Super Stressed About $ and Our Dogs.

Updated on May 03, 2011
E.W. asks from Jackson, NJ
20 answers

Last week one of my dogs was really sick and had to be hospitalized and tested for all sorts of things. The total bill was $3400. We don't have that sitting around, so we had to open a CareCredit card that is just for pet bills and has 0 interest for 18 months. Which was very helpful. However, my dog they decided had a gall bladder infection, which he is home now and receiving antibiotics for. Its pretty common for these infections to come back and for the gall bladder to need to be removed. I am a SAHM on a budget AND 28 weeks pregnant. We simply don't have the $ for it and if this is what we need, I don't know where we are going to get the $ from. My dog is still young and is no where near the end of his life yet. I couldn't bear not doing what he needs to save him, if it comes to that. Also, now my other dog has been throwing up all day- which is how my other dogs symptoms started. So i'm freaking out that he is sick now too. I don't know what to do or how we will pay for this. I applied for pet insurance today, but it takes 2 weeks to get coverage if we are approved and it may not cover for pre-existing conditions, so may not cover if my dogs gall bladder does need to be removed. I don't know what my question is, just needed to vent or get this off my chest cause I feel like i'm drowning in stress from this. Sorry so long.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

When I was single, my dog had a life threatening condition. I had her hospitalized, stabilized (it's a miracle she lived!). She was 10 at the time and lived another 5 years. My vet allowed me to make payments and I paid off every cent I owed. They also told me that a very high percentage of their customers DO make good on their bills. Maybe they'll let you pa something every month without the credit card?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I feel animals are not disposable. As a pet owner, I took on the responsibility to take care of my pet's health, well being and life by taking the animal into my home. When they are sick, I will treat them. When they are past treatment I will lovingly put them down. I have a $3400 Care Credit balance because I take my pet ownership seriously.

I'm also drowning in debt and am about to have a baby soon AND need 3 root canals - which are so not cheap. I still know treating my animals is the right thing to do and I will do it regardless.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

Honestly, I would have put the dog down about $2000 ago. I don't think any pet should put that kind of financial burden on the family.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Our vet recently suggested some very pricey tests for our cat when she was sick. The tests alone were over $800, and then depending upon what they found, it was just going to go up from there! Well, we did not have an extra $800+ earmarked for the cat's vet bill, that's for sure, yet she is a beloved pet and I wanted to help her. So I thought about it, and then asked the vet to sit down and discuss the tests with me. I asked him, bottom line, what's the list of stuff that could be wrong with my cat? Once we had that on the table, I asked what the treatment plans would be for each of these illnesses. The plan seemed to be antibiotics for everything, so I asked if we could skip the $800 in tests and just go straight to antibiotics. I think vets must make a ton of money on tests, because he seemed kind of bummed out that I didn't want all these tests, but he agreed that if the treatment was exactly the same, then it was stupid to test for everything. So I took the antibiotics home, gave them to the cat, and she got better. We went back for a follow-up visit and she was fine.

So my point is, just because they tell you it's going to cost you a fortune, you still have options. Ask why they need to do all these things, go over the itemized bill just like you would for your own medical issues, and make sure everything is legit. Realize that you can ask for discounts and sample medications just like you do at your own doctor's office - the worst they can say is no. There are ways to economize. Also, don't be afraid to shop around! If you know what's wrong with your dog, call a few vets and ask what it would cost to have the surgery at their animal hospital. Some vets are WAY more expensive than others.

I wish you the best of luck, and I hope your doggies get better soon!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Well it's been a while since being a vet tech but gosh that is a very high bill! Usually tests/diagnoses are made in steps with you permission and approval. I'm hoping that you were told exactly just how much was accumulating during this time of testing and treatment. That would have been the right way to handle a client like your self with a very sick dog. With that said, I think that everyone should have a limit of care and cost that they are willing to do with their pet. It's very easy to make emotional decisions in a position such as yours.I see nothing wrong with letting a pet go or limiting tests/treatments because of financial cost/risk. Some may not agree with my position but the hard truth is that no matter how much money you make has no play in the love and general care that you have to offer a pet. Sometimes life throws you a curve that you are not always prepared for. It's the same with our pets. It would be no different than someone being diagnosed with cancer and not having the insurance to deal with the cost of treatment. I guess I'm upset that anyone would make you feel like a bad pet owner because you don't have the funds to get the medical attention it might need. While in practice we did have a number of clients that left us with a hefty bill. One of the reasons we if rarely cut anyone any slack. I feel that if you were told of the costs before hand it is your responsibly to pay the bill. I would suggest talking with your vet about a payment plan and some time to sit down and think about what financial burden you are willing to take on for your dog/s before moving any further in their care. Also is there any possibly that someone is poisoning your dogs? Are you dogs barkers or could be viewed as a nuisance by anyone around your neighborhood? If you other dog is also suffering the same symptoms, there is a common thread in this story. Getting into trash? Is someone else feeding them table foods?
Wish you the best,

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on

I do not mean to sound harsh because some people do take their pet as family, but seriously, if you do not have the means to maintain a dog, to the point of putting yourself in debt, do you really need one?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I'm not a pet person, so I'm looking at this from a different point of view. While I agree that many people view a pet as a member of the family, the bottom line is it's still a pet. The people in your family need to come first. I just could not justify putting my family into debt for an animal.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I'm 44 and was raised with pets. We had cats, dogs, turtles, ducks, rabbits, fish, rats and even a racoon. I was an only child so these pets were like most people feel about their pets. However, I was taught that pets are not to put a financial burden on the family. In my adult years I had to put 2 pets to sleep because of financial reasons. Although it was not an ideal situation, I was not about to put that kind of a burden on my husband and myself for the life of a pet. And your "investment" may not even be a guarantee that they will survive anyway. I'm sorry, but I just don't get it when people do this. And as an insurance agent, it won't be covered. You don't wait til the house burns down to get homeowners insurance. I'm sorry you felt you had to pay that and I hope you find some solace.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

Just... do what you have to do. Your pet is a family member and deserves to be treated as such so you do whatever feels right. Make good on the bill no matter what you do. And if you can't afford the future medical bills for the dogs, then maybe the right and responsible thing to do would be calling a rescue shelter for their breed to try to re-home them. Be up front and honest about any conditions they have so that whoever takes them is aware of what they're getting into.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It's sad when a pet dies but it's a natural part of the process when you take one on. Someone once told me that was Gods plan. Pets pass away and have a much smaller life span than people. We grieve them, but not in the same way we greive a person. So, in God's plan, we lose a few pets in our lifetime as preperation and grief training for when we lose a person. I would never be able to look my kids in the eye and say no, we can't afford that, knowing I had just sunk thousands of dollars into an animal. The people always come 1st. Pets are to enhance our happiness, not to put a burden on us. I could never see an animal in pain, so, if it came down to expenisve care or pain and suffering I would have the animal put down.
Before you send me hate mail, I have no pets for exactly this reason. I know if my dog needed $500 worth of care I would put it down, so, I just don't have one. SO, no danger of me euthanizing any cute little puppies.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Did the vet keep you in the loop as the expense increased? Any good vet will, because as much as we all love our pets, we can not afford to lose our homes or cars or not feed our children over vet bills. Mine always gives me a price for things and asks if I want them done. If I was at a vet and they said it would be over $3000 I would have had the dog put down.

