How Much Will That Cost?

Mandy from California writes with a question: “I believe my cat has a Cuterebra. Do you know how much the veterinarian will charge to have it removed?”It’s a common and reasonable question. Alas, it is a question without an answer.

Yes, this squirrel is quite alive, and will survive even wounds this gross.  Two larvae are departing their wound cavities.

Yes, this squirrel is quite alive, and will survive even wounds this gross. Two larvae are departing their wound cavities.

It’s a cousin to the question we got on the phone earlier today: “My dog got attacked by another dog last night. Can you give me an estimate for treating him?”

I’ve been in practice for 31 years. I’ll explain the range of treatments for dog-fight-wounds I’ve seen.

The simplest required a thorough examination to determine the extent and location of abnormalities. After the examination we found a single abrasion, probably from a tooth that passed over the skin. Ointment was sufficient to treat the abrasion and allow it to heal. Her bill was less than $100.00.

The most extensive was a small dog that was attacked by two large pit bulls. She had skin lacerations from head to tail. Many of these were deep and had trapped dirt, hair and other debris, which had to be removed meticulously before the wounds were closed surgically. She had internal injuries where it appeared that a single tooth entered the abdominal cavity, lacerating the small intestine in several locations. Each of those intestinal wounds required a resection and anastamosis, a surgical procedure in which the damaged area of intestine is removed and the two resulting “ends” are painstakingly sutured together. There were three of those. This patient further required three weeks of antibiotic therapy to control infection, seven days of intensive-care hospitalization and ten days of pain medication, as well as followup visits.

Weeks later, when her treatment was finished, her total bill was over $2000.00.

Cuterebra treatment will begin as all cases do, with a thorough examination. We want to check the entire body for other Cuterebra, as well as any other abnormalities that might be present and require treatment. Cuterebra treatment can be as simple as a plucking the larva from the wound it has created to involved surgical extraction. The overriding concern with removal is to avoid rupture of the larva, which can result in a fatal anaphylactic reaction. If the kitty is fortunate enough to have a large opening and a small Cuterebra, extraction may be easy and not even require sedation or local anesthesia. Most wounds can be allowed to heal and close on their own with a combination of topical and systemic antibiotic therapy, such as Convenia.

On the other hand, if the patient is intractable, she may require sedation.

If the wound is deep, the opening small and extraction challenging, she may require general anesthesia. On rare occasions the wound may require being sutured closed.

In the first scenario the charges might run between $100.00 and $150.00.

In the latter scenario the charges could easily reach or even exceed $500.00 for preanesthesia laboratory testing, anesthesia, surgery and antibiotic therapy.

We have no way of knowing until we examine the patient.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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