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Soubresaut's avatar

Is a pet "just" a pet for you?

Asked by Soubresaut (12802points) February 15th, 2011

I found out recently that my dog could still be with me if he had had heart surgery—something that’s not cheap by any stretch, but still.

I realized that they were done when I was watching a show where a puppy with a heart murmur was saved with surgery. It was a surprise, because it was the same condition my dog had, and while he was still with me I was told there was nothing medically that could been done for him.

When I asked, I was answered with a “yes, technically, but it was a lot of money” which I guess I would’ve understood if it hadn’t been followed by “and he was just a pet.”

Which I don’t understand. Because it was expensive, yes, but we could’ve afforded it if we tried. And that was his life, “just” a pet or not, isn’t a life that can be saved worth saving?

I guess I’m asking how far you would go to save your pet?

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40 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

I’d do anything short of donating one of my kidneys.

poofandmook's avatar

This is really hard.

I don’t think it’s any secret how enamored I am with my two kitties. I’m about positive that as long as I knew there wasn’t anything else also going wrong, I would do whatever I needed to save the Poof or the Mook.

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VS's avatar

GiGi is important enough to me that I will not vacation in a place that does not accept pets. I won’t put her in a kennel while I have a vacation with my “family” as she is a part of that family. I cook for her because of the pet food scare a few years ago, and I also bake liver treats because I don’t want her eating crap that is pre-packaged and sold as dog food or dog treats. She has skin issues that require more than normal baths and regular brushing of her hair, and I have gladly taken on all those things because she loves unconditionally—something humans could take a cue from. So, if there a medical procedure that could save her from dying, and I had the funds to do it, I would do it.

everephebe's avatar

“When I asked, I was answered with a “yes, technically, but it was a lot of money” which I guess I would’ve understood if it hadn’t been followed by “and he was just a pet.””

I think the vet was trying to give you an out, so you didn’t feel bad if you didn’t do the procedure. But maybe not. I think pets are not “just” pets, but fellow creatures that we have meaningful relationships with.

That said, death is apart of life, and paying lots of money to slow the natural process down slightly, is woeful.

Now if this was a young dog we were talking about, yeah maybe get the surgery, if it’s the most medically sound choice. It’s not like you can ask the dog what she or he wants to do.

Kayak8's avatar

My two dogs are my working partners—they are far more than pets in my case. My older dog, Bender, is trained to find live humans and human remains. He does his work happily and with a bounce in his step (actually, he bounces most of the time). My younger dog (in the photo) is in training. He is a much more serious worker (fits the breed). He works with a different intensity than Bender. Bender appears to be goofing off, but he is very hard to trick, especially going after a live person. He is just so happy to meet someone new that he can hardly contain himself; which is great if the victim is an adult, but I have learned that many victims don’t like being kissed on the lips.

Depending on the condition for which my dog was being treated, I would find the money. One of the gals on my team has had ACL surgery on two of her dogs. Of course, quality of life would always be a concern when seeking treatment for one of my dogs as they are my real partners. We get on a mental wavelength when working that takes a lot of time and energy to develop. I would want to do whatever I could to see that they received appropriate treatment, whatever their condition.

marinelife's avatar

I would do almost anything to save my pet, who is a family member. One more factor with pets, though, is their quality of life during and after any procedure. Since we can’t explain things to them, it makes a difference.

YoBob's avatar

Well, for me our pets are much more than just pets. However, your mileage may vary.

Regarding your dog’s situation, there is often much more to consider than just money. If your dog was older the likely hood of success may have been lower than the puppy you saw and even if successful you might have only extended the life for a year or so before other inevitable conditions began to show up.

Don’t second guess yourself or the vet, especially over things you can’t change now. You made the best decision you could at the time with the information available to you.

Bun's avatar

I wouldn’t want to put an old dog through extensive surgery… not fair to him.

tinyfaery's avatar

I have a $10,000 cat. No, I didn’t pay that much for her. That amount is about how much I have spent saving her life. I don’t regret any of that money, not for one second.

Scooby's avatar

I had a Tom cat named Oscar, about fifteen years ago now. He got caught on a barbed wire fence, we thought at the time… he came home with his intestines hanging out through several puncture wounds to his abdomen….well, to have him put right & treated for a blood infection cost me close on two thousand pounds…. Medication came in at about thirty pounds a time over several weeks. I’d have done anything to keep that little bloke around… :-/
Same goes for the two queens I have now…......

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Zaku's avatar

No, animals are people to me, and pets are friends and family.

As for medical expenses, though, there are limits and considerations of quality of life and so on. Sometimes people and animals could be kept alive, but the costs and suffering are not better than letting someone go and be at peace. Sometimes though too, a large expense may be entirely worth it. My dad’s cat wasn’t expected to live more than a few months, but had some work and has lived very happily and brought much happiness to his household for many years. I don’t know how much money was spent, but it could’ve been a small fortune and be well worth it.

Seelix's avatar

Pets aren’t “just” pets; they’re family. I would (and have) spend as much as I could afford to save one of my babies.

