Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. โ€•Edmund Burke

How much would you spend on your pet?

Notice I don’t say how much will you spend on your pet; only how much you imagine you’d be comfortable spending. Chances are what you will spend, one day, is a far cry from what you think you ought to spend.

In 2017, Americans will spend — hang onto your hat — some sixty-nine BILLION dollars on their pets! This counts expenses all across the “pet industry,” from kibble to collars to that pricey stay in the doggy ER.

The average cost of a visit to one of those high-powered 24-hour veterinary hospitals is not easy to find: apparently this is a closely kept secret. If you look at Yelp reviews of the many such facilities in Phoenix, you see, more than once, people stating they were asked to front $1,300 just to get the animal in the door.

Diagnostic costs alone can run a couple thousand dollars, AARP observes. Prices accrue from there. Treating your cat’s bladder stones will set you back a mere $1,850, as nothing compared to the $3,290 for a dog’s ruptured knee ligament or the $7,000 to fix a busted-up leg.

Americans will start out, this year, ponying up $2.01 billion just to purchase their 2017 pets. Food will cost us $26.7 billion, followed by a distant $16.6 billion for veterinary care.

And that doesn’t count the lawyers. Did you realize some law schools now offer courses in animal law, wherein budding attorneys can learn how to handle pet custody in divorce cases? This doesn’t even touch the dog bite cases, the dog excavation of the neighbor’s property cases, the dog assassination of rabbits, chickens and sheep, the HOA squabbles over the hordes of loose cats…

And lest you think Americans are the only pet-happy nut cases out there, some 41 percent of Australians say they always take their dogs on vacation with them.

So the question is, when your dog or cat or bird or goldfish is dangerously ill or injured and may very well not recover, are you willing to bet on the come that maybe if you throw enough money at the problem the animal will recover?

When is it better — or is it ever better — to throw in the chips and put the critter to sleep than to persist in the search for a cure?

Got no idea, I’ll tellya, how much my son spent on the present episode with Charley. He refused to tell me, but knowing regular vets, I’m guessing $500 to $800 for the vet in Show Low, about $200 for the ordinary vet down here, and something upwards of $4,000 for the four days in the 24-hour doggy hospital. A great deal of drastic effort was spent on treating Charley the Golden Retriever. But IMHO the vet who saved his life was the guy in Show Low. All the rest of it has been additional acts in the opera. I suspect that if Charley had simply been brought home from the Show Low encounter and allowed to rest, the outcome would have been similar or identical.

On the other hand… Probably unnoticed by my ultra-stressed son, it’s pretty clear the Show Low vet did not believe Charley would survive, and in repeatedly expressing that concern to M’hijito, he was signaling (in coded language) that he thought they should put the dog down. When the outcome in fact was survival, he admitted that he was very surprised. And when you look this stuff up, you have to allow: the guy was right.

Except that he was NOT right about the etiology of what ailed the dog. He thought the cause was exposure to high heat and suspected my son had left the dog locked in a hot car.

This was not true. In fact, what he was dealing with was fear- or stress-induced hyperthermia. While the potential outcome is similar, possibly the same, what was really going on was different. The animal was never exposed to unduly high heat: in fact, the interior of the vehicle was rather cold. So you could look at it this way: rather than an assault from the exterior by heat and sunlight, the animal was generating heat from the interior, which must have been dissipating into the highly air-conditioned chill of the vehicle. So, while obviously hyperthermia was stressing the animal’s system, it probably was taking longer than the vet calculated to inflict damage.

That is why, without a doubt, the dog survived. He survived something different from what the vet thought was afflicting him. Whatever the etiology, though, the only known treatment was the same, and in applying it, the Show Low vet saved the animal’s life.

Will Charley fully recover?

That remains to be seen. Each day he is a tiny bit better: he gets up a little more easily, he lays back down a little more easily, he walks a tiny bit more normally. He’s eating well, drinking generous amounts of water, and excreting normally.

If this continues, my guess is that over time he will recover most of his functioning. I doubt if he’ll ever be normal again — though yeah, miracles do happen. More likely after six, eight, ten weeks he’ll come back more or less to normal, and then he’ll spend the rest of his life as the equivalent of an elderly dog. But that’s better than being dead.

I guess.

A dog that will live to sponge food off the table again…

The drama from the outset:

Day One
Homeward Bound
Back in Town
Charley Crisis, Continued


Author: funny

This post may be a paid guest contribution.


  1. Glad to hear Charley is improving, if gradually, and I hope he’s able to get back to something approximating normal. Though as you’ve said previously, he probably won’t be able to go anywhere in the car again.

