As medicine advances to not only heal humans, but the pet population as well, we should begin to wonder what makes a family and how we want our federal government to respond to the needs and wishes of everything that makes up the “family unit.”


There was a time — not too long ago — that when your cat or dog became sick, you euthanized the animal and found a new one. 

Today, things are different.  People want their pets to live a long and healthful life and they are willing to pay for animal hip replacements, blood transfusions and even kidney transplants.

Are people that spend $25,000.00USD on a kidney transplant for a cat crazy — or are they merely taking care of their family? Should that expense be a legitimate tax deduction or not?

Our cat, Jack, is 15-years-oldthat’s 76 in people years — so he’s dealing with kidney issues that attack almost every cat his age, and he never really fully recovered from major surgery last December.  We love Jack a lot.  We want him to live pain-free for as long as possible.

Keeping an older animal healthy is not a cheap condition.  You have weekly visits to the animal hospital.  You have extraordinary lab fees to check urine and blood and thyroid.  The yearly bill for taking care of any sick animal can easily bleed into the thousands of dollars.

If you or your child were sick, and if you had to pay medical bills out-of-pocket, you would be able to deduct those expenses from your taxes. 

If your domestic animals are ill, you are not allowed to deduct a single dollar from your taxes to cover their healthcare.

I realize we are in significant danger in the USA right now as banks and brokerage houses teeter into tumbling, but there are ordinary people in the world with common needs and regular wishes, and one of those yearnings is to be able to afford proper and appropriate healthcare for their pets.

Survival of those that depend on you should not be measured in dollars and cents — but for many pet owners in America, there is a hard choice coming between making the mortgage payment and keeping your aging pet alive in a dying economy.

We are fortunate that we can meet Jack’s medical needs — but there are a lot of people you meet in the animal hospital waiting room who are there with broken hearts and shattered pocketbooks — and you cannot help but feel the woe and the remorse building within them as they wrestle with the final decision between happiness and viability while asking why life has to cost so much when death is always so cheap.

19 Comments

  1. It’s sad, david. You get a pet. You know chances are it will die before you do. You say hello knowing you will always have to say goodbye. I hope your cat feels better. Why not have a 5000 deduction for pet welfare? I’d support it.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Anne. We just got back from our Vet visit. I think five thousand would be great! That would solve a lot of heartache out there because you’d spend the money on your beloved pet and know you’d get some help back from your government. Even a thousand dollars would be welcome since zero percent of any ordinary veterinary bills are ever recoverable — which sort of makes pets a hobby and not something that takes daily tending and feeding.

  3. In the UK we have pet health insurance – much like private health insurance which meet the costs of most veterinary care. They also cover you for legal expenses and public liability in case rover/mittens runs amok and causes any damage to humans or property.

  4. David,
    It’s definitely odd that in a country with so many pet-owners the government hasn’t taken note of this need.
    In India, having pets and especially medical care of the pets is a relative luxury and therefore left in the private domain.

  5. Sorry to hear about Jack, David. Hope he feels better soon.
    I don’t know if there is any simple solution for it but I only hope the “pets” are safe and happy at the end of the day because we are supposed to provide a shelter for them.

  6. I know of a dog who, when the time came, got a rather pricey glass eye rather than walk around with one somewhat good eye and one void.
    I hope Jack gets better soon. I know how much you care about him!

  7. Nicola —
    Is the pet health insurance a government program? Or do you have to buy it independently? Do all Vets accept the insurance?
    We have petinsurance.com — but only for animals under 10 years old. As science allows us, and our animals, to live longer… we also need a way to pay for long term geriatric care for our animals.

  8. There used to be no hope for a really sick animal, Dananjay, but now we have 24-hour emergency pet hospitals. If a dog needs an ACL replacement, it can be done. Heart surgery and kidney replacements are becoming more widespread. If you choose to go the kidney transplant route, you are required to adopt the donor animal, too. So you enter the hospital with one cat and leave with two.

  9. We have dominion over out animals, Katha, but that doesn’t mean — as some claim — that they are here to serve us as our meals or for our entertainment. Dominion means we are to care for them as if they were like us. Animals have feelings and great personalities. We diminish them to place us above them so the atrocities we perpetuate on them can be blamed on evolutionary status and not wanton cruelty.

  10. You have to buy the insurance – a quick look tells me it is about £10 a month for a dog and £8 a month for a cat. Most vets will accept.
    Once a pet has been on a scheme for a number of years the insurance company will pay for old age care.

  11. Right, David – that’s what I said – “we” are the one who is supposed to take care of our pets and not the other way round.
    Animals do have feelings and they are genuine as based on their instinct.

  12. Hi David,
    It’s always one way with a pet – you don’t expect anything from a 6 mths. old – do you?
    It’s tough raising a kid as it’s only “giving” iwthout any reciprocation.
    When I had Pop we didn’t have the concept of dog food here, Pop used to eat slightly altered version of human food and used to eat twice a day and most importantly as a full grown German Shepherd – he used to eat A LOT.
    His eating time was 9:00 am and 4:30 pm sharp.
    If, by any chance he couldn’t find his food waiting for him at the right place at the right time he used to wait in front of the kitchen for 10 mins and then he used to disappear.
    Now think of the scenario, either my Mom or my Dad or our household help are on a constant search carrying the huge bowl of his food – because he could only be found under someone’s bed, or hiding in some godforsaken place – as he is angry.
    I normally used to get a VVIP treatment when I was home – but this…? No way!

  13. Yeah, I agree with you David – 100%! He was way more spoilt!
    But you would expect certain level of understanding in case of a grown up human being, which you won’t expect from your pet – so no problem it being “one way”!