SARAH'S BLOG OF FUN: Why Are Medical Costs For Dogs So Expensive??

Friday, February 15, 2013

Why Are Medical Costs For Dogs So Expensive??

I have an almost 13 year old Yorkie.  Sammy is our baby.  To me she is a child.  We treat her like a child, and do as much for her as we can.

Sammy has always had medical issues.  She has chronic bronchitis, that really affects her breathing.  She has this horrible cough that makes her sound like she is oinking like a pig.  As she gets older, her cough gets worse.

Over the last 13 years she has visited the vet many, many times.  Just to walk in the door is a $45 charge.  If she needs any shots or medicine, the charges go up to way over $100.

This last year, Sammy's cough has turned a lot worse.  She was sneezing a lot, and really having a hard time breathing.  Over a 6 month time frame, she went to the vet 10 times, was on medicine all that time, and raked up a bill of over $2000.  

Last month, I took her to the vet again, because her meds were just not working.  At that visit I had the scare of my life.  The vet said that with the severe swelling in her mouth (that we hadn't seen before) more likely then not Sammy had a tumor in her nasal passage.  With her age, and her breathing problems, there was no way to find out for sure.  To give a dog an x-ray, you have to knock them out.  It just would not be safe, and she might not wake up.

I was told we had just a couple months left.

Of course we wanted a second opinion.  We do that with humans, why not pets??

We took Sammy to the Tufts medical center.  Right away, I was very impressed.  The doctor did a very extensive exam, and asked a ton of questions.  We found out that over all, Sammy is pretty fit for a 13 year old.  Minus the breathing.

The doctor then told us the bad news.  Again the word tumor was thrown about.  The doctor said that the only way to know for sure was to x-ray.  She told us that even though there is always a risk, she believed that Sammy would be fine.  She also asked for permission to remove/biopsy anything she may find.  She was going to do the procedure right then and there.  Scary is all I can say about that time frame.

Sammy went in around 11 am in the morning, and we had hours to kill.  We went to get something to eat, and then came back and sat in the lobby.  

At 3 pm, the doctor came out with Sammy.  They did find a tumor in her nose, but were able to remove it.  It would have to be sent to the lab for a biopsy to find out if it was cancerous.  This procedure cost us over $600. 

Sammy came home that night, and for two days had some bleeding, but after that stopped, she was much, much better.  She sneezes a lot less, and her cough is not as deep.

The results did come back that Sammy does have cancer.  We have two options for treatment.  One is to put her on an aspirin like regiment  which will hopefully slow down any regrowth.  The other treatment is chemo therapy.   

The medicine for the aspirin treatment is expensive.  It costs about $100 a month.  

The chemo therapy is $4000+ a treatment, and she would need to have a treatment every two weeks.  We can not afford that, plus the side effects would be horrible.  Hair loss, weight loss, bleeding, being lethargic are just some of the side effects.

As I said before, I love my dog, and to me she is a child.  I hate that I can not afford to treat her as the doctor said would be the best course, but that is a lot of money that I just don't have.

We are doing the aspirin treatment.  Hopefully that will help slow any regrowth down, and we will still have her for many years to come.

What would you do in this situation??  If it was an option, would you add your pet to your medical insurance??  

This post is written by Sarah Coulsey. She is a Wife, and Mother of two boys living in New England.

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