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#1
Old 05-05-2003, 11:12 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 201
I can't afford my vet bills. What should I do?

My dog needs a new hip. It costs $3,500. Being 22 and still in college, and living off of savings and paying for my own wedding (although small and modest), I find myself at a loss as to what I should do.

We got the dog (a 4 year old rottie mix) in February. Her foster mom said that she had always favored one leg, but that a vet had been consulted, x-rays had been taken, and all that was needed was to give her a glucosamine tablet every morning. Sometimes I would forget to give her the pill if I was running late to school, and when I gave it to her in the afternoon, I could tell she was starting to need it. The tablets cost about $25 for 200, so no big investment there.

Saturday she started limping. Yesterday she wouldn't put any weight on her back leg. She cried and whined in pain all through the night. She wouldn't eat unless I hand-fed her. Today we took her to the vet, and she was sedated and had x-rays taken. That alone cost $275. We have money budgeted for unexpected visits to the vet, and $275 goes beyond that, but it's still workable as far as finances go. $3,500 is not.

The vet prescribed some pain medication for the dog, but she has to take it on a full stomach and she won't eat. I'm hoping that it's just a side effect of being put under today and she'll want to eat tomorrow, because without the medication, she's in a fair amount of pain. She can barely walk, and she's too big for me to move her by myself (she's 80 lbs; I'm 120).

I'm supposed to call and schedule an evaluation with an orthopedic surgeon tomorrow. How do I tell them that there is really no way that I can afford this? What should I do? Has anyone else ever been in a similar situation with a pet? I feel so bad.
#2
Old 05-05-2003, 11:18 PM
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Can you talk to the vet about a long-term payment plan? Most vets will offer one for catastrophic problems like this. I know that when faced with a possible expensive course of treatment for our dog last year, our vet offered us longer terms (although we opted not to go with it -- it was a recurrence of a nasty cancer and we just didn't want to prolong her misery, poor baby).

The only other alternatives I can see are (a) finding a fairy godmother to foot the bill, or (b) euthanasia, which would really be a shame for such a young dog. Or even (c) doing some price comparisons among vets -- you might be able to find one who could do the procedure for less cost (but still with a good payment plan).

Good luck, and I hope it works out!
#3
Old 05-05-2003, 11:58 PM
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Location: San Francisco area
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Check with your local ASPCA. They may be able to aim you local vets that are more willing than others to work with you on the cost.

If you're really in a hard spot, the ASPCA will likely be able to take the dog and see that it gets the needed care. Drawback to this is once it's recovered, it'll most likely go up for adoption to someone else.

Another possibility is pet health insurance. The trick will be finding one that's effective as soon as they have your money with no waiting period and will cover an existing condition as it sounds like your dog needs substantial help right now.

As a last resort, there always is "the big sleep" (gratuitous Ren and Stimpy reference) but it'd be a shame to have to do that to such a young dog.
#4
Old 05-06-2003, 12:05 AM
Liz Liz is offline
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I second butrscotch. Talk to your vetinary hospital about a payment plan. I've found it to be a rare occasion when a vet won't work with you on payment, at least partially.

Also, I know there are non-profit programs that will help individuals with pets in need of expensive surgery. The largest one, PAWs, is based in San Fransisco and helps people with AIDs care for their animals. There's also another one called PALs, which is based out of Atlanta. They, too, I believe serve the HIV+ community, but I'm not sure if that's exclusive or just their main foundation goal. I don't know where you're located at the moment, but there's also a foundation called Hope Sanctuary (Homeward Bound) that offers a set financial gift for those who need it. You can find that here. That's all I could find at the moment, but do a Google search. You may find some closer to you!

Good luck with the pup.
#5
Old 05-06-2003, 12:08 AM
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Do you have any family that might be able to help with the costs? A payment plan is also a good idea. Do you go to a church? Perhaps they could help, too.

And you could always do a fund drive. People have done fairly well in the past trying to drum up money from strangers on the Web, for instance. A few pics of a doe eyed pooch in need would pull all the right sorts of heart strings. Because dogs are good, loving creatures. Dogs are the best.

I hope it all works out.
#6
Old 05-06-2003, 12:28 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Look up any and all animal rescue organizations in your area. Call and explain the problem and maybe they can help you get funding for your dog. Sometimes you can find them in the phone book or the web...or you can just ask your local animal shelter. A lot of them have relationships with local vets, so they can sometimes get a better price on the treatment. If you are considering euthanizing the dog, please check with the rescue people first...they might be able to take the dog in and get it care at the very least. Good luck. I really hope you can work it out.
#7
Old 05-06-2003, 12:49 AM
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Everyone, those are all very excellent suggestions--please, please please keep them coming!!

I've emailed my dog's foster mom (at any given time she fosters about 30 dogs--she's amazing) to see if she knew of any reduced cost programs or providers.

I could ask my dad for the money, but he's been so good to me in terms of helping me pay for school, extended zero interest loans, etc, and he's supposed to retire this year--I'd just feel really bad about asking him for anything but a small amount.

Hopefully I can piece it together from all angles. I absolutely do not want to euthanize her. I'd rather give her up to someone who could care for her than put her to sleep when other options are out there.

This sucks.

On a good note, though, just a minute ago she licked some peanut butter off my finger (laced with asprin) so hopefully that'll provide her some temporary relief at least.
#8
Old 05-06-2003, 01:25 AM
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Location: Eastern Kentucky
Posts: 6,491
A lot of vets, especially places that routinely do pricey stuff, offer an option called CareCredit. It's a lending company that works exclusively with doctor's offices and vet clinics, and if you get approved they pay the bill and you pay them over time. Being a student, you'll most likely need a co-applicant to get approved. Maybe your dad will be a co-applicant for you and you can take care of the payments yourself.

What part of Virginia are you in? If a trip to Lexington, KY is feasible for you, call the vet I used to work for. He does hip replacements, and when we moved last year he was charging $2000 for the surgery, films, meds, hospitalization, and everything. I know for sure he does CareCredit, and sometimes he'll even do promissory notes, although those are pretty rare.

If you're interested, it's the North Lexington Veterinary Clinic, and the vet's name is Dr. Hume. The number is 859-255-8919. If you call, tell them Tamara referred you.
#9
Old 05-06-2003, 02:05 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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CareCredit seems like a Good Thing to know about. Sliceguy (my fiance) could do the application. He's also a student (getting his graduate degree) but has a "real job" as well.

Unfortunately, Lexington is almost nine hours away. That would have been a drastic reduction in cost. Although I hadn't thought about the fact that the farther west or south I go, the more likely the price will go down. I know there's a reputable veterinary program at a college about 3 1/2 hours away. I wonder if they would have a program. Hmmm.

And hey, I'm unemployed! Maybe I could work at a clinic for the discount...
#10
Old 05-06-2003, 02:33 AM
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D'oh! That was me above with the CareCredit stuff. (Damn that man, always wanting to use his own computer.)

If you made the trip on a Sunday, dropped the dog off Monday morning and went home, then came back the following Sunday, it still might work out better financially to go to Lexington. I know that we've had people drive six hours each way for THR's before, simply because we were the closest place that did them.

Vet schools almost always can do THR's, but I don't know how their pricing compares with private clinics. You may be hard put to find vets who do the procedure who aren't boarded surgeons, and specialists are always going to cost you more.

Oh, and her lack of appetite today is almost certainly related to the anesthesia. She should be back on her food tomorrow. Just give her small amounts to start with in case she's a bit nauseous yet.

Good luck!
#11
Old 05-06-2003, 06:37 AM
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As the others have said, find the cheapest vet and work out a payment plan.

Also, you could delay your wedding. Why spend money on that when you could spend the money on giving your dog a better quality of life.
#12
Old 05-06-2003, 08:04 AM
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We have an organization that takes in aluminum cans and stuff to raise money for animal surgeries that people can't afford. There might be something like that in your area.

Another possibility (don't laugh!) is to throw a fund-raising party amongst your friends and acquaintances. You can buy cheap beer and hot dogs and charge an admission fee. I've had friends do this for everything from human amputations to headstones. You'll be able to raise a good portion of the money. Try it!
#13
Old 05-06-2003, 08:49 AM
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Total hip replacement...yikes.

You may want to tell the vet or surgeon that you really want to do what's right for your dog, but you simply don't have that much money, and if there's any way he can lower the price.

He may offer a payment plan.

He may take pity on you and give you a discount.

Alternately, he may say he'll do the surgery, but you'll have to sign the dog over to him. He'll then try to find a home for the dog. This is pretty unlikely, though, for a total hip replacement.

Best of luck.
#14
Old 05-06-2003, 11:11 AM
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I'll second CrazyCatLady on the CareCredit thing. Week before last, I had to take my kitten in for surgery on his arm, with an estimated cost of $2,000. I asked them about a payment plan as well, to no avail, but the receptionist handed me an application form and I got approved.

