How Much Would You Spend to Save Your Pet?

Last week the Wall Street Journal asked how far people would go to keep their dog (or really any pet for that matter) alive. As an example of the two ends of the spectrum, they suggested the following, starting with the “not much” line of thinking:

“One Dallas reader took me to task for spending so much on my dog and then daring to write about it in a column called ‘Cheapskate.’ He wrote, ‘Basically, my ‘frugal’ belief (I do not consider myself a cheapskate) is that I paid $110 for our family cocker spaniel from a rescue organization six years ago, and I will pay no more than $110 to keep her alive.’ “

On the other hand, some are willing to pay almost anything:

“A Massachusetts reader put it eloquently as he described his efforts to stretch out the life of his 14-year-old ‘best friend,’ afflicted with pneumonia, an impacted colon and cancer. ‘There are many who think burning 18 grand to keep a dog around for six or 12 extra months is madness,’ he wrote. ‘Sometimes I think so, too. But my wife died from lymphoma two years ago, and I have no children. What am I going to do, buy a bigger television set?'”

Have you decided how much you’d spend to save your pet? If so, what financial steps have you taken (like adding more to your emergency fund) to support such a plan of action?

How Far Would You Go To Keep Your Dog Alive? [The Wall Street Journal]

(Photo: fantasysage)


Edit Your Comment

  1. British Benzene says:

    Unfortunately for the dogs, they cannot say “I’m hurting, I’ve had enough, let me go.”

    Any conversation about how much we are willing to spend on our pets’ medical care should include a mention of palliative care and knowing when to let go.

  2. dianabanana says:

    Sometimes it’s just time to let the pet go. I had a dog that lived til she was 15, but for the last two years of her life, she couldn’t get up so it meant she would often just let loose her bladder where she slept. It was a pretty sad sight.

  3. crazyasianman says:

    alternately, he could have put his efforts into finding another wife. perhaps she’d have ideas on how to better spend $18k

  4. kimdog says:

    I spent $1100 last year for teeth cleaning, routine check up, and some other tests for my two elderly cats (11 and 13). Happily, there were no major problems, but I am still trying to recover from that. At this point, I don’t think I could justify more than $200-300 to keep them around.

    • Inglix_the_Mad says:


      They say you spend about 1k per year on vet stuff for pets (averaged out over a 10-15 year lifespan). That includes all shots, medicines, et al.

  5. says:

    pets are great and everything, and it’s hard to say good-bye, but once a pet has hit it’s normal life span, I don’t think it’s the best idea to spend all your money on making it live longer. There are plenty of animals that need adoption and you should just close that chapter of your life and start a new one. You have memories of your old friend, but you don’t know what new joy a new friend could bring into your life.

    I freaked out when one of my cat was hit by a car in ’03, but those things happen. I now have two new furry creatures that are just darling! :)

  6. MyPetFly says:

    I would spend as much as it took to keep my pet(s) alive, as long as it wasn’t prolonging misery. There’s a balance to be achieved, something we might possibly adopt someday for ourselves.

    • calldrdave says:


      I totally agree! My husband and I had that discussion when we first got our dog and the dog has had many health problems. We ask the vet often: is she suffering? Are we doing this to make the human happy or the dog happy.

      A VERY rich client put it into perspective for me when he spent thousands and thousands on his pet’s health problems. He could buy a bigger TV, wear nicer clothes, or have nicer art on the walls.

      However, all said and done, none of those items will give him as much pleasure as his pet. For him, it’s economics. When deciding on paying for your pet’s health care, you decide “if I used this money for something else, would it give me more pleasure than my pet.”

      I would totally sell my TV set our put some of my clothes on ebay to pay for my dog’s care because you know, I love the little gal, and she is an immense source of happiness for me. I figure she’s cheaper than paying a therapist to keep me sane. And in the end, I’d rather keep an animal alive than buy a TV that is obsolete in a few years or buy clothes that will go out of style

      Keeping my dog alive is the greatest money saver in my life.

    • Moosehawk says:

      It really depends if you’re just prolonging misery, or holding on to something that’s hopeless. If I had a dog that could only walk on 3/4 of his legs and had cancer, no I wouldn’t spend very much (more than $ on medication) to keep it alive. Yes, that did happen. He lived to the age of 4.

      There’s a time when you really just need to let go.

    • ObtuseGoose says:

      @MyPetFly: Exactly.

      This is a very difficult decision to make when you’re faced with it. We were told that our dog would die in a couple weeks from lymphoma. So either we put her on chemo or say goodbye. For us, our dogs are our kids. Thousands of dollars and one-and-a-half years later, our dog is still here. For us it was worth it. But I can totally understand not wanting to prolong the inevitable.

  7. Alexander says:

    This is the reason why I don’t want to get a pet even though my wife wants one. If you are not willing to spend the money, than it’s unfair to the animal. I’d rather just don’t have one than to have to make the decision that I don’t want to pay hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on vet bills.

    • dveight says:

      @alexander: “If you are not willing to spend the money, than it’s unfair to the animal”

      What’s more unfair? Paying to selfishly prolong an animals life that may be suffering or letting it go?

      I agree with many of the people who state that they need to consider the animals quality of life before spending money to prolong its life. I find it very selfish of people to spend thousands of dollar to keep an animal that may be suffering because they cannot let go. As people have stated, if the quality of life is going to be fine, then sure spend some money.

  8. Aox says:

    My cat Cobalt, at 4 years old, got a urinary tract that almost killed him. I payed had to borrow money to pay the $1200 emergency bill. They cathetered him, put him on IV’s, and nursed him back to health.

    I would absolutely do it again in a heartbeat. There is no question.

    He’s 9 now, and I wouldn’t have to borrow money to pay for vet bills at this point. Now, I don’t know about spending tens of thousands trying to cure kitty cancer, but if it was a procedure under 5k to save his life, I’d have a hard time not coming up with the money.


  9. NikkiSweet says:

    I paid $1600 to save my cat and her kittens… My former roommate was being a prick and kicked her while she was pregnant, and it hurt her pretty badly. I was faced with doing nothing, and losing her and all of her babies, or trying to save the one thing that had been there for me, even when I was sick and almost dying in the hospital…

    $1600 is nothing… She’s a major part of my life, and I can’t imagine that I would have been able to deal with myself not doing something to try and save her.

    • ARP says:

      @NikkiSweet: “My former roommate was being a prick and kicked her while she was pregnant, and it hurt her pretty badly.”

      WAS being a prick? I think he’s in the permanent prick category for that one.

    • diasdiem says:

      @NikkiSweet: Kicking a pregnant cat is pretty messed up. I’d have had him arrested for animal abuse, then sued him for the vet bill.

    • theblackdog says:

      @NikkiSweet: I hope you sued that bastard for the vet bill.

    • BrianDaBrain says:

      @NikkiSweet: Did you shoot your room mate in the face?? I might have. In regards to money, I’d spend whatever I safely could without hosing myself over. It wouldn’t do either me or my pets any good to be living in the street because I got evicted because I spent too much money on hospital bills. But any and every extra penny I had would be thrown at the vet bills in a heartbeat.

  10. Aox says:

    urinary tract *infection :P

  11. pb5000 says:

    NO pets for me, sorry, just not going to happen.

    • truthbuddy says:

      @pb5000: umm we really don’t care that you do not want pets, why the hell post that in the first place? The post is about how much you would spend on your pet. I would spend $500 and not much more. Not if you want a pet or not. Why do some readers really think we want to know this stuff. Ok so you can’t comment on this post with a relevant comment there will be others, don’t feel like you have to post.

  12. Carabell says:

    My dog ran away (he’s still alive, and running around 5 miles from home)
    I would pay anything to have him just be in my house right now. I mean, I would beg from my parents, drain my savings, and max out my credit cards.

    When he’s finally caught, I plan on telling the vet to do every test and give every shot they need to, in order to get him back to 100% healthy.
    Of course, I also plan on suing the fucking asshole who let him out of my house (on purpose) for the vet bill.

  13. sir_eccles says:

    I think it depends on what problem the pet has. There are times such as extensive cancer (even for human patients) when you just have to call time. But other times $3000 is nothing compared to senselessly putting a dog down for a torn ligament. It all depends on the suffering involved and quality of life.

    • mzhartz says:

      @sir_eccles: Exactly. I spent $1000 last year on my 7 year old cat when she needed emergency surgery. The surgery was a success and she’ll likely live another 10 years. If the prognosis hadn’t been good, or if she was an old cat, I probably wouldn’t have spent it.

  14. aurf says:

    My Min-Pin is only 1 year old. He has had the misfortune of two broken front elbows. First time someone sat on a couch and made him fall off when he was asleep. Second time my other dog pushed him off a chair and he put all his weight on leg #2 because leg #1 was still healing. Total cost: $2500 a leg. $5000 total.

    Now he has a mystery illness where each and every month for the past 6 months he gets a fever of 105-106 (deadly). Like clockwork every 25 days. It comes, it stays a couple days, it goes. Cost of diagnostics over the past 6 months is about $1500. They still haven’t figured it out and it still happens.

    He also gets sick with something new all the time costing various vet fees.

    Total cost including all the above, medication and vet visitation fees: about $7000.

    He is only a year and I’ll go $100,000 into debt if thats what it takes (it wont)

    • the_wealth says:

      @aurf: It sounds like that mystery illness is some type of parasite. If it is happening regularly, it could be the new generation of wormies that are emerging from their eggs and wreaking havoc on your puppy’s liver. I’d have it tested for many internal parasites, not just hearworms and stuff in the digestive tract. Especially check the liver!

  15. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    I knew a woman once who had about 5 cats. One was very old and had some kind of horrible cancer. This woman went into debt trying to save that miserable creature. The thing was not enjoying life at all – how could the vets even go through with the “life saving” procedures? Finally the thing passed away after years of suffering and the woman went into deep depression. Sad, for all involved.

  16. bdsakx says:

    I loved my Golden Retriever dearly, but instead of spending my $3,000 on giving her surgery (which I was seriously prepared to pay), I decided to negotiate a lower payoff to my car loan, paid if off entirely, and euthanize the dog. Best financial decision I ever made so far.

  17. CarlR says:

    We were on vacation last year when we heard that our elderly cat (who was staying with relative) had to be taken to the vet/hospital. At that point, we pretty much knew it was the end, but we spent about $2k over the next few days just to keep him alive in the hospital until we could get home and say goodbye (we cut our vacation short). We did make sure that he wasn’t in any pain or distress during that time.

    We spent about $100 on blood work and medication every month for the last year or so of his life to manage some of his chronic health issues. The meds kept his health issues under control, and he was perfectly happy.

    This little guy spent almost every night on my lap, and came to meet me every time I came home. I don’t regret any of the $$ we spent. It was the least I could do for him, and I’d do it all again.

  18. Gopher bond says:

    My kids adopted two cats and even though I’m a dog person myself (but realize I have little time for one right now so I’m being responsible and not getting one) I take the cats to a great vet (animal hospital). They are for most routine purposes, more expensive than other vets but they have, what I’ve been told, a great “slush fund” and will often do expensive procedures on the house. One of the cats needed $1500 surgery (no guarantees) to widen his urinary tract. That was after about $500 spent on other urinary problems. I wasn’t going to pay that and I told them to put him down. Since I was a long time customer, they did it for free and the cat has been good ever since.

  19. iMike says:

    I paid about $500 for emergency post-fixing surgery for my pound puppy, Addison, plus another couple of hundred for heartworm and mange treatment.

    That’s part of the obligation I incurred when I adopted her: to provide for her as a member of the family.

    Wouldn’t change a thing.

