Overwhelming Vet Bills
January 15, 2010 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Money/Pet: How do I reconcile being fiscally responsible vs. taking care of my dog's medical emergencies?

This past year my partner and I have really tightened our belts in order to improve our finances; there is less coming in coupled with several big emergencies that we had to put on credit cards, so we have radically changed our lifestyle in order to live within our means, cutting our spending to the bone.

Now in just one month our beloved dog, Fanny, has been diagnosed with not one, not two, but three major medical problems with a possible fourth problem waiting for diagnosis. We've already spent $800, with a possible future outlay of $1,000, to $2,000. All of her problems need x-rays, bloodwork, surgery, meds, and follow-ups and they all need to be dealt with now. I am feeling panicky and overwhelmed--- we really cannot afford this, yet how can we not take care of our sweet girl? Any advice on how to make decisions about her care?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy to Pets & Animals (42 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Do you qualify for any charity help? I seem to recall there being a charity in the Uk that would help with the fees for emergency treatment for pets.
posted by Solomon at 10:19 AM on January 15, 2010

Without a clear cultural consensus on the relative value of pet and human charges, I guess it just comes down to whether it (she) is worth it to you.

Is she a specific breed? Maybe you could look for help from some local advocacy group, or whatever you'd call them. There's a greyhound nonprofit thing around here, for example.
posted by cmoj at 10:19 AM on January 15, 2010

This is going to sound pretty cold-hearted, but I think you need to have a stop-treatment point at which you let her go. Many people don't consider it to be an option, especially when treating humans, which is another discussion altogether. Personally, I have one for my pets. What the number, if there is one, for you is a very personal decision.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:20 AM on January 15, 2010 [8 favorites]

As difficult as it may be to hear, perhaps you are not able to afford to care for your pet as thoroughly as you would like.
posted by santaliqueur at 10:20 AM on January 15, 2010

How old is the dog? As horrible as it sounds, sometime they reach an age where the best treatment is to keep them comfortable until they pass. It's a terrible situation to be in but you also have to know when it's no longer respectful of your pet to keep putting her through medical treatments.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:23 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Humane Society has some information and guidelines on what to do, including agencies who might be able to help.

Here is a list of moire agencies who might be able to help with medical costs. Lots of them are for cats, but there are some general animal care groups.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:23 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

So sorry to hear about your puppy!!!

Many animal hospitals have payment plans, reduced payment options, and financial counselors, just like people hospitals. Many individual vets will also work with the owners of their patients as regards cost of treatment. Ask about those options.

Pet insurance may not be an option for you at the moment, but it may be worth considering for the future --- either for Miss Fanny Bo-Banny once she's recovered or any other four legged critters who happen along.

I hope she recovers soon!!
posted by zizzle at 10:24 AM on January 15, 2010

What's the age and activity level of the dog? Recommendation for a 3 year old dog might not be the same as that for a 12 year old. Looking at your tags - Is the anal gland issue a flush-and-antibiotics deal or more like having one surgically removed altogether? What about the cancer - excising a skin lump isn't the same as needing an amputation & chemo. There is a lot of ACL info on the web - sometimes reduced activity is recommended, or can be tried for a couple months.

Your vet should be able to walk you through the various outcomes, taking the various problems all into account. Vets are human, they understand bills and budgets, and they know even the best pet owners don't have unlimited funds and even the most strident conscience needs to be practical. A valuable question I fall back on in difficult situations like this is to ask the vet "what would YOU do?"

There is a point at which your budget and sense of responsibility for your pup can meet. A good vet and hospital staff can help you find it.
posted by Lou Stuells at 10:44 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

You need to weigh quality of life issues for your dog. It's one of those burdens we need to bear as caregivers for our critters. This is an individual decision and (IMHO) cannot be decided by anyone other than you and your partner. While others may be able to chime in with their experiences with xxxxx (insert major medical emergency here), without specifying what those medical emergencies are (and the age and breed of the dog, all relevant information) it's tough to share. There is a diffference, for instance, between dealing with some forms of cancer and dealing with a cruciate ligament tear.

If you do decide to go through with the procedures, look into the Care Card for current and future veterinary emergencies. Good luck!
posted by labwench at 10:49 AM on January 15, 2010

Best answer: I'm so sorry you're in this situation. I've been there and I probably will be there again in the future and it's awful. There's really no hard and fast rule or solution; the only way to do it is to take it one step at a time and remember that the circumstances are always different. I have decided not to treat a cat who was going to then need daily injections because to me that's not quality of life. Conversely, some years ago I spent my entire savings account on surgery for an older dog because both of my son's grandfathers had died in the last six months and I was damned if his dog was going to die too.

You're going to need to be upfront with your vet about finances. Most of them are used to it and will not think you are a cold and heartless person, really. The vet can tell you what the success rate of the treatments are and whether there are any lower cost alternatives. For example, my vet recommended against treating my dog for Cushings because he was so old and the treatment was expensive. My dog lived another two years and the Cushings didn't negatively impact his life in those years.

I think the most important question is quality of life - if you go through with the treatments, how long will your pet have to live and what will his/her life be like? Think about how old your pet is. If you're looking at a 13 year old dog with cancer, you might want to just walk away and make sure that his/her last few weeks are good ones but if your dog is only 6 or 7 and the success rates for treatment are high, maybe it's time to damn the torpedoes and go ahead.

It's a terrible and difficult decision to make but listen to your instincts. I really do believe we know on a gut level when a pet is ready to go and I don't think we do them any kindness by continuing medical care in those situations.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:49 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I struggle with this too. We have three cats, and even during the best of times it would be a nightmare to incur huge vet bills. At the worst of times, well, the money just isn't there.

I have come to terms with it by remembering that these are rescue animals -- we essentially saved their lives by taking them in, we have kept them fed and happy and given them a life filled with love and pleasure. If we wind up having to put one of them out of its misery a little earlier than some wealthier household would, we oughtn't feel any guilt. We did the best we could, and damaging our own long-term well-being (or that of the surviving animals) for the possibility of a little more time is the less-responsible decision.

Do the best you can, and when you reach the end of what you can do, don't see this as a failure on your part. Rather, the time, resources, and love you have been able share with this creature have been a victory for everyone involved, and a painless, humane death continues to be one of the greatest gifts our species can offer to other living beings, human or otherwise.
posted by hermitosis at 10:53 AM on January 15, 2010 [5 favorites]

Lots of great advice and yes, it's a very personal decision.

If any of the medical issues are expensive surgeries (ACL, CCL, etc), consider looking for a local vet school. The vet school in Pullman, WA will do many of these procedures as "student learning" opportunities for a considerably reduced cost.

I'm sorry you're in this position. Weigh the benefits for the dog, the likelihood of positive outcomes (is this just a finger in the dam, or will it be a fix that gives the dog a long, happy life?), and your own finances carefully. Good luck.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 10:56 AM on January 15, 2010

So sorry to hear this. Does your vet accept CareCredit? That would put you into further debt, but it's supposed to be no interest. (I have no personal experience with them, but know my vet accepts it.)

I think, for me, the amount of debt I would be willing to go into would depend on what the ultimate outcome of the treatments would be. If the diagnosis was inevitably going to be fatal, I think I would be more comfortable stopping care earlier rather than later. If the problem is curable, then I think it really depends on how you would feel about stopping care. Even if the problem is curable, will the treatments be long and painful?

Will you be full of guilt and regret if you don't treat her? If so, is it worth an additional $2000 in debt to avoid those feelings?
posted by Mavri at 10:57 AM on January 15, 2010

I know it sounds callous, but I set a medical expense limit per year on my cats. That way, if an illness or recovery becomes a repeat of "just one more surgery away," I've already decided the financial portion of the dilemma and can focus on their quality of life.

Remember that hundreds of dogs could potentially benefit from preventative care that could be purchased with a $2000 tax-deductible donation to a reputable shelter or spay and neuter organization.
posted by vees at 10:59 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sometimes the least painful alternative is euthanasia, even if it's the hardest one emotionally.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:59 AM on January 15, 2010

Alot of veterinarians/clinics are alotted a discretionary fund to help people in your situation. If you go in and tell the vet your situation and let them know you really care about the dog and would love to do everything you can to make sure he/she is alright, they may be able to work with you. Also, there is usually a care credit option- you can apply for a veterinary credit card with a period of no interest. (btw, my wife IS a vet in an emergency clinic and has dealt with this exact situation for many years).

She is an emergency vet which may operate differently than your rdmv. Most likely though, you may be referred to an internal medicine specialist.