'Course, we didn't need it, 'cause the vet decided that surgery wasn't necessary, but it's still good to have that approval should something else happen. Good luck with your dog!
#15
Old 05-06-2003, 11:32 AM
BF BF is offline
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I can say I'm a satisfied CareCredit customer. The dog got bit by a brown recluse while we lived in southeastern NC. The first vet didn't think it was a big deal (naw, not a spider bite), so he went 24 hours with cheap antibiotics, by the time I got him to another vet, he needed emergency surgery to the tune of $1200 to save his leg. The vet's office administrator helped me fill out the paperwork and faxed it to CareCredit and I had approval by the afternoon. Took about 14 months to pay it off, but it was worth every penny.
#16
Old 05-06-2003, 11:49 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Quote:
originally posted by Pixelle
Also, you could delay your wedding.
This was the thought that immediately came to my mind yesterday; however, the vendors already have our (non-refundable deposits). And it's not expensive by any means as far as weddings go (off the rack evening dress on sale, silk flowers arranged by my sister, cake from publix, 15 guests) but we have decided to cut back on the things we haven't already put deposits down on. We appropriately delayed before--when there was a death in his immediate family--so I'd rather not go through that again.

We have an appointment with the surgeon for 8:30 a.m. on Friday, so we'll see what happens then. Dad said I could have a no-interest loan of $1K, and slice guy is going to talk to his mom and see if she can do something similar. We can take care of the other $1K on our own, just no more dinners out and lots of movie rentals in our near future.
#17
Old 05-06-2003, 03:39 PM
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Is there a vet school close to you? If so, they'll probably be willing to do it at a reduced rate, if you don't mind students participating in the surgery.
#18
Old 05-06-2003, 04:30 PM
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I am sorry about your dog. You might try to put out jars with picture of the dog at convenience stores and such (be sure to get permission obviously) and maybe your vet would let you put one on the counter in his or her office, too. Don't be afraid to beg, plead and be a pest, and don't take "no" for an answer from your vet. Don't just try to work out a payment, get a substantial reduction as well, if it is at all possible.

Good luck and let us know how things are going. Maybe some of us can help.
#19
Old 05-06-2003, 04:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by katie1341
Is there a vet school close to you? If so, they'll probably be willing to do it at a reduced rate, if you don't mind students participating in the surgery.
That's what I was gonna post. The students need practise and it usually way less expensive. You'd think they are also well supervised. Try to see where the closest vet school is.
Keep us posted!
#20
Old 05-07-2003, 12:04 AM
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Quote:
originally posted by katie1341
Is there a vet school close to you? If so, they'll probably be willing to do it at a reduced rate, if you don't mind students participating in the surgery.
Well, things might be different in the USA, but in this country vet students would never be allowed to be involved in something as complicated as a hip replacement. If you were lucky, you might be allowed to watch it by video link.

In fact, your regular vet wouldn't either. You'd need to be a registered specialist, which is why my uni is the only place in my state bar one specialist clinic which offers total hip replacements.

The costs are not cheaper- it's usually more expensive to get anything done at the uni clinics here, because they are trying to pay off expensive equipment and get practically zero government funding, and have more staff than a regular clinic because of the student supervision factor. They are also trying to fund research. On the other hand, everything is as top of the range as it could be.
#21
Old 05-07-2003, 01:26 AM
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The vet school actually is a possibility! Thanks to all that suggested it. This is part of an email response from the incredibly awesome lady that fostered her:

Quote:
I have sent out emails to the Humane Society board to see what we can do to help you. Please let me know what the orthopedic surgeon says and what the actual cost will be. It has also been mentioned to me that Virginia Tech does this type of surgery well and is cost-consious. Bear with me, get me what info you can and I will find a way to help you.
VA Tech is about 4 hours away from me and my best friend has an apartment down there until August, so it's a definite possibility.

I really appreciate all the advice you guys have given. We have the surgical consult at 8:30 a.m. on Friday morning (it's about an hour away in rush hour traffic) so that's the soonest I'll know something. Kalhoun, I may just steal your fundraising idea. We have a huge backyard and a big grill, and it is summer, so that's a possibility. serenitynow, excellent ideas as well. I make little cute glass magnet things (hairpins and pushpins too) for gifts that are always well received, so I'm thinking about sending out a letter to everyone on my Christmas card list selling a special "Save My Dog" edition set (with obligatory doe eyed pictures, spectrum).

