Author Topic: Doggie ER  (Read 1225 times)

COEE

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Doggie ER
« on: March 11, 2017, 05:23:29 PM »
My dog (2 yo boxer) decided to impale herself on the garden fence today - no fun!  The doctor thinks she'll probably be okay - but isn't 100% sure.  We, of course, are hoping she continues to be okay and comes home to us tonight... send good vibes of some sort if you can.

I know pets aren't mustachian - they ARE expensive, but not usually this expensive.  There are non-financial benefits of having pets if you ask me - but that's not the point of my post.

The Saturday morning ER bill quickly climbed to $1500 - that's where I stopped approving procedures.  I was able to go thru the itemized list of what needed to be done and make rational decisions on how to move forward.  Thanks to MMM, DR, YMOYL, and YNAB I've been thrifty saving for a doggie emergency - $100 a month with a total of $1000.  She reached her $1000 max savings this month and I remember thinking to myself, "Watch her use every penny of this sometime soon."  She surpassed her allotment today - but considering her prognosis is decent I thought it was worth it for my family.

It was tough issuing a DNR on her though.  But when I asked how much it was for CPR and was told it was $4000-$6000 it made the decision much easier.  I can buy many more puppies for that price.

As a bonus, I was able to test my emergency preparedness for issues like this in the event it happens again.  My wife freaked out... I reminded her that I needed her to calm down, take a deep breath, and help me out.  She did, and we got down to business and hopefully saved our dogs life.

PJ

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Re: Doggie ER
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2017, 06:12:26 PM »
COEE, I'll keep your puppy in my prayers!

It sounds like you handled this really well.  Vets have an obligation to tell you everything that they *could* do for your pet, in case you want to go the extra mile.  But they are often able to help you prioritize which things they *need* to do, and which you can at least wait and see. 

Having had lots of pets and lots of emergency vet visits, though mine have mostly had illnesses rather than injuries, thought it might be helpful to suggest a few things where savings might be possible, depending exactly what the medical issues are.

First, emergency vets are pricey.  I'm not judging, they have to be there when we need them and have all the equipment for everything they could encounter.  They also often serve as a place you can be referred to see specialists.  Cost saving possibility:  Have them do what they can to stabilize your dog short term, and then transfer to your regular vet.

Second, when to discharge.  There are lots of things the vet can do in clinic/hospital that you can't quite do at home.  But there can sometimes be substitutions.  In hospital, they can have your dog on an IV.  At home, you may be able to supplement fluid intake with sub-Q fluids, and/or syringe feeding canned food with extra water.  On that note, if they're worried about the dog not eating, that's one thing you can do at home, once she's past the critically ill stage.  In hospital, they can give pain meds through IV or injection.  At home, oral meds may not be quite as good, but may be able to manage the pain sufficiently and cheaper.  Or, you may be able to get them to send you home with injectable meds.  On the topic of medication, when taking home pain meds, tell them that cost is a factor.  Ask if there are cheaper meds that will do the same job, or if you can get the meds dispensed from your regular vet or at a human pharmacy any cheaper.  In the emergency clinic, they have staff to watch your dog around the clock.  At home, you can take shifts with your wife, or take turns getting up every hour to check on her.  (I never let a very ill animal stay in a regular vet clinic overnight - they are usually alone for most of the night anyway, and I can watch my pets more closely at home.)

I really feel for you.  I'm a wreck when my pets aren't well.  Please keep us posted...
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COEE

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Re: Doggie ER
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2017, 09:50:40 PM »
Thanks PJ for the kind words.  And good news!  Annie (the dog) sounds to be doing good after the sutures and drain have been placed and the doctor expects her to recover.  She also found out while cleaning the wound that the puncture definitely did not enter the stomach region and was not as deep as the x-ray made it look.

I do realize I could have done this cheaper.  And I did question the need for xrays pretty heavily... but they eventually convinced me to do it... and the technician even said, "thank you".  I felt pretty comfortable at this vet.  They respected my wishes that euthanizing the dog was an option if costs were too high and it was the right option.  We did try to call our primary provider first and they didn't respond in short order - so this was our secondary option.  Our primary option is not open on the weekend, but they do offer 'emergency' services, so I'm not sure we would have saved much that way.

The ER doc even suggested possibly contacting our primary to get a quote, and would have been happy to go that route I think, but there's some extenuating circumstances where I wished to just get it done... I had the money, I wasn't terribly concerned about that.  I primarily wanted to do the right thing for the dog and the family.

