Canine Care – Who’s to Blame for Teeth Trouble?

A year ago I stood in the vet’s office and felt my jaw drop as the words “twelve hundred dollars” rang in my ears. These big three little words  were in answer to my inquiry regarding the cost of dental cleaning for my cat. The veterinary doctor calmly explained the importance of proper dental maintenance and suggested I start saving. I (not quite as calmly) protested that, as a full time graduate student, there wasn’t any money to save and that I couldn’t possibly do it. Twelve months later (still twelve hundred dollars lacking) my jaw revisited the very same floor as I realized I was going to have to find a way.

When the doctor pulled Jefa’s lips back to reveal her gums she shook her head and exclaimed in dismay at the amount of plaque build up on my baby’s teeth. She then showed me that Jefa’s gums were bleeding and oozing a small amount of pus. Now, as my regular readers have inevitably realized, I am (admittedly) a doting and perhaps slightly obsessed pet mother. When I saw the condition of my kitty’s inflamed mouth I felt horrible and had to fight back tears of guilt. I numbly nodded as the vet started listing the charges – one hundred dollars for blood panels to qualify her for anesthesia, another couple hundred dollars for an extraction, etc. I authorized the blood panels and agreed to review a price quote for the whole procedure with the receptionist.

Sure enough, the itemized estimate totaled twelve hundred dollars. As I left the vet, each of us (Jefa and I) were reeling from our own kind of traumatization. I went home and started researching other veterinary hospitals in the city and finally found one that came highly recommended on yelp and quoted me a much lower price – around eight hundred (not including consultation and blood work). I agreed to bring her in on Monday.

Monday hasn’t come yet and I’m crossing my fingers that the price quote holds and that we can get this out of the way as quickly and painlessly as possible. In the meantime I set about figuring out how in the world I can pay for this! I was told by a friend about a program called Care Credit, which offers credit lines for medical emergency situations, including veterinary expenses. Care Credit offers a year of interest free credit which rolls over into a 14% or 15% interest payment plan after the first year. I feel this is an excellent resource and strongly promote it. However, the money still has to come from somewhere in order to pay back the credit, so I continue considering potential resources.

While pondering this (in between deep breaths to relieve my somewhat frantic stress levels) I am also wondering what caused this to happen in the first place. I haven’t had time to conduct extensive research, but I find myself highly suspicious of the pet food industry, to which I no longer even bother giving the benefit of the doubt on any matters. After all, what impacts the condition of our teeth more than the food we consume? As I have mentioned often in previous entries, it is no secret that the quality standards for  ingredients are low and most companies use unacceptable sources and recipes. This is most definitely a matter I will be looking into and speaking to the doctor about.

In the meantime, I would like to advocate for all pet owners to consider preventative regular teeth cleaning, and perhaps a savings account for unexpected pet medical needs. After all, we human-folk can choose to brush or not and the consequences are on us. Our pets, however, don’t have the ability to make these decisions, placing us in a position of great responsibility to them and their health.

(If you would like to contribute to Jefa’s dental disaster fund, please visit her donation site by clicking on this link. Help her heal so she can continue to help me inspire sustainable pet ownership!)

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Canine Care – Who’s to Blame for Teeth Trouble?

  1. Hi sis,

    FYI, you CAN brush your cat’s teeth…after spending a good few hundred myself on Alyssa’s teeth, I have committed to 3 times a week for both her and Moss; I’ve been told this will do some good in the preventative care, which may save my future self some money. The finger cap toothbrush is less invasive than a human style toothbrush, and both Moss & Alyssa tolerate it (aided by chicken flavored toothpaste that I sure hope I don’t accidentally use myself one sleepy-pre-coffee morning brush…).

    Am also committing to cutting off the fancy feast addiction, although I’ve been waiting until the shock of being cut off from milk resides, because I think this will be a battle of wills between my (very strong willed) girl cat and I. Would be interested to see what you find re: food & dental health.

    Good luck to Jefa…

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