  20. Fly Girl says:

    My dog is my baby, but it’s hard to put a number on how much I’d spend. A few thousand, at least. I think it would depend on the situation. If he was hit by a car and would make a full recovery after surgery, but the surgery would cost 5k, I’d pay it without blinking. If he had terminal cancer and I was paying to prolong his life, I don’t think I’d do it. It would kill me to see him die, but he’s going to die sometime and better that I not financially devastate myself and my family in the process… It’s a hard call, though.

    I do know that I wouldn’t spend much, if anything, on my two cats. They’re more like houseplants than members of our family. I take ’em to the vet for immunizations and if they are sick. And they’re indoor cats, so not much risk of them getting hurt. But if they were to go into renal failure, I’d probably have them put down rather than pay for surgery, etc…

  21. MameDennis says:

    I completely agree with previous posters that quality of life is a huge consideration. If the poor animal is going to be miserable no matter what, then it’s time.

    But, honestly, I would be one of those people who would drop major coin on the pets. I have a friend who paid $1500 for surgery to save his cat when he (the cat) ate a length of cord. I would do that, no question.

  22. clessness says:

    I note an error in the Dallas reader’s reasoning (wholly aside from ethical issues and general heartlessness).

    If he spent $110 to get his spaniel, then clearly the benefit he gains from the dog is worth more than $110, otherwise he wouldn’t have exchanged the money for the dog. Thus $110 is not the maximum he should spend in order to retain the dog, but in fact the minimum (assuming the dog’s perceived value has not changed).

    Can’t believe I majored in economics for this.

    • Garbanzo says:

      @clessness: Speaking purely economically, if the treatment cost more than $110, wouldn’t his best course of action be to spend only $110 to get a new dog from the pound? If he choses correctly he should be able to get a dog that gives him the same pleasure per day as the old dog, but is younger and therefore has a longer expected future lifespan and thus will yield a greater total amount of pleasure.

      If it cost me $300 to fix my iPod but only $200 to buy a new iPod, it seems that it would be a no-brainer to buy a new one. How are the economics different for a dog?

      (I am not saying that I agree with the original blogger’s sentiment. We actually paid $4.5k last year to remove a tumor from our dog. I’m just trying to understand clessness’s analysis.)

  23. Eels says:

    I have a cousin who spent something in the neighborhood of ten grand to save her yellow lab who required lots of blood transfusions and all sorts of other things. I don’t think it was ridiculous for her, because she had that money to spend. If anything happened to my parents golden retrievers, I’m sure they’d sell their house and live in a tent so the dogs could survive.

  24. SkokieGuy says:

    I paid $1000.00 for spinal surgery on my 3 year old Dachund, (and this was 15 years ago). He lived to almost 15 and I would happily have done it again.

    However, if he were 10 or 12, I would not have performed the same surgey, as his remaining lifespan potential would have been much more limited.

    Another huge issue in the pet industry not talked about is the value of an animal. High tech treatment options are increasing. MRI’s, chemotherapy, heart transplants, etc. Your vet will ‘use’ the animal – patient bond to encourage you to spend and spend and spend on your pet’s health, and there is subtle guilt factor if you don’t concur.

    BUT – and this is huge, you can’t effectively sue for malpractice, because the ‘value’ of an animal is simply it’s original purchase price. Your animal is legally considered property and your damages are limited to the cost of the property.

    So a doctor can general hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees, with almost no liability or risk. Veterinary associations have agressively lobbied AGAINST legislation that would allow for loss of companionship, etc.

    • BrAff says:

      whatever it takes… as long as their quality of life will still be good.

      @SkokieGuy: It is nice to hear good dachshund surgery stories… I have two right now (a Brindle-Piebald shorthair and a Black-Tan Wirehair)…

    • mmmsoap says:

      @SkokieGuy: If this is what your vet does, it’s time to get another vet. I have 3 cats, two of which have moderate medical issues that need some maintenance (daily medicine, special food, extra trip to the vet once or twice a year). Taken individually, it’s not bad at all, financially, but when they hit at once it can add up. My vet is *always* talking about options…We have options A, B, or C…C’s the best, but costs this much. On the other hand, we’ll probably get almost the same results from B, for this much, but the results take longer to process…he recommends doing A sometime in the next year, but in reality it may tell us bad news we can’t fix and we may want to skip it.

      Whenever I talk to my vet about treatments, both the health, quality of life, and cost of the procedures are weighed.

  25. Milo.Stone says:

    I’m in an odd place. My dog has a couple of conditions that aren’t super cheap. Stopping treatment wouldn’t kill her, but it would make her suffer for the rest of her life. I have a harder time cutting her off of that than I would putting her to sleep if the choice was death or a $5k vet bill.

  26. sydneyb says:

    We spent ~$5k on knee surgery for our 5 year old dog. She had two torn ACLs in BOTH knees but was otherwise completely healthy. I think for me is that she was suffering from something that wasn’t terminal and she had many more happy years ahead of her. She’s good as new and we’ve since paid for the surgery. Everyone is happy :)

  27. cotr says:

    id spend $5,000. why? thats how much the my own health insurance out of pocket is.

  28. alynnk says:

    I think a lot of it depends on the age of the pet, how greatly the treatments / surgeries / whatever can improve quality of life, and the degree to which the pet is a part of your family. My three-year-old german shepherd was diagnosed with lymphoma earlier this year. Grand total for a 25 week chemo program? Between five and six grand. She went into remission around week three and hasn’t looked back since; she seems bouncier and happier than ever. With as young as she is, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. When she’s 12 or 13 and has lived a full life, maybe not so much. People will say “oh, it’s just a pet”, but to a lot of people, they’re so much more than that.

  29. Gokuhouse says:

    Well, to chime in here, I would spend what I could at that point in my life. Right now that number would be a couple hundred tops, maybe in a few years I might have the extra cash to spend more. There’s always a limit.

  30. diasdiem says:

    One alternative is to only buy pets that have the personality of a house plant. I had two African pygmy frogs (totally aquatic) that lived for about a year after I bought them before they died. I was honestly more upset when an ivy plant my sister gave me that I had for 3 years withered and died. Granted, something like a hermit crab isn’t as fun or lovable as a kitten, but there’s less of an emotional investment. Plus, you usually don’t know they’re sick until they actually die, so you don’t have to make an agonizing decision to extend their life, if you somehow manage to find a vet who specializes in crustaceans. Downside is that those kind of pets are really more like living conversation pieces than companions.

  31. SkokieGuy says:

    On liability for damages:

    “In the United States, domesticated animals (either pets or animals of a commercial importance) are considered the personal property of the owner. Animals have no independent legal rights for the most part (i.e., animals cannot be a party to a lawsuit in court). As a result, when a pet is injured or killed, it is the owner who must file a lawsuit to recover damages. Unfortunately, the traditional computation of damages for the loss of pet is the market value of the pet – the amount of money someone else would pay for the identical pet of the same, age, breed, and condition. Since most of our beloved cats and dogs are not pedigreed or are of mixed breed, they have little or no market value. Thus, despite the grievous nature of the act that injured the dog, owners are left with no compensation.”


  32. hardtoremember says:

    I would spend as much as I could as long as my animal wouldn’t be in misery and had a good quality of life.
    I love my pets. They are part of my family. All 5 of them.

  33. Eilonwynn says:

    I have 2 cats. One of them decided to leap out a 9th story window, and we thought she was gone (either dead or wandered off) for sure. Not so – found under a bush, and was perfectly fine. However, it did make me think about things.

    These cats were barn kittens that I took over on a whim. I like them, they bring me great pleasure, and I enjoy having them around. I’d like to believe I do the same for them, but I really, really doubt it.

    And in the end, I’m sorry, but they’re cats. I need to deal with my future, and the cost of any kind of medical emergency would force me to leave school. There are a number of kitten rescue places in around the town where I grew up – I’d get one from them, and get on with things. Call me heartless, but it’s how I see it.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Eilonwynn: They’ve actually done studies on cat mortality falling great distances. (No, they don’t throw cats out of increasingly high floor windows; they compiled data after the cat slipped).
      Because of their body mass, their terminal velocity is less than the shock of landing it’d take to kill them*. If they are relaxed (they then adopt a falling pose that helps slow them).
      One story is okay. Floors 2-6 are increasingly worse, with major injuries/fatalities being common at floors 5-6. Seven and above, however, they relax, arch their backs, feet downward, forming a scoop and they typically land no worse for wear.
      Weird, huh?

      * A grisly physics rule of thumb concerning body mass vs falling that I recall from somewhere: cats land. Horses splatter. Elephants explode. (Eww)

      • lilad says:

        @Trai_Dep: My cat fell out our 3rd story window and was fine. I’ll tell him how lucky he is.

        We cut our cat’s claws when they get too long, and have tried training him not to claw the furniture. He never scratches us even when we let his claws get long. There are also plastic claw covers you can get that glue onto the cat’s claws.

        • Trai_Dep says:

          @lilad: Yeah, I remember reading the study and my first thought was, “What horrible monsters performed that experiment?!” until a bit later where it said it was based on around 3,000 cases investigated after the fact. No cat catapults (heh catapults) used. But yeah, I’m sure there’s a lot of variance. But they cited one cat being flung from a Cessna who landed without a scratch. Eerie.

          Oh, I remembered the physics body mass mnemonic better:
          Mice bounce. Men splat. Horses Explode.

          Great to know there are little plastic kitty-claw sheaths, but I busted up laughing just hearing of it. I hope they come in day-glow. :P

  34. Jeneni says:

    Like everyone said, if it’s not going to do much to help them, I’d say it’s not worth while… but if my pets are still relatively young and healthy and it will help them I’d pay whatever I could… If I had the money. Unfortunately if one of my cats needed surgery that was going to cost 2K, I just don’t have it… I imagine a lot of people are in that kind of situation and could only really afford something in the couple hundred dollar range.

  35. jurisenpai says:

    I spent around $200 diagnosing my 2-year-old cat’s gingivitis and $600 getting all her molars and pre-molars removed. 18 months later, she’s incredibly healthy and her remaining teeth look great. I viewed that $800 as an investment in her general health that will last for another decade or two.

    Chemo? Radiation? I don’t know if I could make her go through something so traumatic without a good reason or prognosis.

  36. TurboWagon00 says:

    Orrrrr, you could simply get the Koreans to knock out a couple of clones of your beloved animal for about $10k a pop.


  37. slungsolow says:

    I spent $1100 on a Friday to keep my poor cat, Hugo, alive while suffering from a severe infection. I was told it would clear up in about 48 hours. Within 12 hours I was told it would be another $1100 to make him better again and I just couldn’t pay it. My wife (who was 4 months pregnant) and I decided it was for the best that he was put down, which was another $300 BTW.

    That $1400 came out of the kids college tuition fund. If the initial therapy took, we would have gladly spent another $1100 for recurring treatment down the road, but $2200 in 12 hours was too much for our budget.

    • TangDrinker says:

      @slungsolow: So sorry to hear about your loss.

      This hits home for us, too. Some idiot with a bb gun shot our 11 year old cat last weekend in our yard, and the emergency vet offered to do exploratory surgery to try to repair his bladder and bowel. It would have cost around $1800 total, with no guarantee of his survival and we just couldn’t afford that. We had to put him down.

      We have paid $700 for exploratory surgery (it was a greenie stuck in the intestine) and an additional $1500 for ACL surgery for our boxer mix, but she was less than 3 years old at the time. If the acl had happened when she was older we probably would not have paid for the surgery – and instead, just treated her for pain.

      This is a serious issue and one every pet owner needs to consider before adopting a pet.

  38. zentex says:

    A pet is an investment. When it doesn’t make economic sense, you gotta part with it and get a new one. Yes, I’ve had pets all my life.

  39. PurplePuppy says:

    One thing that’s missing is how much people are willing to spend to avoid the vet’s in the first place.