Also, she studied at NC State and has the utmost respect for the clinicians there.
posted by TheBones at 11:18 AM on January 15, 2010

Close to my limit already. I donate to no-kill shelters and am aware of how many animals the same dollars save in their hands.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:24 AM on January 15, 2010

For me, it all depends on the age of the animal and the likely outcome of treatment. Real life examples: the 9 year old cat with a jaw broken in two places had his jaw pinned back together, the 12 year old cat with cancer is receiving palliative care only. We also have a very good relationship with our vet (we have to, we have seven cats and one dog) and he is awesome about helping us figure out what our options are when medical issues crop up.

IMO, if the dog is relatively young, and the treatment expected to provide more quality years of life, then I would assume more debt in order to get it done.
posted by crankylex at 11:25 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I love my dog. We have no kids; she gets all our attention. We both work at home, and she is never, ever more than five feet from me. She goes on vacation with us; we never kennel her. She went to the office with me every single day when I worked in an office. I would consider myself to a devoted pet owner. I am also a very practical person.

I very firmly believe that dogs do not have a keen sense of the passage of time; she's as excited to see me after a day out at meetings as she is after I've spent seven days in the hospital. The rule in this house is that when the dog is diagnosed with something catastropic, she gets a big steak, a huge romp in the park, an hour of belly rubs and that's it. I do not believe in "buying the dog more time", because I don't think she appreciates its march; more happy days seem vaguely pointless when all her days are the same and all run together for her. I mean geeze, she doesn't even appreciate her own growth - she thinks a 45lb boxer can fit in my lap perfectly well, thank you.

I realise not everyone is comfortable being as pragmatic about this as I am, but I am also keenly aware that human assesment of canine quality of life is severely impaired. I would far, far rather err on the side of prematurity than worry that my beloved pet is masking symptoms of pain ans suffering. And, knowing that dog lives are short, I am also financially pragmatic here as well... it's a lot of money for another year or two that isn't exactly filled with meaning for my dog seems silly.

I have been through a very expensive life with my first dog - eye surgery, ear surgery, doggy dialysis, thousands in drugs - and even when doing it I knew it was rediculous. I've no interest in doing that again, and regret having done it in the first place.

As with many things in life, different people in the exact same circumstance will make different decisions, and that's fine - I just I thought I'd offer mine.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:43 AM on January 15, 2010 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: She is 8, she is an only dog, and we got her as a puppy. We have no children living with us (my daughter lives with her father.) To look at her, you would think nothing is wrong-- she is as exuberant and happy as a puppy but she does have a bad limp which seems to get worse every day. She is 3/4 bulldog, 1/4 boxer.

The first problem we noticed about 5 weeks ago was bleeding, heavy bleeding all over the house: diagnosis infected anal glands with an abscess. 2 weeks on antibiotics. More bleeding. On her second visit the vet said the anal glands had healed up fine but that now she was bleeding from her vagina, possible kidney stones/bladder infection? More antibiotics. More bleeding. Then this visit, he said that the anal glands were definitely infected again. More antibiotics-- with the possibility of surgical removal. We still don't know what caused the vaginal bleeding

Unfortunately, he palpated a suspicious lump today as well and said it needed to be removed immediately as it was hard, well-defined tumor-- definitely not benign. He found 2 more. He also saw she was limping and diagnosed a torn cruciate ligament. Since she is a heavy dog (60 lbs) this will probably require surgery to repair but he will examine it more thoroughly when he does the lumpectomy on Tuesday.

Last month we set a limit of $1000, but we have already spent $800. and the surgery on Tuesday will cost $500.00 more with the outcome up in the air. Plus she will still be bleeding, still limping. It's hard to talk about putting her to sleep when she seems so healthy, but how much money should we spend on her? That is the question that we are wrestling with right now.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:57 AM on January 15, 2010

Like others here, we're dealing with this sort of thing with an elderly cat.

One thing that has helped us is to consider the viability of paying for treatment options before completing the diagnosis.

For instance, if the vet suspects a tumor and wants to do a biopsy and xrays to confirm the diagnosis, maybe first consider if you could afford the treatment that a positive result would indicate. If you aren't going to be able to pay for chemo (or don't want to) then skip paying for the tests too. Focus on asking how you can make the animal comfortable.

Sometimes bodies can age and disease and die and still be happy. It is not always limited to a choice between going broke on extreme measures or euthanasia, although those are all too often the only options presented by the vet.
posted by quarterframer at 12:08 PM on January 15, 2010

I have, in the past, gone to extraordinary lengths for medical treatment for my dogs, including a long and expensive bout of chemotherapy that we had to pay for completely with credit cards.

I wouldn't do it again. I love my dog and my cats, but I would not go into more than a few hundred dollars worth of debt to treat them. Maybe it's partly because I have kids now, or because I'm old enough to be concerned about savings, but I would not jeopardize my financial health for one of my animals again. Your vet can help you make decisions about less-expensive treatment options, about maintaining comfort as much as possible and so on. That's what I would do if faced with a situation like yours again--and I expect I will be, since I have a dog and three cats now.
posted by not that girl at 12:24 PM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I hate to sound harsh, but large vet bills are part of the responsibility you sign up for when you choose to own a dog. I personally could never justify putting a dog down or giving them up solely because of money. You already have large credit card bills - make them a little larger.
posted by sickinthehead at 12:24 PM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I squarely disagree with sickinthehead. Why does owning an animal mean that you are therefore required to try and extend that animal's life at all costs?
posted by craven_morhead at 12:38 PM on January 15, 2010 [6 favorites]

Things like impacted anal glands we treat cheerfully, even if it means taking food out of our mouths or cancelling Christmas, both of which we have done. They are finite problems, they have veterinary solutions that result in a fully recovered dog, and they have financial end dates.

Cancer is none of those things. To me, that's a catastrophic diagnosis. I would vastly prefer to end my pet's life when she is well and not suffering than lead her down that road, for both financial and emotional reasons. I don't believe I'm buying her anything she values with that kind of treatment.

FWIW my best friend is a vet and she concurs with me.

quarterframer's approach is also a good one. If it's hard to talk about putting her to sleep now - and that is totally legitimate, I've just been through this with too many dogs - than perhaps skip the surgery and talk to your vet about what you can do to keep your dog comfortable until it becomes clear it's time to take the next step.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:42 PM on January 15, 2010 [7 favorites]

I hate to sound harsh, but large vet bills are part of the responsibility you sign up for when you choose to own a dog.

Would you rather have far fewer animals get adopted in the first place -- resulting in them living out their whole lives in shelters or getting euthanized at a young age instead -- than have them live out healthy, happy lives with people who may not be able to afford serious catastrophic or long-term care far down the road? Because I think that is an extreme position to take.
posted by hermitosis at 12:57 PM on January 15, 2010

I'd be relying on the vet for most of your answers. Is there a guarantee that your dog will be back to normal after the surgeries or is there a good chance she'll have lasting problems? You just have to be reasonable about the care. Start with the cheapest things that will make your dog the most comfortable. $1300 over one year for a dog with problems doesn't seem too bad, especially if it improves the life of your dog and reduces your anxiety about losing your dog. You won't regret spending the money if your dog gets to live for 5-6 more relatively healthy years (and you are right, she does not sound like she's ready to go).

I know that removing the anal glands can cost as much as $900 (here in the US), but then it's done. No more problems (barring any complications). You could also learn how to express the glands properly yourself and it wouldn't cost anything. It's gross but totally doable and the more you do it the easier it gets (the expression, not the smell unfortunately). If the dog's glands are repeatedly infected then someone is expressing them wrong. I mean it's not like the glands get infected overnight. They have to be festering for awhile before they get infected. So just try and be more on top of the anal expression OR take the dog in to the vet more regularly to get them expressed.

The tumors shouldn't cost too much to remove, you said $500 right. I assume that includes testing the tumors for cancer. The torn ACL will cost a lot so I'd leave that for another time, possibly saving up for the surgery over time. A bad ACL won't kill your dog and why couldn't you wrap the knee to make it more stable.

So start with the tumors and see if they are cancerous. If not then you can think about saving for the anal gland removal surgery and the knee surgery. When you take in a dog you also take responsibility for its care. While some of us get lucky and have dogs who never have problems others end up with dogs who cost them money starting day one. But only you can decide how much money you are willing to spend on your furry friend. Aside from the possible cancerous tumors your dogs problems seem kinda minor, even the ACL problem, because they are not life-threatening. You should pay to fix her. It sounds like you want to anyway. Think of how much a child would cost over a year. A couple grand a year for a dog is a drop in the bucket.

BTW, this story mentions that the animal charity PDSA "helps families struggling to pay their veterinary bills." Maybe they can help you.
posted by wherever, whatever at 1:07 PM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would wait until you find out if it is cancer or not. That would make it easy, as dogs don't really respond well to cancer treatment. I agree with DarlingBri about the cancer part.

