Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lucky Dog

My Miniature Pinscher, Taco, is one lucky, lucky dog—after more than a month of battling a liver ailment, he appears to be fully on the road to recovery. Yesterday, he began eating out of his bowl, and not just sniffing disdainfully at the food. He’s more likely to follow me around in his normal nosey way. He’s had a couple barking spells. And today, the effusion (swelling) in his lower abdomen is clearly diminished.

He still requires meds, including some pills I’ve not been able to get down him. Yesterday he actually took a pill in a pill pocket! Now I have a regimen of meds to improve his liver and guard against ulcer formation. Plus, he’ll stay on antibiotics for another couple weeks.

I’ve not had a foster dog since his illness began and I’ve been too worn out from working with him to do off-site adoptions for the Shelter. My Adoption Team Coordinator has about given up on me. But I just couldn’t focus on the Shelter dogs while my own pet’s illness was so severe.

Here’s what I’ve learned from my experience with Taco:
  1. Be aware that animal treatments are as comprehensive today as human treatments. It should go without saying, but it still threw me for a loop. Taco’s illness would have resulted in certain death perhaps only five or ten years ago. The Vets who cared for the beloved dogs of our childhoods didn’t have sophisticated blood testing, portable sonogram equipment and specially trained personnel to read the results. Plasma transfusions for companion animals were a rarity. All these procedures are readily available, for a price, to most Vets today.
  2. Decide before your dog gets sick what you will do when presented with expensive (and often escalating) treatment options. One of my friends had some lipomas removed from her 7-year-old Cattle Dog’s torso. When her Vet asked if she wanted to have the tissue sent out to analyzed for cancer, she declined. “I didn’t want to know if the tissue was malignant or not. If it came back cancerous, we’d feel too guilty to not treat it,” she explained. “We decided we’d do the removal of the lipomas for the dog’s comfort, but we weren’t going to go further.” To some people, this may sound harsh, but it’s reasonable—my friend is committed to providing palliative care, but not treatment that may or may not work.
  3.  Ask about euthanization costs before the need arises. Some Vets charge an additional cost to euthanize a client’s pet, and others don’t charge faithful clients for the actual injections. There are often other charges that are mandated—disposal fees, etc. Ask so you know ahead of time.
  4. Decide what you want to do with your pet’s remains. If you plan to bury your pet’s remains on your property, you need to make sure local ordinances permit this. Cremation is a popular way to handle a pet’s remains, but procedures and costs vary. The April 2010 print copy of “Houston Pet Talk” has an extremely good article about pet loss, and includes suggestions on how to evaluate the services offered by pet cremation companies
  5. Consider Pet Health Insurance. I don’t have insurance on my pets. My Mom used to carry pet insurance on her pets, but doesn’t now. I asked my Vet for a brochure from the company honored by my doctor’s practice (I use VCA, a corporate Vet, with franchises nationwide—the reasons why are better left for a post in the future). I’m not purchasing insurance, but I did review the brochure. I might consider it in the future. I need more information.
What do you think about pet cremation or pet health insurance? Leave me a comment!


  1. In all my years of pet ownership I have only wished I had insurance once. I don't have it now. I have a few thousand dollars set aside for an emergency. That will have to do.

    I have cremated all my anmals and declined the remains except in the case of my last dog. I have a sister that has urns scattered throughout her house. No judgement here, but I chosse not to leave my children with that burden, should I die.

    I pretty much treat my animals the same way I hope to be treated when I go. If someone wants what is left of me after organ donation, have at it and do what you will. Or toss the ashes in the trash. What do I care? Death is not about those that have crossed over, it's about the living and what they need to move forward.

  2. Thanks for sharing! Your comments mean a lot to me--you (and Stumpy) are my most devoted readers!

  3. oops! I meant to say, too, that I am sooooooo happy Taco is on the mend and feeling better!

    I really enjoy your blog and your insights into life with dogs and rescue. so, I am am always glad that you take the time to post when you can!


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