

They charged him $5000 for that when they could have started with the surgery at a fraction of the cost.

I was appalled.
 

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FYI: in Ontario, Canada:

The Farley Foundation assists those who are struggling financially to pay for veterinary care for their pets. Pet owners who cannot afford medical care for their sick or injured pet, and who fall into one of the categories below, are encouraged to talk to their veterinarian about the availability of Farley Foundation funding:

  • Seniors receiving the Federal Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
  • Disabled individuals receiving the Ontario Disability Support Payment (ODSP) or the Canada Pension Plan Disability Payment (CPP Disability).
  • Women at risk of abuse who are entering a registered Ontario women’s shelter and who are participating in OVMA’s SafePet Program.
  • Individuals receiving assistance through the Ontario Works Program.
  • Supportive housing for seniors, retirement homes or long-term care facilities with live-in pets.

Who We Help - The Farley Foundation

More resources, including pet food banks: https://torontohumanesociety.com/pdfs/Cannot_Afford_Care.pdf :acrobat:


In the US:

Having trouble affording veterinary care? | The Humane Society of the United States
 

Daniel

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Pet Health Care: Why I Didnt Pay for a $6,000 Surgery | Money
November 21, 2016
By Taylor Tepper

At 2 a.m. Wednesday morning my wife drove our nearly 14 year-old miniature dachshund to a 24-hour vet 30-minutes from our house. Thirteen hours later we sat in the veterinarian’s exam room and told her we weren’t going to pay $6,000 for an emergency gall-bladder surgery for our dog. Twenty-minutes later Chloe was gone...

In Chloe’s half-a-day stay at the vet, she already needed $2,500 in care (which my mother-in-law graciously offered to cover.) Her doctors ran blood tests, sonograms and an echocardiogram. They gave her fluids and pain medication to ease the agony. Her liver and other organs were inflamed, and her gall bladder needed to be removed.

“She’s a sick dog,” her doctor told us, which reduced Chloe’s chances of recovery. And that’s if she survived going under the knife...

We were numb on the drive home. We had used up most of our tears, and the weight of deciding to end her life was suffocating. We were sleep deprived, starving and in shock. We told Chloe stories in between sitting in silence. We told ourselves it was her time, even though we knew it might not have been.

In a few years, we’ll have another dog and another child. I think that makes us masochists, at least when it comes to pets. We’ll love our new dog, and so will our kid and future kids, but on one random Tuesday 10 to 15 years later that dog will get sick and need some operation of limited utility that we won’t be able to afford. And we’ll go through this all over again.

There is only one rationale that makes sense to me: the love you experience, for a pet or a person, transcends the pain and daily grind and connects you to something bigger. At least that’s what I tell myself.
 

Daniel

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How to say no to your vet.
Slate.com, October 2007

Two trends are making a visit to your veterinarian an opportunity for endless guilt. One is the increasing acceptance of the notion that pets are family members (thus the movement to change the word owner to guardian). The other is the convergence of veterinary and human medicine—pets can get chemotherapy, dialysis, organ transplants, hip replacement, and braces for their teeth. In 2004, Americans spent $18 billion to treat the country’s 164 million dogs and cats...

Dr. James Busby, a 67-year-old veterinarian in Bemidji, Minn., sees things differently. He’s the kind of curmudgeonly realist of a vet you don’t find in the hyper-attentive yuppie neighborhood where I live. Busby has become so fed up with his profession the he has self-published a book, How To Afford Veterinary Care Without Mortgaging the Kids. He writes that he has had a satisfying 40-year career, “but sadly, I would never enter the profession today, if I had to practice the way things are currently done.” He sees too many vets who try to “push as many procedures and services … as the pet owner will tolerate, in order to generate as large a cash return as possible.”...

It’s just that if we’re coming to the point that we think of our pet’s health in the same way we do our own, I wish the vets I see would treat my pets more the way our doctors treat us. For example, over the years the pediatrician has heard a mild heart murmur when she has examined my daughter. But since my daughter is obviously in excellent health, the pediatrician has reassured me it’s nothing to worry about. But when the veterinarian detected a mild heart murmur in one of my cats, she immediately recommended I make an appointment with the veterinary cardiologist. What would happen to the cat if I didn’t do that? I asked. She had to acknowledge: probably nothing, but the echocardiogram only cost $300, and since my cat was a member of my family, surely I would want to do everything.
 

Hunter

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My dogs are everything to me. Recently I spent $ 2500 to try save my German shepherd. But she passed away anyway.
I had taken her to her to a dog park and she was rolling in the grass. The city had recently sprayed poisonous pesticides in the lawn.
She chewed her tail off, I woke up to a house full of blood. Part of her tail was amputated. But somehow the pesticides got into her blood into her body.
I said to my vet do whatever you can, just save her. I had her from a pup and she was only six. I took her home and spoiled her rotten as I always do to my dogs. Several days later I woke up and she was gone. My other dogs were laying around her. It was heartbreaking.

I would have spent thousands more to save her. People have told me I was crazy. But it's my life and my money.
 

Daniel

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Yeah, I'm easily spending thousands over time just for dental cleanings since I have six pets. And my husband thinks I am crazy, but I tell him he's the one who insisted on getting each pet we have.
 

GaryQ

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Daniel, ever thought of spending a wee bit less and learn to do most of this stuff yourself? And I thought dogs chewed stuff like bones for that specific reason???
 

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