    People sometimes think I’m crazy for spending so much on grain-free, all-natural dog food (+ fish oil, raw eggs, yogurt and raw meat bones). I’ve even had a Vegan tell me it’s immoral to feed my dog that way when people are dying of starvation in other countries. Personally, I view it as paying my vet bills in advance. There’s many chronic conditions my dog will never have… such as tooth decay: his chompers are as white and bright as the day I brought him home as a pup, and he’s never had them cleaned!

  40. battra92 says:

    $0.00 When my goldfish dies he gets flushed. Then I might buy a new one at Walmart* for a quarter if I’m feeling like spendthrift.

  41. FangDoc says:

    My husband and I have a lot of differences of opinion on a lot of different things (for example, this election is not going to be pretty at our house) but I am very grateful that we are united in doing whatever we can afford to do for our pets, as long as the animal’s quality of life is good.

    I can deal with his pickup truck, his rap music, his Libertarian candidates, even his radio talk shows. When he rushed our comatose cat to the emergency veterinary clinic, and even learned how to do daily blood glucose testing on the cat’s ears, I knew I’d married the right man.

  42. JanetCarol says:

    It depends
    is it terminal?
    How old is she?
    Will she have problems the rest of her life?

    The thing is, It’s heartbreaking to let a pet go, however there are thousands of homeless pets who are in good health being put down daily. If my dog gets cancer, I’ll miss her but she’s getting put down, I’ll cry and go to the pound and get a new dog to give a good life to.

    It may sound heartless, but spending $5000 on a dying animal for a year while healthy ones die because they do not have homes in my mind is crazy.

    • e.varden says:


      My pal of seven years (rescue big girl), the delight of the neighbourhood, was stricken with galloping cancers at a far too young age. A neighbour canvassed my community and raised $400 to cover exploratory ultrasound. Which confirmed there was no hope. I had her exit on my lap; no more siezures, no more pain.

      I wept for a month. Then I found a potential rescue-bitch at the same Humane Society. (Via internet.) I raced down and visited with her ( rottie-shepherd-lab mix). She was so affable, so eager to please (and SO strong; discipline needed here, yikes!) — I fillerd out the forms, paid the nominal fee and took he “hiome”.

      To which she responded as if it was always hers!.

      She is now totally tractable on walks, and is gaining the same appreciation from the community as did my pervious “Doris”.

      IMPORTANT: I am feeding this dog lots of raw mwats, and broth-heated vegetables. I am NOT allowing yearly vaccinations (which from my research I believe led to the early demise of Doris -> compromised immune-system.

      “New” Dottie had all her shots as a pup; no more than a seven-year booster of anti-rabies will she ever have again. (Google: University of Guelph: rabies vaccination, long-term effectiveness.)

      – For more information on the counter-productivity of repeated vaccinations, explore the site of Dr. Andrew Jones, a vet in B.C., Canada.

      Yes he is flogging a self-help animal-healing book. I don’t sneer; I applaud him.


  43. shred says:

    I spent $5000 to have a bottle cap located and removed from my dog’s intestines. I’ve never regretted it. Not even a day.

    I have pet insurance on all three pets now, though.

  44. I’ve got a great idea. How about instead of spending $3,000 to save one animals life, why don’t you give that money to a shelter and save several? I have heard people say that if you can’t afford vet bills then you shouldn’t have a pet? So my two dogs are better off in the pound where I found them? Oh wait, they’d be dead.
    They are JUST dogs. Wonderful, amazing, beautiful dogs, but just dogs none the less. Anthropomorphism is dangerous.

    • floraposte says:

      Yup. Economically it wouldn’t make sense to spend $220 on the dog if it’s only worth $110 to him. So that’s a bit of faulty economics there.

      @zentex: A canine or feline pet isn’t an investment in the usual sense of the word, because they almost never have market value (unless you’ve got a breeding animal that’s also a pet). That’s a reason why it’s tough to make this decision–you’re having to put a value on animal companionship.

      @vivelefat: Anthropomorphism can be dangerous, but that’s not the same thing as valuing the companionship of a particular animal. One could reasonably argue that it would be even more beneficial to take the money we spend on our companion animals and use it for needy humans instead, or to give our money to charity rather than buying a present for a friend or family member. It’s not morally inferior to prefer and spend money for the companions we know over the companions we don’t.

  45. Bozman8 says:

    i just spent $1,700 on surgery for my cat this week. in my eyes, it’s money well spent. though it really sucks.

  46. snoop-blog says:

    Are we talking out of pocket or something they are going to bill me for?

    No seriously, some people are really attached to their pets. I wouldn’t be surprised for people to spend upto or over 5k to save their dog. Of course, I’d take into consideration of the animals condition, and age. But my mini-schnauzer is not even 2 yet and there is no way I could put money over having her at this point in our lives. But I’m a softy for animals. I about cried when I watched the iraq youtube vid that showed the soldier throwing a little puppy off of a huge cliff. You could hear the poor little guy yelping. I wanted to throw HIM off of a cliff so he could see what it’s like…

  47. bishophicks says:

    The first dog I have ever owned died this past April. He was fifteen, going deaf and going blind. Before he died he stopped being able to hold down food. The vet couldn’t find any blockage or other ailment. We decided to put the dog down. I could have afforded to pay a lot to keep him alive, but for what? The dog was miserable. I wasn’t interested in torturing my friend so I could avoid feeling sad for a few extra months.

    During his life he was hit by a car and suffered liver failure (which he recovered from, go figure). I gladly paid those bills ($1,500ish total) because the dog had a good chance to recover. He wasn’t going to recover from being old.

  48. pgh9fan says:

    My dog gives our family endless pleasure and love. She doesn’t ask for much. A full bowl. A scratch on the back. A nice walk. She is one of the family. I’d spend whatever I could to keep her. I can’t put a price on love.

  49. Grive says:

    I don’t have a set number. If I can afford it, I’ll pay it. Any kind of “logical” limits put on expenses depresses me and actually sickens me a bit. When I’ve had a dog (not much of a cat person), I don’t see him as property – he’s part of the family, for better or worse. He’s another living creature, and one that has established an empathical link with us. I’m sorry, but simply I don’t care enough about money to put a value on that.

    My only constraint is that the guy will live a good life post-treatment. If it’s only keeping him alive, then no, I won’t pay to prolong his suffering.

    For my Cocker Spaniel, we decided not to treat it for an esophagus problem he had. The vet told us that no matter what he did, the dog would only keep suffering. We’d have to keep it on a diet of ensure-ish substances, and it would simply no longer be the crazed wrecking ball of joy he used to be. We decided to keep him well cared for as long as the vet told us he wouldn’t be suffering too much, and eventually put him down when we noticed he was suffering.

  50. dtmoore says:

    It depends, for my german shepherd I would spend a lot of money to keep her going as long as there wasn’t going to be a quality of life issue, if she had cancer or something and I was just stringing her along I would put her down. If she say broke a leg and needed surgery i would do it no question – pretty much regardless of cost.

  51. Bladefist says:

    If its the hypothetical how much would you pay, like we did as kids, to keep a healthy pet, then I would dump every penny I have. If my pet was having serious medical problems, then I would probably do whats right, and have them put to sleep. If its something minor, like, hit by a car, the dog can come back good as new, then the only limit would be my current savings

  52. Morac says:

    I picked up two cats (brother and sister) from a shelter nearly 4 years ago for about $165. I was told they were both free of disease, but when I had them tested, one (female) ended up being Feline Leukemia positive.

    Well the disease kicked into full gear about a month ago and in the course of a week my female cat became severely anemic (her bone marrow shut down), couldn’t control her bowels and was running a high fever. I brought her to the vet hospital and was given two choices:
    1. Spend thousands of dollars on blood transfusions, anti-biotics and steroids with a small chance of keeping her alive for a few months (and repeat this every few months).
    2. Put her down.

    I chose the later. The decision was tough since I loved that cat, but logic beat out emotion. Spending thousands of dollars to her alive artificially didn’t make sense, especially when you take into account that she would be miserable the entire time. Overall it was the humane thing to do and most people I’ve spoken to (including the vet) have agreed with me.

  53. howie_in_az says:

    I hate my cats and wouldn’t spend anything to save them. They just eat and poop, eat and poop, eat and poop. Oh sure, occasionally they’ll jump up in your lap, but then they do their kneading thing. Or they’ll leave a shitton of hair on your otherwise clean clothes. Plus they won’t shut up. Every day it’s meowing for this or meowing for that. They ought to go out and get a job or something. My fiance and I work all day and then we come home and have to clean their litterbox because they can’t use the toilet. They’re such bums it’s not even funny. Right now they’re both laying on the bed in my home office, soaking up the sun. In a few minutes they’ll get too hot and want to be near the A/C vent. They don’t even know that A/C costs money. Then they’ll meander over to their food bowls and start demanding tuna, the bastards.

    In reality, I don’t think I could justify spending over $1,000 for them. I’m sure I’d feel horribly guilty afterward, though. Jeffreykat (think Stewie from Family Guy and you pretty much know this cat) somehow broke his leg one night. I think the ‘cat condo’ fell on him, or his brother Mike jumped on him, but the vet implied I had hit him with a shovel (to which I replied “how else are you going to play kitty baseball?” Now we see his partner since he’s afraid of me). They wanted to take the leg but wow, just because a car is out of gas doesn’t mean you wreck it. $800 later and his leg is somewhat healed, although it juts out at an odd angle. He compensates for it though.

    They still need jobs, however.

    • Jeneni says:

      @howie_in_az: Dude, it sounds like you shouldn’t have pets at all… lol.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      That was freaking hilarious!

      I have a cat now that I was taking care of for the neighbor. They gave (dumped) her to me when the vet sent them the yearly shot reminder postcard and they didn’t want to spend the money. She’s an outdoor cat that is scared of everyone but me. Her mother, who was very affectionate and would come in my house and sit on the couch with me, ran off and disappeared; that’s the cat I would have wanted if they were going to give me one!

      I will take her back to the vet since she pukes a lot. She’s a pretty good little kitty now. She lets me brush her and plays a little with me and I DO love her, but I don’t have that kind of money for something serious.

  54. Ninjanice says:

    I love my boys and would do just about anything to keep them happy and healthy. But that doesn’t mean that I would spend thousands of dollars to keep an animal alive if the pet’s quality of life would be seriously downgraded. I always feel sad for the pets at the vet that you can tell are like 25 years old and their owner id doing everything possible to keep tem alive.
    On another note, my parents have a very spoiled dog. They started a “retirement fund” for him because his breed is prone to certain health problems later in life. They would put their spare change into a jar at the end of the night and cash it out once a month and put it in the dog’s savings account. I know it’s crazy that a dog has his own savings account, but it has already come in handy since he had to have surgery last fall.

  55. Pipes says:

    Agreed that there is no unchanging answer for this. I adopted a 9 year old dog about 6 months ago, and just found out he has heartworm disease. I was fully prepared to pay the few hundred dollars to cure him of the disease. (Unfortunately he is not a good candidate for the treatment.) Now, if he got terminal cancer, I would not pay thousands for his chemo. He is a big, older dog and with heartworm, realistically only has about 2 years left. I would pay for his meds but only until he starts suffering.

  56. bbagdan says:

    I’d probably draw the line at $1000, once.

  57. jteckmann says:

    I fall in with the quality of life crowd. I wouldn’t spend tons of $$$ to prolong a suffering pet’s life, even if I had the money.