If it is not cancer, look at the other issues in small pieces. If your dog has an ACL tear, and it is relatively small, it may be able to be treated with cage rest. Infections can be relatively minor (they can also be huge). You just have to look at all of the possibilities.

It can seem very overwhelming if you take it in one big chunk. Break it down into smaller parts, weigh your options. Payment plan? Teaching case at NC State?
posted by bolognius maximus at 1:11 PM on January 15, 2010

I'm so sorry to hear about your pup. IMO, euthanasia is only an option when the dog has no real quality of life (similar to a terminally ill human in the last stage of their disease), and I could never consider euthanizing my dog unless I was sure he was at this stage. Since she still seems happy, I would say it is not an option. Here are my suggestions:

1. Ask your vet if he/she can decrease their fees or put you on a payment plan (I know this works for doctors sometimes; you just write them a letter explaining your situation, and they often lower or eliminate some of the fees)

2. Be very adamant w/ your vet about what is and what isn't absolutely necessary (i.e. are they running a specific test for a specific reason, or just because it's in a battery of tests they always order together?)

3. For any meds - check 1800petmeds to see if they have a lower price, rather than going through the vet.

4. Check out the info on the Humane Society website

5. If you adopted your dog, sometimes the shelter you adopted him from will perform certain procedures at a discount

6. Ashley's Angel Fund is a NC-based org that helps people with vet bills

7. Think about the things in your life that you can cut out (cable tv, high-speed internet, get rid of a car or downsize your car, downgrade your cell phone plan, eat cheaper, etc)

Good luck and best wishes for your pup's speedy recovery.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:18 PM on January 15, 2010

One more thing, try adding rice to your dogs food to help bulk it her stool. I'd also think about buying high quality dog food if you are not already. It could really make a difference on the anal expression front.
posted by wherever, whatever at 1:18 PM on January 15, 2010

Doh! You're in Raleigh, NC. Sorry. I thought I read upthread that you were in the UK, hence my link to the PDSA. One last thing, don't forget to get a second opinion before you commit to dropping a bunch of money.
posted by wherever, whatever at 1:22 PM on January 15, 2010

Sometimes you have to make hard decisions and putting a limit on the costof care for your best friend is one of them. You have a duty to your family to make the best economic decisions possible as well. Lastly, you can follow such a sad decision and brighten the day for a healthy puppy or young dog that might be destroyed for lack of adoption
posted by Atreides at 2:00 PM on January 15, 2010

Where did he find the tumors? Are they abdominal, and can the extent of their spread be visible on a (~$80) radiograph? What kind of tumors does the vet usually find with these characteristics in boxers, and what does the prognosis tend to be?

We lost a boxer to a bleeding spleen tumor last year, and a greyhound to osteosarcoma. We tried to save the boxer, but he passed on the table. The hound was beyond help by the time he was symptomatic.

It can be heartbreaking but easier when the decision is out of your hands. Hugs to you and your sweet pup.
posted by Lou Stuells at 2:15 PM on January 15, 2010

I would get a second diagnosis from a different vet. It sounds to me like your vet isn't 100% sure what is going on. At this point he/she should and not just keep prescribing antibiotics.
posted by TheBones at 3:33 PM on January 15, 2010

Response by poster: If the dog's glands are repeatedly infected then someone is expressing them wrong. I mean it's not like the glands get infected overnight. They have to be festering for awhile before they get infected. So just try and be more on top of the anal expression OR take the dog in to the vet more regularly to get them expressed.

The first infection took us by surprise-- we had not known she was having trouble.
2 weeks after starting antibiotics, she was bleeding again but this time the vet said it was not her anal glands-- they were in good shape.
3 weeks after starting her second round of antibiotics her anal glands had blood in them again. So she went from "good shape" to "Bloody" in 3 weeks even while she was on antibiotics. I don't know how much more "on top of the anal expression" we can be-- the vet has not suggested bringing her in every week or two to have them expressed.

Think about the things in your life that you can cut out (cable tv, high-speed internet, get rid of a car or downsize your car, downgrade your cell phone plan, eat cheaper, etc

I was not kidding when I said we had already cut our spending to the bone. We already canceled the newspaper, cable TV and cell phone and cut our grocery bill in half. We have also done without heat this winter, canceled Christmas, and let some of our own medical problems slide.

