“Investing” in Pets

Posted: Jul 10, 2014
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Every day at my job I see the amount of money clients are willing and able to spend on their pet (and often, limited to spending). The degree of pet care varies based on the client’s financial ability and their personal view of pet care.

Here's a breakdown of the most common clients that I work with. Clients who:

  • Can afford to do anything financially for their pet, and want to do anything medically necessary
  • Have the financial means, but are more conservative with diagnostics/treatments to put their pet through
  • Want to do anything and everything, but don’t have the means to pay for it
  • Have the financial means to perform diagnostics/treatments, but choose to not put their pet through any of it

These are all personal choices made by the client, and it is ultimately their decision on how they want to spend their money (pay off their credit cards/CareCredit) and how far they would like to medically treat their animal. Being that I work in an ER & ICU, I encounter many clients who rush in with their pets, say YES to all recommendations... and then decide 12/24/36 hours later that financially and/or emotionally they cannot continue.


... just like it's a client’s choice to continue treating their pet when the animal seems to be suffering and has a grave prognosis. It is their pet and their money and we have to put our judgment aside to help lead and guide them the best we can. If I was in the client's position, I'd like to have my wishes respected and not receive judgment from the facility I am paying to care for my pet.

Obviously, from working in the DoveLewis environment I've thought many times about how much I would spend on my pets in an emergency situation, especially because I don’t spend money on preventive pet care (I hear your "tsk tsk" but remember, we are trying not to judge). My old cat has been to the vet once (yes, you read that correctly) when she had a URI, but she turns 19 this month. My other cat lived to be 20. I only get my dog rabies vaccines so I can bring him across the border with me into Canada. He is a good Labrador, however, and eats things he shouldn’t regularly. So he gets trips to my workplace yearly (bi-yearly, quarter-yearly… you get the point) with full exams and blood work. So basically he sets his own preventive care schedule. Clever dog...

Because of my habits and experience, I admit I don’t really do the preventive care, but I in an emergency situation I will almost always treat. My personal guidelines are good prognosis, age of pet, and quality of life afterwards. This is what I’m comfortable with and have sorted out through my years in a ER/ICU hospital. I am financially and medically prepared for bad situations. And no, I haven’t saved for emergencies or have pet insurance, but I have good credit and reasonable credit card limits.

I think it's wonderful if clients have the financial means to be able to do whatever they can for their pets, but I understand and respect if they can’t or choose not to. We have to remember it's not always just a financial reason to stop treating.

We recently treated a pet that had the largest invoice I've seen in the five years I’ve been Financial Coordinator at DoveLewis. There was much discussion amongst staff about how amazing, crazy, and wonderful it was that this client had the financial ability to be able to start and continue with treatment. We all discussed what we would have done in the same situation. Some said they could probably do it by borrowing money, using credit cards, etc. but would they want to be paying this off for 5/10/20 years? I know I wouldn’t. I mean, I didn’t even go to college because I wanted to avoid  paying off a loan for the next 15-30 years of my life...

So, just like not going to college was my choice, the amount of money a client wants to or is willing to put into their pet is their choice.