October 09, 2008

Pets can cause high blood pressure!

John Singleton Copley, Young Lady with a bird and a dog

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a good home must be in want of a pet.

The universe is rife with studies about how owning a pet can improve your health, broaden your social life, and cure your warts. (Would you believe two out of three?)

Don't trust everything you read. I mean, you get a dog and at first it's all fun and excitement. The dog wants to go everywhere with you: frolicking, playing, enjoying life because you're in the same room.

This behavior is insidious, if that's the word I want. You get sucked into the easy path of being a pet owner.

And then the pet gets older, still loves your company but she's moving a bit slower. And the vet says the tumor "might not be benign, so we need to operate. Here's the estimate, about $250. It's just a little problem we need to take care of, just to be safe."

What are you going to do? The dog can't tell you where it hurts. Unlike a child, the dog doesn't usually cry when something's wrong. (Especially at the vet's. To a dog, it's important to look healthy when at the vet's, even if you collapse afterward. Never show weakness in front of someone who could take you away from your pack.)

So you sign here and initial there and cross your fingers.

And then you get your dog back, with a bill that's only $800 more than the estimate, please pay in full.


I'm told that pet insurance has been around in America for almost 30 years, but I've only heard of it recently. (Hey, some things take awhile to filter down to me.) Some pet insurance policies cover the following:
- vehicle damage, if the dog causes the accident
- boarding fees, if the owner is in an accident and there's no one to care for the dog
- recovery costs (rewards or posters), if a dog is lost

Somehow, I doubt they would insure my aged dog. I do like the idea of an insurance policy designed to avoid 'economic euthanasia,' but then I'm a pet owner. Does this idea sound crazy to non-pet owners?

And would my insurance company pay for high blood pressure medication if I told them it was caused by a sick dog?


  1. Oh no!!! I'm guessing this post isn't just a hypothetical issue? Hope Tanji is ok!

    We once spent a thousand bucks on vet bills after our cat got in the bathroom garbage and swallowed some dental floss, so I know the feeling.

    But whatcha gonna do? They're family.

  2. I don't currently have any fur babies so I don't have much to say. I've watched friends pay many, many dollars and worry themselves to a frazzle over their pets. It is difficult.

  3. Uh yea!!! pets can certainly cause some stress; my dog wakes me at 5:00am everyday w/out regard to if it's the weekend, holiday, etc. My cat poops in the bathtub 2times a day. My other cat has some strange compulsion to yank her hair out in clumps so she looks like she has the mange. The vet has ruled out all medical causes, after about 700.00 worth of checking everything else and says it's "behavioural". Great! so yes, my stress is higher and my sleep is deprived...but as Crabby says...They're family.

    I'm sure pet insurance doesn't cover Mental Health (my human insurance barely covers it), so I haven't considered it yet. I hear it's pretty expensive and you have to start paying premiums when they are young.

  4. Can't give you the non-pet-owner perspecitve...I am a cat mommy and I adore my Fabulous Felines. I don't have pet insurance, but it is something I do think about. Agree with crabby - pet are family.

  5. Since I have trouble paying for my own health insurance my pets aren't insured. I spent over a thousand dollars on IV fluids to make Hobie's last months more comfortable (and into months instead of weeks) but I haven't found the money to have Stony's teeth cleaned in over two years....

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  6. And this is why I don't have any pets. I have 3 kids, they raise my heart rate plenty!! But no, it doesn't sound crazy. I grew up with tons of pets and Crabby's right - you do whatever it takes, because they're family!

  7. Aww. I do hope your doggy is ok. They are family and it is so difficult when faced with that kind of thing.

    I don't carry pet insurance for my cat but I guess we've been pretty lucky. I took her into the vet probably 4 times in her first 6 months with me for checkups and to get spayed but since then she hasn't had a need to go back. She's very healthy. But then she's pretty young so who knows what the future holds.