Whatever you do, I would find a different vet right away. No good vet would run up a bill like that for "testing". A bill like that should only ever come if more than one major surgery is done, and the cost would be laid out before hand. It sounds to me like you found yourself a very shady vet.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Tractor supply do injectible antibiotics, if you can stomach giving them, they are incredibly cheap. Also they do all the vaccinations except rabies, for $6, for 6 doses. They are in the fridge section. That should save you a good bit. I started trying to save my own money on pet meds, when I received the bill from my vet for $2000 for antibiotics, vaccinations and check ups.
I give my dog heartworm tablets instead of drops, and sevin dust him for fleas, which works great by the way.
Some things you can't save on like surgeries and cancer treatments, and so you either have to swallow it, or euthanize, hard decision
I vowed to myself though, after paying thousands for my dog, that I wouldn't do that again for an animal, my family has to come first. I try and do everything on the cheap.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Yeah, I worked at a vets office for a long time and have never seen a vet bill that high... especially for something like a gall bladder infection. I know many people who do spend that amount of surgeries/testing/medications.. .but usually over the coarse of a year or so. Did they give you an estimate? And decent and honest vet would do that. Honey, that vet is bleeding you dry, find another one. I've seen amazing vets who actually care, and I've seen money hungry vets that only care about cash. You can have your records faxed any where you like.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I wish I had an answer for you, but I just wanted to send a hug and say hang in there! I know our dogs (we have three pugs) are part of our family and we've spent thousands of dollars on them with various vet bills. they are worth it. something will work out, sometimes the vet will have donation programs that will help you out if you won't pay. doesn't hurt to ask.
if it makes you feel any better I just took my car in today and found out it's going to cost me 1500 bucks... I'm with you, we have a new baby and I don't know where the money is going to come from! oh...... life.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I am sorry you are going through this, that's rough.

I completely understand where you are coming from. I bet you will be OK as long as you make some payment every month, no matter how small.

~A few years back some lunatic shot my cat with a BB gun...broke its leg in 3 places, of course it was after hours and we had to take the cat to the emergency vet...the cat had surgery and was kept for 3 days to make sure she was well and put back together properly. Our bill was $5200...I almost cried when I saw the bill! We didn't have that kind of $ either and ended up making small payments till we paid it off, it sucked SO bad! * The worst part was we moved 6 months later and the first week in our new house that same cat got ran over and died. Freaking unbelievable! So yeah, we still had the bill but longer the pet!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Naples on

My boy had an infection in his pinky toe last year, and I didn't have the $ to go to our normal vet either. I found the SPCA in the next town over has a low cost vet clinic. The prescriptions were no joke, (over $70) I requested them to be written and was able buy them for $4 each @ Walmart - where incidentally you get the drug information sheet that the vets don't give you. After weeks on antibiotics and switching it up a bit, I discovered through Walmart that the pain pill they gave him wiped out the antibiotic! There are several vets at that clinic and so now I only see the same one by request and I love love love him. I was scad to death to submit my best boy for surgical amputation of his toe because he was over 15 at the time and I was afraid that he wouldn't make it through the anestesia. They did all kinds of tests to make sure that his liver was functioning properly and his blood counts were good before they did the surgery. My boy walked out afterwards wagging his tail and smiling like he owned the joint, and i still have him now 14 months later! I feel your pain, and I guess that my advise is ask for written prescriptions to take to Walmartm Target etc (you can price the drugs over the phone and believe it or not....they vary wildly!),and see f your local SPCA has a low cost clinic. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I agree with Caroline. I really love dogs. Really really love them. I wonder what's wrong with me bc I adore my dog so much. It drives my husband crazy. So I understand how you feel but at the same time, I'm pretty realistic about them. Typically we out live our dogs by many years. So I assume (and hope) that will be the case with mine. So with that frame of mind, I'm somewhat prepared for him to go someday and while he's very special, I know I will love all dogs I have. So there no way I would put our family into debt for our dog. Id really think about spending more and as well, I would talk to this vet. I agree it was outrageous if they didn't consult you on the cost off all this ahead of time. Hang in there and I'm sorry you're going through this.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on


Maybe talk with your Vet.
See if they can do a payment plan.
Tell them of the financial hardship etc.

Gosh, that's a lot of money.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

This will only help a little but don't forget that you can have the Vet write a perscription for "some" of the animals meds and pick it up at the people pharmacy. It saved me over 70 on one antibiotic. Call ahead to your pharmacy to see what the cost will be.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

I couldn't DISAGREE more with Nikki G's comment! A little harsh....

When you take on the responsibility of owning a pet, you do ALL you can to have that pet become a part of your family, PERIOD!!!! To ME, a pet is like a 4-legged child, you do ALL you can to take care of them...Through the good times AND bad.

I am an animal lover (as it sounds like you are) and would do any and everything to get through these hard times...I've been in your situation and just had to make my monthly payments... It stinks, yes but you just do it...

This too shall pass!

Sorry to hear your furry babies are sick.. Getting a second opinion doesn't hurt either..

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful
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