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how much would you pay for surgery for your dog?


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We have two beautiful Doberman Pinschers.  The youngest one is about 3 years old and is a male named Axl.  100 pounds of pure muscle...beautiful energetic dog.  Just recently he started having issues with not being able to urinate and excessive drinking so we went to the vet thinking it was a kidney infection or something.  Now we've done so much blood work, urine testing, poking and prodding...today he had x-rays and was shaved so the vet could do an ultrasound and found out that his liver is very small.  It could be several things including hepatitis and some type of issue with a shunt (or some other things).  The vet also found lots of fluid in his abdomen and they sent some of that off for analysis.  So we're waiting to see what his test results show early next week, but the vet (an internal medicine specialist) was already talking about referring him for surgery, liver biopsies...and he could still just turn around and die.  As I type he is coming off of his anesthesia and is quivering all over.  We're all torn up about it because we love this dog, but we're in at $1300 now and the vet suggested the surgery would be around $3500 and may or may not fix the issue.  They he would be on all sorts of special foods, supplements and medicine.  I told the vet I didn't personally know anybody who has spent $5000 on their dog and was just wondering if you guys had spent (or would spend) anywhere near that much.  We don't have a lot of money, so to us it would be huge...any feedback?  My dad recommended getting the test results, but not spending much more money and not letting him suffer.  Just seems so unusual because he is only 3 and has been so active and healthy...so big and strong at 100 pounds.  Best wishes, B

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It's never an easy call. I try to be pragmatic when it comes to these things. The #1 question that needs to be asked is "what is the quality of life for my animal going to be?" If money were no object tippy opt for the surgery, unfortunately that is not the case for many of us. Option #2 can the dog be kept comfortable without surgery? If this can happen then it may be a good option. To give you an idea of where I stand on animals, I despise the kind of people that get a dog and try to get rid of it because it isn't fun anymore or doesn't fit their lifestyle. That said of you have done all that you can reasonably do I wouldn't hold it against someone to have their dog put down instead of spending an amount of money on it that they can't afford. I would not put myself in financial strain over a pet, not more than I could recover from in a short amount of time anyway. I know that sounds insensitive but I really don't mean for it to. I would at least consider getting a second opinion before doing anything drastic either way. Edited by 10-Ring
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For me, it comes down to what will be the dogs quality of life if it is successful.  Even if it is successful, can he lead a fairly normal, active life.  He is very young, so age isn't really a factor for me in a decision like this.  

 

Only you can say if you can afford it.  I have spent thousands on my dogs in the past, but I was fortunate it wouldn't keep me from making the house payment and I am single and they have been my kids.  Almost all vets will work out a payment plan as well.  

 

If I was fairly certain they knew what the problem was and were confident it could be fixed (more accurately, managed) by surgery, I would do it.  If I wasn't 80% sure, as much as I would hate to, I would probably euthanize the dog.  Not so much because of the money, but the fact that I wasn't convinced the dog wouldn't suffer.

 

It's heart wrenching I know.  

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Did they check him for diabetes or congestive heart failure?

Yeah...no sugar in his blood and his heart is fine - they have zoned in on his liver, which is very small and this chronic hepatitis is very common in Dobies (did not know that).  They are also checking for something called Von Willebrends (sp?) which is another Doberman trait (it apparently is not good).  Two vets at two different clinics are already involved and talking and potentially a third if he goes to surgery.  I have heard of dogs drinking a lot with diabetes, but I think it is also common with some of the stuff he has going on.

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It's never an easy call. I try to be pragmatic when it comes to these things. The #1 question that needs to be asked is "what is the quality of life for my animal going to be?" If money were no object tippy opt for the surgery, unfortunately that is not the case for many of us. Option #2 can the dog be kept comfortable without surgery? If this can happen then it may be a good option. To give you an idea of where I stand on animals, I despise the kind of people that get a dog and try to get rid of it because it isn't fun anymore or doesn't fit their lifestyle. That said of you have done all that you can reasonably do I wouldn't hold it against someone to have their dog put down instead of spending an amount of money on it that they can't afford. I would not put myself in financial strain over a pet, not more than I could recover from in a short amount of time anyway. I know that sounds insensitive but I really don't mean for it to. I would at least consider getting a second opinion before doing anything drastic either way.

One of the vets (the one I know very well - our primary vet) suggested we get his results from all the tests that they're doing in the lab and then talk about it.  Perhaps we can make a solid, most-likely diagnosis without spending several thousand more dollars just to PROVE without any doubt that the diagnosis is right.  She said we might be able to treat the most-likely issue with meds and diet and see how well he does (and how long he lasts without going down).  She did warn that these liver issues in dogs are very tricky and when they start getting sick they go down fast.  The thing is, this dog has not even slowed down or looked sick other than drinking a lot and not being able to pee well.  More to come...B

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I have kids. I can't ever justify spending that kind of money on a pet. I had to put down two animals this year. Both were very old and sick so I had them put down rather than expensive tests to figure out something I already knew. Whatever was wrong with them was likely not going to be fixed without extensive vet bills and they would likely die of old age soon any way. I balled my eyes out for each of them but when it's time it's time.