Anyone have any other fundraising or charity ideas?

I want to say again that you all are the absolute best. She had a really, really rough morning today and reading all the posts really helped me a lot.
#22
Old 05-07-2003, 01:32 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Sometimes in my town people put up flyers on the entrance to the dog park explaining their pet's emergencies with a phone number to call if anyone wants to donate or knows someone who can help.
#23
Old 05-07-2003, 11:39 AM
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Location: San Francisco area
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If you've got a post office box at your disposal, perhaps the mods would allow it to be posted here so doggy-lovin Dopers might wing some cash your way?

#24
Old 05-07-2003, 12:21 PM
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phraser - If the vet students aren't allowed to practice, how will they ever learn? In such an instance, the orthopod might have a student or two assisting. The students may be doing a orthopedics rotation or may have finished their regular schooling and getting extra training for a specialty. I remember my vet orthopedist saying that the week before he did an ACL surgery on my dog he did one for the great dane who belonged to a human orthopedist, and he let the human doc watch the operation.
#25
Old 05-07-2003, 12:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by slice

Anyone have any other fundraising or charity ideas?

I want to say again that you all are the absolute best. She had a really, really rough morning today and reading all the posts really helped me a lot.
Hey, I'm in NOVA too. I'm more of a cat person, but I wouldn't want to see anyone have to euthanize their dog because they couldn't pay for it.

If you really want to do some sort of fund-raising of any sort, I'll be in on it. Heck, email me and maybe we can work something out on a smaller scale if there are no other people around here who would chip in a few bucks. You know, karma and all.

Good luck.
#26
Old 05-07-2003, 01:50 PM
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Location: Eastern Kentucky
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Quote:
Originally posted by StGermain
phraser - If the vet students aren't allowed to practice, how will they ever learn? In such an instance, the orthopod might have a student or two assisting. The students may be doing a orthopedics rotation or may have finished their regular schooling and getting extra training for a specialty. I remember my vet orthopedist saying that the week before he did an ACL surgery on my dog he did one for the great dane who belonged to a human orthopedist, and he let the human doc watch the operation.
The operative word here is watch. Students may be holding on to retractors during the surgery, but they sure as hell aren't cutting. They're still being supervised during spays, for Chrissakes. If the school in question has a surgery or orthopedic residency program, they might get to cut. Residents, however, are not students. They're DVM's (VMD's, depending on where they went to school) and are boarded for general practice on their own already.
#27
Old 05-07-2003, 02:28 PM
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First, the bad news:

Contrary to gotpasswords suggestion, the local ASPCA isn't likely to treat the animal. Most animal shelters have far more animals to help than they have funds, and certainly don't have $3,500 around to help a single animal. Indeed, if they had that money, they'd spend it on a project that could help 100 animals instead.

Our humane society briefly had a program where we helped folks with vet bills. The need for the service was so severe, however, that within a couple months the project was thousands of dollars in the hole, and we had to cut it off. One of the worst parts of my job is when desperate people call me, asking for veterinary help for their pets, and I have to tell them we can't do anything.

Now for the slightly-good news: The Humane Society of the United States has a web page full of suggestions. Some of them have been mentioned here; others haven't. Note particularly that you can call your regional HSUS office for more specific ideas.

Now for the slightly better news: United Animal Nations has a program designed specifically for you. I don't know anything about this organization, whether they're reliable or not, but I've run across references to them several times. They offer a maximum of $100, not a whole lot -- but every little bit helps, right?

If you do work with UAN, I'd love to hear how it turns out; I can figure out whether to refer other folks to them.

Best of luck!

Other folks: y'all may want to look into pet insurance. If you adopt from an animal shelter, and if they're part of the Petfinder network, you may be eligible for ShelterCare insurance. I've heard only good things about their program, and the first two months are free. Other pet insurance programs I've seen are pretty cheap, ranging from $5 to $30 a month. If you've got the funds to spare, it's probably a good idea to sign up.

As with human health insurance, they're not going to cover pre-existing conditions: you won't be able to sign up and immediately be eligible for getting your dog's hip replaced (otherwise, nobody would sign up at all until there was an injury). But if you sign up now, you can save yourself tons of money in the long run.

Daniel
#28
Old 05-07-2003, 05:33 PM
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This is going to be tough for me to say.... and I bet you know where this is going to go

I love animals greatly. I have more "nice" feelings for good dog or cat than I do about people in general, but I would seriously consider putting your friend down.