    I’ve had to make that decision a few times. One of my cats, when he was younger, required major surgery. I was assured he’d make a full recovery and have a normal life, so I did everything possible within my meager college-student budget to get it done (including driving 6 hours one-way to the nearest university with a veterinary program, where the students performed the operation for about half of what it would’ve cost elsewhere) 6 years later, the same cat developed chronic issues with a grim prognosis. At that point in my life, the $$$ wasn’t a problem but instead of treatment that would’ve made the cat even more miserable, I elected to make him as comfortable as possible, and then put to sleep when the time came.

    The issue’s always at the forefront of my mind, though. I currently have crew of dogs that are getting up there in age. I don’t mind the expense – to me, their companionship is more important that a new car, fancy consumer goods, or nice furniture – so I’ll gladly pay for routine check-ups and meds. But if it comes to the point where one of them is suffering, then I know it’s time to let them go.

  58. cametall says:

    Not much. *Maybe* a few hundred.

  59. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I love my three kitties, but I know they do not understand when they are in pain. I will pay quite a bit of money (1000+) to make them healthy, but I won’t spend it just to prolong their pain. I had a beautiful, smart, good, and gracious tomcat (how many cats can you say that about) who lived with colon disease for about a year. They thought it was cancer, but the autopsy showed it wasn’t. When he developed a heart problem on top of that, and his quality of life declined to the point where things were difficult for him and he was obviously not much interested in life anymore, I asked for him to be euthanized. The pain he would have gone through if I had made heroic attempts to “save” him just sickens me.

  60. EBone says:

    Just spent $4,000 to save our seven year old cat Hazel. And would do it again tomorrow if I had to.

  61. lilacorchid says:

    I love animals (if my cat could talk, she would tell you she’s well taken care of and sometimes spoiled princess) but animals getting chemo or MRIs before people is unsettling to me. There is something wrong when you can get your cat or dog in for chemo before you can get a person in.

    If kitty was sick, I’d probably spend $1-200 per visit to cure her, but I don’t think I would put her through chemo or major surgury.

  62. ArgusRun says:

    It depends on how much you have and the value of said treatment. If a $1000 treatment will keep the pet alive healthy and out of pain for at least a year, I’d do it. Otherwise no.

  63. LiC says:

    I’m hoping to get a cat when I move out to Oregon later this year. I intend to get it from a shelter, where I’ll pay an appropriate amount considering it’s been spayed and had it’s shots. Then I’ll take it over to the vet and have the front claws removed. I will not spend much more than that in medical care for it again.

    • katylostherart says:

      @LiC: please don’t get a cat. get a fish or hamster or something that’s cheap and only lives a couple years. declawing is cruel and doesn’t have any medical benefit like neutering and if you’re not willing to keep up in case of emergency or sickness for an animal that could live for two decades then it’s better off finding a home with someone who would.

    • johnva says:

      @LiC: Most reputable shelters won’t give you a cat if you intend to declaw it. Frankly, declawing should be illegal as there is no medical benefit to it and it can actually increase aggression issues with biting, etc. Instead of doing that, you can just keep their claws trimmed and train them not to scratch on stuff.

      Also, while you don’t necessarily need to go for the multi-thousand dollar cancer treatment, you really should be willing to provide a reasonable level of vet care if you get a cat.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @LiC: You sound like a very compassionate pet owner, and it’s SO great that you’re rescuing cats from shelters.
      But you might want to rethink declawing cats. It’s not really declawing, it’s de-fingering. And it changes them – they’re wired to have claws and once they’re gone, they know it. To say nothing of the pain involved in, well, having their itty-bitty-little-fingers chopped off.
      We have two cats, one of which is VERY rambunctious and would claw up everything.
      We simply clip his claws every couple of weeks and have several scratching mats scattered around (spiced up with catnip and we play with them with him) and no clawed furniture.
      So for a bit of routine effort – and not unpleasant work – he keeps his lil’ fingers.

      …Food for though, huh? Check w/ your vet for alternatives to declawing, or Google it. There’s a lot of options out there. :)

    • MomInTraining says:

      @LiC: Declawing cats is considered inhumane and is rejected by most of the world as cruel. Please look into what the cat has to go through when it is declawed and investigate alternatives before you put a cat through that trauma.

  64. Ruthven says:

    Well, this is rather timely. A few weeks ago, one of my two cats was struck ill and had to be admitted for emergency care. The bill since then has been about $6000, and that will continue to climb with medication and checkups (autoimmune hemolytic anemia, for those who are curious).

    It’s easy to say how much you’re willing to spend, but it’s an entirely different thing to sign a pet’s death warrant. Difficult as it was, there was no way I could let a 13-month old cat just die when it was in my power to save her.

    That said, there is a limit … and I hit mine.

  65. SpdRacer says:

    My mother has repeatedly stated she would rather be homeless than lose her dogs.

  66. SadSam says:

    This is a tough one. I have an 11 year old dog and last year he had cancer and we had to think this through. I’d pay a good chunk to keep him healthy (and he had surgery to remove the cancer and I paid for a doggy oncologist to consult). But when it came time to pay for radiation (one of the options) for post surgery treatment, I declined both because the dog does not do well went he is put under (he gets very sick) and he would have to be knocked out each time he had radiation) and due to the fact that the vet couldnt’ really tell me if the radiation would do much for him. A year later he is doing well, happy and healthy.

    I think pets are a commitment and I would spend just about anything to keep my dog healthy and happy, but there would come a time where I would not want to prolong pain or suffering.

  67. katylostherart says:

    whatever i have in my bank account and a payment plan if it will give him at least a year of a good, pain-free life. i’d euthanize him if it would just leave him suffering until he died. hell i’ve paid $500 for a stray cat i found on the road with only half a tail and have offered to pay for other pets that people have abandoned or have been injured.

    i found another cat in the middle of a busy road that no one was helping. i picked her up and took her to the nearest vet. the two people manning the desk were more worried about me paying for this stray than the crying cat in my arms with a wounded leg. i offered them all i had at the time which was $170 and gave them all contact info and a xerox of my debit card and license and told them when i got paid next. they kept reiterating that they weren’t a shelter and that SOMEONE had to take this cat and pay for it. the vet saw the cat and determined there was nothing they could really do for her. he came out and thanked me for bringing her in and waived the kill and disposal fees. so the vet was a decent guy and the two assholes behind the desk decided that ensuring payment was better than ensuring mercy.

    i get that time and supplies aren’t free. but why were they working witih animals if that’s all they thought of? it’s not like this was some poor back country vet’s office. i mean this is land of retarded breeds like the “labradoodle” and people that dress their dogs.

  68. MercuryPDX says:

    Greyhounds are athletes, and genetically very healthy. The down side is that they can be accident prone. A simple scratch on another dog could require staples or serious stitching to close up; their skin is as thin as paper.

    Rough estimate, I spend about $2500/year on Seven between food, regular vet visits and day care (2x week). I know it’s excessive (3/4 of that is day care alone), but the love and companionship makes up for it. He also has his own savings account for potential vet emergencies in lieu of Vet Insurance. Above and beyond that amount, it would depend on what happened and what benefit spending the extra money would give him.

    If you’re interested in adopting a retired racing greyhound like Seven, seek out your local GPA chapter.

  69. incognit000 says:

    I’ve always gotten dogs from the pound. I keep paying to treat their illnesses until it’s clear that they need to pass on. If you pay close attention to your dog you can usually tell when they know it’s time for them to die, and in my case that has always been well before things got sincerely expensive.

    As George Carlin said, life is a series of dogs. You get one, you love it for about a decade and a half, and then you get another one.

  70. Trai_Dep says:

    I hate to say it, but some vets are worse than funeral home directors in guilting their patients’ owners.
    One of our kitties – 13 or so – had a tumor in her jaw that grew quite large, quite fast. It wasn’t painful but it interfered with her being able to lap water, then towards the end, eating, even canned food. I took her in early, of course. $300 for an exam, advise, okay.
    Then the vet wanted to do a biopsy screen ($800) for malignancy. Being it’s an old cat and whether it was malignant or not, the cure would consist of removing her jaw, basically (“over $1,000”), I passed. Malignant or not, there was still the tumor to remove with decent odds her jaw would be gone.
    Quality of life issue, and the fact that she’d had a good run.

    The vet made me feel like crap for not testing for malignancy – like it’d make a difference. Then once she’d gone past what we could do (saline packs, hand-feeding her watered down canned food, the works), and once she was in pain (she cut into the tissue), we brought her in to be put to sleep.

    Another vet there was understanding and supportive. But before I got to him, I had my vet (yup, he handed me off) and the staff trying to get me to pursue the therapeutic route (easily exceeding $1,000). Making me feel crappy for letting her go.

    I’ve since switched vets, but MAN do some of these vet places try guilting you into paying exorbitant fees.

  71. charliew77 says:

    Just over a year ago, my fiancee was faced with a situation where her nearly-18 year old cat’s health was declining. There comes a time when you have to make the choice to let your pet go, the question is when. For my fiancee it was when she realized that sure, she could keep him going for another 6 months, but he would be in agony for that entire time. So instead of making him go through that, she had him put to sleep.

    If your pet will be in pain while you try to keep him/her alive, you shouldn’t be selfish.

  72. gmoney says:

    we spent almost $10K for a 5 year old lab’s cancer treatments. She lived 6 months. But there was a chance it would go into remission. When the rubber hits the road, how do you value a being of any sort as a loved one? That’s the question.

    Thankfully, I funded most of it by selling my 1968 Gibson SG for $7500.

  73. balthisar says:

    I’m glad I’ve not had to ask myself this question yet. Well, I’ve asked, but I’ve avoiding answering.

    I paid $500 for a broken leg once. Hopefully this isn’t ominous foreshadowing of another occurrence, but… it happened on labor day weekend, and we took her to an emergency outpatient veterinary clinic, which is what drove up the costs.

    She’s a mutt from a rescue place.

  74. wiggatron says:

    I’m surprised the big insurance companies haven’t started shilling pet health insurance. Seems like one more way for them to rape the American public.

  75. RedSonSuperDave says:

    I love my cats as though they were my children. That being said, I would spend (and have spent in the past) maybe a few hundred bucks on them. Sixty bucks to get a cat neutered and some shots? Sure.

    On the other hand, one of my other cats was diagnosed with Feline Infectious Peritonitis. The vet said that it would be possible to save him by replacing several of his internal organs and doing some experimental surgery that would cost possibly ten thousand dollars, and I had to put him down instead.

    My right-hand man has a dog that he loves as though it were his son. The dog came down with a grapefruit-sized tumor in its stomach, and he had to pay $8000 for treatment. Personally, I would have had to say goodbye at that point.

    Call me heartless if you like, but I’m not. Hell, I apply the same standards to ME. If I come down with a medical condition that’s gonna require several thousand dollars (which I don’t have) to fix, well, it’s been nice knowing you.

  76. imaLttlGrl says:

    I view my cats pretty much to be like my children. I have already spent thousands of dollars on them for vet bills, food, litter, toys, treats, you name it. They are an investment. I pay out and they return a much appreciated love. My youngest one is the one in my profile pic, she is smart and refusing a malt beverage.

    I would pay any amount, whatever it may be, for their well being. I would not however, pay for them to stay alive for my own selfish reasons. Any amount of money is worth it if THEY are benefiting from it.

    I feel that if you don’t have the time, money, or patients to commit to an animal, then don’t get one. They are members of our families, not something there to entertain us like the television many people have already talked about today.

  77. holocron says:

    Get Pet Health and/or Accident Insurance.

    You’ll end up paying the same over the lift of the pet in premiums as you would just paying for vet bills in the end, but:

    1) The total cost is spread out over a long period of time.
    2) Helps you to NOT have to make the hard decisions about whether or not to treat the animal.
    3) Protects you from those giant vet bills in the end for emergencies, if not “routine” illness.

    Seriously, $50 a month for a premium really offers a lot of peace of mind. And heck, NOT eating out a few times a month to offset the cost of this is easy.

    I fail to see why more people do not do this. Most people treat their pets like children. Would you not have insurance for your children?

    $50 a month. Done.

  78. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    If there was a good chance my pet would be happy and continue a normal life: $10K, maybe even higher, I love my dog and I would like to think that with a higher mental capacity, he’d do the same for me.

  79. chairman_now says:

    I had this dilemma happen twice in the last year.

    My dog, Cindy, needed surgery so she could breath effectively. Her quality of life was terrible. She was simply the most wonderful animal I’ve ever been around, so I paid the $3000 to get her fixed up; the initial prognosis indicated that the surgery would almost certainly make a huge difference. She was 8, and it was expected that she’d live until 10-12. It was worth it, even in light of what happened next.

    Sadly, Cindy was diagnosed with a brain tumor just a few months later. The cost of treatment would have been in excess of $10,000 – about $2500 just for a CAT scan to identify where the mass was. The chance of a recovery was very close to 0%, and she had just turned 9. Even if she did survive, there would have been much pain and suffering from the treatment.

    This was the most agonizing decision I’ve ever made. Cindy was my best friend. I work from home, and Cindy traveled well, so we had not been apart for more than a day or two for many years. The thought of losing her was simply beyond comprehension, and the money was in the bank.

    I ended up taking the middle road. I treated her symptoms with oral hormones to shrink the tumor, and therefore extend her life for another 10 weeks. It meant cleaning up a lot of “spills”, due to the side effects, but it gave me some time to come to grips with things, and say goodbye.

    Finally, the hormones no longer had an effect, and she couldn’t do basic things for herself. And I put her down at that time.

    I’ve since gotten a new dog, and he’s great, but he isn’t Cindy. I still agonize over the decision, that I didn’t do everything within my power to keep her alive. There is precious little that I could have spent the money on that would have given me the joy that my little friend did.

    • woohhaa says:

      @chairman_now: I know what you are going through. My wife and I just went through the same scenario about 3 weeks ago with our 8 yr old Rottweiler Bear. My wife still cries from time to time and it still bothers me but we to have gotten two more rescue dogs and are enjoying them. Like you said though, they aren’t Bear.

  80. unpolloloco says:

    I could never spend anywhere near that much money on an animal. 1,000,000,0000 people in the world do not have access to clean water. Providing 100 people with clean drinking water is way more important than spending 10k on prolonging an animal’s life.

    • A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

      @unpolloloco: This isn’t a debate about how to spend tax money, geez. If someone wants to spend $10K of their own money for their pet, more power to him/her.

    • floraposte says:

      @unpolloloco: Sure, but one could also say that it’s better to spend $100 on 100 measles shots for unimmunized kids than on $100 of entertainment, electronics, and phone minutes. If you’re going to declare personal indulgence immoral while people are suffering at a basic level, it’s not really fair to be selective–everything from the restaurant meal to the computer game to the pet surgery is spending on something that isn’t exactly necessary. I think you can argue about the morality of spending on nonessentials when people die from lack of essentials, but if you start singling out particular kinds of nonessential expenditures, that’s really a matter of personal preference rather than morality.

  81. DelFarmer says:

    Wife and I spent $8000 on three surgeries on a one year old pug. It was worth every penny and we thought he would be with us for another 15 years. Unfortunately, he died in a accident 3 months later. Its’ all about risk.

  82. My parents paid upwards of $4,500 for back surgery for one of their dogs and that was $4,500 they didn’t have. The vets weren’t even terribly optimistic that the back surgery would be successful. A number of years later (she’s now 14) and she’s still a happy dog, though she doesn’t have use of her back legs (she scoots around just fine though) and her tail no longer wags, but she’s happy and she’s not in any pain.

    My wife and I spent over $1,000 for one of our pet rats (Chloe) when she got sick (might have been mycoplasmosis, might have been just a genetic quirk) and unfortunately, the condition continued to worse and we had to have her put to sleep about 2 weeks later. When her sister (Lana) came down with the same illness some months later, we knew she didn’t have long and spent time with her and then also had to put her to sleep as well, not wanting her to go through what her sister did.

    What it comes down to is this – when you spend that kind of money on an ailing pet, are you doing it for that pet…or are you doing it for yourself? It’s tough to make that distinction. With Chloe, I think we kept her around too long, not for her benefit but for OUR benefit. With Lana, we knew what had to be done. It still hurts like hell thinking about it though.

    • datruesurfer says:

      @edicius: I completely agree with you. My aunt used to have two dogs: a Golden Retriever(17 years old), and a mix/mut(about 8 years old). The retriever was always a happy, friendly animal who loved attention until its last month or so when his kidneys failed. I went to see him right before he was put down and he was just lying on the floor, motion-less. My aunt and uncle had to wheel him out to the car to the vet because he just had no strength to move. The vet offered a procedure which would let him live for maybe another month, but he still would be in pain, and still have no energy. My aunt decided after 17 years of loyal companionship, it was time to do the right thing take him out of his misery.

      The mut, however was fine at the time and that made matters even worse as he had no idea what was going on. I had to hold him back and take care of him while my aunt and uncle loaded the older dog into the car. The younger dog was never quite the same after that and later died the same way from cancer.

  83. mpotter says:

    We adopted our little girl, a 2 year old cocker/lab mix, in 2003 and last year she was diagnosed with stage 2 mast cell cancer. Our oncologist was amazing and informed us of all the options as well as survival rates. We decided to go ahead and have the surgery to remove the tumor as well as the chemo to try and make sure we got everything. The surgery and chemo set us back about $5k but I would do it all again in an instant. Now she is as healthy and happy as ever!

    When we adopted her, we made a commitment to care for and treat this animal to the best of our ability. We didn’t adopt her and say, “well she’s only a dog so if something happens she’s replaceable” (even though I could say that about some of the kids I see). We determined that she still had the opportunity for a long healthy life and were happy to give her that chance. Now I will say if the prognosis was poor and would have affected her quality of life we probably would have made a different decision but fortunately that was not the case. A pet is a living creature susceptible to potentially expensive health problems and that should be a consideration for anyone who owns or wants to own a pet.

    Aslo, if anyone has similar issues, Angell Memorial (part of the MSPCA) in Boston was fantastic and has the most caring and honest staff I have ever seen! Highly reccomended!

  84. NightSteel says:

    Add me to the list of folks recommending insurance. I like having the cost spread out myself.

  85. jennej says:

    We just spent $2,000 on our dog after a 5-day hospital stay. He’s 9 years old and has multiple health problems, including congestive heart failure. We spend roughly $400 a month on his 14 medications. (Thank goodness for Greenies Pill Pockets!) We’ve been buying medicine for the last 15 months, so that’s $6,000 and counting. We are very lucky to have the money in savings.

    Last week, when he was hospitalized, we almost decided to put him to sleep. The vet called with the lab results and they aren’t good. He probably also has cancer now on top of everything else. But the vet said he isn’t suffering. If he does start suffering, then we will not prolong it. We won’t put him through surgery or chemo; he’s been through enough already. He’s a tough little guy. He’s our baby and we don’t want him to hurt.

    He still eats normally, wags his tail and barks like crazy when my husband gets home from work, plays with our other (younger) dog, and chews on toys and bones happily. He can walk down the stairs and jump on the couch with no problems. He loves nothing more than a good, long tummy rub. So we aren’t ready to let him go. I think he’ll let us know when he’s ready.

  86. RedmondDesomma says:

    When our cat got sick, we burned through about 3.8K trying to get him back
    on his feet. The issues we looked at were

    a) how likely is recovery? (the tentative diagnosis at the time was
    pancreatitis, so chances of full recovery were excellent)
    b) what about quality of life? (even at the emergency hospital he was chatty
    and purring, all the attendants loved him)
    c) cost (there was a 5K contingency fund, the cat was only 11, it made

    The only treatment we vetoed was a 2 day car trip (or plane ride) to have a
    specialist do the ultrasound. That decision was based mostly on quality of
    life for the cat. When the cat took a sudden turn for the worse with a host
    of symptoms not associated with liver or pancreatic function and had to be
    put on a respirator, we elected to have him put down. Even though he died,
    we’d do all it again. The money was worth never having to have nightmares
    about “if only I’d tried to save my animal friend”.

  87. Expanding Buttocks says:

    I think he’s the only person in Dallas who is like that. I think most people here would give their pet a kidney if needed.

  88. I have 3 dogs I love to death, and if it’s something that can be fixed and maintain a high quality of life, I will do it.

  89. TechnoDestructo says:

    In my family, once a cat has hit one year old, it’s way ahead of the game. Dogs, cars, other cats, drowning, eagles, and who knows what…just a shitload of things keep killing them in ways a vet can’t do anything about.

  90. Elijah86 says:

    My greyhound pit bull mix was hit by a car and I payed about $2800 to get her leg fixed.

  91. onesong says:

    it decreases, i think, as the pet ages. we had a cancer scare in our pup when he was 11 months old (false alarm), and i would have happily spent the 2,000 it would have cost to remove the tumor had it been cancerous, given that the vet said he would have a 98% chance of recovering fully and never getting sick again. however, she stated that a dog at 5 years old would only have a 70% chance, 7 years would be a 40% chance, and down on from there. i say, if it is a one shot deal and the pet has a chance for a long and happy life afterwards, go for it. if its going to require ongoing care, and the pet will only last a few months longer and/or not be able to function fully afterwards, no way.

  92. ge0rge says:

    After the first week of getting my new dachshund puppy I found him sitting in his water bowl unable to drink or eat…

    He had Parvo when he was 7 weeks old.
    After a plasma transfusion and 3 days in the ICU at the local emergency animal hospital I had a CareCredit account to cover the close to $2,500 that I just finished paying off under the 1st year to skip out on the financing charges.

    My other puppy (now 2.5 yrs old) had advanced heart worm and required a week’s stay at the animal hospital costing nearly $1,000.

    pets are expensive. They are well worth it though as they are a valuable part of my family now.

  93. aka_bigred says:

    I think it’s VERY hypocritical of people who would rather keep a clearly dying pet alive for their own selfish need to have the pet than to make the tough choice and decide the pet is in too much pain and end it. Yes, it’s a tough choice, but the alternative of putting them through HELL everyday just because you can’t let go is terrible.

    • mpotter says:

      @aka_bigred: I don’t know what you are reading but most of the posts that I read sound like the owners actually went through very normal routines to determine how to treat their pets. Most posts refer to people realizing their dog was sick or injured, taking them to a vet and then weighing the pros and cons of whether the available treatments would improve quality of life or make it worse. This is the least you would do for yourself or anyone that you loved, why wouldn’t you do that same for your pet. Just because a pet is ill does not mean they are as good as dead. There are many effective ways of treating you pet that don’t “put it through HELL” and lead to very long and HEALTHY lives.

    • holocron says:

      I think it’s VERY hypocritical of people who would rather keep a clearly dying person alive for their own selfish need to keep the person around than to make the tough choice and decide the person is in too much pain and end it. Yes, it’s a tough choice, but the alternative of putting them through HELL everyday just because you can’t let go is terrible.

  94. rhodesman says:

    My wife and I spent $3,000 to get our cat a sergery she needed after taking a three story swan dive off our roof deck. It stung a little but she was only two and had a lot more life left in her. Three years later and I would have paid much more than that. She is the best most beautiful, loving, and care free cat we have ever had.

    Growing up on a farm, I view animals as part of the family and constantly refer to our cats as out “kids”. I can’t tell you how much someone would spend on an animal but for me I would spend everything I could to help an animal out, it’s just my way.

  95. Ubik2501 says:

    My family’s owned dogs all my life, and this dilemma has come up before. The basic metric is: Can we afford it (in absolute terms), does the dog have a good chance of recovery, and will the dog continue to have a good quality of life afterwards?

