You know that moment in every dog movie when you’re not sure if the dog’s going to make it and your heart starts breaking a little?
That’s been my life for the past month.
It all started when Rory and I were playing a harmless game of fetch in the park around the corner. She was making a hard turn to come back to me with the slobber-soaked ball one minute, and the next she was wiped out and looking at me through eyes wide with pain.
Best case scenario? She’d just sprained her ankle. But of course, it’s never the best case scenario when we’re adulting. Rory had torn her ACL, and if she wanted to walk normally again, she was going to have to get major surgery.
So I thought this was a perfect opportunity for Part 2 of my dog-moming tips – the good, the bad, and the mutly.
When it comes to your dog’s health, there are four basic rules you need to keep in mind:
- Trust a professional before the internet: I learned this one the hard way. Rory swallowed a hard piece of plastic about two years ago, and it scraped her throat just enough that she was coughing up blood the next day. A google search was quick to tell me she had stomach cancer and had few hours left on this earth. So of course I spent the extra money to take her to a 24-hour emergency vet and get x-rays of her esophagus…only to find out she was fine. Moral of this story: sometimes it’s worth it to wait until your vet’s office opens before you panic.
- It’s okay to shop around for doctors: Speaking of dog doctors, this was the very advice I was given by my Chicago vet as soon as Rory’s ACL tear was diagnosed (actually called a CCL in dogs and a much more common injury than you’d think…learn more here). ACL repairs in larger dogs cost around $5,000 in Chicago, plus it’s a specialty surgery, so most clinics don’t even offer it. After talking to a few other pet surgeon specialists, I found that I could half the cost if Rory could get the surgery done back in Indiana (I took her to Dupont Vet Clinic, and the were amazing!). Was it hard to drop her off so far away from home? Heck yes! But my wallet is also much happier with my alternative decision.
- The cost: It’s no secret that pets cost money. But I hate when anyone has to choose between cost and care for their furry family just because the bill can be so inflated. Pet insurance is just starting to become a thing, and even then, it only covers regular shots and a spay/neuter when your pet is young. I know it’s not ideal, but there is now also a credit card you can get specifically for both human and pet medical expenses. It’s always worth it to read the fine print, but Care Credit says on their website: “With shorter term financing options of 6, 12, 18 or 24 months no interest is charged on purchases of $200 or more when you make the minimum monthly payments and pay the full amount due by the end of the promotional period. If you do not, interest is charged from the original purchase date.” If anything, an option like this can help you hesitate less if/when the worst happens to your floof.
- Recovery: This is actually where the internet can come back into play. Just like humans, pets won’t be right back on their feet after a major surgery. And with Rory’s current recovery, I have to do a lot to help her regain mobility in her injured leg. Two weeks after surgery, I’m now in the stage of applying gentle heat and helping her with regular stretches. And where did I learn these stretches? Really, you can learn how to do just about anything on YouTube nowadays. Check out these videos from Ask Doctor Jo and Tennessee vet Marc Smith if you want to help your pup with some healthy leg stretches too!
It’s been a rough month with a steep learning curve, but Rory is recovering beautifully now. What about you? What are some of the tips and tricks you’ve learned from your pet’s trauma that you’d like to pass on to others?