The Importance Of Insuring Your Dog.

Five years ago, my partner and I rescued a 2 year old Greyhound bitch, named Lizzie. Immediately, he put her onto the same insurance as our other two Greyhounds that we had at the time. The insurance was adequate for our needs. He had always intended to change the policy to give her 'advanced' cover but I guess he never got around to it. Hindsight is a very valuable thing and we have since learned our lesson.

Around a year ago, Lizzie was playing in the garden with one of our other dogs, our Lurcher, Colin. There was an ear splitting scream, a sound we never, ever want to hear again in our lives. Lizzie was standing shaking, holding one leg up and couldn't walk. After a few minutes, she seemed better but we took her to the vet's anyway. Lizzie was initially diagnosed with a soft tissue injury and it was thought to be due to an old racing injury in her shoulder. Painkillers and rest were diagnosed but she didn't get any better. Numerous trips to the vet later, she was still pretty much the same and we all thought we were getting nowhere. X-rays showed nothing so we were stumped. Meanwhile, our vet's bill was mounting at an alarming rate. Our vet decided to refer us to an orthopaedic specialist, one of the leading orthopaedic vets in the country, to see if he could find out what was wrong. We knew it was going to be expensive, but she was worth it. On examination, he found the problem to be coming from her neck. He thought it could be a tumour on her spine, or a slipped disc. She was admitted for tests that evening. She had extensive x-rays, a spinal tap and a myelogram. Results showed that it was 2 slipped discs in her neck and that she would require surgery to take them out. We were prepared to pay anything to help her so we went ahead with it. The vet expected her to have a 90% improvement following surgery and that she should improve very quickly. He also warned us that 5% of dogs don't respond well to the operation but he was positive that Lizzie would be great afterwards.

Within 2 days of her being discharged after the operation, Lizzie started to deteriorate. She was in agony and was screaming and yelping and she couldn't get comfortable at all. She was also exhausted. We got very strong painkillers from our own vet but they didn't seem to make much difference. One morning it seemed that Lizzie had given up completely. The poor soul was exhausted and in so much pain. She wouldn't eat and we were struggling to syringe feed her water. Our vet went out of her way to make a home visit, as poor Lizzie could barely move. She was given an injection of very strong painkillers and some more tablets for later on that evening. We are extremely lucky to have such a wonderful vet who knows us and our dogs very well indeed. We shared a look that meant the end was near for our poor wee dog. If she didn't improve over the next few hours she was to be admitted to the veterinary hospital to get her pain under control. She got worse and was admitted shortly afterwards. We were all sure she wouldn't come home again. Our vet, and a nurse, stayed up all night at the hospital with Lizzie, as they were so concerned.

Unbelievably, against all odds, Lizzie slowly started to respond to the treatment and 2 days later, we were greeted by an extremely happy, 'waggy' dog! Thanks to our wonderful vet, Lizzie came home and slowly made progress. Within a week, Lizzie was leaping around the kitchen like an idiot and is now almost back to normal. It will be another month or two until she's completely better but at the moment she is making a wonderful recovery. Now the painful bit.

The investigations at the orthopaedic specialist came to almost 800. The operation was almost 1000. Consultations, investigations, treatments, drugs, home visits and hospitalisation at our own vet came to over 3000. Her treatment is ongoing so that will steadily increase. One year on and the total has almost reached 7000. Our insurance only contributed 500.

I am writing this to urge people to get the best insurance they can possibly afford. The first thing we did afterwards was to insure our Lurcher Colin, our Galgo Daniel, and our other Greyhound, Blue Bob, with a very reliable company. We chose the "premium" policy, offering 6000 per condition, with no time limit. Shopping around, we found this company offered a discount if bought online and a discount for more than one dog.

We learned our lesson the hard way. Fortunately we could afford her treatment and we would have paid 10 times that amount to help our beloved Greyhound, Lizzie. Please read and re-read your policy if you have one, and make sure your dog has the best insurance possible. Believe me, it's worth it in the long run.

By Fiona E Reekie.

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