General Question

canidmajor's avatar

Pet owners/lovers, what's your personal $$$ cap?

Asked by canidmajor (16831points) July 28th, 2015

Even when we love them and commit to their care and welfare, what do you consider to be the maximum you are willing/able to spend on their medical care?
What’s the tipping point for you? Assuming you are comfortable but not wealthy, where is the line that most of us might have to draw at some point?

This is a personal conundrum for me right now, I would like to know how others think.


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20 Answers

canidmajor's avatar

To be clear, I am not asking for advice, just personal stories/insights.

anniereborn's avatar

It honestly would depend on how much money I could beg/borrow or steal. My husband and I are below poverty level. Without any of the above mentioned things, maybe a couple hundred.
But we could get a loan for at least 500. And I know I have family that would help.

janbb's avatar

For me, it is a quality of life for the animal as well as money. Animals don’t know that their pain is for a reason so to have them suffer harsh treatments is usually for our benefit not theirs. Prince had a tumor on his liver and fell down the stairs at 14. We took him to a big animal hospital because our vet wasn’t open. They did stabilize him and he came home. My vet whom I love said, “We could do surgery and not know what the outcome will be or you could treat each day as a gift.” He had another good month including a last Christmas and then collapsed and we had to put him to sleep.

With the special hospital care and the euthanization, I think we spent around $2,500. I feel we made good decisions for us and him.

longgone's avatar

First off, I’m very sorry you’re in that situation.

To answer the question…it would depend on how many good years/months that pet has left. Realistically, with a fairly young animal, I’m not sure I could put an end to its life until I had spent all my savings. My dad would loan me some money, but I would probably not be able to spend more than $2000, at this time. If I got all my friends to help, maybe $3000.

While I know I would do everything in my power to care for my dogs, I do _not _ see this as a sensible idea, logically. Once a pet is dead, its suffering is gone. It’s us who want to postpone the moment loss hits. While that’s understandable and a testimonial to the bond we can create with pets, I believe it also creates a lot of unnecessary pain, both physical and emotional.

chyna's avatar

It took me three trips to two different vets to diagnose my dog Lexi. She was the love of my life. She was diagnosed with bronchitis twice and then the third time they found she had laryngial cancer and performed emergency surgery on her. They said she would need radiation and chemo for 6 months and have to lie quiet the whole time. That was no way for her to live. She would have hated it and it would’ve cost thousands of dollars. I had to put her to sleep right then.
So up to then I had spent almost a thousand dollars on her without even thinking about it.

Then I took her to the pet cemetery and lost my head for a bit.
“I want a granite stone, with a boxer etched in it and for it to say Lexi – best dog ever – 2007.”

That was $2,000. My friend that was with me took me aside and talked sense into me. I got a flat stone that said Lexi. Burial and stone was then 200.

So going back to me spending a thousand dollars without even thinking about it, it was certainly something I had to think about and find a way to pay after the fact.

I’m so sorry you have to go through this with your fur baby.

Coloma's avatar

When I had plenty of cash I spared, nearly no expense, spent thousands on my crippled pet goose I had for 11 years, tons of my cats for various reasons. Spent hundreds getting a stray kittens set up and vetted, spayed/neutered for my daughter to adopt. Now I am on a serious budget after the economy wiped out my biz. starting in 2010 so, these days just hoping for the best with my two cats. I’d probably have to call it at around $500 now not $5,000.

My good friends here at the ranch have just spent $1,500 on one of their pet geese that had several health problems starting last month, an infection, and a couple other issues. She is in a crate in our dining room right now getting medicated and we have been pilling her and gavage feeding her extra nutrients like pureed meal worms and wheat grass along with her specialty food.
She is only 3 years old and we are goose lovers to the 10th power. Since they can live 20+ years and are every bit as much of a “dog” to those that fancy them, they spare no expense either.

My gander “Marwyn” that turned 17 in July is as healthy as a horse, he has had one tiny little goose cold and a scratched eye from goosing my cat in his long and happy life. My same friends actually mortgaged their first condo and spent about 20k trying to save their dog with cancer. We are all major animal nuts here and when the tide is high everyone will put out a lot on our beloved furry, feathered and hooved companions.
I joked a few years ago that my animals had had more health care than I had in the last couple years. haha

All that said however, I also do not believe in guilting or shaming anyone for their choices.
Life can throw us a curve ball and as long as you can afford the basics, spaying/neutering, vaccines, flea/heartworm preventives and a decent diet there is nothing wrong if you have to say “Goodbye” in the event of a catastrophic illness or injury. The way I see it, even if an animal has had a few good years in a happy home and has to be euthanoized due to financial hardship, that same animal also could have been put down as a puppy/kitten, or been living on the streets having a short and miserable life. It is about quality over quantity.

bossob's avatar

@canidmajor My wife has owned and managed a boarding kennel for 35 years. Depending on the time of year, occupancy is anywhere from 40 to 100 dogs. Every customer has on file a Critical Care form that states how they want care to be provided in case of emergency.

One of the questions is, paraphrasing, if it’s deemed necessary to seek veterinary care for your dog, and we are not able to contact you, how much do you authorize in advance to be spent on medical care for your dog?

For some folks this is a difficult question to answer. Some customers start crying just thinking about it. Some are most concerned about outcomes and quality of life. For some, resources are limited and the decision whether to feed the kids or keep their dog alive is a no-brainer. Others provide several bank cards to ensure no expense is spared.

It’s a very personal decision for which there is no right or wrong answer. One can only consider all the variables and arrive at a conclusion that makes the most sense considering the circumstances.

Unfortunately, the Critical Care form isn’t digitized, so I have no database to pull numbers from.

