General Question

wundayatta's avatar

Would you take a guinea pig to the vet?

Asked by wundayatta (58377 points ) October 14th, 2008

The animal is two years old. My daughter and son treat it as if it were a human, calling it their son or nephew. The guinea pig is urinating blood. If it’s kidney stones, it will need an operation. We’re not paying for an operation.

It costs $50 to go to the vet. Should we even pay that much, especially given that we might not be willing to pay for treatment (the only treatment we’d consider is drugs)? We’re paying, essentially, to make our children feel like they did the right thing; like their love means something. But it is a pet. It cost $15. They’ve seen guinea pigs die at school. There are valuable lessons to be learned about love when a pet dies, as well.

What would you do?

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14 Answers

bodyhead's avatar

Does he have a common pattern on him? Seems like it might be cheaper to switch him out in the middle of the night.

Man that is tough. I’m sorry you have to deal with that. You want to do the right thing but it is just a large rodent. Good luck.

If you’ve got a bunch of extra money, you might want to go on and take him to the vet so your children will feel better. That’s probably what I would do.

Bri_L's avatar

I had a guinea pig as an adult. He was 5 when he died. At one point I called a vet and they were willing to speak with me over the phone. I don’t know if that is an option.

I am sorry you have to deal with this. Your right there are lessons. Maybe the effort of taking him to the vet shows you care for the ones you love, but the instructions can be for the pet not to make it? I don’t know.

damien's avatar

I can see the dilemma! I think, if I had the money, I’d take it to the vet for the kids’ sake.. Or switch it in the middle of the night like bodyhead said.

How old are they (the kids)?

When I was about 4 or 5 we had a cat that died. Actually seeing it die was very disturbing for me as a child. I didn’t like it one bit – not just for loosing a pet, but for actually seeing it dead. The actual process of death was something I’d only seen in things like frogs and insects up until that point.

Maybe speak to the vet on the phone and see if you can get more info on the condition without paying. Then, if it is fatal, perhaps get it euthanized?

jvgr's avatar

2 unrelated issues:

1 Children have a pet they love and it is sick
2 Parents believe pets lives are not worth saving if money is involved.

Exactly what do you think your children will learn if you refuse vet care?
Do you think in this emotional period, your children will be able to accept the pet concept you have

I’ve tried the swap-out technique (guinea pig was dying of old age) and that was discovered as bogus right away.

Seems to me that when anyone signs on to having a pet, they also sign on to ensuring the pet is taken care of. This doesn’t mean that you also spend $10,000 to have an operation when you can not afford it, but you should take the pet to the vet.

Find out what is wrong and what options are available and what the outcomes of those options are including doing nothing.
Then sit with your children and review each option and guide them toward accepting the option that fits your budget.
Don’t use the “its only a pet” line as a defense.

wundayatta's avatar

Does it matter that I told them before I allowed them to get the pet, that we would not be spending a lot of money on health care for it?

Anyway, jvgr, that is exactly the issue that concerns me: what are we teaching the kids if we refuse the vet care? Are we teaching them about priorities, and that humans are way more important than animals, or are we teaching them we don’t care? And how about this: my daughter, at 12, is perfectly capable of researching a vet to take the pet to. She has not been doing that. She is, after all, the guinea pig’s “mother.”

Mr_M's avatar

Although I MIGHT not pay for an operation, you SHOULD pay up for the vet visit and have the Vet tell you, in front of the kids, how there’s nothing he can do except put the animal to sleep (and maybe there ARE cheaper options). There will be your lesson to the kids, AND the animal doesn’t suffer.

You take on a living creature you care for it AS a living creature and NOT one having value directly related to the initial cost of the animal.

And if you got a dog for free? Then NO veterinary care??

poofandmook's avatar

my ex and I had a dwarf rabbit.. we paid $10 for it and probably spent $100 between the big cage and bedding and food and whatnot. We loved our little Monty… he used to run to the corner of the cage closest to the door when we came in and stand up until we came to pet him… he was like a little tiny dog. When he got sick, we paid $200 for the emergency vet on a Sunday, including the medicine. When he didn’t get better, we paid for 2 vet visits at about $75 each, plus medications… PLUS… we bought jarred baby food, pedialyte, and V8 and syringe fed him anywhere between 4 and 8 times a day when he wouldn’t eat solid food. I’d estimate that $10 little bunny cost us about $400—$500 to keep alive. And it was worth every penny. We were both a wreck when he died.

Most of you may scoff, but love for a good pet is love for a good pet. Guinea pig, bunny, dog, or cat. It’s all the same. So I would say take the guinea pig to the vet if nothing else.

Emilyy's avatar

I think that instead of just factoring in how much money you originally spent on the pet, you should also figure in how much more life the pet has in it. I think guinea pigs live about 5–8 years on average, so if you’ve had this one for two years, it could have another 3–5 years in it. So then you have to determine how much it would cost you to get the care he needs to live another few years, or whether it’s better to just get a new one and explain to your kids that unfortunately this is how life works sometimes. I would say avoid the switching method and don’t tell the kids that the guinea pig went to a happy farm in the sky. You could use this as an opportunity to explain mortality to them, even though it might be hard.

I had a vet dilemma with a kitten that I rescued a few months back. It’s a really hard, annoying process when you have to weigh all the pros and cons and play the “what if” game about every single scenario.

At the very least, if $50 isn’t an economic hardship for you, I’d start there. And if your little guy really need a treatment that you can’t afford, you could start up a fund at fundable and try to get your friends and family to help out with $10 donations.

susanc's avatar

These are such good pieces of advice! This is a really good question!