I had a cat that had hip surgery (not an entire hip, but a joint or something) and the girl was never the same. She made do, but always had a bad limp and developed arthritis and was in pain a lot. She lived a long time (20 years, 15 more after the operation) but a lot of that time, especially the later years, she was in pain. In hindsight, I loved her dearly but I wonder if I made the right decision. Now, with hindisight, I'm not so sure if I did.

However, that being said, if you can secure the funding and the vet is confident of a full recovery, go for it. My advice would be to see if you could work out a payment plan with the vet.
#29
Old 05-07-2003, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by bernse
I love animals greatly. I have more "nice" feelings for good dog or cat than I do about people in general, but I would seriously consider putting your friend down.
I wouldn't give up just so soon. My dog was found in a shelter with a broken leg that was never cared for (the vet guessed that it had been like that for over a year). The leg was deformed beyond repair and it was terribly painful for the dog to walk. Yet a wonderful woman who runs an animal rescue saw him and took him in, got him a full amputation of the leg. I adopted him after he had healed up and you know what, he is the happiest creature I have ever met. Dogs can be remarkable in their ability to adapt. He can run and jump and do everything a normal dog can do...and really, he loves life, more so than any other dogs I've met. Dogs do just fine with 3 legs (if you ever have to come to that) and they do better when they are missing a back leg than when they are missing a front (like mine is). I don't know, just don't give up if you know that your dog is not ready to give up too. It doesn't sound like you are about to give up anyway! Good luck with all of this...
#30
Old 05-07-2003, 07:38 PM
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Laurasia (didn't you used to be Pangaea? ) I'm not sure all dogs do well on 3 legs, especially ones with degenerative hip disease. Putting all the usual rear weight onto one hind leg could turn the "good" hip to cottage cheese pretty quickly too. However, I am not a vet, so can't speak with authority.
#31
Old 05-07-2003, 08:19 PM
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One thing I noticed that no one's mentioned yet about CareCredit is that they have special payment plans whereby you can get 3 to 12 months "same as cash" with no finance charges! I use my CareCredit card for all my kitty's vet visits and I've found the most expensive procedures always end up being the ones payable with no interest over time. To me, that's the best part about CareCredit (which sets them apart from any other regular old credit card)!

From their FAQs...
Quote:
What payment plans are available through CareCredit?

CareCredit offers a full range of payment plans. Our 3, 6, & 12 Month No Interest Payment Plans feature monthly payments as low as 3% of the balance and let you pay within the specified time without incurring interest charges.

For patients/clients with treatment fees from $1,500 to over $25,000, who would appreciate more time to pay and lower monthly payments, our 24, 36, & 48 Month Extended Payment Plans offer a low, fixed 12.96% interest rate and an extended term.
You can even apply online!

Best of luck to you and your doggie!
#32
Old 05-07-2003, 08:23 PM
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Eh, in hip dysplasia there's no "good" hip, there's just the "not so bad" hip. Sometimes there's not even that. AFAIK it's not even really a weight issue like it can be in humans, it's just a progressive deformity of the joint. Bad genetics rather than trauma, in other words.

As for putting the dog down, bernse's experiences are not typical. Most animal's I've seen who've had orthopedic surgery do very well indeed, and those who don't are often victims of unforseen complications during surgery or recovery. The first THR I took part in was in a dog who pretty much had no acetabulum at all, and his hip was entirely dislocated (had been for some time, too). A week post-op, he was walking normally on his own (with towel support as a backup), and he's never looked back. Today he's a happy, healthy, perfectly normal 4 year old dog.
#33
Old 05-07-2003, 08:51 PM
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Oh no, I didn't mean to remove the leg! I just meant to point out that dogs are remarkable at recovery, even when people think they would often times be better off euthanized, and that surgury is often times a very good option. My neighbor just had her dog's hip replaced earlier this year. She walks her every day and the dog is doing just great. She was quite putoff by the $4,000 vet bill, but swears it was worth every penny.
#34
Old 05-08-2003, 03:22 AM
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Again, you guys continue to amaze me with your suggestions and researching and whatnot. Thank you all so much.

Unfortunately, I've been away today because my grandfather had a stroke. Can this week get any worse?! At least I have my health (knock on wood).

Well, only one more day until we know something for sure. To throw what I know into the discussion... The vet told us that the longer we put surgery off, the worse her "good leg" (relatively speaking) is going to get (as Qadgop stated earlier).

