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My Frugality Nearly Killed the Dog

My Frugality Nearly Killed the Dog

Spoiler Alert: If you are a pet lover, you may want to stop here. Just proceed to the last paragraph, which I promise has a happy ending.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Generally, I consider myself to be a frugal person. Our family has never suffered from this frugality. In fact, I think we’re better off. Hopefully, by watching my thrifty ways, my kids have learned how to negotiate, how to spot a bargain and how to differentiate between needs and wants.

It came as no surprise to my family that rather than throwing out some salami (that everyone else refused to eat), I would feed it to our dog. It seemed wasteful to toss perfectly good salami. After all, the dog sometimes gets into the garbage and eats it. How could some leftover salami hurt?

So last weekend, I placed the salami in the dog’s bowl. She wolfed it down. She seemed so excited to have something different other than her usual dry kibble. Her tail wagged. She pranced around. For about the next 2 hours.

Then, uh-oh.

The salami reappeared in the grossest of ways. Several times in fact. Over 3 different rooms in our house. Two of the rooms were carpeted. You get the idea – red salami on light beige carpet. Not a pretty picture.

And then things got worse.

For the next day and a half, the dog was not her normal self. She wouldn’t go outside. She wouldn’t eat anything. Not even her favorite doggy treat.

Some friends came to the house, took one look at the dog and started to prepare us for the worst.

“This is just how my dog looked before she died,” one of them said.

“I don’t think she’s coming back from this!” said the other.

I had already scheduled an appointment with the vet for later in the day. But after hearing my friends’ comments, I thought it would be best to prepare the kids for the worst-case scenario.

When they came home from school, I told them that the dog may not be coming home from the vet. Ever. My husband, who was on a business trip, actually teared up when I told him that the dog may not last until he got home.

Suddenly, we realized that the dog (that we had taken for granted would always be around) might not always be around.

It was a long drive to the vet. My middle son wanted to go with me so that he could be there with the dog, just in case.

At the appointment, the vet told us that she suspected pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas. She explained that pancreatitis normally occurs when an animal eats very fatty meat. Like salami.

The vet was cautiously optimistic that the dog could recover. But she would need to stay in the animal hospital for at least one day. On an IV fluid pump.

Fortunately, pancreatitis is rarely fatal. Unfortunately, pancreatitis is rarely inexpensive.

The vet explained that the only way to positively confirm pancreatitis was a blood test. She also recommended doing a full blood work-up to see if there was something else wrong with the dog. The cost of the blood work: $250.

Much to my son’s chagrin, my frugality kicked in again. His eyes rolled when I asked the vet how much the pancreatitis test cost without the other blood work. Her response: $36.90. Sounded like a bargain compared with the other quote.

I figured that if the pancreatitis test came back negative, we could proceed with the other blood work. The vet agreed to collect all the blood needed, just in case more tests were warranted.

After the blood was drawn, we waited about 20 minutes for the result, which confirmed the pancreatitis diagnosis.

The vet recommended that the dog be checked into the clinic and start an IV drip immediately. They would also give the dog medicine to ease the nausea and more medicine for the inflammation.

The estimated cost of the 1-day stay in the clinic, including the medicine: $650.

So, we checked her in. After all, the dog is an important part of our family.

A technician called the next morning. Unfortunately, there had been no change in the dog’s condition. The tech explained that sometimes pancreatitis treatment takes 2 to 3 days to take effect. She recommended we leave the dog in the hospital and on the IV drip for another 24 hours. Each day in the hospital would add another $350 to the bill.

At this point, there are 2 thoughts running through my head.

1) Jeez, it is expensive to have a sick animal

2) My frugal ways may have killed the dog

But after all, the dog is an important crucial part of our family.

Later in the evening, I spoke with another technician. The dog had improved slightly. The tech was confident that with several more hours on the IV, the dog would return to her usual perky self.

We went to bed hopeful that this was the case.

I received another call the following morning. Good news! The dog seemed to have turned the corner and was perky and wagging her tail. She was able to keep down a few bites of food. We arranged for discharge later in the day.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was delighted to see that the dog appeared to be back to normal. She seemed happy to see me and couldn’t wait to get into the car and go home.

Then they handed me the bill.

The grand total: $1193.87!

I slid my VISA over the counter.

Because I didn’t want to waste $7 of salami, I accidentally nearly killed our dog.

A very expensive lesson that sometimes being excessively frugal just doesn’t pay off. My desire to save $7 cost us over $1000.

And although I hated to pay the bill, it was for a good cause. After all, the dog is an important, crucial vital part of our family.

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7 thoughts on “My Frugality Nearly Killed the Dog”

  • I’m glad all turned out well! I had no idea about the fatty meat.

    About 9 years ago we had a kitten we loved. She was our baby and had been a stray, so we didn’t know her health history. She ended up sick, fluid in her lungs. I rushed her to the animal hospital, they placed her in a baby incubator, treated her for heart failure because it seemed to help reduce the fluid in her lungs (though her heart was fine). Then I had to transfer her to the University Animal Hospital so they could help her more. She passed away that next morning. And we spent around $3,000 to try to save her life.

    • Oh no! That is such a sad story. Sorry about the loss of your kitten. It is hard to believe that animal care cost almost as much as human care!

    • Me too! Since the scare, the dog is getting more attention than ever from our kids. She is loving it!

  • I’m so sorry this happened to you and glad she is ok. My husband fed our dog leftover salmon skin two months ago and the same thing happened. The salmon wasn’t gone bad but it was too fatty. We ended up rushing our dog to the vet (after I played wait and see all morning because I was being frugal). He ended up getting so dehydrated it became an emergency. I feel awful for delaying his treatment and also for questioning my husband and the vet when he called me at work and said our dog needed this expensive treatment. Fluids and an overnight stay later the bill was $1,900. We have our pup back though and he is everything. Poor baby.

    • Glad everything turned out fine for your dog too! One of the saddest parts of the vet visit was when the vet said that some people can’t afford to put their animals in the clinic for the night, so they have to say goodbye at this point.

  • Scary! Glad it turned out well in the end.

    You’re a good storyteller. We need more bloggers who put this kind of effort into their writing. Particularly enjoyed the progression of the “important, crucial, vital” bit. It’s like you took us along with you to show us how your perception of your pet evolved over this experience.

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