Pet Health Problems Can Start Anywhere, Anytime | PetFirst
Pet Care & Health

Pet Health Problems Can Start Even at the Best Places

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
4 years ago

You love your pet. You love your vet. You board your pet at your vet. (that’s called alliteration).

Why? Maybe because your pet is on medications and, while you are away, you want to ensure that is administered timely and correctly. Or, just because you want to have a watchful eye on your pet to make sure that he/she is eating, drinking and eliminating properly. If he or she isn’t, you want it reported to the veterinarian so that steps can be taken to address any problem. Right?

Veterinary clinics sometimes have staff who do not always remember the protocol of reporting abnormalities to a veterinarian. Or, if they have never dealt with your pet, they may be unaware of “normal” activity level or food or water consumption of your pet. Nonetheless, they are trained paraprofessionals who should record on “kennel cards” or otherwise your pet’s status as they “make their rounds”, much like nurses in hospitals. And what’s more, if something seems wrong with your pet, it should be reported to a veterinarian so that medical care can be promptly given.

But things don’t always go as planned when it comes to pet health. That’s what brings me to Walter. Walt has always been a generally healthy Chihuahua. He has a heart murmur and takes a couple of medications for it, including Lasix. We also have a Poodle with a liver problem and a lot of separation anxiety. She eats a special diet and takes several medications. Therefore, my wife thought it best to board Walter while she was out of town lest I not properly keep up with everyone’s medications. I suppose that we could have boarded Misty, but the separation anxiety and stress would have been enormous, so she stayed at home.

Our veterinarian has historically provided stellar care, both from diagnostic and treatment standpoints. Doubtless, you seek the same care for your pets. But, when I picked up Walter in advance of my wife’s return, something wasn’t right. He was lethargic, his eyes were glazed, he did not urinate, and did not even growl at me (he typically goes for a finger). I initially chalked it up to having been boarded for a week and brought him home. Things got no better over the next several hours. He stayed lethargic, couldn’t stand, had no interest in eating, drinking, going outside, and I noticed something looking like colitis.

Fortunately, there is a 24-hour pet emergency clinic nearby, so I took him there. They ran a battery of tests and blood levels of various measures were awry. For example, his BUN/UREA was greater than 130 while the normal range is 7-27; his Creatin was 9.8 while the normal range is 0.5-1.8. He wasone sick Chihuahua. The diagnosis was acute kidney failure.

What Do the Kidneys Do?
The kidneys are important to maintaining metabolic balance in a dog. While the problem can be either degenerative or acute, it did not immediately matter in Walter’s case because he was in extremis.’

A dog’s kidneys are involved in important functions, including: regulating the amount of fluid in spaces between cells, regulating the amounts of solids in the blood to keep blood concentrations within normal limits, and removing metabolic waste.

The removal of metabolic waste, such as by urinating, is a big issue and was a big issue for Walter. Consequently, he was placed on IV fluids and antibiotics for his whole stay at the emergency clinic, which lasted a week. He wasn’t given much of a chance for the first 4-5days, but started to come around in days 6 and 7.

Potential Causes of Kidney Compromise or Failure

  • Hereditary and Congenital Abnormalities, such as polycystic kidney disease (often found in Bull terriers), Kidney aplasia (causing a dog to be born with one kidney) or Renal hypoplasia (where the kidneys do not fully develop. This is sometimes seen in German Shepherds and other breeds.)
  • Bacterial Invasion. Urinary tract infections are common. From whatever cause, they can invade the urethra, then the bladder, and in some cases, thereafter the kidneys. Walter had a build-up of tarter on his teeth. His heart murmur made it dangerous to administer a general anesthetic to have his teeth cleaned, and the bacteria may have developed as a result of that. The pre-existing bacteria, coupled with the natural stress of boarding may have coincided to put Walter in the state in which we found him.
  • Fungal Infections
  • Trauma to the Kidney
  • Blockage of Urine Flow (kidney or bladder stones)
  • Cancer
  • Poisons

What Next?
By the time he was home for a few days, Walter became himself. Lasix dosage was reduced so that he remained hydrated. He’s eating and drinking. We won’t know until his follow-up appointment what his blood values are and therefore, whether he has permanently lost kidney function (they do not regenerate). But, so far, so good.

What Does This Have To Do With Pet Insurance?
A lot.

Upon admission to the emergency clinic, we paid an estimated treatment charge of about $800. By the time Walter was released, the total fee, including tests, boarding, and medications was about $3,600. By anybody’s measure, that’s a lot of money. But just like Walter is a member of our family, you have pets that are members of your family.

PetFirst is a premier provider of pet insurance. PetFirst’s pet insurance plans ensure that our pets have access to preventative and ongoing health care. While pet insurance is different from human health insurance in many ways, there are some similarities that will help you better understand it. These include:

  • The pet insurance policy is issued and remains in force in return for the payment of an insurance premium. The premium is based on the age and breed of your pet. Where you live is also a factor because fees for veterinary services differ geographically. The pricing of human health insurance includes some similar factors.
  • Pet insurance policies differ in cost and in the benefits provided based on the plan purchased. In general, the greater the level of benefits, the higher the premium. Likewise for human medical insurance.

PetFirst pet insurance works like this:

  • Select the plan that suits your needs and your budgetWhen the need arises, take your pet to the veterinarian of your choice
  • Pay the veterinarian’s charge for the treatment or procedure (or negotiate a lower one if you can, and pay it)
  • Submit your claim to PetFirst and get directly reimbursed according to the reimbursement schedule of the plan that you purchased

Therefore, depending upon the plan purchased, the cost of needed medical care for your pet is greatly reduced because you are reimbursed by PetFirst.

But Pets Can Be Expensive Anyway; Why the Added Expense of Pet Insurance?
That’s exactly why: Pets can be expensive. I certainly confirmed that through Walter’s experience.

But look at it this way: If money were tight when your beloved pet needed medical care, would you be more likely to get it for him/her if you knew that you would be reimbursed for most of it in a short time? That’s what pet insurance coverage through PetFirst is for. In return for a periodic premium that is a fraction of the cost of the veterinary care, you get a windfall of protection. And more importantly, you are ensuring the ongoing good health of your best friend

That’s what PetFirst does. Take a look at our plans and out other blogs for additional information.


Pet insurance expert and guest blogger Luke Brown's headshot
Luke Brown is a retired attorney, a husband, a father, and presently the human to 15 dogs, 2 tortoises, and a fish. Early in his career, Luke represented insurers and their policyholders in liability claims, and policyholders in claims against their own insurers. His clients have included insurers and other insurance licensees in regulatory matters before state insurance regulatory authorities. Before that, he was Senior Executive Attorney for the Florida Department of Insurance Regulation. He has taught insurance law at Florida State University’s Law School and at the FSU College of Business. He wrote a treatise on Florida insurance law, edited the insurance topic of a legal encyclopedia, and served as a consultant on insurance for a major international information provider. Luke now writes on insurance and healthcare for a diverse audience.

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