  8. I've heard of pet insurance, but I don't have it. Granted my pup is only 11 months old and we did order a "puppy plan" from our vet that was a base fee that covered her shots and allowed us to bring her in at any time without a visit fee, but yea...health insurance is expensive enough for humans. Not sure if I'm ready to shell out for my dog. That might bite me in the arse later...

  9. It's not crazy.

    My parents recently bought my sister (who is in college and works on Saturdays) a puppy. She complains about the cost and it's in a crate all the time. BK and I dog-sat, and the thing was a monster (untrained). I couldn't help feeling bad for the puppy, as she couldn't tell anyone she was miserable.

  10. Aw, I'm so sorry to hear about your dog. Just think of it this way, what would it cost to have a tumor removed from a human? A lot more than $1000, I'm sure!! So really you got a bargain (I'm trying really hard to put a positive spin on this!).

    I have a friend who, in one year, spent more on vet bills than she did on her mortgage!! That's a lot of kibble!!

    I've heard of pet insurance, but I'm not sure how useful it would be.

    Hope your goggie feels better!

  11. Goggie? That's a new word :)

    Tanji is feeling better, though it took almost 24 hours for the anesthesia to wear off.

    I agree it's more expensive to treat a human, but there are more forms of insurance or other aid available... oh well. Better than watching her suffer.

  12. I was looking into pet insurance now that I have two little beasties...have heard too many stories about eleventy million dollar vet bills. But I would pay it for my furbrats!
    Hope your little guy gets better!!

  13. LOVE the pride and prejudice open ... but then again, i'm a nerd.

    in our family, it depends. the only time we've refused to pay for pet care was when the vet suggested we take our cat to a cat psychologist. mom and dad took him back to the pound instead.

    as for pet insurance? i'd have to look into it to decide if it's worth it.

  14. Pets giveth and they taketh away. Unfortunately, what they give can't be spent but what they taketh can be.

    I still like having 'em around though.

  15. I too love the P&P homage. You're a classy broad, Merry.

    You know how I feel about pets. I just lost one of mine recently and I would have paid anything to have her fixed up and made better, but her condition was too far gone at that point so we opted to just make her remaining time as happy as possible. If I ever get a job (PLEASE LORD let me get a paying job someday!), I'd get pet insurance in a NY minute. Totally worth it in the long run, IMO.

    Hugs to you and Tanji.

  16. My cat is healthy so far (knock on wood), but she's nine or ten, so I'm thinking about getting pet insurance. I got the brochures from the vet and everything, but haven't done it yet. Probably won't until next year. You have to insure the pet while they're healthy (and insurance checks with your vet), or they won't get covered...

  17. I am stealing the word Goggie! I love it!

    So sorry to hear about your pal Merry. Our dog got cancer and we didn't have him insured and it cost us so much money, which only compounded the heartache. Your point about a pet not being able to say where (or often when, I suspect) it hurts is so true - frustrating and devastating at the same time.

    I really feel for you!

    TA x

  18. Is your puppy okay??

    Working in a vets office and growing up in a vet clinic makes me REALLY agree with you. I wish pets could tell us how they feel and where it hurts. They're so courageous and so good at feigning being healthy!

  19. Its hard to explain the relationship you have with your pet to a non-pet owner. They give you so much love and happiness and of course if they get sick you want to do everything you can for them. Unfortunately this can also mean big bills and big stress.
    Pet insurance sounds interesting, but I also feel like you might not end up saving much money if pet insurance is anything close to people insurance in cost.

    I have recently launched a site called peoplemd.com. You can find all sorts of great information on everything from high blood pressure to diet and exercise and tons more. I think you guys would like it.

  20. I'm sorry your pup is having a hard time, Merry. :(

    My 9-year old cockapoo (that adorable little love of my life) has lost his vision and developed arthritis in his hips, making it difficult for him to walk. And it cost us almost $500 just to find out what was wrong with him.

    You know in your head that they won't be around forever, but in your heart you don't want to believe it.

