Hump Day: Multiple pet ownership can make for a hefty veterinary bill

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I’ve had some pretty bad luck health-wise lately with my house full of pets.

First, my big ol’ lovable male cat, Casey, developed intestinal issues in early April. He’s a good eater, so when he doesn’t show up at the bowl at feeding time, it’s pretty much time to call the kitty ambulance.

If I die at home and the cats have no one to feed them, I’m pretty sure he’ll be the one to start chowing down on me for sustenance. My ample (and hopefully delicious) remains won’t last too long once Casey sets his mind to it.

Let’s just say that Casey is to cats what piranhas are to fish, so when he doesn’t eat, there’s something terribly wrong!

A trip to the vet and some X-rays showed that the walls of his bowels were thickened. Come to find out later that he has inflammatory bowel disease which will likely flare up from time to time. So, after an anti-nausea shot and some pills, he seemed fine after a day and was back to his old hungry self.

I paid the vet bill and was happy that Casey was on the mend. The staff at the clinic told me how much they loved him because he was so affectionate. That’s my boy! I expect one of the pets (dog Milane and cats Casey and Cindy) to get sick at least once per year. I guess this was Casey’s kick at the can for 2012.

Earlier this month, it was time for Milane’s rabies shot and other various boosters. I also bought some flea treatment products for her and the cats so as not to get any nasty surprises this summer. After Milane reacted very badly to the cheap flea treatment stuff I bought last year, I opted for the good stuff from the vet. Yup, more money, but hey . . . very much worth it! Surely, that would be end of the vet bills for a while.

A few days later, I dug further into my pocket and brought Milane to the groomer for a much-needed trim. She has a very thick coat and is uncomfortably warm when it gets too long. She got back from the groomer and looked and smelled spiffy! She went from off-white to pure white and was as cute as a button. When we arrived home from the groomer, Casey shoved his nose into Milane’s fur for a good whiff of the shampoo.

A few days later, though, Milane started acted strangely. She was biting at her tail and I noticed that her belly was splotchy. There seemed to be some sort of allergic reaction going on. I called the groomer to see if they’d changed shampoos, but they hadn’t. Things weren’t getting any better – only worse. Milane then stopped eating and was getting sick to her stomach.

So, you guessed it, time to go back to the vet only a week after she was there for her check-up and a few weeks after Casey’s illness.

The vet shaved the back of her tail to see what was going on (good-bye grooming job!) and we discovered that it appeared that black flies (of all things!) had done a job on the poor little dog and she’d had an allergic reaction to their bites. I know people can have bad reactions to black fly bites, but I didn’t know it could happen to dogs, too! Now, I know better!

Milane got an allergy shot to quickly take care of the rash and I was given some cream to use on her for 10 days to ward off infection and clear everything up. To make matters more interesting, I was to apply the cream to, uhm, well . . . her ‘lady parts’ and got explicit instructions to rub in the cream for at least 40 seconds.

‘Oh, that’s just wonderful!’ I thought. I wondered if Chris Hansen from Dateline NBC’s To Catch a Predator would pop out from around a corner in my house and ask me what the heck I was paying so much attention to that poor dog’s ‘lady parts.’ Hopefully, he’d believe me when I’d say, ‘Doctor’s orders!’ The fourth trip in as many weeks to the vet took place last Thursday when Casey again fell ill. After a couple of days of waiting for it to take care of itself, a visit to the vet was inevitable. He was dehydrated when I brought him in and hadn’t eaten in a couple of days. Furthermore, he was getting sick to his stomach and the dry heaves were clearly distressful and painful.

The poor guy! He’s such a lovable cat! He’s so easy-going that I can literally wear him around my neck like a scarf and walk around the house with him draped over my shoulders and purring.

The vet decided to keep Casey overnight to rehydrate him and run further tests. The ‘cancer’ word was used – and that got me terribly concerned, knowing that cats often seem perfectly healthy until they show their illnesses suddenly. It’s a leftover survival method from the wild, I think.

I spent the next 24 hours worrying and hoping that he’d be OK – and knowing that the vet bill would not be cheap. But hey, ya do what ya gotta do. Luckily, he was clear except for that bowel condition that will reoccur from time to time. Now, it just needs to be properly managed and treated to minimize flare-ups and pricey vet visits.

It’s been a rough month for vet bills, so if you see me selling everything I own in the classifieds or asking you, ‘Would you like fries with that, ma’am?’ or ‘Would you like cream in your coffee today?’ at a fast-food place’s drive-thru, you’ll know why. Fingers crossed for a healthy animal household for the rest of the year!

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