What Would You Spend To Save Your Sick Pet?

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What Would You Spend To Save Your Sick Pet?

Having seen some crazy posts recently about how much people and even rescues are spending to save sick animals – I thought this would be a great conversation to have!

We believe every life matters, but how much money would you spend to save your pet if they became very ill?

How Much To Spend On Sick Pets

My Story

My world was my 2 pit bull breed sisters Ginger and Riley who passed away at the ages of 14 and 14.5. You can read about Ginger here and Riley here.

I was sucker punched by the pain of losing these two so close together – but they were old and had a fantastic long healthy life until those later years.

Riley was filled with health issues from the time she was about 12 – from Lyme’s disease to Cushing’s we had a constant cabinet filled with medications to help ease her pain and discomfort.

She passed out in my kitchen one day and we rushed her to the vet where we let her go based on our the recommendation of our vet.

Ginger on the other hand stayed healthy – well until Riley died.

After her sister passed she became lethargic and went downhill fast. We took her to the vet and found out she had a tumor – now keep in mind we had her in for a checkup about 6 months or so before and they found her happy and healthy.

She was just over 14 years old.

Her sister was gone and she was showing a loss of love for life.

We could have treated her and tried to save her to get more time with her.

But, we didn’t.

We gave her pain meds – and waited until she told us she was “ready”.

Four months later she had a stroke – and we let her go.

It was hard – and sometimes I still wonder if we should have done more for her.

But between our 2 girls it is safe to say we spent well over $7K in the last 2 years of their lives. Most of that cost was for Riley.

Our Financial Choices!

All of the things below were considered with both our dogs in regards to what we would or would not do to help them.

Average Breed Lifespan

The average lifespan for a pit bull breed dog is 10-12 years, Ginger was a few months over 14 years when we got her tumor diagnosis, Riley was about 12 when we got her diagnosis of Cushing’s.

With both we gave thought to how much more life we would expect to get for either of them. They both lived very healthy – long lives, how much more could we really get with all the different medical innovations that are out there?

If you have a young dog – that will probably impact your decision, as it should. But for a senior dog that is at or past their lifespan expectancy does it make sense to spend thousands of dollars to help them live longer?

Pain & Suffering

Our dogs were both seniors – their bones ached, they were both losing control of their bladders, they were not walking as well as they had. Because I could not know for sure how much pain they were in – this was a tough one to consider!

Think about what they may currently be feeling – do you want to add to that? In my case for Ginger – we knew the tumor was causing some pain – would it be worth it to put her through surgery or cancer treatments and have her feel more pain?

Would that pain turn into a better quality of life for her?

Because of her age – we did not think it would.

If your 5 year old pup is diagnosed with cancer – then the decision may be different since cancer treatment can potentially give them another 10 years or so of great life!

Survival Odds

Can the treatment your pet is being suggested give them a good chance of survival? If a vet is saying it may give them a 20% chance of survival and the surgery is $5K – is it worth it?

Of course if it was 100% survival odds then absolutely!

Personal Finances

This is a biggie – and of course everyones circumstances are different.

I do not feel we should JUDGE ANYONE for the choices they make and will not condone that. I have seen too many posts of people judging others – for spending too much or for not spending enough to care for their pets. Judging helps no one, so lets not do that please!

Everyone has different priorities in life – and while our pets are one of our top priorities in our own home, I would still not max out credit cards or take a loan to provide medical care that will not have a 100% certain outcome. Personally, we do not have a huge savings to dig into for these types of costs – the care we gave our girls happened because I worked extra to pay off the bill with our vet. That was the only way I was able to do what I was able to do for them.

If you have to go into debt to save your pet – then you should consider your decision carefully.

Outrageous Stories of Costly Vet Care

  • Ten year old George is a goldfish that underwent surgery to remove a tumor on his head! His owner was so in love with him that apparently $200 was no problem to save his life and help him swim better and eat properly.
  • Another lucky fish named Conquer who at just 1 year old was still a baby underwent a $500 surgery to remove a pebble he ingested. His very aware owner noticed he was acting differently and rushed him to the vet – where he received the surgery and went on to get back to his normal self.
  • Bubbles was a rescue kitten who at the age of 7 developed colon disease and her parents were told he would die. Bubble’s owners had already spent $3K the prior year for vet care and medicines and now the only other option was a 4K surgery, which the couple decided to have done. So, over $7K was spent for the vet care to help Bubbles feel better – and thankfully the surgery worked and she is feeling great!
  • Then there is the story of the NJ couple that took their 8 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, named Remy, to Japan for heart surgery. After being diagnosed with mitral valve disease – the couple was told there was not many options to help him, but the couple decided that was not the answer they wanted. They later found a doctor and vet in Japan who could do a surgery to help their dog and they jumped all over it – at a cost of $17K – plus more for the travel needs to go to Japan to have it done.

