How Much Would We Spend?

A very good question asked by Tara Parker-Pope in the New York Times is, “How much would you spend on a sick pet?”

Most pet owners say that cost is a factor when deciding whether to seek medical care for a sick dog or cat. And about 40 percent worry they won’t be able to afford care when it’s needed, according to a new survey from the Associated Press and the Web site Petside.com.

Most pet owners (62 percent) said they would likely pay for pet health care even if the cost reached $500, but that means more than a third of pet owners said that might be too much to spend on an animal.

What if the bill for veterinary care reached $1,000? Fewer than half of pet owners said they were very likely to spend that much at the vet. Only a third said it was very likely they would pay a $2,000 vet bill.

Once the cost of saving a sick pet reached $5,000, most pet owners said they would stop treatment. Only 22 percent said they were very likely to pick up $5,000 in veterinary costs to treat a sick dog or cat.

For us, the answer is “it depends.”  Our criterion is the value of life:  if a full recovery and a normal quality of life are likely, then we just have to suck it up.  Possum developed a huge malignant tumor on her chest when she was 8.  Amazingly, it wasn’t attached to any bone nor were there any major blood vessels running through it.  We had the surgery done and she lived several more comfortable and happy years.

Ilya fell gravely ill on his arrival in Texas last year.  We rushed him to the vet and had to make a very fast decision about having surgery.  Since the prognosis was a good one if he survived, we went ahead; the cost of the surgery and convalescence came to $3500 but today Ilya is happy, healthy and sparring with his brother.

On the other hand, when Rowdy was diagnosed with cancer in his shoulder and we were told that amputation or euthanasia were the only alternatives, we did not hesitate to put him to sleep.  Beyond the question of his life expectancy afterwards, how could we ask an active, running dog like a Borzoi to get around on three legs?

Who could look forward spending a couple of thousand dollars on treatment for a pet?  Yet we brought them into this world and it’s our responsibility to take care of them as long as they can enjoy their lives with us and not spend their days in pain.  Either going too far or not going far enough does them no service.

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