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How Much Is Your Pet’s Life Worth?

By Matt Popkin. April 09, 2012 | See Comments

How Much Is Your Pet’s Life Worth?

Price should never be a factor when determining the fate of your pet, but pet parents frequently face the dilemma of deciding how much they are willing to pay in order to save the life of their pet.

How much would you spend to keep your pet alive? As new treatments are developed to fight against previously fatal conditions, pet parents are having to make tougher and tougher decisions about how much they are willing to pay to extend their pets’ lives.

The New York Times published a thorough investigation of this recent pet care development last week, highlighting both the improvements in veterinary technology and the rising costs that come with such advances. Pets can now receive bone-marrow transplants to combat lymphoma, a procedure that costs around $15,000. They can also undergo stent procedures to help with bladder and kidney problems and radiation treatment to fight inoperable tumors, the latter a course of action that runs thousands of dollars in medical bills.

In some cases, these procedures, many of which occur in the later years of a pet's life, only serve to briefly postpone the inevitable passing of a beloved companion. Yet the number of pet parents seeking out these treatments is growing each year. In 2005, the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan performed 34 stent procedures on pets. In 2011, the Center performed 630.

“What’s new is the sheer number of approaches to treat problems that, not too long ago, would have meant the end of the line,” said Dr. Julie Meadows, a feline geriatric medicine specialist at the University of California, Davis, told the Times.

In 2010, amidst a suffering economy, pet parents in the United States spent $55 billion on their pets, a new record. $13.4 billion of that was spent on veterinary care, up from $9.2 billion in 2006. These numbers look even bigger when you factor in that according to the American Animal Hospital Association, less than 3% of Americans have pet insurance, meaning that pet parents are paying almost all of these costs themselves.

Research done by credit card education site CreditDonkey shows that 93% of pet parents say they would risk their lives for their pet, but only 55% have an emergency plan in place in case of a pet health crisis.

“It's likely that even fewer people have budgeted for emergency veterinary care, despite the fact that vet costs climbed 69.6 percent from 2001 to 2011,” said Charles Tran, founder of CreditDonkey, who urges pet parents to prepare for eventual pet health care costs well ahead of time.

How much would you spend to keep your pet alive? Even if it was just for one more year? Answer below.

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