For our own dogs, our decision is based on dollars vs. quality and length of life. $500 for a 14 year old dog was too much, while $3000 for a 2 year old dog seemed reasonable. But circumstances were a factor: if the young dog’s situation had occurred five years earlier, we wouldn’t have had the money to spare, and euthanasia would have been the only option.

tinyfaery's avatar

There are many factors to consider. I have a cat that has cost me about 13K in medical problems over 14 years. The most I spent at once was 3K. At times I had the cash. Sometimes I had to put it on a credit card. I would never spend 13K for a few problems. Even I can’t justify that.

If it helps, I always tell myself it’s less than a kid.

Coloma's avatar

I also forgot the $800 rattlesnake bite my big, loveable, now 9 year old cat took in July of 2012. He survived but that was quite an experience.
I also forgot to say @canidmajor that I too am sorry you are having to make these kinds of awful decisions. I think as well that sometimes, highly invasive treatments without good odds and also the age of the animal are huge, mitigating factors.

One of my old kitties was 14 when he was diagnosed with a pretty common cat issue of hyper ( hypo? always get confused on this one ) thyroidism. he was in the 1% of cats that could not tolerate the usual, simple, pill of methamazole (sp?) that was prescribed. My only other option was to have his thyroid killed with a radioactive iodine treatment which would have cost about $1,200.
I opted to not go that route and he lived another year before his condition deteriorated and I had to have him euthanized. He also had a heart murmur and ultimately that is what happened, the thyroid issue caused him to go into heart failure sadly but he was 15 and had a long and wonderful life with me.

canidmajor's avatar

I am grateful that the answers here have been honest and compassionate with no judgement.
I’ve had dogs and cats for 40 years, some from babyhood, some adopted from decent homes, some from awful circumstances. The decision when to let go, I have found, never gets easier, but it gets easier to tell when it should happen.
This dog is neither old nor young, and the issues can’t be definitively sourced beyond lots of “might be this or that”. He’s a lovely fellow, I can only hope that TLC and good dog-momming can save him.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Laughs, I was adopted by two golden retrievers. He ate rocks and had surgery twice. They both developed arthritis. I don’t know how much I shelled out for them. One day I stopped in to pick up some meds. The receptionist asked if she could help me. I said I was just driving past and I had a few bucks in my pocket so I thought I’d drop them off. The office manager cracked up. But they really took good care of the dogs.

Coloma's avatar

@canidmajor If you wish to share what, exactly, are “they” saying it might be?
What symptoms are presenting?
I had, back in 2011, for the 1st time in the history of having cats over a 35 yr. period, an 14 month old kitten I adopted being, ultimately, diagnosed with FIP. Feline infectious peritonitis.
Out of the blue I noticed he looked a little rough coated and seemed more lethargic than usual, I thought he might have worms of some sort so took him in.

They ran all kinds of tests and found nothing but he had a fever. They put him on antibiotics but that did not help and they finally diagnosed him with the incurable FIP. His was the dry form, with no abdominal swelling which is the rarer of the two forms of wet and dry. About $800.00 later I resigned myself to his diagnosis and he deteriorated quickly after that. I had him euthanized at home for another $200 to spare him the stress of transport.

From perfectly fine and healthy to dead in 4 weeks. It was just awful. FIP comes from the feline form of Corona virus and usually causes no symptoms, young kittens are exposed and there is no reaction but in a small percentage of cats it morphs into this disease that attacks vital organs. It was heartbreaking to watch this vibrant, playful, full of himself young cat go downhill practically overnight.

canidmajor's avatar

@Coloma: It’s really a laundry list. Pancreatitus (cause unknown), compromised liver function (cause unknown), sudden anemia (cause unknown-cleared up, now), blood indicators of some kind of auto-immune disorder, but the Coombs (sp?) test for auto-immune problems came up negative. That’s just for starters.
The good news is that I got him to eat a little last night and that helped a bit.

Keep the good thoughts coming! He deserves them, he’s a funny, goofy guy, and all the little 7 year old girls in the neighborhood who worship him would be bereft if he didn’t make it.

canidmajor's avatar

He’s much better today. Still a pretty sick guy, but I have some hope now.
Thinking about having all the little girls clap… ;-)

tinyfaery's avatar

If kitty won’t eat try Fancy Feast wet food. Works every time.

Coloma's avatar

@tinyfaery @canidmajor ‘s pet is a dog but yep, for cats FF is kitty crack for sure. haha

wildpotato's avatar

Depends on the animal – age, quality of life, and status as pet versus livestock – I love the goats and would spend a lot more than their value (~$200 each), but I’m pretty sure my upper limit is higher for the cat and dog – who, honestly, I don’t really have an upper limit for. As for the chickens, they’re fun and useful and all but I’m not sure I’d go above $100 with any one of them. Even that much seems silly, considering they’ll all end up as stew eventually – but I think I’d probably pay a bit to save a younger or more valued bird.

We called Fancy Feast “kitty crack” at the cat rescue.

tinyfaery's avatar

I think that’s Fancy Feast’s official motto. Hahaha.

Everyone says it.

Anna737's avatar

Consider whether or not you will be subjecting them yo an unfair life, great suffering, etc. Beyond that, you do what you can do, within reason. The vet is usually a pretty good guide in times of emotional unease, also. Now, if you spend $5000 at the casino, or $4000 a year on cigarettes or Starbucks, you should probably be able to cough up at least that much on your pet.

canidmajor's avatar

@Anna737, I appreciate that you took the time to answer, but the question was: What is your personal cap, not asking for advice on how to make the call, or how to determine priorities. (See first comment)

@all: he didn’t survive, but he had a lovely life with us, and went gently. A sad loss, but lovely memories.

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