Really Just for Fun-- What Lengths Have You Gone to for a Pet?

Updated on May 11, 2011
N.G. asks from Arlington, TX
21 answers

I've read some posts in the past about spending excessive money on pets but what really sparks my train of thought is that one of my coworkers just recently spent nearly $2000 on a hedgehog. Turns out the poor baby had kidney failure and ended up passing on anyway. Average life span of a hedgehog is about 3 1/2 years and this one was nearly 3. Seems really excessive to me.

A few weeks back, my Mom spent several thousand dollars getting her dog fixed after he had gotten an intestinal blockage from chewing up a garden hose.

I thank God I've never been in the situation where I have to decide where the line is between putting my family in a financial crisis and treating my pet like an actual member of the family. Most I've ever spent on my dog is $300 for a spinal injection.

Where do you draw the line?

What can I do next?

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answers from Chattanooga on

For me, it depends on a few things...

1~How long will this prolong the animal's life? If I was in the hedgehog situation, then I would have had to let it go... but if we are talking a matter of years, then I would move on to #2...

2~What will the animal's quality of life be like? I had a friend who'se dog was hit by a car, and had to have both rear legs amputated. She had a 'wheelchair' built for him, but you could tell he was still in pain. He got very depressed, and stopped eating... he died after a couple of months. It was sad, but in that situation I would have had the dog put down.

3~How are my finances? While I DO believe that taking on an animal means that you are accepting full responsibility for the well being of said animal... I'm not going to put my family in financial ruin to keep a pet alive. So it would honestly depend on my financial situation at the time. I'm sorry, but if the choice is between my pet and my human family... humans comes first.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

When you consider that many people spend >$50,000 for a car and multiple thousands for repairs, that a flat screen tv costs $1400-$7000 and that many many people replace their laptops whenever a newer and better one comes out, who is to say what anyone's priorities should be?

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Many factors come into play:
The resources you have, the age of the pet, the severity of the illness, the likelihood it will be "cured", if the animal is in pain, or is suffering, etc.

My last dog was bleeding internally (at age 10) and turned out to have a severe blood cell deficiency. A week of hospital care, iv's, medication followed by weekly blood draws & tests, then bi-weekly, then monthly, etc. This went on for close to a year with the jugular blood draws and blood count tests. I never had the heart to add up all of the visit & test fees,medications, etc but I know the hospital bill was over $1000 alone.
It took me quite a while to pay of off.
She lived 5 more years.
It was worth it to me. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

Wow, N., this is really a relevant question for me right now as I currently have a cat with liver failure. I am probably about $500 dollars in on treatment so far, but since it has been dribbling out over the past 5/6 weeks it hasn't hurt as much as one lump sum. Now that the initial tests and diagnosis are over, I am just taking him to the vet weekly for fluid therapy and a B12 shot, so the cost is minimal and I pay every other week.

Prognosis is not so good, if his liver was going to start working properly again, it should have done so by now. But, kitty is still eating and drinking and abusing his brother cat, so I will keep on doing what I am doing until he crashes or has a decline in quality of life. At that point I will have the Vet help him cross the Rainbow Bridge.

There is an alternative treatment - it seems a feeding tube could be put in place that would bypass the liver - thereby allowing the liver time to rest and heal. After about 6 months, if the kitty lives through it all, then the feeding tube comes out and Viola! healthy kitty. My Vet has seen this done once in 25 years and estimated the cost at about 5k - and would have to go to out of town to a veterinary hospital. I adore this cat, my son loves this cat, but 5K is just too much to spend on a procedure that may not work, especially for a cat that we think is about 13 years old.

So, while I don't have a definitive monetary value in mind, I will not take overly invasive measures to just prolong my pet's life. What treatments we are getting now, are reasonable priced and enhance his quality of life. When they stop being effective, then I know it is time to let kitty go.

God Bless

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answers from St. Louis on

I paid more than $2,000 after my golden had heat stroke. I am not sure I would have done it had I known the bill would be that high. She was only three and I had been roller blading with her when she had the stroke. Guilt makes you do some silly things. It was only 70 degrees out before people start yelling at me.

Still she lived to be 18 years old so money well spent.

