One of the main reasons that we limit the number of pets we have is due to veterinary costs. For several years we seemed to be permanently at the vet, or waiting at our gate for the vet, and deeply in debt to the vet. Even his wife remarked that we were particularly unlucky with our animals, although I suspect we were like manna from heaven for her in terms of revenue.
They seemed to pick up obscure complaints which in most cases required lifetime treatment. Three cats with Feline Aids needed regular expensive cocktails of drugs to maintain them in health and comfort. Two of the dogs cornered a coypu and ended up with injuries that looked as if they’d been caused by barbed wire – an ear hanging by a tiny strip of flesh, a lower jaw pierced right through to the tongue, deep lacerations that required stitching. The first and foremost reaction of horror and anxiety for the welfare of the animals was swiftly followed by the horror and anxiety of how much it was going to cost to put them right out of resources that are frequently stretched. But I don’t believe in taking on any animal unless you are prepared to accept the cost of caring for them.
Our menagerie is now composed of two pgymy goats – hitherto and so far healthy, three hens, currently in tip-top condition, one parrot in similar perfect health, and two dogs, both seniors but fit and healthy. Over the past year I think we had only visited the vet for annual boosters. It seemed too good to last, as indeed it was.
At the beginning of January Dobby developed a limp. He’s a very large and beautiful black dog of unknown origin rescued by the Phoenix Association and adopted by us nearly tens ago. When he showed no sign of improving, off we went to the vet, who diagnosed arthritis in one of his back legs and prescribed Locox, a medication to be taken for life. Costs about 18 euros a month. No big problem. Consultation plus a month’s supply of Locox, 56 euros.
A week later he had a problem with his eye, and I bathed it in a weak saline solution for a few days. It didn’t improve, so back we went to the vet. Diagnosis: a scratched cornea. Consultation plus eye drops: 42.60 euros.
Last week Dobby looked miserable, most unusual for a dog normally so full of bounce and life. He has always been a “noisy pooper”, emitting loud groans that sounded more like sounds of discomfort than pleasure. I had mentioned this to the vet some years ago, but after examining him he said there was nothing to worry about, he was just a dog who liked simultaneously pooping and groaning. But last week he was groaning badly. I could see pain in his eyes. He didn’t want to eat, he didn’t want to get up and his tail, which is usually like a flail that destroys anything in its path, was still. He lay on his bed, groaning quietly.
On Saturday off we went to the vet, who examined him fairly thoroughly and could find nothing particularly wrong with him, other than that there was pain in his stomach. He gave us a bottle of white stuff, which thankfully Dobby drank with gusto, but by Monday he still wasn’t eating, still groaning on his bed, and still looking pained. 59 euros.
Off we went to a different vet for a second opinion. By then Dobby was looking a little brighter, and we briefly wondered whether to wait another day. But there was at the back of my mind the possibility that there might be something sinister causing a blockage in his stomach, so we decided to keep the appointment.
This vet gave him a very thorough examination, couldn’t find anything obvious, but noted that there was pain in his abdomen, and took an Xray of Dobby’s stomach. We waited for a few anxious minutes for the result.
The outcome: Dobby is constipated, and there are a couple of small pieces of bone in his stomach, which he must have picked up on a walk as we never give either dog bones because they always cause severe constipation.
98 euros poorer, and armed with a small box of pills of which Dobby is to take three morning and evening for three days, we drove home. By this time Dobby was already beginning to look like his old self, and we agreed that if we’d waited until the next day, the visit would probably not have been necessary. But it was a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Total veterinary expenses for Dobby this month: 255.60 euros. Dobby’s value to us? Priceless.
Hands up if you are checking my maths. 😉