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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Ed: I did take a look at the dog health emergencies post and I didn't see anything to suggest that something like this isn't allowed, but I'm sorry if I missed it. As is noted, we have a vet-- many-- and as is hopefully clear, I'm not looking for strictly medical advice period, let alone in lieu of a vet.

I posted another thread about our pooch a while back but this is on a more specific subject. It's a little long. There's a summary at the bottom.

Our 4.5 y/o Pyr mix, Sebastian, has idiopathic cluster seizures. He goes weeks or months without any and then has so many at a go that we almost always have to consider bringing him to the ER on those days. This morning he had 15 in an hour and we obviously had no choice but to take him in. He's still there. We wouldn't have even waited so long if we didn't have to get him down a flight of stairs just to make it to the car. He was last there barely 12 weeks ago and the two visits together will cost more than all of his medicine for the year combined.

We do everything we can to keep the costs of treatment down and especially to avoid the hospital without skimping on things he truly needs. He is on daily medication (Keppra/levetiracetam and Phenobarb) and has both rectal valium to hopefully stop the cluster and oral clorazepate to keep it from returning for a few days. He gets extra keppra and phenobarb. If he has less than five or six we take shifts observing him a full 24 hours instead of going to the hospital, with Neuro's blessing on that protocol. The last time he went to the ER we sat up with him to keep him safe for 36 hours before finally bringing him because he kept going just long enough in between attacks that we kept thinking it was over until it wasn't.

We understand that some epileptic dogs do not have a great quality of life and sometimes hard decisions have to be made. Sebastian simply isn't there. He has a great quality of life on the days he doesn't have seizures, which is the vast majority of days.

I cannot overstate my attachment to this dog. I know I hardly need to explain that to this forum, but he is my animal familiar. I have had and will have other dogs and every pet is a member of the family who I love with all my heart, but Sebastian and I are connected to each other on a plane beyond and my husband feels the same. The very idea that we might not be able to afford his care indefinitely at this level has had me in tears on and off all day.

We are doing research and wracking our brains. In the future, we're surely going to insure our pets, but that's not an option anymore for Sebastian. I know of the Wally Foundation who may be able to help with his RXs at least. I am going to send in our information this weekend. I am going to set up a GoFundMe. I am even considering switching jobs if I can find something that pays better. But I also know I don't know the half of this. Please, does anyone have any other ideas what we can do? There is little we wouldn't for him.

Thank you.

Too long, didn't read: Our 4.5 y/o Pyr mix has terrible cluster seizures that necessitate daily meds and ER trips a couple of times a year at least. It is becoming impossible to afford but for all sorts of reasons, we feel we have very little choice but to find a way right now. We are sending info to the Wally Foundation (who might be able to help cover his regular medications but not hospital visits) and setting up a GoFundMe. Are there any other ways we might be able to defray some of our costs?
 

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Sorry to hear that you are in this situation. The only other thing I would suggest is reaching out to your local shelters and animal control services. Sometimes they have funds that can cover some cost of medical expensive. This is highly dependent on the resources in your area. Regardless, best of luck!
 

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I'm sorry you are going through this, how difficult!

Yes, like Canyx said, sometimes local shelters or rescue groups can help cover part of a dog's medical costs. In our area we actually have a thrift store who's proceeds go to help owners cover costs for their pet's medical treatment.

I did a quick internet search and found a list of places that might also help with vet bills: https://www.youcaring.com/blog/2016/need-help-with-vet-bills

I have no idea how legit these places are, but sometimes spending a while on the internet and just looking around for options can find you something.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks both for your replies! We are trying to be creative. I'm going to post essentially this in a couple of other forums as well just to crowd-source ideas. I've heard of YouCaring and that might work out better for this than a GoFundMe, but either or. I will definitely read that specific page on vet bills.

We use all the coupon cards we can find for the pharmacy and stuff, but as his doses have steadily increased, the cost has still ballooned even with the coupons.