    For instance, one of our dogs had a gastic obstruction at the age of 2 that required surgery to correct. We went through with it because, though it wasn’t cheap, she was young and would be perfectly fine afterwards. When she started having major problems at age 12, ultimately leading to a stroke disabling her, she was obviously suffering and we opted to put her to sleep.

    Having recently adopted a dog myself, I’ll go by the same metric. If he has a curable medical problem while he’s young and able to recover to full health, I’ll pay whatever I can afford to fix it; when he’s much older, and unable to recover from a problem without considerable cost and suffering, I will have to make the choice to put him to sleep.

  96. synergy says:

    Wow. Talk about an entry baiting for flamewars.

    Personally, it wouldn’t take much for me to have my cat put down.

  97. zundian says:

    $1500 for the dog
    $400 for the cat (he was basically forced on us)
    $150 for guinea pigs
    $0 for fish

    All figures are for single event/emergency procedures. Teeth cleaning, shots, etc. do not count toward figures.

  98. vdragonmpc says:

    Man this is a rough one for me too.

    I can say that you have to be VERY careful of the Vet you choose and pay close attention to the vets behavior with the animal.

    Animal Care Associates in Colonial Heights was VERY interested in Heartworm drugs and other ‘treatments’ that required you to visit often. When you were not interested in getting the drugs from them they start the special conversations and find things wrong that are not what you need dealt with at the time. Im still pissed off at them for the lack of care I got from them.

    You see I had a Great Dane and she was my girl and awesome. She fell though an old deck and hurt her paw. I took her in for it as her rear foot claw looked awful and jammed. Plus she was favoring her leg quite a bit. That dog was unreal she wouldnt even give me a hint of the pain she was in. She would just look at me with sad eyes when I pulled on her leg asking if anything hurt.

    Animal Care’s Vet wasnt interested in her leg. Only heartworms. I told them I get the drugs elsewhere and thats not why I was there. She wanted to do blood test.. It set me back close to 300$ for the visit and tests. I had to point out the claw and her leg. She quoted me 1500$ or more to X-ray her leg and said she probably has bone cancer. The way she said it sent me off the deep end. This was coming from someone who spent 8 minutes in a room with me and the dog and barely touched the animal.

    I decided I had had enough I went to a vet recommended by another Dane owner. They spent 2 hours fooling around with my dog and wandered the property with her (in the country) The vet recommended some arthritis pills and an alternative heartworm brand along with their own Heartworm tests. Funny The tests, 6 months of pills, pain meds, arthritis meds and full REAL dog exam was under 200$!!

    My story doesnt end well though. I took her for the x-rays and spent 600 to have them done. We found that she had major issues in her legs and back. She went home less than 2 hours later she was gone. She collapsed in the garage and wasnt breathing right. I ran home from work and carried her into the house and watched her to see what her symptoms were. She walked around laid her head in my lap and went behind the couch. That was the last time she was with us.

    I dont blame the vet but we were instructed NOT to feed her the night before. Thats a no-no with large breeds. I will never know if it was k-9 bloat or another issue that took her. I do know she wasnt doing very well and was unable to walk on wood floors or stairs. She was also unable to get on or off of her couch anymore. The vet said they didnt have to give her any drugs for the x-rays but how odd that 2 hours after a vet visit my dog passed?

    My next dog I plan on talking more to vets and getting a better relationship with a GOOD vet who is truly interested in animals.

  99. BeastMD says:

    Part of the issue in this country in general is the overinflated costs of tests and drugs, and I think some vets are simply scam artist that push expensive tests by pulling on your heart strings. We have a black lab were just spent over $1000 dollars on 2 tests because we were told he had a heart murmur that could be fatal and in the end nobody could tell us any more info about the condition and expectations of what would transpire in the future and now they gave us some heart medicine we have to feed him “just in case”.

    This whole teeth cleaning thing for pets is downright silly too.(not to mention expensive)

  100. biblio26 says:

    I’m sure you’ll all think I’m crazy but I once paid over $2,000 for my 12 year old pet iguana to have surgery. She eventually died, and I was crushed. I still felt like I didn’t do enough to save her.

  101. razremytuxbuddy says:

    Dear Consumerist: It’s unfair to post a picture that looks just like my dog, and then ask me how much I’d spend to save her. But here’s my answer anyhow, sort of. I spent this last Christmas morning with her at the Emergency Veterinary Clinic, and then another morning two days later, and then placed her in special care boarding for several days to give her a better shot at recovery than what she could get at home. I do draw the line at chemotherapy or any other painful treatment that might allow me to have her longer, but at the expense of her quality of life.

  102. BytheSea says:

    I wont’ buy a pet until I can afford $1000 in emergency pet bills.

  103. Sanveann says:

    We spent almost $10K when our late, beloved Maltese, Macy, developed a neurological disease called GME. There was a chance it could go into remission, and we felt like we never wanted to look back and feel we didn’t do enough for her. She gave us SO much love and happiness.

    Sadly, things didn’t work out the way we hoped. Despite repeated visits to the MSU veterinary hospital, a wonderful veterinary neurologist in Boston who worked with us for free and our very large outpouring of money, Macy didn’t get well. A little over a year ago, she had a series of seizures (she’d had them in the past, as well), and this time, she just wasn’t recovering. Her motor skills were gone — she could hardly walk, couldn’t eat unless we held the food up to her mouth, etc. We realized that as desperately as we wanted to keep her with us, it would be selfish to do so any longer.

    We’ve never regretted our decision. We wanted to be 100 percent sure we did everything we could to help her get better, and we did. If we had known that her disease would never go into remission and that she would have such a struggle, we probably wouldn’t have done it … but not being psychic, we made the best choice we could have, given the circumstances.

  104. randombob says:

    Yeah I love my four (FOUR!) dogs, and my eldest Labrador, Miles – who’s my favorite – is about 12 years old. As much as i love him, if he’s stricken with cancer or something? I’m not going to dump $2k into prolonging the inevitable. He’s on his last little span as it is. I’ll make him comfortable and miss him terribly when he’s gone. not worth spending $2k so that he could have 1-2 more miserable years…

    however, if it was a case of a broken foot or something, that could heal and he’d be as chipper as before, then I wouldn’t blink to spend some dough to fix him up.

    It just depends. But I think at some point – and I extend this to people as well - it’s just time to say you fought the good fight, life was great, but it’s time to put the ducks in order.

  105. Petra says:

    To me, this is like asking how much money you’d be willing to spend to save your child. Pets aren’t meant to be accessories. If you want to have one, you have to be able to commit to having a new member in the family, and yes, that includes money. It’s the same with deciding to have a baby. If you aren’t willing to care for him/her should pricey medical needs arise, then you aren’t fit to have either.

  106. rainbowsandkittens says:


    I have 3 cats and a Great Dane. It costs me $58/mo to insure all 4 animals. When the dog ate a plastic oven mitt and needed a bunch of work to remove it from his stomach, the insurance paid for itself right there. My friends insured their terrier, and were able to send him to a $5k surgery to remove cateracts from both of his eyes that would have blinded him at age 4.

    For the price you’d pay for pet food for a month, you can make sure that you’ll never have to choose between Fluffy or that cruise you’ve been planning. I highly recommend Pet’s Best, I heard about them on “Cat Chat” on the Martha Stewart XM channel and they’ve really been great to work with. Honestly, my youngest cat costs just $15 a month. I think it’s the responsible thing to do if you’re going to own a pet. Just as you’d plan to have monthly food costs, plan to have a monthly pay-it-forward approach to medical issues (and there will be issues!) so you never have to be in a difficult situation.

  107. EightIsEnough says:

    Had a favorite golden retriever a couple years ago that got into a tangle with some wild animals after running off looking for a girl. He was 10 years old and very loved. Took him to a vet and he had to stay there a week for surgeries and healing. Shortly thereafter, due to complications we had to put him down. Lots of money for nothing. I swore I’d never own another dog. A year later got another dog…this time a fixed golden lab.

    You do what you have to do.

  108. kabuk1 says:

    I’m sorry, but if you will spend “no more than $110” to keep your pet alive, then you ARE a cheapskate, AND a heartless asshole who does not deserve to own a pet. I hope your dog shits in your shoes and mauls your face.

    Pets are living creatures, not expendable, replaceable possessions that you just toss out & replace with a cheaper model. My 9 year old chihuahua has been spayed, has had cataracts removed, has special skin ointment & shampoo, and gets prescription parasite meds. How much have I spent on her? I don’t know. I don’t count because she’s a member of my family and I don’t view her as an expense. Would you count pennies if your child needed medical care? No? Then why do you with your dog? Because it’s “just a dog” and PEOPLE need help, you say? Well screw people. They’re just people, filthy, selfish, parasitic humans. There are too damn many people on earth & we need to let a few die off anyway. I’d save a drowning dog before a drowning human ANY day.

  109. HeyYouGuyss says:

    I adopted a cat knowing he has FIV… and not knowing he has diabetes. The shots, insulin, and twice-daily petsitting while I was out of town added up to at least $50…60/month? I don’t even want to know. Not to mention that before the shot schedule was under control, he was always at the vet with $100-plus visits: FIV cats can have weakened immune systems (it’s the kitty form of HIV), having huge spikes in his blood sugar just made his immunities almost useless. He was on various pills, mouth injections, ear injections…for nearly the first year.

    I’ve since snobbed-out and switched him to entirely grain-free wet food, and he is insulin-free. Also pill-free. Someone mentioned this earlier, but it is well worth it to spend the money on GOOD pet food than to deal with taking them back and forth to the vet.

    Most importantly: I don’t regret one penny I’ve spent. The cat is freakin’ great.

    These animals have been domesticated by us, and are therefore almost entirely dependent upon us. We have already chosen the responsibility of their care, regardless of ‘convenience.’ I have a lot of disrespect for those who consider animals “things” or “investments.” Your dog would risk his/her life for you, and you won’t spend more than $110 on him/her?

  110. I spent $1300 on an amputation of a dogs leg. It was money well spent.

  111. karmaghost says:

    Before I got my cat almost a year ago, I wouldn’t have imagined I could have gotten so attached to an animal. I dunno how far I’d go or how much I’d spend to keep her alive, but hopefully I won’t have to find out.

  112. AlexDitto says:

    I actually just recently had to put my cat Holly to sleep. She just appeared on my doorstep one day, and I started feeding her, and she just walked inside… she was an older cat, and I had her for a year and a half. This summer, she completely crashed, and we took her in and found out she had Chronic Renal Failure. We did an IV, which cost $2200+, and gave her fluids subcutaneously, and while she got better initially, her condition started degrading again. She would just sit in a corner and hide, and was nothing like her normal self.

    I knew her quality of life would just keep getting worse, and I was only keeping her alive because I couldn’t stand the thought of loosing her. So we put her to sleep.

    I loved her so much, I’d spend it again if I had to. Every time I open the door to my apartment now, I expect to see her there, waiting for me like she used to, and my heart drops a little when I realize she’s gone.

    She wasn’t a pet. She was my roommate, and my friend. I can’t understand why anyone would think of a pet as an “investment” or refuse to spend more on them than they cost. If it were a person instead of an animal, most people would spare no expense to save them. Why would it be any different for an animal? They love just as much.

