One year ago, my wife and I decided to purchase a Siberian Husky puppy. The first time we attempted this, we lost $100 to a breeder that decided to simply leave the state and take our deposit (If their plan was to root their lives elsewhere and con us out of $100 … job well done). Our second attempt was much more successful, and we snagged a beautiful Husky puppy named “Puppy #2″ from a breeder in Missouri. Little did we know just how expensive this guy would be.
The initial purchase price was extremely reasonable; $500 for the puppy and another $325 to have him shipped to the airport. Puppy #2 came with the proper paperwork, documenting all of his shots and his breed, and when he arrived, we named him Shadow (a name we had decided on three years ago). A quick check up with our local Vet’s office showed he was in excellent health.
Health Problem #1
Fast forward about a month (making Shadow three months old) and our first bout with intestinal problems would surface. Shadow; while being the kindest and coolest dog on the block, was having trouble holding food down. Two weeks, a lot of medication and $700 later, we had found the problem and fixed it (parasite). Happens to dogs sometimes … just one of those things you have to deal with as a pet owner.
Health Problem #2
A month after the first issue with his digestion, we encountered yet another problem. Giardia infection is a somewhat common parasite infection that dogs can get, and as we live in “woods country” and have many streams and ponds nearby that Shadow loved to visit. $900 and a lot of bland dog food cleared that up in about three weeks (couple of nights in the hospital because of “explosive” things).
Six months old, and it’s time to get your puppy neutered! An overnight stay in the hospital, with some head gear and pain medication to take home with you and we became $400 poorer. Not to mention that on the very first day Shadow was back home, he ripped through his satellite dish type collar (called Elizabethan) and we had to fork out $20 more to rent a harder, less mobile one.
Health Problem #3
This is the one that kicked me where the sun simply does not shine. At roughly 9 months old (3 months ago) Shadow developed a limp in his right hind leg. At first, it was so sporadic we though his foot was just asleep, and when he got up, he limped on three legs for just a few seconds. However as the weeks passed, the problem was only becoming more apparent and the Vet diagnosed him with a luxating patella. Simply put, his knee refused to stay in the socket and it would require surgery (and a few pins) to fix. The procedure would cure the problem 100%, and if it is not done, he’d limp around forever. What is a parent to do?
So the traveling surgeon performed the procedure. An overnight stay in the hospital, a lot of medication and X-rays and one very difficult pill to swallow … the $2,100 bill.
Health Problem #4 (Current)
As Shadow limps around during the re-rehabilitation to his surgery (he’s doing very very well, putting pressure on the leg and acting as if nothing happened just a few weeks after surgery), he was doing his “quick shake” far too often. You know that thing dogs do after their soaking wet, water everywhere … well Shadow was doing that non-stop for about 10 minutes. Obviously, something was irritating him so after yet another trip to the Vet’s office, we found out Shadow has an ear infection. Now, every night before bedtime, we have to clean out his right ear (which is full of brown stuff that just doesn’t quit) and give him six ear drops. He’s taking them like a champ, and this whole process was the cheapest of our costs … a mere $200.
Once you tack on routine appointments (rabies shots etc), toys, food etc … our little monster has run up a $5,000 bill in just under one year. FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS for a dog I could have bought 7 times over. Not feeling to great about that but he’s worth every penny. However, had we been smarter about this, we could have saved a few thousand dollars.
Purchasing Pet Insurance
An option that was presented when we first purchased Shadow was buying pet insurance. Pet insurance is just like your or my health insurance; depending on the coverage you’re looking for, you pay a premium each month and your pet is covered for certain procedures, check-ups etc. Every problem above except the neutering would have been covered by a reasonable pet insurance policy, and our premium would have been roughly $50 a month (thus our $3,500 in medical costs would have just been $500 for the 10 months of premiums paid so far).
Pet insurance isn’t a common thing to have; you’d be hard pressed to find people that take advantage of this type of insurance. However as you can see from my story above, pet insurance is certain something you NEED to look into if you have a new or old pet, especially if you don’t have the out of pocket cash to cover expenses.
Take a look at some of the leading providers of Pet Insurance: