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I have spent so much money on treating Bella's bone cancer…

I have spent so much...
I have spent so much money on treating Bella's bone cancer so far (upwards of $10,000) out of pocket. I am looking for tips on how to save money. For example, if I need to get any test done - that is not chemo related, do I have to get them done at the oncologist office? Or, would it be cheaper to have it done at a regular vet? Also, I am looking for Bella to get a leg amputation (where her bone tumor is) - would the oncologist be considered the expensive option and the regular vet's office is cheaper? What are some inside money-saving tips you can offer? I really appreciate it!!
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Answered in 11 hours by:
11/21/2017
PitRottMommy
PitRottMommy, Veterinary Nurse
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 12,196
Experience: 15 yrs experience in vet med, 8 in emergency med. Founder of a non-profit animal rescue
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Hello, JACustomer. I have been a Veterinary Nurse for over 15 years and would be happy to help you today. I'm reviewing your question right now.

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It truly depends on what test. For example, if you are having bloodwork performed, that may be cheaper at your vet's office with the cost of a consult (usually lower) and bloodwork costs (often lower). However, if they are wanting to do any specialized oncology-specific diagnostics, that will likely be best performed by the oncologist's office at their facility.

Oncologists are usually more expensive for amputations, but their skill is also something you're paying for. If this is a general amputation (at the shoulder or hip) your vet may be able to give you a lower cost for for the surgery. Ask for an estimate from each hospital.

Since Bella is a larger dog, one of the ways you may be able to save money is by asking your vet to pre-fill medications (that she may need during or after the surgery) at your local pharmacy or online. Many pharmacies like Walmart have a 5 dollar list where vets may charge as much as $50 or more for medication. An example would be meloxicam, which is an NSAID, also known as mobic which is used in people. She may be large enough to take the human version. Just about any antibiotic that is not pet specific (an example of a pet-specific antibiotic would be baytril) like amoxicillin, cephalexin or clindamycin can be filled by a human pharmacy often at a lower cost than your vet's office. I would also price shop online. Many Canadian pharmacies ship quickly (within a week of the order you'll receive the rx) and offer prices below even USA prices. I use and recommend http://www.drugmartdirect.com

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PitRottMommy
PitRottMommy, Veterinary Nurse
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 12,196
Experience: 15 yrs experience in vet med, 8 in emergency med. Founder of a non-profit animal rescue
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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Thank you again for this thorough answer! Yes, I believe her amptuation if general, even if it is to remove a tumor. Because they would remove the entire leg, starting from the shoulder. I will ask about the meds too.

You're welcome. I certainly hope she does well! I have one who is facing an amputation for cancer, too and those bills sure stack up quickly!

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
You mean your own doggie is facing this too? It is scary because one oncologist is against the amputation since she already has one metastatic lesion in her chest. But, at the same time, that tumor is just growing and growing in her bone, causing her so much pain.
Cat, in my case. We usually don't recommend surgery on those with metastatic cancer in the chest but I can see your purpose if she's otherwise doing well. I'd probably take the same route too.
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Hi Junvi,
I'm just following up on our conversation about Bella. How is everything going?
Customer
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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Hi - thanks for checking in. She's doing good. She hasn't produced an actually formed stool yet, but she doesn't have diarrhea either. Is that normal? It's been more than a week since the diarrhea stopped, but she's not going #2 normally. Other than that, she still has energy, eating well, etc.
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Also, I am going to research amputation costs in smaller cities around San Diego where I am. Normally, would smaller cities quote lower? I just don't want subpar care for amputation.

Chemo can really throw off the bowel flora. So, yes, this is expected and may be normal for her. If she's not already on a probiotic, I would recommend one. If she is, it may be a consideration to change with a focus on different GI flora.

Amputation costs will likely be lower the further you go outside of SD. More rural areas typically offer lower prices. Most all vets who quote will be able to offer amputation services.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
I am starting to call around in smaller towns/cities around of San Diego for amputation quotes. One vet clinic was able to give me a quote over the phone based on the information I gave them. Then, another insisted that I schedule an exam for a doctor to take a look at her and have all of her records sent in. What is normal for a quote - to have to go in-person for a first-time exam or can vets normally give a price without seeing the patient? I mean, I don't have all the time in the day to be shuttling Bella to various vets all over San Diego County to just get a quote from them. What do you think?

Some places will only give an estimate if they see the pet, though most can give you a ball park. I'd tell them you're looking for a rough average, not necessarily a price they'd stick to if she came in. Size of the dog and amount of anesthesia needed often causes price increase. A Chihuahua, for example, won't run the same for an amputation for a Great Dane.

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Most of them should be within 10% of the quoted price if you tell them Bella is a larger breed dog.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Okay - so I'll ask for a rough average/estimate. Didn't think just researching prices would be such a frustrating experience.

It all depends on the area. Some clinics are better about it than others. Don't lose hope!

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