    How much would we spend on a pet’s emergency medical care? Tough question, and I think it would depend a lot on the animal’s prognosis and the amount of pain and distress said treatment would be likely to cause the animal. Modern medicine can work miracles for both humans and animals, but miracles come at a price. If one of our cats required thousands of dollars of medical care, we’d probably make them comfortable for as long as practical, then euthanize.

    Even for myself, I might opt to seek palliative care rather than medical treatments that risk bankrupting my family. (Which decision, I suspect, might not be popular with said family.) So much would depend on the prognosis and the liklihood of success. I’m not in any hurry to go, and cost wouldn’t be the only factor. But it is a factor, and I don’t think there’s any getting around that. That’s me personally, though–I don’t feel comfortable making that call for anyone else, or judging the decision they make.

    • We at least have the option of ending an animal’s misery. Unfortunately we don’t afford ourselves that privilege, at least not in most states. That’s changing, but it’s still not easy to get a peaceful exit when the time comes…

  2. We dropped $900 on our annoying as all get out cat as he had a UTI (common in male cats that eat dry food…stay away from non-prescription dry food at all costs). He would’ve died if we didn’t and we still enjoy his companionship so of course we paid. But if our now healthy cat developed renal failure, (common in older cats) we might just let nature take its course, although we’d make sure he was comfortable.

    We do have a dedicated savings account for cat vet care that I auto transfer a little money over at a time. It has about $1,000 now, which is fine for an indoor only cat, but for dogs or outdoor cats I’d recommend saving more. Vet visits in our neighborhood are like $100 or so for cats so it’s a bit cheaper than your sons.

    I also wanted to add it says a lot about you as a mom that your son is so caring of his pet. ๐Ÿ™‚ You obviously raised a compassionate individual.

    • It’s good to have an emergency vet-bill savings stash! Pets get more expensive in terms of veterinary care as they age…just like the rest of us. But even a younger animal can be exposed to disease or injured in accidents.

  3. I’m glad to read Charley appears to be getting better.

    Using data from your source, in the US we spend on average $175 per pet per year. I spend over $200 per month on my dog not including vet appointments or boarding.

    • If it’s only $175/pet/year, then a lot of animals are getting no veterinary care and are eating Ol’ Roy.

      I’ve tried not to think about how much I spend on the corgis’ food…it’s not easy to calculate because most of the time I cook their stuff. The meat: probably two or three packages of Costco meat per month, around $18 per package. The veggies and starches: hard to tell because I buy them in bulk at Costco and they last a long time. If out of laziness I’m feeding them that wet stuff that comes in rolls, it’s about $13 for a week’s worth: around $52 a month. For two dogs. That can’t be right…it just doesn’t sound like enough. Hm.

      Geez. Even if you were feeding the cheapest of all possible dog food, $175 seems very, very low. That’s only $14 a month. Fifty pounds of Ol’ Roy is $24 + tax: let’s say for the sake of argument $25. You’re supposed to feed a medium-sized dog 2 to 3.25 cups/day. Hm. It sez here 50# = about 200 cups. So that bag would last you 61 to 100 days.

      Here’s a WaPo article ( that claims at 2 cups a day you’d need to buy 4 bags a year, which would come to about $100 a year.

      But that would then leave only $75 for the “average” pet owner per year to cover all other costs. I suppose you could get away with it if you got the dog shots at the Humane Society. But sooner or later the all dogs get sick or hurt — sooner, if you’re feeding junk dog food like Ol’ Roy. One stiff vet bill would run your average cost per year figured over the dog’s ten-year life span to more than $175.

  4. Back when I had cats, I spent quite a bit per month on them as they aged. The one cat had chronic constipation for most of his life, so he was always on a special diet and required daily medication. The other cat was low maintenance for most of her life but then developed failing kidneys, which required some medication for the last couple of years.

    We did these things because they were effective and reasonable approaches to extending the cats lives and having them live comfortably.

    I have always said that when it comes time to make the decision to have a pet put down is that you have to ask yourself if what you’re considering is for the benefit of the animal or for the owner. When it shifts away from the animal, that may be the time to realize that it’s time to let the animal go.

    I enjoy your updates on the dog and hope he comes through this.

  5. I spent quite a bit of money on Sam the Tonkinese during the last 2 years of her life – meds for her kidneys and I think her pancreas. Anyway, once she stopped eating and drinking, I took the vet’s advice and had her put down. I don’t regret any of it but one of the reasons I don’t have pets now is that I can’t afford to feed them. I don’t even want to think about paying for vet care!

    • Right on!

      A nice bird feeder and a bag of wild birdseed from Walmart helps assuage one’s pet-owning impulse without running you into the poorhouse. You can’t cuddle with a sparrow or a cardinal…but they’re awfully cute! ๐Ÿ˜‰