Don't know about how much the vet students get to participate. A friend's brother is in the program at Tech, so perhaps I'll check into that.

gotpasswords, TeleTronOne, I usually feel terrible about "handouts," but in this case I might be driven to make an exception. Maybe I could start exchanging sexual favors. Just kidding.

DanielWithrow, I checked out United Animal Nation and definitely plan to apply if we have to do surgery. Thank you. Also, like you said, pet insurance is a great idea. One thing to think about though: most of the carriers I looked into didn't cover hip surgeries--pre-existing or not--because they're so common in large breeds. I found the dog through petfinder (which I'd highly recommend) and the free two months of insurance was great--shots cost next to nothing!

She has done much better today than the past two days, but she's heavily medicated and showing a few side effects. She didn't really eat tonight, but I think her eating schedule is off.

And a little bit of back story about her and why she's so important to me: In January, I came home one night and noticed a truck sitting almost in front of my house. (I live on a busy street, right near a 90 degree turn, and it's a weird place for anyone to pull over. There's no street parking or anything.) Sliceguy wasn't home, and I just had a weird feeling, so I drove to the 24 hour CVS a few blocks away. The guy in the truck followed me to the store and tried to grab me. I made it to the front counter and they called the police for me. The man fled and we only got a partial plate. When I finally went home that night, I discovered my phone line had been cut. Over the next few days, when I was out or at class, neighbors saw a similar guy in a similar truck cruise slowly past my house or sit in front of it for a minute. Again, they got partial plates, but no full tag. The police told me that even if they caught this guy, all the could do was charge him with "suspicious behavior." We had been thinking about getting a dog before, but this really pushed us to do it. We looked at lots of dogs, liked her the most, and made a 4 hour round-trip to get her. I liked her because she looks mean and scary as all hell, but she's just the sweetest thing you'd ever want to meet and is absolutely no trouble at all. She's been my sanity ever since I got her and it just breaks my heart that I can't help her now. So anyway, that's the story behind her. I just thought I should share that.
#35
Old 05-08-2003, 05:30 AM
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Quote:
originally posted by StGermain
phraser - If the vet students aren't allowed to practice, how will they ever learn? In such an instance, the orthopod might have a student or two assisting. The students may be doing a orthopedics rotation or may have finished their regular schooling and getting extra training for a specialty. I remember my vet orthopedist saying that the week before he did an ACL surgery on my dog he did one for the great dane who belonged to a human orthopedist, and he let the human doc watch the operation.
i am a vet student- we learn by watching videos, but as this is quite specialist surgery, if you want to learn it, once you graduate, you apply for a residency or specialist training program. Residents or training specialists get to hold retractors, pass sutures, etc.

Seeing as orthopaedic surgery has to be as clean as possible, they prefer to have as few people in theatre as possible, which is why we would be watching by video link.

Quote:
originally posted by bernse
I had a cat that had hip surgery (not an entire hip, but a joint or something) and the girl was never the same. She made do, but always had a bad limp and developed arthritis and was in pain a lot.
If it was a cat, she probably had an excision arthroplasty, a different procedure. A total hip replacement replaces the hip joint, instead of removing it and leaving the muscles to stabilise the joint (which is why E.A. is done only in small animals and THR is needed for anything larger than a small dog). The complication rate is higher IIRC for EA. I'm sorry to hear she didn't have as good a result as you'd hoped
Quote:
originally posted by Qadgop the Mercotan
Putting all the usual rear weight onto one hind leg could turn the "good" hip to cottage cheese pretty quickly too. However, I am not a vet, so can't speak with authority.
This is indeed the case, especially with large breed dogs (...if there is a good hip ie traumatic injury to one hip or growth deformity to that side only... often both hips need to be done)

Also, just to say that the after care with a total hip replacement is fairly intensive. Although we aren't allowed to assist in the surgery, we do get involved in the aftercare. Often it can be up to a week in the hospital: the first 24 hours with epidural anaesthesia or morphine continuous-rate-infusion for pain relief, the rest on cage rest, with physical therapy, and after that, sling-supported gentle exercise. YMMV- different surgeons, different care protocols.
#36
Old 05-09-2003, 05:09 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 201
Everyone keep their collective fingers, toes and paws crossed for us, please; we're heading out to the surgeon's office in less than two hours.

