Pet Peeves Part 3: Vet Visits


My animals are a pricey bunch. Cute, and sweet, but medically challenged. Between facial fold issues, allergies to grass (seriously, what kind of dog is allergic to grass?), and a cat with apparent manic depression, we've spent a lot of time at the vet's office, at a few hundred bucks a pop.

The last thing that my dog managed to come down with was a grass seed between his toes. He never gave any sign of distress, and I only noticed it when the other dog started sniffing at the wound. Apparently this is common, and you probably won't see it until it swells up and starts bleeding.

The thing is, most of my animals' health issues are annoying and probably painful, but not deadly. And they always occur on a Saturday night, meaning that I have to wait until Monday morning to get them seen by a vet, unless I want to take the to the emergency hospital, which is twice the price of the regular vet.

I've stopped going to the emergency hospital because I've learned to combat pet problems, at least the ones that send us to the emergency room, by being prepared.

Ounce of prevention, pound of cure

Here's a list of things that I keep on hand to keep my animals out of the vet's office:

  • A solid pair of rubber gloves, especially if you have to peform some first aid on a cat. Cats don't like you trying to fix them. Actually, cats just don't like you. Nothing personal. They're cats.
  • A regular first aid kit can do wonders, if you don't want to go to the trouble of buying gauze and butterfly bandages separately.
  • Good pair of tweezers, for removing ticks, pulling out splinters, etc.
  • One of those head-cones. You never know when you're going to have to stop your dog from chewing on his butt or licking a wound. Yes, he will look stupid running around the house with one of those things on. Too damn bad.
  • Baby wipes. I think anyone who is alive should keep these onhand, pets or no pets. They are incredibly handy.
  • Neosporin, for small scrapes and scratches.
  • Skin-cooling spray or cream. Hydrocortisone is good, or you can use something with soothing chamomile. Scalpicin works fine, too.
  • Hydorgen peroxide, for cleaning small wounds, such as the ones caused by an exiting grass seed.
  • A damn good pair of electric clippers, for trimming the hair around a wounded area.
  • Pepto-Bismol tablets, for diarrhea. I give two to each dog almost anytime they get runny. Also, egg yolks and yogurt, which are eaten by adventurers the world over to combat traveler's diarrhea, are a great way to plug up a pooch that has a slight stomach upset, as long as you feel that the source of the upset isn't dangerous. For instance, switching (non-contaminated) food brands. Don't get the idea that you can give your pets any kind of human medication, because you can't.
  • Particularly flatulent mutts can be treated with sweet potatoes, according to this home remedy from Itchmo.
  • Flea shampoo and flea treatments. I don't use these as regularly as some people do, but I keep them around, just in case an infestation occurs. It's very rare for us, but good to be ready if it happens.
  • Pet meds. If your pet regularly takes medication, don't fall behind in providing them. It can mean the difference between happy and healthy, and sitting at the pet hospital at 3AM and getting angry at bloggers. [Not that I'm suggesting the Kirk wasn't giving his dog his meds or anything.]
  • My vet recommends Benadryl for the times when my shih tzu has a massive allergy attack. Most human meds aren't good for dogs, and you should obviously check with yours before giving anything to your dog. Benadryl seems to be widely accepted for allergy treatments, however.
  • Treats. Dogs (and some cats) will forgive you for popping a huge cyst on their foot if a treat immediately follows.
  • Lots and lots of towels. You can never have too many towels.

Pet Insurance

The discussion over pet insurance is a long and tedious one, and I can't crunch the numbers for anyone else. Since pet insurance doesn't cover any pre-existing conditions, I haven't seen any reason to buy it (for my two pups, it would cost me roughly $100 a month with zero coverage of their current problems). I know that very serious diseases can be a problem later on, but I've already decided that I'm not going to let me dogs suffer through harsh treatments for something like cancer. That's my personal decision, and I don't expect anyone to agree with it.

Kitten picture by Simon Jackson.

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Guest's picture

i'm sorry but i laughed out loud at you dog having grass allergies. Unfortunately I know how it feels...

Still smiling!

Andrea Karim's picture

I laughed when the vet told me to try to keep my dog off of lawns and out of fields. Then I bought a huge bottle of anithistamines and learned to pop them down the shih tzu's throat with little effort.

A dog who doesn't get to play on grass? Never.

Guest's picture

Unfortunately I know exactly what you are talking about. My schnauzer has a sensitive tummy. Has been on senior food since he was two. Apparently schnauzers are prone to this.

But that only begins the saga of the 6 million dollar dog.
He developed cataracts at a very young age and was almost blind by age 4. I took him to a specialist (150 miles away) who advised that I could leave the cataracts but if they ripened and began to break down the dog might lose his eyes. Apparently schnauzers are prone to this. $3000 later plus my lost wages and the dog can see.

He is also extremely allergic. You think it is unusual that your dog is allergic to grass. Mine is allergic to grass, trees, dust, and everything else that you can think of. I had him tested by a dermatologist and, no, I am not kidding here, the only thing he was not allergic to on her test list was cats. And yes, I laughed when they told me.

He started on Benadryl - did no good. (BTW, Costco has the cheapest that I found). He then went to injections to try and desensitize him. A year later - no change. We began dressing him in T-shirts so that he would not rip his back to shreds. He got depressed because my daughter told him he looked like an extra in Flashdance.

Enter Prednisone. This kept him under control but required a high dose in order to give him any quality of life. And because of the Prednisone, he developed iatrogenic Cushing's disease and abnormal liver function. So, had to take him off the Prednisone. He is now on cyclosporine - just like the transplant patients take. The Cushings disappeared when he went off the Prednisone and I can't believe the difference in his personality - he is almost puppyish. However, the cyclosporine is $3 a day. I also have to take him back to the vet. If the liver didn't go back to normal, they are looking at a biopsy. This will probably be where I draw the line.
But even though I know that the dog is not a frugal use of resources and that this will definitely be my LAST dog, he is my furry kid, always loving, always happy. So, to me, it is still worth it.

And he keeps me smiling.


Andrea Karim's picture

Jeanine, I now feel that my dogs are healthy and hassle-free, at least, compared the nightmare that you have been through. THAT sounds like hell.

On a related note, I've simply realized that I will never again own a pure breed dog. I didn't realize that mine were pure-breds when I got them, because they look different than the breeds we have here (they're from China). I know that mutts can have problems, too, but they seem compounded in pure-breds.

Guest's picture

I agree, I never had this problem with the good old mutts from my childhood, the ones you got from the Humane Society or the neighbour down the street.
However, in my day they called them mutts. Apparently, today they are designer dogs. I laugh when I see the ads for cockapoos, schnoodles, morkies and the like with prices over $500. As P. T. Barnum said........


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