Ask the Veterinarian/Limping


Hi there,
Thanks in advance for helping out! I appreciate your help and time.

I have a 6 year lab (about 90 pounds) who hit my wooden bed frame as she was trying to get on my bed I believe Saturday night. Sunday morning she was limping horribly and I wrapped a bandage on her and confined her to my room so she could rest on her very thick-padded joint-protecting bed. She was trying to lick at the bandage and had some heavy breathing but appetite was and is fine and today she seems to be getting better with the limping after 1.5 days has passed and she has less quick breathing and less licking at the bandage. I also gave her some arnica (about 3 pellets every few hours)...a few times total.

Is it still worth taking her to the vet? In the past, it's the first thing I did, but (no offense to you whatsoever) vets these days all seem to care more about money than caring for pets and throw in procedures and meds and item after item where I NEVER leave a vet anymore without paying MINIMUM $300 and sometimes up to $2,000. Even for things that seem minor (e.g. lab tests come out clean but I am still out $600).

Which brings me to my second question...over the years I've heard so many conflicting opinions whether insurance for a dog is worth the cost, but due to how frightened I am to take her to the vet every time something happens to her, and since now shes hit about middle age, is there a cost-effective, high-value plan you might recommend (if insurance is something you recommend at all)? I have pretty good savings, but I want to make the most cost-effective decision which gets her good care and a little more peace of mind for me. Labs can be a little accident-prone since they're so high-energy and we do try to take her out in nature daily, hiking and running off-leash sometimes with cars not TOO far away. She pulls me hard on leash and I have shoulder injuries so I try to avoid a leash as much as I can. Private lessons and choke collars and various options to control this never helped. Oh and say I purchase the insurance today and decide to see a vet in a few days and go full-blown x-rays, etc. on her foot...would that even be enough time to qualify for coverage?

thanks a lot! take good care :-)

Hi Anna,

I totally understand your concern for the cost of veterinary care these days. For the average pet owner, many expensive surgeries and procedures would be cost-prohibitive.
That is one reason the industry came up with pet insurance. It is a better alternative then just waiting for something to happen and then scrambling to get accepted by Care-Credit or maxing out a credit card.

Having worked in the industry for over 40 years, I have seen my share of clients come in with horror stories of having to put animals down because they can't afford to have these things done. Pet insurance is a good alternative to being up again a wall and the payments can be very affordable. Labs are the number one pet insured by these companies because of the very things you mentioned.

I would certainly get more information about it by going to their websites and do some comparison shopping. Two of the most popular ones are Trupanion and VPI but now there are many, many more.
This might help: or

I would definitely get pet insurance if I still owned a dog- any dog.

As far as your dogs let goes, I would wait it out for another day and if she is still limping I would take her in because she could have damaged her patella or her knee joint. Heavy breathing is indicative of pain in pets- any animal actually. If she is breathing more regularly then she could have just bruised her leg badly.

Most veterinarians are in "it" not for the money but for the love of animals and the human-pet bond. But you know that they are doctors, and they run a full hospital for your pet. That includes an entire xray area, including processors or digital equipment to read the xrays, full dental cleaning stations, surgery rooms with thousands of dollars in sterile equipment, gloves, gowns and masks to make sure that when your dog is spayed it is done in a completely sterile and safe environment.
Cleaning these instruments and equipment is done on site with an autoclave that can cost thousands of dollars.
Many vets have and do ultrasounds as well as radiology for pets. They buy medications by the bottle or case to sell to walk in clients every day. They have insurance, workman's compensation and hundreds of bills to pay monthly.
They often have their own in-house lab equipment to run blood work quickly right there which can save your pets life very often.

Oh and staff? I hadn't even mentioned staff yet!
Most clinics have 1-5 vets working there, 2-8 licensed technicians and plenty of other support staff. Not to mention the computers to get you checked in and out efficiently and correctly.

This all costs money Anna. Yes they have bills to pay and No,most of them are not making the clients pay for this stuff. Most of this stuff takes them a lifetime to pay off.

So yes, it costs money to go to the vets, but I have seen clients walk out with bills for $59-300 dollars for vaccination, heartworm tests, monthly prevention, sometimes food and other things. Is prevention worth the cost? It can cost between $400-900 and up to treat a dog for heartworms and the treatment can kill them. To give them monthly prevention costs money- about $15 per dog per month. It is worth it?

You bet it is. I hope that I have addressed your concerns about your dog and about vets being in it for the money. Most vets don't get rich. Most of them drive beat up trucks or cars. Trust me, it's not about the money at all.

Here's an insiders article on vets feeling guilty for trying to make some money...  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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