    In the meantime, I'll keep paying the vet bills so he can be as pain-free as possible and I'll keep carrying him out to the yard a couple of times a day so he can do his business. :)

  21. I hope everything's alright with your pup, I know how scary that is. Mine has a several funny lumps on her, which frightens me, but all the ones I've had biopsied before were liopomas. Since I'm broke, I'm praying that's all these are too!

    I'd suggest to anyone not interested in pet insurance, persay, to check into plans like what Banfield Pet Hospital has (wish I still had it): for a certain fee every month, you get free visits, included vaccinations and some other procedures, and discounts on everything else. It saved me about $1500 when my dog had "pancreatitis"--in quotation marks because that particular vet was a douchebag, and it turned out she had an intestinal blockage. But she still needed IV fluids, x-rays, etc., so I was glad I have it.

    Sorry if the product "plug" isn't appropriate--I just think it's a great option.

  22. Pet hair causes high blood pressure! Fish don't cause high blood pressure unless the raccoons come around.

  23. Furbabies. thats adorable.

    The only time my dog cuses me stress is when he eats something of mie that cost me more than he is worth, or hen hes sick. and he is suprisingly not as sick as you would expect given that he eats a lot of expensive things hes not supposed to.

    Kelly Turner

  24. Yes, pets like people will always have problems. Prayers sent for your pup!

    I think pets are like kids, some people never miss 'em.

    I can say that for me, my pup is the only person on this planet who loves me unconditionally and who is never grumpy or spiteful or just plain mean to me.
    So what if he steals my socks? He always gets them and brings them back to me, eventually. He also carries the mail and small packages home for me and is so precocious that people have slowed down their cars to watch us walking home! He picks up pens and my glasses and papers and anything else he can get off the floor for me whenever I drop something, I just ask him to pick it up and he "hands" it to me. He gives hugs and kisses, and the sigh of satisfaction he breathes when he settles his 17 pound self into my cross-legged lap I make just for him fills my heart with a feeling of the greatest of blessings and gratitude. I have only had him a year and 4 months, but he is 17 pounds of pure joy and yes, there will be some blood pressure spikes when he is sick, and we had a $1500. illness when he was about 6 months old. Now when he has to urp he goes and hops in the tub and pukes there, because that is where I have tossed him since he was a puppy if there was no time to hit the tile or get him outside. He's brilliant, he says a passable version of "Mama" and "I love you" and the other night we asked him a question and we all heard him say "I dunno", and I repeated it to him in surprise and he said it again, so we are teaching him to say that in response the question "Who's on third?". He is the light of my life. My cousin recently rescued a small terrier, and she just told me the same thing in a recent email, and yes, we both also adore the spouses. But our dogs....

    How do I put a price on that?

  25. Hey, I think you got off easy. My 11 year lab mix has had 3 knee surgeries ($5000 each), eye surgery, tumors removed. She needs thyroid meds (shipped from Canada), Glucosimine and allergy pills. For a "free" dog from the pound, she has become a major investment.

    But she greets me at the door when I come home (from even getting the mail). Sleeps at my feet, checks me while I sleep.

    I won't have her much longer - her hips are failing and we will eventually have to euthanize her - so I enjoy every single day with her.

  26. Oh Deb, I wish I could say I got off easy.
    The 2 elbow surgeries, a mere $3,000.
    The snail bait episode was only $500 at the emergency vet.
    Even the thousand-plus for the specialist allergy doctor could have been worse.
    What really got me was buying a house 'cause the dog was allergic to the townhouse we were living in.
    Ever spent over 200K on a dog?

  27. Wow, some of these tales of pet love are really heartwarming, even if they're also bank-breaking.

    And TK, I sure wish I could teach my cat to puke in the tub!

  28. Hi Crabby!

    Maybe The Moo doesn't puke in the tub, but she is an ARTIST!
    So she is very special. ;)

  29. Oh Lord, I'd almost managed to block out that picture of Moo the Artist... ;)


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