I picked up her x-ray from the vet's office today. I was not prepared for that. It looked just terrible. And she did not have a good day yesterday at all.

phraser, as you're a vet to be, when they say we need to do this soon, how relative is soon? A week? A month? A few months? I'm sure the surgeon's schedules are all booked up, but we can't have a 3-legged dog until August.
#37
Old 05-09-2003, 05:20 AM
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Join Date: May 2003
Location: Charleston, SC
Posts: 23
http://petinsurance.com/

I hope your pup is going to have a quick recovery. Although most people's pets have pre-existing conditions, I gave a link to a popular veterinary insurance company so that people who have pets with no problems or new owners who intend to get the best care for their animals can explore the option of getting insurance for their furries. I will be getting a puppy soon and will definitely look around on the net for the best deal on insurance.
#38
Old 05-10-2003, 01:23 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 201
We saw the surgeon. He said that we have two options:

1) A Femoral Head Osteotomy (FHO). According to him, this a procedure most commonly done to cats and dogs under 40 lbs. He said that in our case, it is a viable alternative because she is a good candidate for it, and because I am home to do agressive rehabilitation with her. The cost of the FHO would be $1,811.87.

2) Total Hip Replacement. The cost would be $3,862.73.

I am CareCredit approved and can get 3 months interest-free; after that it's something like 13% APR.

Samantha did very well at the vet today even though they were poking and prodding her. She hasn't whined too much, but she has been eating so that we can give her the prescription medicine, which makes a big difference. She has drank tons of water today (probably about 25 cups worth). Not sure what that's about.

I am waiting to hear back from the Humane Society that we got her from. I have applied to United Animal Nations (thanks again DanielWithrow) and HUA, Hearts United for Animals.

Where's lainaf's decision making thread when I need it?!

Advice on what to do as far as which procedure is encouraged.
#39
Old 05-10-2003, 02:44 AM
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: San Francisco area
Posts: 16,182
Did the surgeon seem to favor one procedure over the other?

Unfortunately, after a little googling on FHO, I found this describing FHO as a "salvage" procedure, typically resulting in limited stability and range of motion. The femoral head (the "ball" part of the hip joint) is cut off and muscles are re-arranged - the result is a "false" joint as there's no bone to bone contact. Same page says that if FHO fails, you're at a dead end and not a good candidate for THR. Bear in mind that this particular site is a maker of hip implants.

Another site targets the suitable weight for an FHO as ideally under 30 pounds and up to 40. Again, it's described as a "salvage" for those that can't afford a THR.

This site says FHO isn't used on Rotties because of their weight. Not sure why they singled out Rotties, but they do.

Every page I looked at describes FHO as a salvage. My instincts, if it were my dog, would be to go for FHR. Those interest-free loans from your parents will cover half, and the rest goes on Care Credit. But, obviously, it's not my finances or my dog. It's a tough decision, but it's one that will have a significant impact on Samantha's (and yours!) life.
#40
Old 05-10-2003, 11:32 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: in a square room
Posts: 1,621
My cat has had FHO on both of his back legs and, three years after the second, 5 after the first, he's still doing wonderfully. Jumping around, attacking the dog, etc. But he's a 10 pound housecat, and the surgeon specifically told us not to let him get any heavier. He also had no socket and very little ball to start with.

I believe the "no interest" term on CareCredit (assuming that's the same credit program that I used with his surgeries) gets longer the more you spend, so you might be better off charging the whole operation and getting 12 months-no-interest, then paying off the charge with the loans/money raised in other ways.

My instincts say that FHR would be better, but FHO is better than nothing. Eventually, it's up to you.

-lv
#41
Old 05-10-2003, 02:34 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Toon Town
Posts: 10,574
slice - I passed no fewer than 3 charity car washes on my way to the vet's office today. Perhaps you and sliceguy and some friends could hold one of those as a fundraiser. Make sure you have your puppy there for the sympathy value.

StG
#42
Old 05-10-2003, 04:42 PM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Belfast, Ireland.
Posts: 6,380
I'm going to sound REALLY heartless, forgive me for that.

If the hip replacement isn't a viable solution, and obviously putting the dog down would be a shame because she's so young, would it be possible to amputate?

Dogs can be quite mobile with 3 legs.

I know. Heartless. But it may be an option to think about. Consult your vet.
#43
Old 05-10-2003, 10:07 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 201
Thank you all for your continued input and suggestions.

gotpasswords, that is bizarre that the article would single rottweilers out. She's a rottie/catahoula leopard dog mix and has the rottie looks and the catahoula shape. She's not wide and stocky like a rottie, she's tall and slender. Maybe that had something to do with the surgeon suggesting it as a second option.

We're going to call the vet's office on Monday with a few more questions we thought of and I'm going to check into seeing if/how to extend my CareCredit same as cash period.

Another factor is that because of my grandfather's stroke this week, my grandparents are probably going to have to be put into an assisted living facility with all of us (I have a very small family) assuming the costs.

When it rains, it pours.
#44
Old 05-11-2003, 09:44 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Slithering on the hull
Posts: 26,286
Quote:
Originally posted by irishgirl
If the hip replacement isn't a viable solution, and obviously putting the dog down would be a shame because she's so young, would it be possible to amputate?

Dogs can be quite mobile with 3 legs.
This was brought up in the thread earlier. Given the underlying pathology of the "bad" hip, it's unlikely the remaining hip would hold up well in such a circumstance. See CrazyCatLady's posts.
#45
Old 05-11-2003, 12:27 PM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Belfast, Ireland.
Posts: 6,380
Ah cheers, i kind of drifted off somewhere and posted regardless.
#46
Old 05-11-2003, 03:06 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 1,238
Saw something just the other day that made me think of your situation. There was an article somewhere that mentioned a gentleman who ran a website that offered one-time gifts of cash to individuals in need. Anything from students needing money for books to people needing a boost for their rent cheques. And he's on the up and up. He dedicates $500 of each paycheque to his site. Of course, he also accepts donations. This guy's building up some serious karma.

And for the life of me, I can't remember where I saw it. But when I get back to work tomorrow with my speedy internet connection, I'll find it and get back to you.
#47
Old 05-11-2003, 11:28 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: the dark side of the moon
Posts: 513
Slice: when they say soon, they mean as soon as possible (ie as soon as the surgeon can take you). Your dog is probably quite uncomfortable, which is impacting on her quality of life. It's not a life threatening situation, but it's bad to be on high doses of painkillers long term (risk of stomach ulcers and other problems), not to mention her welfare.

The difference between Femoral Head Osteotomy (also called Excision Arthroplasty) and Total Hip Replacement is basically what gotpasswords elucidated. The reason Rottis were probably singled out on the site mentioned is that it's a known problem in that breed, and they are usually large and heavy.
They taught us that under no circumstances should we ever consider doing a FHO on anything larger than about 10 kilos.
If you can afford the THR at all I would say pick that option, because the long term benefits are better. FHO forms a false joint, but it's not as strong as a regular one and she's likely to have limited activity and strength in that leg.

A total hip replacement is also not as strong as a normal hip, but it's got better strength and range of movement, even if not 100%. However, the implant (artificial hip) can fail and need to be replaced, especially if she's a young dog who will be using it a lot.
On the other hand, should she have a problem with her other hip later in life, while cats and very small dogs can get by with two FHO's, a large dog wouldn't have much hope, and she'd have to have a THR. FHO also has increased risk of arthritis, especially if the angles aren't carefully considered when taking off the femoral head.

Either way she won't be running marathons and it would be good to keep her on the lean side to prevent stress to any other legs.

Your surgeon should be able to go through all the pros and cons either way with you.

FTR, swimming is great physical therapy for dogs post any kind of hip surgery.
#48
Old 05-12-2003, 05:22 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 201
phraser, not to worry, we scheduled time for her on Wednesday with the surgeon. We said to do the THR, but reserved the right to change it to the FHO depending on what did or didn't happen this week. He said that was fine.

I can tell it's wearing on her. The medicine is keeping her from being in any visible pain, but walks go something like this: walk down the porch steps. Lie down. Walk to the driveway. Lie down. Walk to the end of the driveway. Lie down. Walk 10 feet on the sidewalk. Lie down.

Right now she is sleeping and dreaming doggie dreams, I guess, by the way her legs are twitching.

Thanks for the swimming suggestion. Finally, my parents well-maintained but seldom used pool will have a purpose.

Aguecheeck, if you could find that for me, that would be awesome.
#49
Old 05-12-2003, 12:29 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 1,238
Here we go.

The site's called Modest Needs. It's pretty well like I said - apply to the guy running the site, explain why you need the money, and hope he approves you.

Best of luck.
#50
Old 05-12-2003, 01:51 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 201
Done and done. You're my new hero, Aguecheeck. Here, have some key lime pie I made for you.

So far, I have raised almost $1,075. Guess that 3/4 of a Public Relations degree has come in handy after all.
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