How much would you spend on your pet?
While many pet owners know only too well that vet bills for their beloved cats and dogs can easily run into the hundreds and thousands, more than a few eyebrows raised at the news that a man in the UK had paid £300 (about $400) for a goldfish to have a groundbreaking operation to relieve its constipation.
The story takes on even more significance when you find out that this goldfish was not a beloved family pet, but instead was an ‘office goldfish’ which lived in a tank at the man’s place of work.
The unnamed man had noticed that the goldfish was struggling to pass solids and seemed to be in pain, so he consulted a vet to find out how the fish could be helped. When the vet quoted £300 (about $400) for the mini-operation, the man reportedly balked at the cost, but after thinking about it, he called the veterinary practice back to give them the go-ahead for the surgery.
Without the operation, the vet’s opinion was that the buildup of toxins would eventually have resulted in the death of the fish.
Toll Barn Veterinary Centre in North Walsham, Norfolk UK carried out the operation, which involved first mixing anesthetic with the fish’s water to prepare it for surgery. A tiny tube was used to pump water laced with more anesthetic into the fish’s mouth and a mini heart rate monitor was used throughout the procedure to ensure that the goldfish had a heartbeat and continued to breathe. A tiny scalpel was used to remove two blockages from the goldfish during the 50 minute operation, after which the vet used 3 stitches and waterproof skin glue to help aid healing when the goldfish was back in its tank swimming around.
Faye Bethel, a vet at Toll Barn Veterinary Centre, told local press that: “There was nothing special about the fish. He just liked it a lot. People love their pets – but that was an expensive little goldfish.”
Happily, the fish made a full recovery from its surgical adventures!
The things we do for love
This pet fish isn’t the only one to undergo surgery in recent times. A pet goldfish named George in Australia underwent an operation to remove a tumor from its head. Using a similar process used for the UK fish, the antipodean patient underwent a delicate operation to cut away the tumor and seal the wound.
The procedure, this time costing approximately AUD $200 (£100 or $140 USD), was also considered successful, with the goldfish now expected to live for several more years.
While it’s probably true that most goldfish owners would draw the line at an expensive operation to save the inhabitant of their fish tank, you might be surprised at the lengths some people will go in order to give their pets a second chance or improve their quality of life.
In another UK-based survey, 86% of owners say they consider their pet as part of the family and are happy to pay high vet bills. A couple from Rotherham, Yorkshire UK racked up vet bills for £24,000 ($33,600 USD) since they brought home a German Shepherd puppy several months ago. The couple sold their car, canceled vacation and even decided to forgo Christmas gifts to pay for the four operations the pup has needed thus far.
When asked if it was all worth it, the pup’s owner, Miss Mitchell said, “A lot of my friends say they would have had him put down, but I could never have done that. It’s cost us a lot, but he’s worth every penny.”
This pup is still less than a year old, so could potentially have another 12+ years of costly veterinary treatment ahead of him thanks to his rare genetic condition. Thankfully for his owners, their vet is allowing them to pay off the current bill in monthly installments.
Our pets cost more than you might think
We’ve seen some extreme examples of the lengths (and costs) that owners are prepared to go to in order to save the lives of their pets, but even fairly routine costs can take owners by surprise sometimes. A UK-based survey of pet owners in 2015found that on average, dog owners spend approximately £427 (or nearly $600.00 USD) a year on unexpected costs, including everything from vet trips to stays in kennels or catering for dietary conditions, which require specialty food.
You may think that cat owners get off more lightly, but the survey showed that wasn’t necessarily the case, with the average owner spending £322 (or about $450 USD) a year on things they hadn’t budgeted for when they got their kitty, including vet bills, pet stting and money owners have spent on replacing things around the home which the cat has damaged, such as carpets, rugs, wallpaper and electronics which have been nibbled or smashed.
Millions of people in the UK find that owning and sharing their life with pets is hugely rewarding, but anyone going into pet ownership without looking at the potential costs involved could be in for a surprise.