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answers from Dallas on

To me and my family our pets are also part of the family. We even have pet health insurance. Before we had the insurance, on my cat (who we had to put down last June) I remember spending over $1,000 because she developed a problem with her pancreas. She was only about 5 at the time. She lived to be 16 1/2. I did not care at all about the money because she was a very important part of my life.

Being a pet owner comes with responsibility, including the financial part.

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answers from Detroit on

I will do anything for my fur babies!!!!

I spent alot of money on our Aussie, who passed away in 2008. For a dog that was “free to a good home” she really was the winner in finding us! In 2001 she had heartworms ($500.00) to treat that. Then in 2005 she ran into our trailer (running full speed and not stopping) leg ligament torn- ($300.00) never did heal and turned into arthritis. Then in 2008 she was diagnosed with diabetes, liver disease, thyroid issues. She was resistant to insulin (human and animal kind), and after a long battle, she was put to sleep in Aug. 2008 (over $2,000.00 we paid over 5 months to save her!) Her last day on earth she was so sick and weak, but she still got up and tried to protect us and her home, OH I MISS HER:(

Just yesterday, my co-worker refused to pay $1300 dollars for emergency surgery needed for her dog, who ate baby bunnies-bones were stuck in stomach.

Another friend borrowed money ($4,000.00) to treat her Great Dane who had bloat.

Mom spent $800 to treat heartworms in her dog

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answers from Columbus on

There is no easy answer for this. For most of us who choose to have pets, I believe we view them as family members. However, there are of course people who get pets as "accessories" or "interactive toys".... but I think most people who share their lives with animals in their homes or barns view them as family members.

For us, it's about quality of life, vs. finances, vs. quantity of life. (Quantity means length of time lived, quality means in good health/happy vs. unhappy/sick/in pain). I cannot in good conscience spend the same amount feeding my dogs as I do feeding my family. That doesn't mean that I haven't obsessively researched dog foods to find the right one that is least expensive and is high quality, for our beef & chicken allergic GSD cross (so we go with lamb & rice, and avoid beet pulp and corn as fillers because they also cause a reaction). I could not condone spending $2 or $3 just for a 10% chance of survival, but often, it is not that clear cut--often it is so much of a grayer area.....

We had a tumor removed from our GSD cross. She was given a guarded prognosis (the cancer will likely come back and metasize; there is no timeline, however). We were given options for treatments (chemo, radiation, and both are expensive), which would extend her life, but wouldn't improve her quality of life. In the end, we opted not to do either. She's 11, and has lived a good life. There is no sign of visible recurrence as of right now (and only monthly, very expensive ultrasounds 'might' show if she developed internal tumors; the original tumor was on the skin). If she has any more tumors that we find on her skin, we will have them removed (its $300-$500 per tumor) per the vet's recommendation. If she becomes uncomfortable but is still willing to keep going, we will work with the vets to help her get comfortable. And when it gets too much for her, we will send her peacefully on her way. I dread that day. But I feel that my job, by choosing to have her in our lives is to provide her a good life and decent vet care, balanced against the needs of the rest of our family (who will probably outlive her by many decades).

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answers from Orlando on

If there is a way for me to swing it, then I'll do it. My dog years ago had a knee injury and I spent a little over 2 grand on knee surgery plus rehab for him. Poor baby. I put it on a credit card then paid it off with tax return (they make a special credit card called care credit for medical emergencies) that is the most I've spent on a pet. My new doggy Charlie (he's a little over a year now) man, he's had so many issues going on .... I bet I've spent close to 1000 just in the first year (he had mange, then got pink eye (really?), then a toe nail ripped out and had to go have it removed all the way....) just crazy stuff.

Also 2 of my past doggies unfortunately developed cancer. I spent hundreds on tests to determine if it was treatable. I would do anything for my pets. Now, if I absolutely had no means financially to do so, then my opinion might be different.

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answers from New York on

I guess my answer to this question is that I would, and have, gone to great lengths for the pets we've owned over the years. They become part of the family, and as such, we have always done what we thought was medically necessary and humane for them. But everyone has their breaking point, obviously! We once had a cat go missing for 21 days. When we finally found him, he was starving and dehydrated. We nursed him back to health (vet bill was $800), only to have him run away again a few weeks later, this time for good. Damn cat. LOL.