Seems like it comes down to being willing to involve the vet and the kids in the
decision-making. This is a life. It’s worth more than money. The kids’ relationship
with the little fella is worth more than money. They have to learn how to balance
this stuff. It’ll be hard in some way, no matter what. You can help them. The vet can help them.
Take them WITH YOU to the vet. Walk this walk WITH THEM. All of you are up
against something major. Be WITH THEM. No one could do it better than you,
daloon.

mea05key's avatar

I agree with the some of the above comments and its really an interesting question cause i ve also been in this situation before. The thing is when you have decided to start rearing a pet, you should also consider taking care of it because it is a living being and it deserves care and devotion from its owner. A pet is not something you can play and have fun with and then put it aside when it needs aid. Now you have a sick pet and its something that your children loves so i guess its worth paying.

But at certain time we are tight in budget and the medication cost too expensive, therefore i think we should also judge according to circumstances.

As a conclusion, get a pet only if you are prepared to take care of it for the rest of your life. If not forget it.

jvgr's avatar

daloon:
“Does it matter that I told them before I allowed them to get the pet, that we would not be spending a lot of money on health care for it?”

-It might matter, but you are not talking about an agreement between adults who have a clearer perception of what this might ultimately mean”

“Anyway, jvgr, that is exactly the issue that concerns me: what are we teaching the kids if we refuse the vet care? Are we teaching them about priorities, and that humans are way more important than animals, or are we teaching them we don’t care? ”

-From what you’ve said you are definitely communicating all of these things at some level (intentionally or otherwise)

-Hence my response and I know this is of concern to you

“And how about this: my daughter, at 12, is perfectly capable of researching a vet to take the pet to. She has not been doing that. She is, after all, the guinea pig’s “mother.””

-She may be capable, and I have no doubt she signed on as the responsible party, but if she is hearing “no” what would be the point of her research, and if you are choosing to be flexible in your “no vet expense” philosophy, now would be a good time to ask her if she would like your help.

-Whatever is actually ailing the guinea pig, evidence of it’s ailment seems clear. That your daughter sees the signs which may be also manifest itself in other aspects of the animal must be distressing a bit.

-You could certainly stick to your original condition and try to explain why this is important so your daughter understands. If the animal is obviously suffering, your daughters understanding is likely to be minimal.

-I think you need to shift from principle to resolution.
When you agreed to allow her to have this pet, I’m sure you established all kinds of rules to make sure she understood that this was her responsibility (ensuring food, water, clean pen on a regular basis, etc.)
Have you been consistent in not doing any of the caretaking when she forgot?
(If so, you’ve done better than most)
If not, how would your daughter conclude that sometimes you enforce your side of the agreement and sometimes you don’t and this time is the most important time?

-There is nothing that would prevent you from (after selecting a vet), contacting the vet in advance. Tell them that you want an exam, but you do not want to invest any significant (your decision) money, and that if the only available treatment is more than your limit, that the vet needs to explain why no treatment is probably the best choice in this case (they can do that if they fully consider age of animal, nature of ailment, prognosis of treatment vs doing nothing…)

I fully understand that you made an agreement but that doesn’t mean you can’t help.

wundayatta's avatar

Great answer, jvgr, and your suggestion at the end has a lot of merit.

And maybe we have done well. Although I can’t speak for my wife. I have only helped with the animal when expressly asked by my daughter, and I think for the really large part, she has been responsible.

Well, we’ll see what happens when we get home. Let’s hope S is still alive.

aanuszek1's avatar

I would only take it if I needed cooking instructions.

On a more serious note, maybe you could take it to the vet- and if it is stones, put it down, and then pull the old switcheroo if you don’t want to emotionally scar your kids.

cak's avatar

Guinea Pigs are not a light responsibility – if you are taking care of them properly and not really a “cheap” animal to maintain. Your $15 dollar pet has the possible lifespan of 9 years, my daughter has one turning 5. We’ve paid for shots and a few illnesses, because that is what you do when you have an animal, a pet. You take care of it. I’m not saying that you forgo groceries for surgery, if necessary, but I wouldn’t just not take it to the vet. That’s cruel to the pet and probably to your children that will really resent the fact that you refused care for their loved one. Whether you see it as a grandpig…that is what Ella is to us…our grandpig, your children have accepted this pet as one of their own.

To me, not taking it for an exam sends a very poor message and reinforces my belief that if someone (even the parent) isn’t willing to maintain basic care, then don’t get a pet.

Your daughter may be 12 and responsible, but to have her pick a vet? No way. My children would pick out a specialist and it would cost their tuition (college) to see the vet. While they should be responsible for the care, as a parent and the adult, you share the medical responsibility for this pet. Whether you like it or not, you did accept part of the responsibility when you agreed to an animal.

Yes, the day-to-day care of the pet, should be their responsibility and holding them to that, is the right thing to do – we do the same. WHEN the ball is dropped, she has to come home to care for the pet. It can’t feed or get itself water. We only step in when asked and prearranged.

I like the suggestion that was made, above, to call the vet- ahead of time – and discuss what you are willing to pay for and what you aren’t; however, before you write the pet off, at least hear the options. Discuss with your children, beforehand, about the possibility that the treatment might not be something that you can do – cost wise. Don’t just let it be sprung on them in the room – they are still children and don’t process things the same way adults do – especially if this is their first pet.

You are spelling all of this out, clearly, but you are forgetting something, they are children, not adults. I don’t care what you said to them while they were asking for this pet, they have grown attached and love this pet – you need to be sensitive to this and be aware that they might not agree with you and might be difficult for them to understand – even at 12.

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