  113. diasdiem says:

    blech. Just heard from my mom today that she had to have her horse (which she’s had for about 15 year) put to sleep. A month ago she’d been diagnosed with PSSM (a hereditary disease that keeps them from metabolizing large quantities of carbs and wastes the muscles, or something). The only way to treat it is with a change of diet, which she did. A week or so ago, she also put her on this pain medication, so she could move around better, and she perked up a bit, but she was losing a lot of hair. But this morning, her mouth was full of blood. Mom called the vet, he told her she should be put to sleep. Afterwards he looked in her mouth and discovered a bleeding tumor. He figured she probably had cancer all over. Mom said if she hadn’t called the vet and he decided she should be put down, she would have let nature take its course, at least until it became too obvious that she was suffering and wouldn’t get better. She’s really sad, but she’s glad she at least saved her horse some suffering. It cost I don’t know how much for the euthanasia, and $250 to haul her away afterward. While you can pay money to extend your pet’s life, sometimes it’s better to pay money to let it go.

  114. My older cat is in renal failure. He’s costing me about $250 – $350/month in routine expenses — vet visit (which the vet is being really good about keeping cheap!) every month, subQ fluids nightly, special food, now two new shots (which at least we could get at the people pharmacy instead of the compounding pharmacy, so cheaper). Before that, he was diabetic for about two years, at a cost of $98/vial of insulin, which lasted 2-3 months, plus all needles, etc. It was around $1500 when he was initially diagnosed with diabetes — at the time, we were broke, and my mother helped us pay (we would have scrounged it somehow, otherwise).

    I have a “vet” category on my budget tracking program and I ran it a few weeks ago to see what he’d cost me since New Year’s. I decided not to do that anymore. It was a LOT.

    His quality of life is still excellent — he’s losing weight and looks terribly thin, but as long as we hydrate him, he’s in no pain and he’s behavior is normal. But I think and worry about this EVERY DAMN DAY. I teach medical ethics (among other things), so I think a lot about when it’s appropriate to euthanize — and I think a lot about the fact that there are lots of PEOPLE out there who can’t afford the treatment my CAT is getting for renal failure. I won’t stop, because when I brought him into my home I took responsibility for caring for him, but it bothers me a LOT, especially when I wake up at 3 a.m., that my cat can get better medical care than many of my fellow Americans.

    • maines19 says:

      @Eyebrows McGee: Hear, hear, re the distressing fact that our pets can get better health care than lots of people do. A lot of doctors are dropping out of my company health plan’s network, so I am pretty sure my cats see better doctors than I do.

  115. jeejum says:

    > I actually just recently had to put my cat Holly to sleep. She just appeared on my doorstep one day, and I started feeding her, and she just walked inside… she was an older cat, and I had her for a year and a half.

    Interesting story, but how would you know if the cat simply wasn’t lost, or belonged to someone else?

  116. failurate says:

    My wife’s cat will simply run away and never come back if it gets expensively sick.

  117. maines19 says:

    I have a cat who has epilepsy. We spend about $50/month on the two medications required to keep her seizures controlled. She is active and happy as a result.

    She had an episode of neurogenic pulmonary edema (basically, her lungs filled with fluid during a seizure–she came out of the seizure gasping, unable to breath, and yes, you can tell when a black cat turns blue). We rushed her to the emergency vet, where they were about to give her lasix or something to deal with the fluid when she had another seizure, couldn’t breathe, and went into cardiac arrest. Did we want kitty CPR or should they let her go? The decision had to be made in seconds, or it would become a decision by default. That afternoon, I’d been playing catch with her; that evening she’d been curled up with me on my desk purring as I worked. “Save her,” I said. After the CPR, it took several days in an oxygen chamber and many meds to get her healthy again. That was about four or five years ago and she is still with us, happy and well.

    I have no idea what we spent on saving her life; I don’t care. I can imagine how hard it would be to have to make the decision based on money rather than on the animal’s welfare and likelihood of recovery. I am grateful to have the financial resources not to be forced into that calculation, because what my pets contribute to my quality of life is priceless to me.

  118. jimconsumer says:

    Hundreds. I’d pay hundreds for any given event. Not thousands. You start talking thousands with me and I’m talking, “Goodbye, my beloved pet.” I love my dog and treat him like royalty, but shit happens and there are other financial priorities.

    To save my wife, or a child? Unlimited. I’d sell my soul to the devil. Or put a bullet in my own head so they can have my heart, if that’s what it took. Yeah, f’ing creepy, sorry.

  119. failurate says:

    In sports they have a term called Value Over Replacement Player.

    People give away kittens all the time.

  120. macMD says:

    The article called Cheapskate in the WSJ tells much about the person who wrote it. I would say if the world took his/her approach then what did it cost to bring that cold hearted jerk into the world, I would say $1-6k depending on when they were born so by their logic no one should spend more than it cost to bring them into the world when it came time to save them.

    My family today consists of my wife and our four children, they are all adopted. The first two were the last in their litter and were born from a stray that a nice family took in but could not keep all 8 kittens but were not willing to let them go to people who would not care enough about them (see first paragraph). Our next two kids were adopted at different times from our very yard, they were abandoned by uncaring individuals as often happens, animals are not to be dumped but typically are. One had some special needs and after many visits to our vet we were referred to a specialty clinic in our area. The had recently opened their new facility which is state of the art with a 24×7 ER Dept and a specialty clinic and they have an MRI and other “human” medical equipment that is equally used to save family members from certain death.

    We needed to have blood work done to help narrow down what was causing her discomfort. My wife had taken her in on the day they discussed the blood work and she called me at work to discuss what our options are. Basically the facility understands everyone has limits as to what they can afford. The tests were going to run about $986, she asked what I wanted to do. I asked what tests were necessary to narrow it down, she told me all of them would help some were more critical than others. I said you know my mind on this and you didn’t need to call me, tell them to run all of the tests $1k to help diagnose our daughters health issues was worth it. We made follow up visits and in the end what we did has improved her quality of life. We don’t how old she is or how long we will have her but we will spend anything we can so long as it will give our children a quality of life.

    Just recently when we adopted our newest daughter from our front yard we had to take her in for routine medical work, get her microchiped and fixed we then also had to take our oldest daughter in to get looked at, and we found she has kidney disease with a 25% reduction in kidney function. That week alone cost us over $1500, once again money well spent.

    I have to say we met a older woman at the specialty clinic who was in were her 11 year old dog. He meant the world to her and she wanted to help no matter what, she had spent $14k to help him so long as he had a quality of life and in the end it would help him.

    Everyday animals are born all over the US (and the world for that matter) that no one wants or cares about yet we will spend money we don’t have on toys that won’t last. I would say give to your local shelter, it tax deductible and you you will find it pays to give to those who cannot speak for themselves.

    If you don’t know where to give give to or they certainly could use your support.

    My wife and I are simply concerned pet owners who see our pets as our children.

  121. dolphswim3 says:

    I’ve worked at a veterinary clinic for 5 years and I saw all types of people, and I also have a cat of my own. People need to be prepared to accept the financial responsibility of having a pet, which is why I waited until I knew that I could pay for an emergency if it came up.

    Outside of the emergencies and surgeries, people also need to factor in basic veterinary care. Pets should be examined once a year and have their vaccines, with heartworm medication (if necessary in the area) for dogs. Some people don’t think of these costs, but they are preventative and a good vet will be able to hopefully diagnose any problems early and the vaccines will help keep the animals safe.

    As far as the decision whether to spend the money on the veterinary care, I think it’s a decision that is up to the owner’s. A veterinarian should explain all options, the likelihood of success of each of the options, and its effect on the animal. No veterinarian should push any treatment option on a person just to make money. If you don’t trust the veterinarian to have the animal’s best interests in mind, find another veterinarian as there are great ones out there.

  122. heathenkitties says:

    I don’t have pets in my home, I have family: kid AND kitties. I spent several thousand dollars last year on two of my then 7-year-old cats. One ultimately died; the other is still alive, lying next to me in her “kittie chair” by the the computer desk. I’m not ashamed to say I spent every dime I had, and then some (the hospital even took post-dated checks). I don’t regret it. Even with my one kitty who ultimately died, she did have several extra months of a good life with her family and with her final illness it was basically something where they were going to have to do invasive testing and who knows what else, because even with all the testing that had been done, we still weren’t able to figure out what she had (they do think it was congestive heart failure, in the end). Near the end, I knew when it was time to say ‘no more’–it just wasn’t fair and her quality of living was going way, way down. Ironically, we have a cat who’s almost 16 and has never had any health issues.

  123. wellfleet says:

    I have had pretty rough luck with animals since moving out on my own. I adopted a cat who showed up on my doorstep one day. A year later she gets a cloudy eye, take her to the vet, she has feline leukemia and feline HIV. She is put on monthly immune booster shots, but every few months becomes so sick she can’t eat or walk. We take her in every time, nurse her back to health at a cost of 200-300$ each time.

    The dog I adopted from a shelter meanwhile comes home with worms, then MANGE (the good kind because apparently there is a bad kind), then get something in his ear that causes him to flop his head all the time so much that it bursts a blood vessel in his ear which required surgery to repair and countless follow up visits to drain blood. That year, between my dog and my cat, I was at the vet’s every single week and started budgeting a few hundred every month because *something* was just bound to happen.

    My cat finally reached a terminal stage, we did everything we could and it was the hardest decision that I didn’t want to make. My vet was amazing. She said she never recommends euthanizing if there’s something to be done, but that my cat was not going to ever get better and that she was suffering. So we held her while she was being put down.

    Then my dog started having seizures. He has epilepsy and is on medication daily.

    All in all, thousands of dollars… More than I’ve ever spent on my own health care. Vets, I feel, do prey ever so slightly on our attachment to our pets, but like other posters said, my pets bring my as much or more joy than pretty much anything else I can spend money on.

    Of course, my vet is a regular at the Best Buy i manage and I always joke about wanting to take all *his* money.

  124. The_IT_Crone says:

    When my cat is sick/injured, she comes to me. Most animals hide- she actually comes to me for help. And I’m going to give it to her.

  125. sroemerm says:

    I would not spend more than it would take to put him down.

  126. stinerman says:

    My father spent over $5,000 trying to keep his/our dog alive after he was attacked by another dog.

    I’d be more than happy to go into bankruptcy to keep my ferret alive assuming the causes for his illness weren’t natural.

  127. NitrousO says:

    I would have spent anything to keep my dog alive*. He got me through one of the hardest parts of my life. Alas, he never stood a chance because when we found the cancer it had metastasized to a point where they didn’t even know its origin.
    *The reason I put the asterisk is that I am no fool and realize that sometimes, living won’t be worth it because of an extremely poor quality of life. In such cases, I think I would go with whatever was least painful to my dog, but, and I’m almost grateful for this, I never was forced to make a decision about that.

  128. mrosedal says:

    Unfortunately I have no answers for this. I know that I would be willing to spend some money. Right now I say that it would be limited, but if there were an emergency I am not sure what I would do. I don’t think I could ever justify 18 Grand though.

    Also right now we have done anything in the form of saving for our pet in case of an emergency like this. Maybe one day we can have pet insurance or something like that.

  129. pinkyracer says:

    I had to ask myself that when my cat got a near-fatal case of bladder stones. I spent $600ish, and am not sure I would’ve spent much more. He’s been very healthy ever since, but I wouldn’t have regretted it if I’d sentenced him to die. There are millions of healthy cats at the SPCA just as desperate for a good home as he was. It’s wrong to lavish too much money on a pet who’s at death’s door when others are standing by waiting to be adopted.

  130. Whinemaker says:

    Really long post – sorry!

    :::just returning from hugging all the bundles of fur in this house after reading these posts:::

    I’m “mom” to Kona – an 11-year-old blind, deaf, often incontinent cocker; Buddy – a feral rescue Tabby cat; BamBam – son of Buddy with a sense of entitlement; and now as-yet unnamed black/white baby dwarf Netherlands bunny rescued from a gutter two weeks ago and is an absolute riot…

    Hubby and I have spent several hundred $$ at varying times – the most recent expense was incurred by our Tabby, Buddy. We brought her along to our new house with her baby BamBam in tow, when we moved from our old apt. complex where feral colonies proliferated. This crazy little tabby would run out and greet me late at night when getting home from work, in the rain, and she’d be soo excited to see me that she’d hunch up like a little burr, and then drop to the ground and roll over on her back for a belly scratch. Yeah, she was a feral – had her first litter right on my patio (and we had a visit to the vet shortly after that when the babies were weaned and found homes for – and yeah, the vet gave us a great price break, and thanked us for being so caring!) There was no way I could ever just leave her. So shortly after our move, I could tell she wasn’t feeling well and made a vet appointment where it turned out she had hepatic lipidosis, and was very close to death. We agreed to try and save her over the next 24 hours, and if it looked hopeful, we’d go from there. We spent about $700 for IVs and medications and two nights in ICU.

    That was nearly three years ago, and she hasn’t had any problems since, other than being loved to death with too much food, perhaps. And here she sits tonight, on the other side of the baby gate that separates her from the dwarf bunny. She still hasn’t quite shaken off her feral tendencies, and it makes me a little nervous to have them in close proximity – as Buddy used to gift us with ground squirrels and birds at least once a week on our doormat! And as for bunny, well, we’re $50 invested in vet expenses for this little creature so far…

    Like some of the other posters have commented, I cannot put a price on the joy that these furry kids have brought into my life. I know they’re not people, but to this childless gal, they’re the best substitute I can think of. I’ll have to let each individual circumstance dictate my decision ~ but each pet I own will go toward that “rainbow bridge” with the very best quality of life I’ve been able to provide.

  131. RedwoodFlyer says:

    Another one here in support of pet insurance!

    My folks are both financially stable (Both MDs…) and even though we figured that it’s cheaper to self-insure, a huge huge benefit is that you can truly make a decision about what’s best for the pet when he/she gets ill, without worrying about financial issues.

    We signed up for insurance through VPI for our ferrets after one of them got sick and needed about $1,700 worth of surgery to remove some tumors – obviously the coverage wouldn’t kick in in time to help us in this case, but we figured that it’s good to have it for future instances. Zorro lived a long and normal life after the procedure, and our vet was nice enough to fudge a copy of the medical records so that the surgery fell after the 14 day waiting period for coverage to kick in :)!

    $13/month per ferret x 12 months/yr = $156… They cover 90% past the first $50, so we could have paid for insurance for 10 years (not taking interest into account, for simplicity sake) and still came out ahead vs. self-insuring. Since a ferret’s lifespan is 5-7 years, it’s a no brainer!

    • tcp100 says:

      @RedwoodFlyer: I’m mixed here on the pet insurance.

      I had it for several years for my cat; when I finally had to take him to the emergency vet, the bill was $460, they paid $80, and it took 6 months to get that.

      This was VPI, the “leading” pet insurance provider.

      The problem, I think, with pet insurance is that people think it’ll pay out anywhere near the whole amount. It won’t. If you look at VPI’s reimbursement schedule, it looks like something from 1972.

      Since when has anyone got out of a vet’s office for under $100, unless you’re just getting nails clipped? I never used VPI for routine visits (I think that’s beyond the purpose of it), but on a $460 emergency visit is it anywhere near reasonable to reimburse me $40 for the visit and $40 for tests and bloodwork? In what decade?

      After VPI paying less than 20% of my at-the-time largest vet bill, I dropped them.

      Unfortunately, two years later, my cat developed lymphoma, and I’m currently treating him.

      Personally, I don’t blink an eye at spending the money. This cat has kept my sanity at rough times in the past ten years and helped me get through some very trying moments.

      If I can spend $2,500 on a digital camera or a laptop, I can spend $2,500 on my cat. Not everyone can afford that, I know, but if I can, and it means I have to go without a vacation this year, so be it. I feel I owe him at least as much.

      Then again, there are plenty of people out there – even those who claim to be good pet owners and even animal lovers – who subscribe to the crazy “The dog cost me $100, so I won’t spend more than $100” school of thought.

      People like that should not be allowed to own pets; unfortunately, for lots of people, pets are just ornaments or random distractions that they get tired of after three weeks.

  132. SharkD says:

    The oldest of our two dogs is 3 years old (the other is 2).

    So far, in the 26 months since we adopted him, he’s:
    * Eaten part of a bath towel – $3,500 for bowel surgery and recovery
    * Contracted rocky mountain spotted fever twice – $2,500 (we religiously use Frontline, spray the yard with environmentally-friendly insecticide, and he probably spends a total of only 30-40mins in the backyard on a normal day)
    * Been stung by a bee/wasp in the mouth – $500 (it was after 5pm on a Friday, so it meant a trip to the emergency vet, to make sure his airway didn’t swell shut)

    Suffice it to say, after paying a lot out of pocket, we now have pet insurance for both.

    * []
    * []
    * [] (the one we chose)

  133. morganlh85 says:

    It’s a tough one for me. I love my pets, but I also love paying my rent. And I can’t much care for an ailing pet if I don’t have a house to live in! I’m thinking my limit would be about $300.

  134. nygenxer says:

    The rational part of my brain thinks that spending five grand on a single pet is a waste, and that it is better to instead make a donation for that amount in your pet’s name to the ASPCA or the local animal shelter where the cash will do the most good by helping lots of animals. (This is especially true if the animal is old(er) and is suffering.)

    It’s unconscionable to spend $50,000 to clone a dead dog without considering how many homeless and unwanted strays that fifty thousand dollars would help.

    That said, I would’ve spent that money (and much more) in a second if it’d saved my cat Spencer.

  135. Skipweasel says:

    Our cat’s around 20 (we’ve had her 17 years and she wasn’t a kitten when she walked in) and have spent, in the last ten years, about £20 on flea stuff and that’s it. When she gets ill she’s for the chop.
    Our other cat went down the tubes last year – over two day she went from very slender to having a fat pot belly. I took her to the vet who said that he could do lots of expensive tests to tell me what she was dying from, but that in his opinion none of them were likely to be cureable anyway so we put her to sleep.

    A cat’s a cat – be nice to it while it’s alive but say goodbye when the time comes.

  136. Hodo says:

    I have a cat that I love like a son, and I can’t imagine not spending “whatever it took” to preserve him. Of course, there are limits financially on “whatever it takes”. $3k? $5k? $7k? Maybe. But as folks here have already mentioned, there’d be a fine line between making myself feel better by keeping him around, and potentially prolonging his misery. If $10k would help him recover and he’d live a relatively pain free, normal live, then sure, yeah, I’d spend it.

  137. trujunglist says:

    One of my dogs had a pretty fucked up life. He got hit by a car right in front of my sisters and stepmom about a year after we got him, and had a broken back and 2 broken legs. We decided to get him the surgery, but it cost us several thousand dollars. You may think that’s a lot to spend on a dog, but we felt that he was our family member and our responsibility having rescued him from the pound, where he would have died. 15 years later, my stepmom and I took him to the same vet to have him put down, because he was too old to walk. Although it was probably the saddest moment of my life, I realize that with us he got a second chance and then even a third chance, and lived a wonderful life as one of the family. I’m pretty sure that my stepmom, the one who suffered the most monetary loss, agrees.

  138. l_d says:

    Eyebrows McGee, FYI, the subq supplies can be purchased from the people pharmacy as well; much cheaper than getting them from the vet.

    (I guess this comment shows where I’m coming from in this discussion.)

  139. paulrpotts says:

    I had to smile at this thread because it reminded me about an episode I had with a pet a few years ago — not a fuzzy pet, but a turtle. My brother had a turtle that he bought as a baby, and he had it in an inadequate tank setup, and it wasn’t thriving. (To be fair to my brother, he was going through a huge move/job change/etc. so it was not surprising he didn’t have a lot of energy to devote to a turtle).

    Anyway, I was a bachelor with more time and money, and an apartment-dweller who couldn’t really have more pet-like pet, so took it home, set up a big tank with rocks and a heater and filtration and a light for basking and fed it regularly and all that and the thing grew _humongous_, from the size of a quarter to the size of a dinner plate. I had to upgrade the tank a couple of times.

    I would occasionally check out turtles at pet stores and wound up adding two more turtles. I liked to pick out the runts and nurse them back to health. One had a soft shell, but I put a calcium supplement in his food and gave him a lot of time in the sun and it hardened up, although it never became totally normal. I became someone attached to them, actually. They were named “Giblet,” “Sluggo,” and “Commodore Bubba Poopypants” (don’t ask).

    Anyway at one point Bubba had a weird growth on his foot, and I had to decide if I was going to put serious vet money into a turtle, a pet that you can’t really pet, won’t cuddle with you, and will in fact bite you if given a chance.

    I opted instead to try a $3 antibiotic added to the tank water and whaddya know, it cleared up.

    The turtles all died a couple of years later in a gruesome accident my young son had, involving a backed-up dishwasher and unattended kitchen sink with turtle food and turtles in it, but that’s another sad story. All three grew and were thriving and seemed to enjoy life so I don’t feel too horrible about the whole affair.

    Sorry this story has gone on a bit long… what was the question again? : )

  140. hexychick says:

    My cat was low maintenance and cost maybe $500 a year, if that. When she was 16, she had routine bloodwork that showed liver and kidney failure. I could put her old body through $1500 surgery and prolong her life to 9 months or I could let her die in peace and put her down for $150 (I think?). I made the decision to wait until she was showing any sign of pain and then I’d put her down. It took 5 weeks. Then a dog fell into my lap that I was not planning for. She was abused, neglected, and overall a mess, but I took her anyway. I’d say now I spend $300 on the annual vet visit and about $300 in food and bones through the year. If I add grooming (meaning a bath and brushing) that’s another $100-200 a year. I love my dog and I like her happy, healthy, and active.

    I know my dog will need cataract surgery later on, but if it’s cheaper to just remove the eye, that’s the route I’ll go because she was born with this and doesn’t see much out of that eye now. It’s not going to effect her too much.

    I have a price limit on her life though. My limit is around $3000 in a dire emergency because I know what I can afford and what I can’t. If the situation were life-threatening, I’d have to weigh out age of my dog plus the quality of life after treatment to decide if I would pay to fix or pay to put down. I think it’s selfish to keep an animal alive that is not going to have a good life after the procedure or with lifelong medication.

  141. Luke Mentzer says:

    I think this is a decision that has to balance the love of your pet with your ability to afford the care. I understand the desire to spend your entire life savings to cure a pet. However, are we doing a service to the pets if we spend all your money to cure them and then have no money to feed ourselves, or the pet.

    I had to make the unfortunate decision to put down our 9 year old cat. Although he was one of the most friendly, unique and loving cats we’ve ever known, his reoccurring health problems were getting to be too much. He was having urinary track blockages every year for the past 4 years and each time it was costing us $1200. We had him on the special (i.e. expensive) food that was suppose to prevent it and made sure he always had fresh water, but no mater what we did, he’d get blocked. When both my wife and I were working we didn’t mind the bills, it was worth it. Now that my wife has gone back to school we are down to one income and things are much tighter than they were. He got blocked up last night and we took him to the emergency vet where they handed us the estimate for $1200 again. We hated the fact that we were stuck between the love of our pet and the inability to pay. If we were to pay the bill, we’d have $0 in the bank. We spoke with the vet and asked if we fixed him this time then would he not get blocked again. The vet told us that this will be a reoccurring event regardless of what we do, it was just a matter of time before it happened again. Faced with this decision we felt we had not choice and put Mako down. Anyone who feels an ounce of love toward a pet please know that regardless of age, this is a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking decision.

    Our concern was what would happen if we were away for a weekend and he got blocked. I didn’t want him to suffer for several days until his bladder explodes just because we weren’t around.