*Warning – Do not read while eating*
I have found I have multiple passions in life: family, education, art, history, and animals. I am an Art Education and Social Studies Secondary Education major at Kutztown University. With bills to pay and a car that needs gas, I work part time during the school year at an emergency veterinary clinic. This fulfills my need to be with animals and interact with them, as they are very important to my mental health; who doesn’t see a puppy and automatically become happier?
Working at a vet clinic has improved me personally as a pet owner. Naturally I gained so much knowledge on animal care, and what I should watch for in my furbabies health. That’s right, pets are children with four legs, and they rely on us just as children do. This is why I am writing this article this week. Please do not invest in an animal if you are not willing to invest in its health care as if it were your own child.
The vet clinic I work at has regular appointments for annual exams, vaccinations, and other basic medical concerns, but also an emergency service that runs 24/7, 365 days a year, no matter what the weather conditions. Naturally I see a lot of medical issues/injuries with pets that no one would wish to see. You name it, we have seen it or heard it. There are a whole slew of medical emergencies that can happen to your pet, but for this week I am going to write about an Intestinal Obstruction (bowel blockage) case that has just recently happened. Everyone that works at the clinic, and I mean everyone was touched by this case.
An intestinal obstruction, is when an animal ingests an item or something they should not have and it is now causing a blockage in their intestines, often referred to as a “foreign body”, this can be life threating as it can block the flow of nutrients, and blood supply; this can cause the necrosis of intestinal tissue (or death of tissue). Foreign bodies can be suspected due to vomiting without producing anything but bile, lethargy, weakness, lack of bowel movements, and weight loss (all animals can show sicknesses differently, so if you are worried about your pet, take them to a veterinary clinic to see a medical professional, do NOT rely on Dr. Google. Needless to say, an animal that comes in with a severe foreign body needs surgery, there are times where alternative treatments can be tried, but mostly the fix is a very costly surgery. Although this medical emergency is critical and can become life threatening, most of the time animals can recover fully to continue to live a very happy life. The most common recovery problem can be repeat offenders, so monitor them, and keep items away from their grasp!
For this purpose, lets name the patient Buddy. Buddy was brought in for a suspected foreign body, he was experiencing some stomach agitation, or dry heaving, and lethargy. With radiographs (x-rays) it was found that Buddy had eaten something that he should not have, his diagnosis was a foreign body, and he needed surgery to retrieve the object. The owners did not have the money to pay for the surgery, and did not qualify for other forms of payment. Usually in this case I have the mindset, if there is a will there is a way. There are so many ways to find help for payment for veterinary care (donation/charity services, friends/family, payment plans). BUT before you put yourself in the shoes of a pet owner and take on that responsibility it is VERY important to make sure you can afford the pets care. I understand emergency medical issues cannot be predicted but there are options to help owners. Pet insurance is quite a growing field, and I believe it should be considered with every pet, especially if you as the pet owner know you cannot afford large medical bills all at once. There is also a company CareCredit that is a medical credit card, that offers payment plans for certain amounts paid. Veterinary services cannot be free, just as your own health care is never free, it is not an option.
Usually in a case like this, with a younger animal that had a long life to live, the clinic I work at will take the animal in as and treat the patient, and then adopt it out to a good family; this only works if the owners of the pet are willing to surrender the patient to the clinic. This takes place when the owners have exhausted every option, and they simply cannot afford their pets care. With foreign bodies that were as bad as Buddy’s, the patient needs surgery or it will slowly suffer. If the owners do not want to surrender the patient, the only other humane option is euthanasia. Buddy’s owners were not willing to surrender him, and they could not find the funds for his care, so unfortunately Buddy was euthanized. He was a younger dog, almost a puppy, and he lost his life simply because his owners were selfish; they had the mindset if we cannot have him, no one can.
Pets, no matter what species, deserve the same love and medical care as humans. As I stated earlier, they are children with four legs, they are members of the family, so I beg of anyone considering adopting or buying an animal, please PLEASE consider everything that could happen with owning a pet and be prepared for medical bills. Do research! Explore the world of pet insurance, call around to see what prices would be for basic yearly vaccinations and exams, ask what can be expected and how to care for your pet. Ask, research, and prepare for the responsibility that exist within pet owning; that way you can be most knowledgeable of the care for the loving animal you are about to take in.