I had to let one of them go a couple of years ago and I had a really hard time dealing with the decision. Ultimately it came down to the fact that I couldn’t afford a treatment that probably would not have returned her to any sort of quality life. It was hard, and I really did feel terrible about it, but sometimes things like that have to happen.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

A pet isn’t just a pet to me but if I have no money, I have no money. My family comes first and if I can’t even afford anything for them, my dogs aren’t getting anything either.

chyna's avatar

She’s the love of my life. If I can afford the best care for her, she will get it.

ruth4532's avatar

Dudley was best pet ,and i miss him

MacBean's avatar

Damn. Some of you people have spent more on your pets’ health than I would spend on my own…

I dunno. Pets are “just” pets to me, but… my family members are “just” people to me, too. I’d say maybe I’m just not very sentimental, only I know that more often than not I really am. Perhaps this is something I should take a closer look at… Hm.

wundayatta's avatar

My daughter’s guinea pig got very sick a while back. Wouldn’t eat or drink. She and my wife took him to the Vet. It turned out he had a twisted intestine or something like that. She was told that she could let him live in pain for however long it took to die, or she could have him put down. She was 13, and my wife let her make the decision. She decided to have him put down. She was pretty upset about it, of course.

I had a dog from the age of maybe 11 to 18 or 19. Maybe not even that long. I loved that dog, and she used to go everywhere with us—in the woods, cross country skiing, riding bikes for miles. I went off to college, and I didn’t really think too much about her. One year there, she died. I was upset, but at the same time, she wasn’t all that relevant to me. She had died to me when I went to college, for all intents and purposes. I just didn’t know it.

The summer between junior and senior year in high school, I designed and built a barn, fenced in a field with a barbed wire fence, and I bought to calves that we planned to grow for meat. During that winter, I was fairly depressed about my love life, or lack thereof. I used to go out to the barn, and sit next to, or even leaning on those mid-sized bovines, feeling their warmth on my back in contrast to the frosty air. I could see their breath freezing in the air. It carried the smell of the middle of summer, leavening the air with that sweet smell of new mown grass. We had many other adventures with these cattle and despite that, we sent them off to the charnel house to be turned into steaks and burgers at the end of the year. My sister refused to eat any of the meat, but the rest of us did, and it was probably the best beef I’ve every had in my life.

Maybe I’m not sentimental. Maybe I don’t make strong connections to animals. But I don’t think that’s true. I think I appreciate animals and can love them and enjoy them, but I never think of them as humans. They are pets, or they are being used for human purposes. They are not our equals, and I have not ever felt like they could be. I don’t think, speaking for myself, that I could ever find an animal to be at all worth spending thousands of dollars on, unless it were a great breeding animal.

It’s over. I would let the animal go. I don’t think I would take any heroic measures to save them, no matter how close I was. It doesn’t seem right, to me, to use resources in this way.

I just don’t understand how people could think it is worth it. You all say the pet is family. I understand that. But a pet being worth significant resources to someone who has very little… that does not compute for me.

geeky_mama's avatar

I have a 14 year old dog who is dying. She appears to have a brain lesion and is listing heavily to one side with other peripheral weakness. This after a few bouts of Vestibular Disease – and without the Nystagmus, so we know it’s not just “Dizzy Dog” syndrome anymore. (See link)

While she is happy (still wagging her tail, still able to eat/drink, still aware of us and getting comfort from being petted and not in any visible pain) we won’t put her down. But..we can see the end is near. It makes me sad..but it isn’t the same sort of emotional pain I’d be in if one of my kids were that ill.

If you told me my dog could have brain surgery with a chance of recovery – irregardless of the cost I wouldn’t do it because she’s OLD. We love her, she’s a member of the family..but she’s a pet.

When I first met my husband, before I’d had kids, he laughed when I carried her around or made special meals or gave her any sort of special treatment that was more like that for a child than a pet. He was right—she was my surrogate child at the time, honestly.
After I had kids however…she became a dog to me. Still, a family member..but she doesn’t get the same level of adoration, care and money spent on her as my children.

downtide's avatar

My dog isn’t just a pet, she’s a member of my family and has been for 11 years. I would do everything within my power to save her life.

viscaria1800's avatar

My mom treats the dog better than me, haha he’s called are little brother. Its a little annoying sometimes for me and my sister but we love him. Im pretty sure he’s considered one of us :)

Kraigmo's avatar

It took me 20 months to save up $1000 for my cat’s surgery. I’m happy I had that time to buy since it wasn’t immediately urgent. I’m so glad I spent it. If I had more, I’d spend even more if I had to.

My cat is as much part of my soul as anyone else. I’ll let her go when that time is appropriate, but I’m gonna err on keeping her on Earth for as long as possible. I never take her for granted. Every day I’m in awe of and in love with her. The mutual chill and space we share is a daily blessing.

cak's avatar

I guess the way I grew up has molded how I am with animals. My parents drove one of our dogs several states away for a surgery that was still being tested. It saved the dog, she lived a nice long life.

I’m the same way. One of our dogs has gone through 3 surgeries. Two of the three surgeries, our family – as a family, voted unanimously to forgo planned vacations for the surgeries. The third, instead of buying my husband something for his workshop, the dog had surgery.

When I was really sick during chemo, when I wasn’t in the hospital, the same dog never left my side. She would nudge me, if I was in pain and lay next to me when I was shivering.

Our dogs are family to us, we do what is needed to be done for their health.

boffin's avatar

It’s gonna be a tough day in the house when our cat passes. She’s been part of the family, we refer to her as our little girl. Now 17 and rather needy. We don’t travel since someone has to stay home and give her her meds three times a day. Still all in all we think it’s worth the minor sacrifice to put up with for all of the joy she has brought to us.

Coloma's avatar

I have spent lots of money on my pets, including emergency treatment for my old goose for a Bobcat attack once and exotic animal care by a specialist for months before she died.

My cats have always had very good vet care as needed, BUT…..I don;t believe in guilting ourselves if we cannot afford extremely large amounts of money on certain treatments.

Life is ever changing and while I don’t advocate recklessly getting pets one cannot care for, I also recognize that things/situations change and that if 5 years from now I cannot afford a $1000 vet bill I will do what I am able without guilt.

This is why I don’t agree with taking a militant stance on anything.

All circumstances are subject to change and while I will always care for my animals in the most loving and humane way, I won’t feel any guilt, or, allow anyone to guilt me if I have to opt for euthanasia over a procedure that is not in the budget of my present moment.

I have friends right now with a 10 yr. old Beagle with cancer. They have plenty of money but, they are opting out on a 5k chemo treatment for various reasons. I support their decision which is based on cure rate, ( something like 85% of these tumors reoccur ) the dogs advancing age, finances, and the dogs potential suffering through a treatment that may or may not help in the long run.

These are very personal decisions and, quite frankly, nobody elses business.

woodcutter's avatar

Our fish are just pets, more of a display really. The dogs and cats are way more than that.

Plucky's avatar

My dog, Gus, has had medical issues since the day he was born. He was the runt and the only one that survived out of the litter. I lost track along time ago how much money is spent on him. By now, I know it is at the very least $10,000 in vet bills alone. He’s 14 years old and I’ve had him since he was a pup. He’s had many surgeries over the years. He is prone to oxolate bladder stones. He has osteoarthritis. He has dozens of benign tumors all over his skin (his age). He has one kidney left and no front teeth. Oh, and he can’t bark “normal” because of an accident several years ago (he was attacked by another dog and his vocal cords were permanently damaged).

So, to me ..he is family and not “just a pet”. It always confuses me when people have “pets” that are “just pets”. I don’t get why they even have them in their lives.

Gus and I have been through quite the journey together. I would do anything, within my means, for the little guy :)

Neizvestnaya's avatar

If I could afford it then I’d probably spare no expense for my little doggie but on my budget, the most I can see getting into debt for is about $2000. :(

It’s my wish never to be faced with that kind of decision. Just a few weeks ago our pitbull attacked my pomeranian and tried to kill him. She has no canines but mauled him badly just the same and he had to go to emergency care. I knew I couldn’t afford what they were proposing at $600. but I said yes anyway- had it been $1000. or more then I don’t know what I’d have decided.

faye's avatar

I am very realistic about my pets. I’ve had 2 cats that made it to 19 years with spaying and the first shots as their vet care, a well-beloved old dog who died on her own, and several animals who had to be put to sleep because there was no money for expensive care. I always think about the pain and confusion involved, too, as well as quality of life afterwards. Presently I have a little bichon-poodle dog that has just wrapped himself around my heart.

poofandmook's avatar

The day one of my girls passes on is the day a piece of me dies with her. I raised them from 8 weeks old, and sometimes, they were all I had. What’s the difference between them and kids at this point, since I don’t have kids?

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Stefaniebby's avatar

My pets have and will always be considered family to me. I would go to any extent to save my dogs and cats, they love me and count on me for everything I could never go through the pain thinking that I could of saved them but didn’t. I’ve always had dogs growing up and the cats came along later on. My first cat escaped from my moms car when I was very young, Miles away from our home, she brought him with to pick me up from school one day and he just bolted. In the middle of December in Minnesota during a bad snow storm. I was DEVASTATED. A cat in a snowstorm, I thought he was for sure gone. After a week of snow and many “Lost Cat” posters and ads we gave up. I couldn’t stop crying and thinking that I failed him. The next morning, my cat was outside our front door meowing wanting to get in. I couldn’t believe it. He survived the snow storm AND found his way back home?! It was probably the greatest feeling ever to hold my cat, my brave little cat, once again. My thought is if an animal will go through so much to just come back home to us no matter what, I would do anything I can for them no matter what.

roxanna's avatar

my dog is my companion, she makes me LOL every day she is so funny, sometimes i swear she has a sense of humour. how much i would spend on her would have to be assessed at the time, taking into consideration, likely out come, her age at the time, and most importantly, Quality of life, if it was her time to go, I’d rather let her go in peace with minimal suffering than keep her artificially alive just to pander to my own neediness.

Bugalu's avatar

I am considered an indentured servant to my vet. I make monthly payments on a hugh bill, so no, my critters are not just pets…(my husband also works at the vets home doing odd jobs)

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