Thankfully, Sebastian is home now after 36 hours at the vet. He did surprisingly well there considering how many attacks he had prior to going in, so he didn't need a ton of extra medicine and the trip didn't cost as much as we were worried it would. It doesn't really change the strain but it was slightly over half what we were concerned it might be, and any little bit helps.

Local shelters or thrift shops is one of the few avenues I haven't really looked at, so I will definitely do that. Do either of you know if shelters who participate in those types of programs are usually willing to help any dog with a true need, do they tend to help only the pets that they've adopted out, does it vary? Sebastian is a rescue but came from far away. I'll certainly do my own research, too, we're just entirely overwhelemed this weekend.

Thank you again, I will be sure to update with any more information we find so no one things we're still in crisis if we're not, or thinks all's ok if it isn't. I also am well aware we are not the only pet owners in this boat, so I'll post any helpful resources we find.
 

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I can't speak for all shelters since they are truly so different. But mine does not exclude opportunities from non-adopted animals. Our mission is animal welfare, and it is in our interest to keep animals in the good homes they already have.
 

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It depends widely on the organization, but some shelters will help owners, no matter if the dog was adopted out by them or not, with medical costs, because they would rather do that than displace a dog from a loving home when owners can no longer keep up with treatment costs.

Also, there are organizations that will suggest owners rehome the dog if the problem is lifelong and expensive. It really depend on the situation. I've seen more than a few of those at our local shelters, and I always wondered why the shelter didn't just help the owners with the cost, especially if it was not a lifelong disease, but I don't know the unique situation. It all depends on the organization, but I've noticed rescues are more willing to do that sort of thing than say, the county shelter.

Also, it may not be too late to look into pet insurance. Yeah, it will be expensive compared to average dogs, but it may offset costs a bit in the event you have to go the E-vet again. It never hurts to look.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
No problem, on further thought it makes perfect sense that type of thing will vary from shelter to shelter but I very much appreciate the replies. I'll do some research on the shelters in the area and make some calls.

The rehoming is such a difficult consideration on multiple levels, not only because of the obvious reasons but also because it's really not just money. During the bad times it's a lot of emotional and physical energy and overall effort and can be extremely disruptive and just... well, difficult. Money doesn't magically make it go away, just makes certain things a little easier, not that I think you were suggesting anything to the contrary. We don't yet feel like we've really had to make any decision about his treatment dictated by finances, and that's exactly what we're hoping to avoid. All dogs are unique, of course, and Sebastian is "particularly unique" at that. He's a bit 'quirky,' as we say, and he has problems with unfamiliar people from puppyhood that, try as we might, we were never able to fully socialize out. He is as attached to us as we are to him and while he doesn't really have separation anxiety, he seems especially relieved beyond just happy whenever we come back from being out or when we pick him up from the hospital. He just kind of has a seemingly intensified herding dog personality and then some things that are all his own.

We both work at home and are able to do those occasional 24-to-48-hour hauls with him, whatever that ultimately entails. Besides the obvious stress of going to the vet, possibly overnight, his particular personality makes it it's a constant question after a cluster and after he's already had a ton of meds whether he's better off at the hospital or relaxing at home if the cluster may have stopped. There have been a number of times that by the time we get to the hospital, they do nothing but observe him and it can still cost a lot. He has a neuro specialist who can and does advise us over the phone if he's clustering and they have an attached ER... when we travel with him sometimes to visit my parents he has a 24 hour vet there too.

I know you weren't necessarily suggesting a rehome is needed at this point and were just pointing out that's what some shelters will end up saying. I hope I'm not coming off as too defensive, I guess I'm just relaying that it's certainly something we've talked about and that's pretty much the conversation we had. The conclusion we came to is that we honestly feel like with the barest of assistance, there's little more anyone else could feasibly be doing for him right now. Of course, we want what is best for him. We just also do a lot and are trying to be proactive versus already drowning or jeopardizing his health, so we believe the best thing for him is to try to figure out how to avoid needing to rehome. I would think that is almost always the case with a dog in a happy home, anyway... that if you can avoid needing to rehome, you should. Maybe I'm wrong, but we're certainly not ready for that yet in either case.

