I think that every dog owner can recite a story about an emergency trip to a vet. Accidents happen, but thank goodness they don’t happen very often. They can be very scary for the two and four-legged to experience, and the memory seems to last a life time. In addition to their impression on one’s memory, accidents can leave quite the impression on one’s wallet. The financial costs of an accident can be brutal if one lacks pet insurance.
I remember our black Labrador growing up, Ben, searching for ground hogs when out in the country side. Once he returned from a hunt with a chunk missing from his lip. The perpetrator was no doubt a ground-hog that was defending itself down its hole. This accident required stitches.
Our Abby lost an entire claw last year jumping out of our car. There was very little blood in the car, and I never found the source that she caught it on. I fortunately took her to our vet as I could not see the claw and wondered what we were dealing with. The poor lamb had to have a portion of her toe removed to the first joint, as it would be very problematic if any nail bed grew under the wound once it had healed. She required a bandage change every three days. The vet and the veterinary staff were terrific working with her. She rocked fancy paw bandages for almost a month, often with festive Christmas motifs on them. It somewhat made us smile with her misfortune. Today there is no outward sign of a shorter toe; her fur is the perfect camouflage.
Our second Labrador, Ember, cut her leg open on a pipe cover at a friend’s cottage this past summer. This injury occurred twenty minutes after our arrival. The trip was supposed to be three days of teaching her how to swim and lots of fun with the three other dogs there. Our gracious hosts were awesome and helpful, guiding us to a local vet in cottage country. Stitches and staples were required, and unfortunately, teaching her to swim was off our agenda.
Ember was amazing; she was such a trooper! She hung out near us on the dock or in the shade on soft blankets with a bowl of water nearby to quench any thirst. It was a mixed blessing that she did not know the joys of swimming and made no attempt to head to the water.
As with many injuries, nothing is cut and dry, and she required a drain to be put in a week later. Ember continued to be the perfect patient while wearing a blow up ring collar to stop any licking. I highly recommend these. It prevents your walls from being destroyed by the hard cone collars that take paint off galore! The back of your legs are spared too from being poked if your dog is nearby.
I do find that when injuries happen it reminds us how deep our feelings are of our beloved family dog. When Abby hurt her claw/toe we as a family all felt so sorry for our senior gal. She was not allowed any leash walks and minimal stairs so her routine was really upside down for an extended period of time.
The first few days she tried to come to the door when I was heading out to “tell” me to not forget our walks. After a week she was resigned to the fact they were not happening anymore and would make no attempt to remind me. A cookie seemed to soften the loss.
I am a softie and could not believe that my eyes welled up with tears when taking Ember to the vet after her leg got cut. We had only had her two months but a real bond has developed between her and I. Pet owners know what I am speaking of.
Injuries don’t just happen to our dogs; they can often injure their owners. We can get injured from an event where “Rover” is too close for comfort. I required surgery to my left wrist about seven years ago; years of dogs pulling me in different directions snapped two tendons. The result was ten weeks in a cast plus a pin put in. Yuck! Months of physical therapy followed to regain my strength.
I sprained an ankle badly one year while out walking some dogs. My eye was on the dogs and not where my feet were going at the time. A small dip in the pavement rolled my ankle and I knew right away something very bad had happened. I hobbled around for a week to ten days and put on only shoes with awesome support that laced up.
A few years ago I had a dog in my hand and the leash wrapped around some fingers. As I came through our garden gate the dog saw a squirrel and pulled harshly on the leash. The tug and resulting twist yanked my wedding finger and my wedding ring had to be redesigned with an inner spring so that it could fit over the swollen finger that never went back to normal even after a year!
Additionally, bruises are standard fare for dog walkers and scratches from the jump and sliders.
I have been told that a new dog owner should set aside the money they would give towards pet insurance monthly in a separate account. Then if that sudden accident occurs, you have a vet bill fund that has been growing. If it is never touched a win -win and your money is yours. I am sitting on the fence regarding pet insurance with all the dog owners I have talked to. Although a majority of things are covered certain situations are not. It is very much a personal decision.
My best advice is to be prepared for the unexpected. If travelling with your dog find out where the closet vets are and those open after hours should something terrible happen. Keep a first aid kit in your car for your family – it can come in handy for your dog, too. If you use something from it replace it!
Learn from other people’s misfortunes to prevent a similar event happening to you. If you are uncertain if you should see a vet it is better to be safe than sorry. Follow your gut feeling at all times.
Most of all treasure each day with your dog, as they are such a gift to us all.
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