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answers from Joplin on

I am a cat lover...I have spent silly amounts weekly just so that I could feed my indoor cats plus my outdoor adopted Feral cats. That being is tight for us, and we have gone to extensive measures to re-home strays, to foster pregnant momma cats and find homes for unwanted kittens. I have paid for cats that are not mine to be fixed. The craziest thing I have done though is my son and I rescued a kitten that had been abandoned by its momma really was a case of this poor baby was not meant to live...we nursed it back to health, spent more money than I want to admit on medications...only to find out she has seizures. We spent money to have her diagnosed and were told we could try some combinations of medicine in a wait and see approach or we could spend MORE money to take her to a specialist...I drew the line at the specialist for a kitten who was never supposed to have made it as far as she had AND that we had already spent so much on ( As much as I ADORE animals, I was all for putting her down, my son (15 yr old) was not ok with that) He paid for some of the kittens medical bills out of his own savings. We have had her on anti seizure medication and she has done very well. We are at the two month mark of no seizures, I have to be honest and say I have Purposefully NOT done the math to see what it costs us daily /weekly for anti seizure meds for kitty...she is our "special" cat, as much as "retarded" is no longer an acceptable term....that is what our youngest cat is...but we love her Very much.
know I would raw the line at putting us in a financial situation we could not easily recover from...yes, I have borrowed money in order to care for a vet bill, but I have a very smart vet that I trust and she is willing to work with us and talk scenarios we have talked about treatments and testing and decided at times rather than do the testing ( which gets pricey) to just go with what it most likely is and had a general antibiotic and had a kitty issue resolved relatively painlessly. When one cat got ear mites, she allowed me to order treatment for all 3 cats rather than have to bring all three in for an office visit. Finding a good trustworthy vet is key to being a responsible pet owner.

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answers from New York on

I really love dogs. Obsessively so. But I do think some of the money being spent nowadays has gone too far. I'll do things like sit on the floor so my dog can sit in the comfortable chair but I'm not sure how much I would spend. It's not even really a matter of how much we could afford. I think anyone on a tight budget who is spending money that could go towards important things for the family instead is going to far. We would have the money to spend without it being a problem but I tend to think if I'm going to spend that much money on a living being, should it be a dog or a child somewhere? Of course, I could give the $100 a month we spend on our dog to a child in need. So I'm not fair on this. But I do think if faced with a $3k vet bill, should I spend it on a dog or give it to a foster child so he/she can finally have the extras most other kids have? Something along those lines... Goes along with my thinking when I get catalogs for kids clothes and a dress is $150. If I feel like I have that much excess cash, should I really spend $150 on a dress for a child who will outgrow it, get it all dirty, doesn't really know the difference anyway or spend $40 and still get a very nice one and give the difference to charity?

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answers from Milwaukee on

YEARS (before our son) we spent almost $1,500 in less than 18 months TRYING to save our shar pei. He and ALL the other dogs from that litter died within two years. BAD BREEDING! We were making a FRACTION of what we do now so it was really hard to cover some of those vet bills but we did. NEVER again.


answers from Los Angeles on

My pets, are like my kids. Ive been advised, by the Vet, to "put them down", instead of forking out hundreds. Well, I spent the hundreds instead, twice, 2 different cats, same issue, blocked uretha by crystals. One, cost 1800. (he was in for 3 weeks & had to have reconstructive surgery, to be able to pee) the other, same issue, not as bad, 900, for catheters & IV fluids X5 days. No, I couldnt really afford it, but I couldnt face loosing my animal either, because of $$. There is pet health insurance... its 9-14$ a month here, with several companies to choose from.