Where did he find the tumors

On the left caudal flank and the right chest wall.

The results from the blood work up today will be available tomorrow. I don't know what, if any, information that will give me.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:43 PM on January 15, 2010

SLoG, when my elderly cat had what sounded like a tumor in her sinuses, the specialist charged me $200 just to look at her (literally: he didn't even touch her) and then said that it would cost $1,900 just to diagnose the issue and $8,000 to treat her, if it were cancer. During that treatment, she'd be sicker than she had ever been in her life and what the outcome would be was anyone's guess.

As much as it broke my heart to do it, I had her put down about a month later without ever paying to have her diagnosed or treated. It's very possible that the problem wasn't cancer, that it was just polyps in her nose/sinuses. But... she had lived for 16 very wonderful years.

My balancing point is the animal's quality of life: if I toss another $500 at the medical issue, will it really improve her life? If not or if the outcome is unknown with the likelihood that it won't, then I won't spend the money.

You have my best wishes in this, SLoG. This is the toughest part of being a pet guardian.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 6:48 PM on January 15, 2010

Best answer: SLoG, I've got to be honest here -- I can hardly imagine a worse veterinary outlook for someone short on finances. All of the problems you mention (recurring infections, orthopedic issues, and cancer) are among the trickiest and most expensive ailments in veterinary medicine. About the only thing missing is a persistent dermatological problem (and with a bulldog/boxer mix, I'm shocked you haven't mentioned one). All of the problems you outline will take a great deal of testing and/or treatment to resolve, and may resist all but the most aggressive treatments. I could easily see you spending another $5,000 to even begin to get these problems addressed. If your vet accepts CareCredit or Wells Fargo, I would try and get approved for one of those services right away. Even so, I think you need to have a serious discussion with your vet about moving from a diagnostic and treatment phase to a more palliative and supportive care approach.

My wife and I both work in veterinary medicine in Raleigh, and I wish we could help financially, but neither of us control the purse strings at our respective places of business. If you are interested in a second opinion, email me and I will arrange to have a doctor at the clinic I work at take a look at Fanny's records, and I will have my wife (an ER tech of 15+ years) look at them and try to get some of her colleagues at NC State to look at them as well.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:20 PM on January 15, 2010 [7 favorites]

You rock, Rock Steady.
posted by wherever, whatever at 8:45 PM on January 15, 2010

I was going to come in and suggest getting a second opinion, but it looks like Rock Steady is taking care of it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:48 PM on January 16, 2010

Response by poster: I can't believe it has been a month since we posted this question.

Fanny is still happy and exuberant. Her blood work came back all clear and her anal gland re-check was good. We decided to forgo the surgery to remove her tumors. We also canceled the x-rays on her leg. The vet and I talked about it and he said if the ligament was torn, the surgery would be about $1200. He was completely sympathetic when I said I could not afford the treatment. We try to keep her from walking too much-- even just a walk down the street exacerbates her limp, otherwise it is barely detectable. I don't know how long we have with her, but for now she is still the same sweet, loving girl and we are just enjoying our time with her.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:10 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the update. I hope you can continue to cherish the presence of sweet Fanny for a long time to come!
posted by Atreides at 7:36 AM on February 15, 2010

Response by poster: 6 month update: Fanny is good! The limp went away, there hasn't been any more bleeding, and the while the lumps are still there, there is no evidence yet of them having metastasized. The main thing is she is eating, walking, and sleeping just fine.

Oddly enough about two months after I first posted this question she had another life threatening crisis and another trip to the vet; She choked on something and couldn't breathe. My husband Heimliched her and managed to dislodge whatever it was enough so that she could start breathing again, but she was still having great difficulty. Then she vomited, There weren't any foreign bodies in her vomit, only dog food, grass, and a lot of blood. We rushed her to the vet thinking this time we would probably have to have her put to sleep because we could not afford x-rays and surgery.

Luckily, we got the old, experienced guy. After examination, he said he thought she may have choked on a grass blade which could have also lacerated her wind-pipe (hence the blood.) He said we could have x-rays if we wanted but in his opinion she just needed steroids to reduce the swelling of the windpipe and some antibiotics. Sure enough, a few minutes after she swallowed the first pill, her breathing returned to normal and within two days she was back to eating and drinking normally. Thank goodness for experienced vets!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:12 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

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