Every once in awhile I pass along my "best buys of the week". Well, I have decided to start a new feature here at Savvy Frugality: my "biggest expense of the week". My thinking is that if I talk about the things that unnecessarily cost me a lot of money, I might help someone else avoid making the same mistake.

One of the reasons that it has been some time since my last post is I have had an illness in the family. When I came home from my vacation in San Diego, I realized that my Jack Russell Terrier, Lucy, was incredibly ill. She could not stop throwing up or having diarrhea. I though perhaps she had gotten into some garbage or eaten something bad. It turns out it was something worse...much worse.

After a couple of days, Lucy wasn't getting any better. In fact, she could barely move. My wife and I rushed her to the local veterinary hospital. The vet asked a few questions and then did a test. Lucy tested positive almost immediately for the Parvo virus.

Parvo is easily transmitted and can be carried to a home on someone's shoes, on car tires, by other dogs, and I have read that even birds can spread it to your lawn where it can be picked up by your dog. If your dog is properly vaccinated, it will easily avoid getting sick from Parvo. Unfortunately, I had only had Lucy for a few months, and I had not yet had her vaccinated. Parvo is a fatal disease for dogs. Their chances of survival, even with treatment, are about 50/50.

I signed off on the treatment for my dog, who had to be hospitalized for about a week. Luckly, she pulled through, and today she is back to being her happy and loveable self. I couldn't bear the thought of losing my dog. She was a replacement for my cat, who had died of cancer last year. Total veterinary hospital bill: $1,100. I tapped what was left of my emergency fund and then some. Between the vacation and the vet, October was a very expensive month.

Lesson learned: ALWAYS make sure your pet is current on all vaccinations. It will save you a lot of money in the long run. Also, consider buying pet insurance. Yes, there is health insurance for pets, and unlike human health insurance the cost is very reasonable compared to the cost of paying an emergency veterinary bill. A year's worth of premiums would still have been less expensive than what I paid for Lucy's treatment.


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