Most pet owners say that cost is a factor when deciding whether to seek medical care for a sick dog or cat. (Hardly a surprise.)
In a survey conducted in 2010, most pet owners (62%) say they would be likely to get vet treatment even if the bill reached $500. That means 38% said that $500 might be too much to spend on their pet.
What if the vet bill reached $1,000? Only 42% say they would be very likely to spend that much at the vet.
If the cost goes up to $2,000, 35% would pay, and if the cost reaches $5,000, 22% would foot the bill.
People earning below $50K answered about the same way as those earning $50K and up. (Interesting.)
When faced with the prospect of spending up to $5,000 on a surgical procedure and related care for Luna, I was, well, confused, worried. What criteria should I use to make my decision?
Rather than setting an arbitrary amount that I would be willing to spend, I found myself asking questions of veterinary medicine providers, my friends, family, and even relative strangers:
“Will this surgery truly improve Luna’s quality of life or will it prolong suffering? How do other dogs do afterwards?”
“What are the chances something will go wrong?”
“I am new to dog ownership. I can see Luna is aging at warp speed compared with humans. How does that reality enter into this decision?”
“Does Luna understand the dilemma? If so, what would she want me to do?”
“How will I feel if I choose not to get the surgery done and see Luna become increasingly incapacitated and in more pain?”
“How would I feel if I ‘go for it’ and see her regain some function and quality of life?”
“What are the ‘opportunity costs’ of spending my hard-earned money on vet bills? What will I sacrifice?” (I am firmly ensconced in the ranks of the 99%, so sacrifice will be necessary.)
When I asked other people what they would do, many were amazingly opinionated. It was a kind of litmus test for attitudes toward pet ownership, the value of an animal’s life, and how one uses money. This made for fascinating conversation.
So, let me ask you.
How much would you spend on a sick pet?
What criteria do you consider when making a decision about veterinary care?
Have you ever paid for veterinary care that you later wish you had not pursued?
Have you ever had a feeling for what your pet would prefer? How did your pet communicate that to you?