What I Wish I Knew About Owning A Dog | PetFirst
Pet Care & Health

What I Wish I Knew About Owning A Dog

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
4 years ago

– Guest Blogger: Danielle Salice

Growing up in a home that always had German Shepherds— I thought I knew it all! They were the biggest, smartest and most loving dogs and didn’t require much (or, so I thought). What I didn’t realize was that owning a dog took A LOT of time, A LOT of patience and A LOT of money! I watched my parents care for the dog, while I had “chores” like pick up the dog poop, and sweep dog hair….what I didn’t know was how sick a dog could become, and how that not only emotionally, but financially, can really change your life.

Although my parents were outstanding parents and taught me what “I should know”, they blocked me from the real struggles and obstacles you can encounter while owning your own dog. I learned the hard way. I found my first two Boxers on the road and lost them just shy of having them each for 2 years. I was working full time, just graduated college and was hit with real world… VET BILLS!

After finding my first dog, everything seemed so simple. Leave fresh water and pour food in a bowl…except, that’s not how it was for me. My dog, CarlySue, was one sick puppy. She wouldn’t eat for a week when I first got her, and she stopped drinking water. I would call my dad and ask himwhat to do, but he didn’t know the breed, and could only say “take her to the animal hospital!”

CarlySue’s visits to the veterinarian, animal hospitals and veterinary specialist ultimately lead to a diagnosis of severe food allergies. She could ONLY have chicken (boiled in water) & fish. My second Boxer, AbbySue, also had food allergies and could only eat lamb and fish (both foods I didn’t eat). The cost of one of their meals was just as much as a good breakfast at Denny’s!

CarlySue passed away at four-years-old from kidney failure. She was only born with one kidney, and knew her dog lifespan wouldn’t be as long as I hoped. AbbySue passed away at four-and-a-half-years-old from complications of cancer. We removed all the mast cell tumors and did chemotherapy, but unfortunately, her life was also cut short.

I wish someone had told me owning a dog isn’t just walking, feeding, leaving water and giving him/her a bath! I learned not all dogs are alike. I learned allergy testing your dog at one year is important, and also every year after— as allergies can change.

When it came to my third Boxer, Capone, I purchased a PetFirst Pet Insurance policy— and good thing I did. The first couple of years I had my dog insurance policy – he only had “minor” vet bills and pet health issues- like having a growth removed from his ear, stitches from the bite wounds he suffered from being mauled by another dog (almost $1,000), allergy testing (he’s allergic to pinto beans and milk!), an abrasion on his paw, and a couple of upset stomach issues. Sad that these are only “minor” issues to me now, because they actually racked up quite an expense, just not what I was about to deal with.

It wasn’t until Capone collapsed in January 2015 that I truly understood the value of pet insurance. In the first year he was diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia and syncope episodes, I got back $8,631.18 out of the $10,093.19 I had spent on veterinary bills. The second year I got back $10,000 from pet insurance, of the $12,689.30 I had spent on veterinary care. Without a great dog insurance policy, like PetFirst’s, I wouldn’t have been able to provide Capone with the veterinary care he needed and deserved— he was a fighter and I know he lived a lot longer than anyone expected him to thanks to the vet care I was able to give him.

So, do yourself a BIG favor— get a pet insurance policy from PetFirst— because whether it is allergies, kidney failure, cancer or heart conditions, you will be able to provide your pet great veterinary care because you can afford the vet bills.


Danielle Salice and her boxer dog smiling for the camera
Danielle Salice is a pet lover, and Boxer dog aficionado— she has owned three boxers during her adult life (CarlySue, AbbySue and Capone). She also has a penchant for German Shepherds, which was her family’s breed of choice growing up. Danielle is active in the animal welfare industry and currently volunteers at Last Chance at Life, All Breed Rescue and Adoptions. Danielle became a PetFirst Pet Insurance policyholder in 2009 and has been a pet insurance advocate ever since.

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