answers from Jacksonville on

We opted NOT to spend $2k for an MRI of our dog's head to see if she had a tumor or cancer during a health scare for our GSD last spring. She suddenly was falling down, unable to stand or sit, eventually stopped eating and was having seizures. We did all we could for her at home--she saw the vet the first day she seemed "odd" but they were no help and offered only the MRI and pain meds basically-- (fully expecting the worst and thinking we would have to have her put down the next work day--her situation went from not very good on Friday morning, to progressively worse to seizures by the following Monday night). But on the next morning, she was slightly improved and alert. Made some more calls. She continued to improve but was still off balance and unseeing in one eye. Still improving though... but then a relapse on Thursday night. We took her in for a second opinion to a different vet on the next Friday morning. Got a host of possible explanations that might mean no tumor or no cancer--but blunt trauma that could be treated. So we agreed (after a full cost breakdown in advance) to admit her and run some tests, etc. We spent around $700 that week on her. But within 4 days, she was walking and seeing fully out of both eyes. We were able to take her home and slowly take her off of a couple of meds (antibiotics and steroids). Within a month, you would never know there was anything wrong with her. She continues to take phenobarbital (as a seizure precaution, in a low dose) and soloxine (under active thyroid), and have regular blood work to monitor her blood levels of both. After that initial outlay of cash, the blood work and meds do add up over time (meds average around $20 month--not including her flea/tick preventative and heartworm tablets, lol). But it has been a year, and she is fantastic! She just turned 7 years old, so we feel like we have a LOT of good years left with her. But, no, we refused to spend $2,000 for an MRI to see if she had a condition for which there isn't really even any good treatment for--or at least none that didn't run into the thousands of dollars with no guaranteed outcome.
We spent a week on edge and crying randomly (my husband included) so when it "only" cost us $700 to have our girl back... we jumped on it. So glad we did. She's worth it. She is a member of our family and has been since she was 10 weeks old. Our daughter was not quite 3 years old when our pup came to join our family. One day (hopefully many years from now) we will not be able to salvage her from the ravages of time... and won't spend tons of money trying. If she is happy, and able to enjoy life, we will do what we can to keep her comfy.... But she is not actually human. So there are limits.


answers from Houston on

a 2 thousand dollar vet bill, for a 400 dollar american staffordshire terrier that ended up dying anyway.



answers from Baton Rouge on

We spent almost $600 to have a cat's broken leg pinned back together. But my vet is a family friend and a former employer, so he lets me pay big bills in small chunks.



answers from Dallas on

I get my pets vaccinated and spayed/neutered. I buy flea preventative for them. I would draw the line at anything requiring testing such as x-rays, blood tests, etc. To me, they are animals, not elevated to family members. I love petting and snuggling with my cats, and my outdoor dog is there for protection. My hubby won't even pay to have a sick or dying animal put down. He was raised on a farm, and he takes care of it quickly, painlessly and humanely. (It's only happened twice in the 13 years we've been together. Once with a very old cat, and once with one that was very badly hurt)



answers from Washington DC on

I refuse to calculate the costs or I'll probably have a heart attack, but before kids, we had a retired rescue greyhound and he was a complete basket case. He had such separation anxiety that we were going to be thrown out of our apartment while our house was being after trying behaviorists, trainers, medication, with no luck, I took him to "doggie daycare" near where I worked an hour from home for $36/day Mon-Fri. If he got sick, I'd leave work and take a sick day to take him to the vet...he was my BABY. After 6 months we gave in and adopted a 2nd greyhound and it REALLY helped. Then our first boy was attacked by 2 dogs and ended up with even worse anxiety and started having major leash aggression. (Think "dog whisperer red zone case") Spent thousands on different trainers and behaviorists, etc. Even tried contacting Cesar Milan! Finally had to have him rehomed because the military moves and my pregnancy were causing him so much anxiety he was getting very unhappy and having more and more issues. I still get updates and he's doing very well in his new home, and I still miss him...but WHEW...could have retired early with those bills in addition to all the vet bills from his behavior and their outcomes...


answers from Spokane on

My poor baby girl has lupus ~ she is on monthly meds for it that I spend about $40 for. She has regular vet visits and blood draws at about $80 per visit. I will continue to do this for her until the meds no longer work or her quality of life is no longer good. She's our beloved dog who greets us when we come home, protects us at night and loves us unconditionally! At some point I will have to draw the line but what we are spending and doing right now I find very reasonable and will do everything I can to keep her comfortable without putting my family at financial risk.


answers from Phoenix on

I had a cat for 17 years. One year..... on new years eve, there was signs of her dehyd and not well. We took her to the ER and found out that her lung colapsed (sp?)and she needed oxygen and it would heal. Well to put in her a cage with 24 hour oxygen to keep her alive and wait for her lung to be repaired. It cost about $3000 for her to be there for 5 days. I just could not put her to sleep when I knew it was repairable. We had only did shots and teeth cleaning over the 17 years........ so at this point it was so worth her to be saved to us because we hardly had medical bills on her. She lasted another 4 years past that and recently passed away. I don't regret it a bit.

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