Anyway, the Wally Foundation did send me some material and might be able to help some with his prescriptions so we will see what comes of that, and I'll call some shelters in the area and ask what programs any of them might have. My mom has mentioned that one of her friends may save money by getting Keppra either straight from the manufacturer or else through some site or program, a little unclear. At least we have a few leads now and feel like we have a plan.

Thank you both again, I will keep the thread updated.
 

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I know you weren't necessarily suggesting a rehome is needed at this point and were just pointing out that's what some shelters will end up saying. I hope I'm not coming off as too defensive, I guess I'm just relaying that it's certainly something we've talked about and that's pretty much the conversation we had. The conclusion we came to is that we honestly feel like with the barest of assistance, there's little more anyone else could feasibly be doing for him right now. Of course, we want what is best for him. We just also do a lot and are trying to be proactive versus already drowning or jeopardizing his health, so we believe the best thing for him is to try to figure out how to avoid needing to rehome. I would think that is almost always the case with a dog in a happy home, anyway... that if you can avoid needing to rehome, you should. Maybe I'm wrong, but we're certainly not ready for that yet in either case.
You're right, I was not suggesting a rehome, but it is something that some shelters will undoubtedly suggest, so don't get discouraged if they do. Such decisions are entirely up to you.

If you decide that is the best option for you, nobody would look down on you for making the best decision for you and the dog. Most of us take on pets thinking that we will of course have to dish out a couple thousand at some point in their 10-15 year life in addition to yearly vet checks, but multiple ER visits a year for 10-15 years is not something many people's wallets could withstand. It's a hard but true fact of life. I know I certainly couldn't at this stage in my life. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or feels about your situation, you do you. Anything I say is just throwing out options for you and assuring you that any decision you make isn't going to be wrong.

Best of luck to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Thank you, I appreciate the support. We'll try not to get discouraged, especially if the shelters suggest that. He has good stretches and things get easier (or he has, anyway), but it's been a hard few months on both him and the wallet so it's a good time to think about how and where we might get assistance.

I think a lot of people would have a near heart attack if they saw what his true annual costs are right now, which of course is exactly why we're starting to feel the pinch, so I know you're right that no one would look down on us for making whatever choice we think is best for him. Things may change, but we're just not ready for that particular decision, and understand that a shelter or other charity organization/foundation will only be able to do so much to defray our ongoing costs. But (and I know I keep saying this) anything we're not getting now will help, even if it's only a temporary solution, so we'll see what we can do. It's so many little things that add up, but between his bad days his quality of life is high/completely normal. We are lucky he tolerates the meds well in terms of side effects.

In short, we just haven't exhausted our options. We're well aware that this would be too much for some people already or even long ago, but we have fuel left in the tank and aren't about to declare bankruptcy or anything yet. It's just a lot, as I know I've made clear.

Thank you again for your suggestions, support, and luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Just an update, which is mostly that there's no update. He's been doing well since last cluster and increase in meds. We are still exploring the Wally Foundation but the day I got the application I got very sick, so we haven't been able to deal with it yet. Just glad S is OK right now.

We are also going to explore a couple of other random options like whether switching to IR Keppra is feasible with the dosing schedule.

Otherwise no real news but I will continue to update for anyone else in a similar situation.
 

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Glad to hear that your dog is doing well!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you Canyx. Believe me, we are grateful for every good day we have with him, but right now this is the usual pattern :/ It will be once he's made it a month, two, three, knock on wood, that we will know if there's a real difference. Again, we'll never complain about a seizure free day. This is just pretty typical even after a bad cluster, though we were a little concerned about lasting effects from the last bad bout and he seems himself which is great.

Thank you again for your comment!
 

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I'm not sure how much of your expenses are with medications, but if it is helpful, we used a prescription program supplied Walgreens for our prior dog. I can't remember 100%, but I want to say it was $40/year. It provided a significant discount in the cost of medications and does not exclude prior conditions. It more than payed for itself in the first month.

While we used the Walgreens program, others told us they were able to use a free presciption program/card for their dog that they obtained at their human doctors office. I can't recall the name of the progam/card.

Good Luck!
 
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