Our Difficult Decision on Dog Surgery

Our dog Charlie is another member of our family. I am sure you can relate if you have a pet. They are just as much part of the family as my husband is, and sometimes more. Kelan seems to be in the dog house more than Charlie is. But in all honesty, when something is wrong with our family members we get them the care that they need. When Charlie was having health issues, we had to make very hard decisions about his health and well-being and unfortunately the decisions were focused around money. Dog surgery can be very expensive so looking through all of our options was a savvy move.

Back Story

Charlie is a laid back dog. He spends his days and nights sleeping and occasionally eating when he decides to get off the couch to eat. If Charlie has to go to the bathroom, he will sit and bark. He was house-broken in a split level house, so barking was his easiest way to communicate that he had to do his business. Whenever he needs anything he will sit in front of us and go through his routine leading up to his almighty bark.

First, he will bring his paw up to scratch his eye a few times. Then, Charlie will do some fake sneezes to see if he has your attention. Following all of this, he will slowly creep in a bark from quiet to loud until you make a move toward the door or his food bowl. Knowing Charlie and his normal behaviors were crucial when his problem started to creep in. 

The Problem

Charlie’s problem started small. He would bark at the end of our bed in the middle of the night to let him out to go to the bathroom (this was not out of the ordinary). After the second full week in a row of him barking to go out in the middle of the night, we started to brainstorm what could be causing this change in his routine. Why is he going to the bathroom at night so frequently?

We started to walk him at night before bed to see if that would help, but still no change. As the weeks continued, so did Charlie’s issue. On top of having to go at night, he was barking more frequently to go more often and drinking a lot more than usual. One day we were finally able to catch on what was going on. One day we saw him keep walking around the front yard squatting and straining to go to the bathroom. With more moderation, we were able to notice that he was urinating blood. We both became very scared of the situation because blood in the urine could mean many things, none that are good.

Dog Surgery On This Little Guy?!

Dog Surgery

Our Delima

We immediately did our research online and called the vet when they opened the next day. Kelan brought him into his first appointment with the vet. The vet took a urine sample and from the results, the vet put him on antibiotics for a urinary tract infection. We were hopeful that it was the answer to our sleepless nights. We got a taste of what it will be like to take care of a baby in the middle of the night. The meds finished and we were lost on what to do when his problem continued. I called and set-up another appointment with the vet to try to get more answers. The vet took x-rays and the results showed Charlie had developed urinary stones. They gave us two options.

The first option was a $2,000 dog surgery. The second option was a food they recommended that he would have to be on the rest of his life. The bottom line was that they had no clue what types of urinary stones these were in order to pick a method that would be the best for Charlie. If we picked the route of surgery and the stones were a certain kind, there was a chance that they would return again. If we picked the route of the food option, we could have him on a costly food in order to see if it would help pass a stone, but in the end, we wouldn’t know what type of stone again.


The (Partial) Solution

Like anyone caring for a family member and making important decisions, emotions were high. We have had Charlie since he was a puppy and he was experiencing these issues at the young age of seven. We decided to give it a go with the food after consulting our vet again. $50 for a 7 lb bag of dog food. WOW!

After being on the food for a while we did see a decrease in the amount of blood in the urine. He was starting to sleep through the night and was not straining to go to the bathroom. The option for dog surgery was always there if the food option didn’t work.  We are still working on monitoring his people food intake EVERYWHERE he goes. This is actually much harder than we thought. Our immediate family has dogs and even a trip over takes some planning out when we get there, no other dog food either.

Future Options

In the future, if the situation turns for the worst we have some ideas prepared for the surgery option. The first option would be to create a Go Fund Me donation page. We would raise as much money from there that we could to help with the cost of the surgery.  We are blessed to have people around us that were ready to help out with anything Charlie needed. The second option is to reach out to vet schools that would be able to do the dog surgery as a learning tool for a discounted price. We pray for him every day that the diet alone is curing him and we do not have to think about future options.

Learning Outcome

A pet can be an expensive investment, especially if a medical situation comes up. For us, it was making a decision that would be in Charlie’s best interest without forking over thousands of dollars for the situation to occur again and be in the same boat. We love our dog very much and we want to provide him with the best care with still being savvy. If this problem arose with a human the first step would be the same, research all other options before jumping into surgery. We were so blessed to have found a solution without having to put Charley through dog surgery. From this experience, we definitely learned how valuable it is to really understand your pet’s behaviors. Since pets can’t talk the only way they know how to communicate is via their behavior. So word of the wise learn your pets tendencies and be in tune with them as much as possible.


We would love to hear what kind of pet’s you have at home?

Have you ever ran into a pet emergency similar to ours?


Brittany is a born teacher! She is dedicated to her education earning her bachelor's degree in childhood and special education with a master's degree in literacy. Working as a teacher full-time, The Savvy Couple comes second, but is her first priority in her free time over the summer. Her frugal lifestyle and always looking for ways to save money add a crucial element to the blog.

2 Replies to “Our Difficult Decision on Dog Surgery

  1. Wow, sorry to hear about Charlie’s situation! I think you made a good call and can monitor how things improve over time, Lord willing!!

    1. Thank you for your kind words! We have been very blessed as Charlie’s health have improved drastically! The new diet has seemed to cure the problem. Glad to have our little guy back in action! I think we made a very savvy move. Thanks for taking the time to read.

      Have you ever ran into any pet issues like this?

Let the discusion begin!