Of course you love your pet—but the bills from the vet are another matter. Follow these tips on covering the costs, and on when it might be time to let go.
My late dwarf rabbit Molly was known as the Two-Thousand-Dollar Bunny among my friends. In fact, medical bills for this fluffball—adopted for just 20 bucks—were closer to $3,000 by the end of her life, 11 months after I brought her home.
Molly had Snuffles—not as cute as it sounds. Snuffles, or pasteurellosis, involves sneezing, wheezing, runny eyes and, in my bun’s case, an out-of-control abscess needing daily draining and two rounds of ultimately unsuccessful surgery.
I was a student at the time, and when my vet was talking options and price tags, I can't say every one of the tears I shed was for Molly. Later, as the bills piled up, my then-boyfriend demanded to know exactly where I'd draw the line. I couldn't say. He saw an inversely proportional relationship between the amount I'd spent on a rabbit and my suitability as a life partner. We'd already split up by the time Molly passed away.
Alda Loughlin, practice manager of the Animal Clinic in Toronto, sees many clients struggle with emotionally charged financial decisions about treatment. Here she shares insights into handling high-cost medical care for pets.
People usually underestimate veterinary costs when they're planning to become pet owners. Loughlin relates that her clinic asks prospective animal adoptees how much they expect medical care will cost in the first year.
"How they answer dictates how we'll go forward with the application," she says. "People often think about $500 for a new cat or dog, but you may be looking—without medical problems—at $900 to $1,100, for neutering, exams, vaccinations and microchipping."
If those figures shock you, best get your fix of kitten cuteness on YouTube.
One way of being prepared for big bills is taking out pet insurance; at Loughlin's practice, 30 per cent of clients have policies. While Loughlin supports this precaution, she admits hearing regular complaints about the hoops claimants jump through for reimbursements.
"If people don’t want pet insurance, I suggest they take $30 a month and put it away, or even pay it forward to their vet," she says. Loughlin stashes $100 a month between August and April for her own poodle's annual dental cleaning. "It's good to have a cushion," she says.
Negotiate a payment plan
If you're facing a big bill and you're not covered, your vet may let you pay in installments. "Mention that a treatment is price-sensitive," suggests Loughlin.
A word of caution: Not every practice offers this option, and if they do, they won't automatically make it available to every client. Loughlin recommends establishing a relationship with your veterinarian, as this will help.
Some charitable organizations will help pet owners who are retired, on disability benefits or on a fixed low income and faced with expensive veterinary procedures. In Ontario, pet owners may be eligible for assistance from the Companion Animal Wellness Foundation (requests go through the Veterinary Emergency Hospital in Toronto) or the Farley Foundation, says Loughlin. Ask your vet about similar foundations in your home province.
Do your research
The price tags for treatments can vary quite dramatically from clinic to clinic, so it's OK to shop around, advises Loughlin -- it's a question of balancing out quality and cost. "Call a couple of clinics, ask questions, and be very candid about your pet's condition," she says. She also advises asking exactly what's covered in each quote: is it just the surgery or also the pre-op bloodwork, post-op meds and follow-up visit?
And don't just let cost be the deciding factor. Checking websites with scores and client reviews of local practices or asking your network for recommendations gives you a sense of the level of care you can expect from an unfamiliar vet.
Draw your line
While I couldn't draw a line for my rabbit Molly's medical care, I admit I sometimes felt frustrated that such sophisticated and expensive options even existed as I fell deeper into the red. And I've sometimes wondered if all the interventions were even fair to her.
I polled my friends recently on where they'd draw the line for their own pets. Most said there was no line, but one had an important insight to share, based on her experience paying a fortune to prolong the life of a suffering cat.
"I've regretted the course of treatment we gave my cat who had kidney failure, for more than a decade, but that taught me a lesson," she says. "Find a vet you trust -- one who knows you and your pet well. Just because you can do another test or try another treatment doesn't necessarily mean you should."
©iStockphoto.com/annedala Image by: ©iStockphoto.com/annedala
This super soft wrap is the classic accessory you need in your closet for any time of year.
A luxurious wrap for all seasons – the Bayberries Wrap is the quintessential accessory. We chose to design this wrap in our luxurious Eco Alpaca DK yarn made of 100% superfine alpaca for its fluffy and luxurious feel. The large checker pattern is a unique alternative to plain stocking stitch and is reversible for a consistent look on both sides.
This wrap pattern is suitable for beginners, and knitters of all skill levels will enjoy the simple pattern and beautiful yarn. We recommend using stitch markers to indicate each square and make it easier for you to follow the pattern. Knit on 3.75 mm needles with five skeins of yarn, this pattern requires patience, but it is a joy to knit and you will wear the wrap for years to come.