Well, It's almost time to bring her home so I've got to run...

PJ

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Re: Doggie ER
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2017, 10:55:45 PM »
Thanks PJ for the kind words.  And good news!  Annie (the dog) sounds to be doing good after the sutures and drain have been placed and the doctor expects her to recover.  She also found out while cleaning the wound that the puncture definitely did not enter the stomach region and was not as deep as the x-ray made it look.

I do realize I could have done this cheaper.  And I did question the need for xrays pretty heavily... but they eventually convinced me to do it... and the technician even said, "thank you".  I felt pretty comfortable at this vet.  They respected my wishes that euthanizing the dog was an option if costs were too high and it was the right option.  We did try to call our primary provider first and they didn't respond in short order - so this was our secondary option.  Our primary option is not open on the weekend, but they do offer 'emergency' services, so I'm not sure we would have saved much that way.

The ER doc even suggested possibly contacting our primary to get a quote, and would have been happy to go that route I think, but there's some extenuating circumstances where I wished to just get it done... I had the money, I wasn't terribly concerned about that.  I primarily wanted to do the right thing for the dog and the family.

Well, It's almost time to bring her home so I've got to run... 

I'm glad for the update ... and I hope that the bolded part above doesn't mean that you felt I was questioning any choices you had already made.  More was thinking in terms of suggestions if they wanted to keep her longer and the costs were adding up.

I remember once taking an 18 year old cat that I was sort of "fostering" - friends had moved away, weren't planning to take the cat, but were happy to have me take her in.  The deal was I would pay for food/litter, but if there were medical issues that came up, they would cover them.  18 year old cat though, so the plan was for no heroic measures, though minor/treatable things would be treated.

Anyway, cat ended up getting sick, and the emergency clinic quoted me $1,500+ for the 1st 24 hours.  Hospitalization, x-rays and ultrasound, full blood work, multiple injectable meds, and an IV.  It was not my preferred emergency clinic, but it had been closer, and when they gave me that quote (with a lot of attitude when I questioned their suggestions!) I really regretted not driving the extra distance to the more reasonable clinic. I assured them that the cat would have to be put down if we couldn't find a compromise on that cost.  We ended up closer to $500, with bloodwork only, one dose of injectable med and some oral ones to take home, and sub-Q fluids for me to administer at home.  And that really was all that was needed, and of course, would have been much cheaper at my primary clinic.  As I suspected, bloodwork showed that she had developed kidney issues, but we were able to support her and keep her comfortable and happy for quite a long time after that.

Anyway, I'm really glad that the outlook is encouraging, and I hope Annie is comfortably resting at home by now!
'To be human you must bear witness to justice. Justice is what love looks like in public." 
Dr. Cornel West

COEE

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Re: Doggie ER
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2017, 12:03:52 AM »
Well, I got Annie home.  She seems to be doing pretty well and is whimpering a bit, but I think she'll fall asleep soon.  I think she just really wants to see my daughter who is already asleep - they'll see each other again in the morning.  She's pretty well drugged still.  The doctor was very good.  I'll be back to this clinic if a emergency arises again.

I made it pretty clear to the doctor that I did want to take care of my dog if possible, but didn't want to do unnecessary procedures.  I also let them know that I trusted them to do what they needed to do and tried to give them a good sense of what I thought was reasonable.  I also addressed her by Dr. [Insert Last Name] even though she introduced herself by her first name to let her know that I respected her and her team.  She really did treat us well.  We were her first clients of the day and the last clients of the night for her.  She was there at 7:30am-ish when we got there, and was still there at 10:30pm when I left.

Dr. [Insert Last Name] did an excellent job taking care of Annie.  She was able to use less material than originally planned to keep our cost lower than the original quote.  She also gave us a 10% discount because they were having a hectic day and we kept our cool about things and were patient.  Total bill ended up being just a hair over $1k.  I think that's reasonable considering the fact that she saw an impaled victim in less than 30 minutes of the event and kept her alive.  In fact, I wish human treatments were this cheap!  Annie still depleted the savings I had for her at $1k - but I had the money ready and was ready to use it!  That is the power of YNAB and mustachianism!  Now we'll be able to build that savings back up so she can get hurt again (I kid, I kid).

