Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The Co$t of $ickne$$
Managing my dog's health...that is no easy task, when sometimes I feel it's difficult to manage my own health.
Today Kelly and I were out for a walk. I dutifully stooped with my little blue plastic bag to do some pooper-scooping, when I noticed blood in her stools. Not just a little, but it looked like a lot. So naturally, I called the vet's right when we got home.
I can never decide when to wait and when not to--she didn't seem to have a stomach ache. But what if she had some sort of intestinal emergency in the middle of the night? Knowing my propensity to worry, I figured I'd better get an appointment today.
Stool sample in hand (well, in a baggy in hand) we went to the vet's. They are all really, really nice and really concerned people there. I love them. I'm not implying they are doing anything wrong. But the medical expenses are astronomical. I believe it is a responsible pet owner's duty to give their pet the best of care and all advisable treatments. But sometimes it is difficult to determine what is warranted and what could wait or even be prudently skipped.
If money was no object, I'd probably do whatever tests were necessary, ruling out possibilities and calming my nerves. Also, some tests may put the dog through undue stress, or some medications may not be necessary. That is the problem. Although I keep informed about dog-related diseases and first aid, I'm not a vet. They are the experts, and I'm inclined to listen to them.
First the vet did a fecal analysis. Okay, so that was obvious. $21.
The "sick pet" exam (temperature, look in ears, poking and prodding) $51
Then the vet suggested stomach x-rays to make sure there wasn't a blockage of some sort. I didn't think Kelly had eaten anything unusual. She doesn't wander loose and our house is small enough that I'm generally aware of what she's doing. But when we considered a test that could show a potentially deadly blockage, I just couldn't ignore it. x-rays, 2 views= $126
We were, in the end, spared this expense, as Kelly did not cooperate with the x-ray procedure. My husband accompanied her into the x-ray room to keep her calm, but the moment he left the room (he said he was willing to take the dose of radiation, but state laws would not allow him to stay in the room) Kelly freaked. You might wonder how they restrain a dog for the purposes of x-rays. They do not use sedation, and for that I was grateful. But first they positioned her on her side with her legs stretched out. Then they placed sandbags over her to help hold her down. Finally, they taped her down with medical tape in a grid-like pattern. I know it sounds rather cruel, but to get a picture the dog has to lie still. Kelly remained still as long as Mike was in the room, but panicked the minute he stepped away. This was supposedly the easy view. The next position was to be on her back with all four legs sticking up. Not to happen.
So we weren't able to get that piece of the puzzle, and if Kelly should become increasingly ill I assume they may have to attempt the procedure again, possibly with sedation if it seemed like a blockage was likely.
Next, a blood profile. The blood was drawn from her neck, something that always freaks me out, but she never seems to mind. Considering the blood is analyzed in about 10 minutes in the office, I can't figure out why it was so expensive. $105.
Finally, Kelly was sent home with some medicine for her loose stools and possible stomach ache $26.
Add to that her Interceptor tablets, since she was out- $36
Grand total (without x-rays) $238
By the way, the blood tests were all normal. Not sure what caused the bloody stools. We are giving Kelly a bland diet. I boiled chicken and rice. She loved it. She's resting comfortably and hopefully whatever it is will pass, with only the vet bill as a reminder.