Note about the yarn: Eco Alpaca DK is available through Americo Original online and at select yarn stores. You can substitute for other DK or sport weight yarns such as Americo's Dehaired Baby Llama, Briza, or any suitable yarn from your stash.
Approximately 75" (190 cm) long by 15" (38 cm) wide
20 stitches and 26 rows = 4 inches (10 cm) in stocking stitch using 3.75 mm (US 5) size needles or size needed to achieve gauge.
K, k: knit
P, p: purl
RS right side of work – knit side
WS wrong side of work
Using 3.75 mm (US 5) size needles, cast on 129 stitches.
Purl 2 rows.
*Next Row (RS): K2, (k25, p25) 2 times, k25, k2
Next Row (WS): k2, (p25, k25) 2 times, p25, k2
Repeat these two rows 12 more times (26 rows).
Next Row: K2, (p25, k25) 2 times, p25, k2
Next Row: K2, (k25, p25) 2 times, k25, k2
Repeat these two rows 12 more times (26 rows)*.
Repeat from * to * 6 more times.
Next Row (RS): K2, (k25, p25) 2 times, k25, k2
Next Row (WS): k2, (p25, k25) 2 times, k25, k2
Repeat these two rows 12 more times (26 rows).
Next Row (RS): K2, (k25, p25) 2 times, k25, k2
Knit 2 rows. Cast off in pattern.
Sew in all loose ends. For best results, block your finished piece. Enjoy!
Americo Original is a Canadian yarn company and online knitting shop with its own line of quality yarns, knitwear patterns and accessories. Americo’s yarns are made exclusively in the Andean highlands of South America, using only natural fibres, including luxurious wool, llama, alpaca, cotton, linen, silk and cashmere. Americo and its in-house design lab are based in Toronto, offering international shipping from its online store: americo.ca/shop.
Save yourself from parched, dry skin during the snowy season by amping up your hand cream game.
Deep in the throes of winter, jostling back and forth between dry, low-humidity air—both indoors and outdoors—can leave your skin robbed of moisture. Our hands are the first ones to take a hit as the cool air and upping our hand-washing strips skin of its natural protective oils. In order to defeat rough and cracked palms, we’re calling in uber-hydrating hand creams. There's something for all of your specific skin-care concerns.
Steal from the boys
Protect with SPF
Although it might not seem like it, the sun’s rays penetrate through grey skies year-round, making sun protection an absolute necessity in the winter. Your hands are often the first part of your body to show signs of aging, so put on some hand cream with SPF before leaving the house to avoid dark spots or wrinkles.
Supergoop! Forever young hand cream with broad spectrum SPF 40, $16.50, nordstrom.com.
Worried about what you’re putting on your skin? The Honest Company’s hand cream thoughtfully uses pure ingredients like organic sunflower oil and chamomile to soothe and repair skin, making sure to exclude petroleum, mineral oil, parabens, fragrances, dyes and most common allergens.
The Honest Company Organic healing balm, $15, well.ca.
Give your over-worked mitts some true TLC with this all-encompassing hand treatment. It exfoliates and moisturizes in tandem, which gets rid of ageing skin cells and provides a clean canvas for macadamia nut oil and shea butter to truly work their magic.
Crabtree & Evelyn Gardeners hand recovery, $26, crabtree-evelyn.com.
Nothing is worse than attempting to use your smartphone with greasy hands after a fresh application of hand cream. #FirstWorldProblems. Enter this pick from The Body Shop that doesn’t make you choose between indulgent fair-trade Ghanan Shea butter and instant absorption.
The Body Shop Shea hand cream, $10, thebodyshop.ca.
For the eczema-prone
Eczema affects 1 in 5 adults, but the market is lacking in skin-saving ointments that won’t aggravate itchy and inflamed skin. Good news: packed with 2% colloidal oatmeal (twice the level of other eczema products) this pick is dermatologist recommended to relieve flare-ups and severely parched eczema-prone skin.
Skinfix. Eczema balm, $16.50, skinfixinc.com.
Fix your cuticles
Keep your manicure for up to a week longer by keeping this portable cuticle cream in your bag for quick touch-ups—or an application right before bed. The light citrusy scent of geranium, mandarin, lemongrass and ginger essential oils not only smells incredible but also keeps your cuticles primed and nourished.
Badger Cuticle care, $9.50, well.ca.
If it’s good enough to be used by Norwegian fisherman, it’s good enough for us. This fail-safe classic can be picked up anywhere and provides tons of moisture—without irritating synthetic fragrances for those who are sensitive.
Neutrogena Norwegian formula hand cream, $8, well.ca.
The everyday standby
Say hello to velvety soft hands 24-hours a day. Coming in an array of colours and fragrances, EOS provides a fantastic every-day option that moisturizes dry hands with shea butter, aloe, oats and antioxidants. The cute packaging is just a bonus.
eos Everyday Hand Lotion, $4, well.ca.
Did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments.