Had to take the pup to the vet today.
This was after the doctor had been in to seen us. Bandit has faced itchy skin for the past few years. He has scratched his head, face, neck, and ears open more times than you can count. He lives in a cone whenever we leave. Unfortunately we were at the vet because when I went out to work in the yard on Saturday I forgot to put his cone on him. Here is the worst part:
That is a hot spot. We thought he had ear infections again, since he seemed to scratch at his ears the most this time. I took him to the vet expecting the regular routine: shaved head, cream, antibiotics, cortisone shot. This time, though we had a surprise! When I told the vet tech what we were there for, she got really excited about this new medicine that has just come out: Apoquel. It is specifically for itchy dogs. It is supposed to quell the itch in about 4 hours and completely stop the itch in 24 hours. The vet didn’t even really want to discuss it… he said he was prescribing it. He has seen Bandit so many times for this very issue, that he said it would be perfect for him! I was very excited, but nervous about the cost.
The trip today was quite expensive, but not the worst we have seen. The total was $247, but I also go heartworm prevention medicine for both dogs, which upped the cost. Here is the breakdown of the bill:
Apoquel (50 tablets): $80.00
Cefpodoxime (antibiotic- 14 tablets): $32.90
Heartgard for Bandit (6 month supply): $39.60
Heartgard for Rose (6 month supply): $58.50
The dogs had $100.00 in their envelope, so I paid $100 cash, and the rest will come out of our emergency fund. I am also looking at their vaccination records, and it looks like they will each have 1 vaccination coming up in May. Rose will have 1 coming up in June. Both will have 1 in October, and Bandit will have 1 in November.
I am going to have to go back over our budget and adjust for those vaccinations coming up. Right now I put aside $80 a month. This has been enough for now, but since it emptied their built up supply that would have covered vaccinations, I will need to up their amount for probably the rest of the year.
Another adjustment will be for the Apoquel. This is a medication that Bandit will be on for the rest of his life. After the first two weeks he will only take 1/2 a tablet a day. For these first two weeks he will need 1/2 a tablet twice a day. The 50 tablets will get us through almost 3 months (12 weeks). In the future the 50 tablets will get us through 3.5 months (14 weeks). That comes down to saving about $25 a month for just that prescription. I also need to make sure that we save $17 per month for the Heartgard refills. I think I may start an online savings account for the medicines. Trying to keep that much money in their envelope for that long will prove too difficult.
I think I may try to lower their monthly cash to $60 (this will cover food, treats, etc.). That will free up the other $20 to put into a savings account. That leaves me with finding another $22 to add to it for meds, and then about another $40 or so for vaccinations. I should be able to do that with no problem, although there will have to be a few adjustments made (not eating out as much, not as much money for clothing, household items, etc.)
If this medicine does what it claims, we will in fact save money in the long run. The food that we feed Bandit is specifically formulated for healthy skin and coat (but we have not really seen much difference in his itchiness). It is about $60 a bag. I can buy 2 bags of Rose’s food for that price. We also sprinkle a supplement on his food, which is about $20 for a small bag. The supplement lasts about 2 months. We buy Benadryl for Bandit, which is cheap, but is an added expense. We seem to go to the vet 3-4 times a year for itchy problems, which is about $50 a visit, and even more if he gets a cortisone shot.
After all of this, I can definitely say I am happy we have our cash envelopes and emergency fund. I can’t even imagine what we would have done if we would have had to find $247.00 on short notice. I don’t know if it would have been possible in the past. I was able to schedule Bandit’s appointment without worrying about the cost. There will be some long-term adjustments to make, but it isn’t as stressful as it could have been.