PJ, I didn't think you were questioning my decisions or reasoning.  In fact, I appreciate the tips and ideas in the event that we have to go back again.  I know I paid too much for the meds $150 for pain killers, anti-inflamatory, and antibiotics - but everything else I thought was pretty reasonable considering the time we had to plan and the immediate need for a skilled doctor.  I'm not sure we really needed the x-ray either, but they really thought they needed it just to be sure.  I also wanted to give my 6yo daughter a chance to say goodbye if it had resulted in putting her down - something that would not have been possible if she Annie was under anesthesia.

Anyway - Annie is asleep - and crying - I think she's having some nightmares.  I'm not sure how that works, but she's doing it.  I'm glad to have her home.

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Re: Doggie ER
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2017, 05:21:02 AM »
I'm glad things are going well so far, and congratulations on keeping your head in an emergency.  I'm sure you did the right thing.

My dog had a stroke two and a half weeks ago, in the evening.  That was an emergency trip to the vet and a couple of days of treatment (steroids and IV and a night at the vets) and a follow up the next week.  All in, it cost about 500 which I've put an insurance claim in for.  Dog is recovering well so far.  At the follow-up the vet was good about discussing options.  An MRI might have given more information, but would be a two-three hour drive away to a specialist, would involve general anaesthesia, would cost thousands and would only change the treatment options by adding in the possibility of a serious operation which I would not in any case want to put an 11 year old dog through.   So, dog is home, doing well - balance issues resolved, slightly weaker behind, especially on the left side.  He is now using a home-made ramp to climb into the car when he is tired, and is more cautious about climbing stone stiles.

So I've probably done much what you did: funding necessary but conservative treatment - and having the funds on hand to pay for it.
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Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Doggie ER
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2017, 08:11:21 PM »
I'm sorry to hear you had a vet emergency.  Those are terrifying.  Did your dog try to jump the fence? We have a new fence and a new dog so its something I will be on the lookout for.  Don't worry about overpaying for the meds.  There are a few times in life where it is worth paying the convenience fee.  Dealing with a human or animal emergency is one of them.  You were able to take your dog straight home without going to 4 pharmacies to find the best deal.  In a non-emergency that's worth the time.  After a day like today, your time home with your family is far more precious.

PJ

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Re: Doggie ER
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2017, 10:01:35 PM »
COEE, just checking in. 

It's so hard when your pup is in pain.  I remember when we had a bunch of small weird lumps and bumps of various kinds removed from my old dog - one of which was a mast cell tumour.  He was a stoic dog, but where the tumour was, as well as probably feeling a bit like a pincushion all over, he was in a lot of pain.  Whimpering kind of pain.  Not surprising if Annie was the same last night, and probably still today. 

But the good news is that they really do bounce back so fast.  Before you know it, she'll be bouncing around wanting to play, and you'll be trying to convince her to take it easy for a little while longer!

Also, I agree with Blonde Lawyer and former player.  I think you did great.  $150 for pain meds, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories sounds about right to me!  Maybe able to get a bit cheaper, but not enough to make it worthwhile shopping around or having to wait to get them.

Hope Annie and your daughter had some good cuddle time today!  Ah, a girl and her dog ;-)
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Dr. Cornel West

COEE

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Re: Doggie ER
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2017, 06:38:01 AM »
Did your dog try to jump the fence? We have a new fence and a new dog so its something I will be on the lookout for.  Don't worry about overpaying for the meds. 

Yes, Annie is a boxer and can jump this fence without issue typically.  It's about 3-4 ft high aluminum fence that is made to look like the old rod-iron fences.  We use the fence to try to discourage her from going into the garden.  Something really out of the ordinary happened, I'm pretty sure...  We have artificial turf in the backyard and it rained earlier that morning.  I think that with the turf being wet she probably slipped on it when she went to jump.

I'm considering an invisible fence to discourage her from jumping the fence again.  I could change the fence, but it looks so I nice I really don't want to do that.

COEE

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Re: Doggie ER
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2017, 06:42:18 AM »
Hope Annie and your daughter had some good cuddle time today!  Ah, a girl and her dog ;-)

Thanks for checking in PJ.  Annie is doing great and they have both played together a bit.  They are both glad to be back together.

PJ

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Re: Doggie ER
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2017, 09:38:37 AM »
Glad to hear it, COEE!  Best of luck as she continues to mend...
'To be human you must bear witness to justice. Justice is what love looks like in public." 
Dr. Cornel West

Dicey

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Re: Doggie ER
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2017, 04:09:32 AM »
Whew, what a story! Hope the happy ending comes soon so you cab exhale.

Great advice, PJ. I inherited two older dogs and a cat, so thinking these things through before need is very helpful, thank you.
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