Sent from the Fortress of Solitude.
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The important topics have already been covered and the most important one being the quality of life for your dog. It really doesn;t sound like that's in the equation of all of the recommended tests and stuff. The vet who recommended getting the test results and sitting down to talk about it sounds like they want to do right by you and your dog. Just know when to let go and say your goodbyes...

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We went through a lot of medical problems with our Dobie; so I feel for you.

3 is young. I would spend the money if it would help him and I could afford it. I also would look around for a different Doctor. When our Dobie had cancer and needed surgery I thought it would be in the thousands; it wasn’t, it was very reasonable. I have recommended him to many people.
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I had an American Bulldog that had 2 eye surgeries when she was less than a year old. She also had to have a steak bone from the trash removed when she was about 2. She tore her ACL when she was about 5 or 6. I didn't even begrudge the cost of any of these things, because I loved her and her loyalty and friendship was worth a thousand times more.

 

Fast forward o when she's 11, she had a grapefruit sized tumor and the surgery would have included removing one of her front legs at the shoulder socket for about the cost you are talking about, maybe a little more. The vet estimated at her age it'd buy her another year at best. We opted to keep her comfortable until her quality of life went downhill.

 

In my mind, it would have been cruel to put her through that surgery for my own selfish reasons (one more year at best with her). BUT, 5 years earlier and I'd have paid twice the price to get 5 or 6 more years with her. Just my opinion.

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I don't know but it TRULY breaks my heart reading that story and then seeing the picture!! The only thing I can say with certainty is that I couldn't stand to see that face suffer. I've never met you and may not in the future but y'all will be in my prayers for a miracle or at least comfort for him.
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Did they get any ultrasounded-guided biopsies?  If they were worried about Von Willebrand Disease, they may not have wanted to do a biopsy at that time because the disease causes a clotting disorder, so biopsies could lead to serious bleeding.  Otherwise, our specialists often try to get biopsies while doing the ultrasound because there is a limit to the information that bloodwork can tell us about liver disease.

 

The only surgery that I could imagine would be $3500 would be some type of shunt repair.  I can't imagine a simple exploratory surgery with liver biopsies to be that much, no matter where you live.  Also, shunt surgery is about the only liver-specific surgery that I could imagine; most of the other possibilities require medical treatment.  I would definitely wait to see what the tests show so far.  

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I had a good Pit, name was "DOG", got run over across the chest and gut.

Doc said might and might not make with over 1500 dollars in Vet bills.

Vet did offer payments.

I loved this dog, I buried him that day after the Vet put him down.

 

Every case is different, we can not judge.

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Did they get any ultrasounded-guided biopsies?  If they were worried about Von Willebrand Disease, they may not have wanted to do a biopsy at that time because the disease causes a clotting disorder, so biopsies could lead to serious bleeding.  Otherwise, our specialists often try to get biopsies while doing the ultrasound because there is a limit to the information that bloodwork can tell us about liver disease.

 

The only surgery that I could imagine would be $3500 would be some type of shunt repair.  I can't imagine a simple exploratory surgery with liver biopsies to be that much, no matter where you live.  Also, shunt surgery is about the only liver-specific surgery that I could imagine; most of the other possibilities require medical treatment.  I would definitely wait to see what the tests show so far.  

They are testing for Von Willebrand so if they do surgery he won't bleed to death (I think that's what they said).  They didn't want to do the "simple" kind of biopsy, but some type of "wedge" biopsy and it would be considered surgery.  But you are correct, the $3500 would be for a shunt repair - they said it may be what caused his liver to be so small and they would simply clamp it off and hope the blood re-directs to the liver (and it could even enlarge).  But I had another vet tell me that if they do that the liver might not be able to handle it and he could still die.  And they said the shunt could have scarring because of hepatitis (if that is the issue).  So, they said if they open him up, they want to have a handle on the bloodwork and the Von Willebrand issue...but that they would probably do a sizeable biopsy and hopefully fix the shunt.  Right now they're still guessing and we're waiting on a bunch of lab work to get back early next week.  

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I ain't afraid to say that I once paid $1,200 to fix the mouth on my best friend... because he woulda died if I hadn't.

He made it a few more years, and we made the best of it we could. I miss him every day.

I have more than that in guns.

I figured I can make more money. Edited by SupaRice
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A wedge biopsy is when they cut a piece of tissue directly from the liver.  An ultrasound-guided biopsy would have essentially been a very large needle biopsy.  The advantage of the wedge biopsy is being able to more carefully sample the liver and have more tissue to examine.

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I'd add too, that everyone's situation is different. And don't feel bad if the money is just too much. You 2 legged family comes first. Didn't want my earlier post to sound harsh.

Also, side note regarding the symptoms... my dad's dog once had liver issues like that, and they did a bunch of tests only to figure out a neighbor was poisoning him... but sometimes also they just get into something that's bad for them and they don't know better
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Bassoneer I am so sorry to hear this. I hope that there is a treatment that can let him have a normal life. Me and the Misses can relate to exactly what your going through. It all comes down to quality of life. The money sucks and can play a huge factor in the treatment but how he will live is the big factor. Let the vet get all the results in and see what they tell you. We currently have our oldest at the vets now waiting for tests and overnight progress, it's terrifying. I really hope they can give you some good news soon.
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