What Are Your Thoughts?

How much would you do to save your pet?

Do you have a “plan” in place for emergency pet care?

Do you have a pet insurance plan in place?

What do you think about some of the outrageous stories above?

What people spend on sick pets - would you?

Rachel Caren


Rachel has been an intern with CharityPaws for several years and is currently attending the University of Rochester to study Biology. Her passion for cats and reptiles combined with her love for Biology shows through in the content she creates! When you want to know why or how something happens with animals, she is the girl to ask!

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6 thoughts on “What Would You Spend To Save Your Sick Pet?”

  1. We have a senior cat, Perry, who is dying. In 2 months he’s lost 3 lbs. Very thin. 2 days ago he stopped eating. The vet says his weight loss is age related BUT he could have something else. Whatever he might have, is it worth $$$$$$ to find out? He cannot be cured. He is still going to die. We have 3 other cats who will require care as they age so we are saving our money for them. The youngest broke her leg at 4 months and we spent nearly $3,000 on surgery and aftercare. While we dearly love Perry, we feel we have given him a great life in a safe home. We will miss him deeply. Being retired means you must prioritize what you spent your money on and how much you can afford. That is reality and in this case it hurts alot.

    • Hi Debarah, I am so sorry to hear about Perry. I went through something similar with my dogs who were 14 and 14.5 (they were sisters) – so I can related. It is a hard decision to make when they are seniors, but we decided to let them go in peace. We did not want to keep them alive and continue to fail in health……I am sending positive vibes your way and my thoughts are with you during this hard time. Thanks for being a great fur parent!

  2. I have in the past spent thousands of dollars to treat my pets. My last four all died of cancer at 10yrs and was all diagnosed with cancer a few days or weeks of finding out. None at the same time. As 1 passed (always) had 2 at a time) A new one came. In 20 years I lost 4. I now have 3 and alone. I have been alone for a year and a half. I live on social security and spend more on my babies on meds, food, treats,toys, heartworm etc. My Shepard is 6.6 months, She has been treated with severe hip dysplasia since birth. Meds for allergies, pain meds, glucosamine. My Yorkie is 2.6 months and Thank God He is healthy. My Black mouth Cur has a heart condition. She is 4.2 months. She was born with Arithmia and we saw 5 vets and they all said they didn’t hear it. Our newest Vet picked up on her first time. We have had in a month 2 EKG’s now we are going thru ultrasound and echocardiogram. lat Month I spent $ 3,000 plus. My Shepard left hip is totally out, we thought hip replacement was going to happen last year. They then said we’d wait a bit. I have a credit card for them. And I went thru all my savings last year for them. My husband passed suddenly and I was left with barely surviving. But no matter what they will always come first. They are my Life.

  3. To all my dogs are my life . I dont see a thing wrong with what everyone has done .. myself I will do anything I mean anything to help my a babies I just honestly believe theses vets prices are totally wrong . My thing is one of my 7 matresse dog we had was really sick .. we treated him for years i took him to the vet had everything done blood work x-rays then was told everything was going great than 2wks after he started getting sick couldn’t keep nothing down took him right in ..they came back and tells me he has a tumor the size of a baseball now he was great 2 weeks before than the size of a baseball … sorry like I said the cost I know I cant afford but maybe people could afford a little more better if theses vets did it right the first time .. and that just what I believe .. thank you for LISTENING my BJ MISS YOU

  4. I took Mewmew , a very healthy 1.5 year old resque kitty in after she got hit by a car…
    Vet said- in front of my daughter- if we didn’t have the” funds” to think about putting her down- she had not even examined mew-
    We did xrays..nothing was broken…i kept her sedated for a few days to let her body heal…i called my friend who is beside an er nurse at Stanford a healer…all she said was to send me her pickture…I could not even put my hands on her because of the pain.. but 2 hours after Paula “worked” on her, she got up, got off my bed( which is high) ate and drank and went potty all by herself…since then shes getting better and stronger every day…now as a massage therapist, i work on her body every day and she keeps making inprovement…all im saying…there is so much more then traditional health care..
    Mewmew is proven example