This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

What to Do Before Fido's Vet Bill Hits $16,000

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Roxanne Hawn, "mother" of two kids of the four-legged variety, knew her dog Lilly's 2012 vet bills were going to be extraordinary when she added them up last month, but she wasn't prepared for the $16,626 total.

"I've never had to make a treatment decision for one of our dogs based on finances," says Hawn. "It appears to us now that there are limits and it's tough."

Lilly, the subject of the award-winning Champion of my Heart blog, contracted meningoencephalomyelitis -- a severe swelling of the brain and a very rare reaction to a rabies vaccine -- in January. Lilly has been fighting the disease all year, which has included hospitalizations, appointments with neuro-veterinary specialists and costly tests and treatments. Hawn and her husband have been paying the bills.

"Our financial planner is not happy," says Hawn, who lives in a Golden, Colo.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinary costs have increased an average of 79% from 2000 to 2010. Rising operating costs are to blame, but so is the quality of care that is now available, says Keith Niesenbaum, a veterinarian and owner of Crawford Dog and Cat Hospital in Garden City Park, N.Y.

"There are so many specialty practices and so many things we can do today," says Niesenbaum. "People realize we have the advances, but they don't realize the cost."

Niesenbaum says that with CAT scans, MRIs, pacemakers, radiation and chemotherapy all available today, veterinary bills, especially at specialist's offices, can add up pretty quickly.

"We try to watch going down that slippery slope with the initial diagnosis and we try to map out all of the options," says Niesenbaum. "It just isn't feasible for someone to go into debt for half of their annual take home pay. People want to do everything they can, but most times, it just isn't realistic and I really feel for people. I would say that's the toughest part of my job."

What would you do if faced with a $16,000 veterinary bill for a pet you love as much as a child?

Justin Krane, a certified financial planning professional with Krane Financial Solutions in Los Angeles, Calif. says while most financial planners would advise against borrowing funds from savings, retirement or equity accounts to pay a vet bill, every case is different.

"For some people, their pets are their lives, they are their children, a part of the family," says Krane. "I would ask them if it would give them a better return on their life if they extended that of their pets. If a pet brings extreme happiness to an elderly person and they can extend that pet's life by five years and maybe that five years could be a big portion of that person's remaining life, then I would definitely advise them to do it," he adds.

1 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,083.80 -2.83 -0.02%
S&P 500 1,987.98 +0.97 0.05%
NASDAQ 4,472.1080 -1.5890 -0.04%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs