The $400 Enema


Yes indeed, I am the proud owner of same. No, wise guys, not for me…for my dog. It all started last weekend. My little dog Maggie is very cute and hard to say no to, so when Roomie and I were chowing down on some ribs last Saturday, I consented to give her one small rib bone.

I knew I shouldn’t have done it but those puppy eyes always get to me and she’s such a sweet little pup, I love to make her happy. So off she went and chewed and chomped to her heart’s delight.

The next day she wasn’t feeling so good and I regretted giving her the bone because she was clearly having trouble doing her business. So I massaged her belly and gave her a little vegetable oil and things seem to right themselves later in the day. And that was the end of that. Or so I thought.

A couple of days later I could see she wasn’t herself and was in distress – by Tuesday night she was having trouble walking and I became very worried. The next morning we took her to the vet for an enema. Much as I knew she wasn’t going to like it, I knew it had to be done and that she would experience relief from it, so we went.

What is it about vets that makes them want to scare the daylights out of you when it comes to your pets? Before I knew it, he had talked me into giving her xrays because God forbid there might be some maniacal, foreign object in there that could cause her to spotaneously self-combust. And three xrays no less – this dog weighs 20 pounds and fits in my lap – he needed three xrays?

So I wait  hours for them to call. Funny that he was so concerned that she needed xrays yet she sat for three hours before they could get to her to do them? Anyway, he finally calls and reports that there are no foreign objects in there but she’s pretty impacted. Hmm…now isn’t that what I said? So I told him to please do the enema. Still, he wants to explore the possibility that she has some sort of hip or back problem which is causing her not to be able to squat which is the source of the impaction. Now hip the upsell compulsion of this guy I say, ‘let’s try the simplest solution first and see where that leads, shall we?’

He finally agrees to give her the enema, then insists she’ll need some subcutaneous fluids (in my distress I didn’t realize he wasn’t really talking fluid for her system, just fluids for her skin????) and of course they’ll have to watch her and examine her poop when it comes out. Again, like a fool I say okay.

I am to pick her up between 4:30-5:00 pm. So I arrive at about twenty to five and then proceed to wait for forty minutes. Still distressed, growing more worried that something else is wrong because they aren’t just bringing her out. Finally I ask what’s taking so long and I’m told they are cleaning her up and I have to wait to talk to the doctor. I had had enough so I told them I didn’t need to the doctor and to just bring me my dog.

Okay, they agree then present me with the bill (oh yeah, since I didn’t have the money Roomie has covered the bill, which I’m to pay him back for). “Here’s  your receipt,” the receptionist says and hands it to me. Four Hundred fucking dollars? I heard myself say “What??????? Are you serious? Oh my God!!!!”

$49 for the office visit (in which he scared me to death) $186 for three xrays (3 xrays???) $68 for an enema (really? to put water up her butt, $68?) $59 for subcutaneous fluid (again fluids for her skin?) $23 for observation (if they were observing her, why did she need cleaning up before they gave her back to me? and $2 for this $5 for that, etc.

So, let me get this straight. My dog is constipated, I bring her to the vet for an enema, and she gets xrays, fluids that don’t hydrate her, a watching fee in which she doesnt get watched and so on? What should have cost about $100 ended up costing $400?

Live and learn I guess. And no, we wont’ be going back to that vet. Ever again. I understand that people have to make a living but to exploit people’s fears about their pets so you can pay for your Mercedes is just wrong. What happened to the vet who actually just cared about the animal and solving the problem at hand?

I wonder, if this free national healthcare thingie going to apply to my pets? What a world!



6 thoughts on “The $400 Enema

  1. That dog is adorable. But yeah. You got ripped. Vets are still doctors, and therefore, will bleed you dry. The good part is that little Maggie’s okay. 😀

    i’ve a friend whose daughter brought home a stray kitten. They were trying to find its owner but after a few days of lucklessness, and the daughter’s growing attachment to it, they decided to keep it. So they took it to the vet and had to keep bringing it back. That kitten was fixed, got shots, eye surgery, was put on antibiotics and so on. i call it the 6 Million Dollar Cat. My friend doesn’t find that very funny, but i think it’s hilarious.

    Hey Chica,
    I think she’s adorable too. And the good part is that she’s okay. Oh my Gawd about the 6 mil cat. It is hilarious but sad too, for your friend. Years ago, me and my boyfriend found a little kitten trapped in a tree, we got her out and adopted her. She turned out to be the demon seed and did nothing but attack us and the other pets – what a little hellion. And he, being the softie he was took her to the vet and spent $500 on a hernia operation (for a little tiny cat), then another $400 on shots, meds, this and that. All for the pleasure of an evil creature who did nothing but leave scars (literally) on all of us. Go figure.



  2. I’m not impressed with the various delays with your vet, but costwise, I too have noticed the much higher charges for routine visits. What we have to remember is that veterinary medicine is making advances as fast as human medicine. There are many more diagnostic tools and treatments than ever before, to the extent that there are specialty vets now — radiologists, ophthalmologists, etc. It comes at a price, but pets today are getting much more comprehensive care than every before. Not a good time for me to incur higher vet bills, but I pay them gladly for the chance to have a healthy, happy animal.

    Hey 30,
    I’m glad and yet I’m not so glad. I’m glad because if there is something seriously wrong with your pet there are solutions. On the other hand, because of all this new fangled techical advances the tendency of vets seems to be to go for the biggest most complicated solution first. Or to operate on the ‘just in case’ method of prognosis.

    Upon examination, the vet checked her limbs, her back, her teeth, her spine, her paws, her temp – there was no indication that there was anything seriously wrong. But he could see I was distressed and exploited that.

    Having given her an enema first wouldn’t have harmed her, it wasn’t as though I was asking him to give her meds or drugs or some time of therapy – I was just asking him to put water up her butt. This is my complaint.

    I used to work for a vet and I did see him do amazing things, he was a brilliant surgeon and I saw him literally bring animals back from death’s door – that being said, I also saw him frighten clients into thinking that their animals would die if they didn’t do unneeded tests, xrays and so forth when all they required was a very simple solution.

    It’s my own fault because I allowed myself to be manipulated rather than sticking to my own perceptions. Live and learn.

    Your doggie is doing well I presume?

    Annie 🙂


  3. Woof woof Maggie. Yes shes absoutlely adorable. What a cutie and yes I’d be tempted to give her a little beefy bone. Bless her. My maggie had a cough. £50 pounds it cost and when they give me the bill the antibiotics which they give her cost was £1.19 pence.

    So glad that Maggie is ok. I quess you could have given her the enema yourself. Warm soppy water in a squeezy bottle up the bum. Anyway we live and learn yet again. Big hugs to both of you.

    (((((((Maggie & Annie ))))))
    Love Di and Maggie.

    Hey Di,
    Well Maggie is back to her old self and barking at the neighbors as we speak. I thought about giving her the enema myself but I was concerned I’d screw it up. And yeah, live and learn. Yikes.


  4. 1)They needed do xrays to rule out a number of things if the vet had missed something you would sue!
    2)Abdomen needs 3 views one from, left/right sides and one with dog on its back to really investigate all organs. Xrays should be done before and after enemas are done
    3)Fluids are needed and vet was trying to make it cheaper for you by giving under the skin and not into the vein. The fluid is absorbed from skin into body to correct dehydration
    4)If you dog was sedated or under when general anaesthetic then needs to be watched after procedure
    5)Would you handle poo for $68.00 thats what the vet and nurse had to do
    6)Vet clinics are really busy emergencies all the time if your dog was in an accident would like to wait while the vet discharges a now health dog?
    7)You find me one vet that drives a Mercedes you wont! They are not paid well at all. Medicine costs money!

    Hi Rebecca and thanks for your comments.
    I won’t get into the details but the vet went a bit far on this. The only problem my dog was displaying was that she couldn’t poop – I think trying the enema first to see if that solved the problem made more sense. But I was pressured to do the xrays and everything else.

    I have worked for vets in the past, so I know what they are looking for when they suggest certain things.
    Also: she wasn’t sedated, so there was nothing to watch her for; subcutaneous fluids don’t do anything to hydrate the animal, so drank three bowls of water when she got home; this wasn’t a clinic it was a private vet but I don’t understand your reference on this anyway; in terms of the price of an enema – yes if it was my job to give enemas I guess I would handle it for $68; this vet drives a very nice car, a Lexus I think.

    Bottom line, this was just supposed to be a funny story about how a simple enema turned into a major incident.

    Anyway, thanks for your input. Appreciate it.

    Writer Chick


    1. Hi Tricia and thanks for your comments.

      I’m afraid I’m going to have to respond to you since you made assumptions that are incorrect:

      1. I know what an x-ray is for and what it takes pictures of –
      2. You assume that if I’d only had the enema done and then there was another problem that my next action would have been to sue. I am not litigious and I would not have sued. And clearly, if my pet had had further problems after the enema I certainly would have taken her back – because I am not a monster who would just let my dog die and then sue a vet.
      3. I worked for vet for quite a while, I know exactly what goes on behind the scenes, what they have to and I also know that vets leave animals in cages for hours before they do anything sometimes. It all depends on how long their day is and how much work they feel like doing, if they have the staff for the procedure and so forth. Believe me, I know.
      4. The fluids did nothing to hydrate my dog since she drank four bowls of water when she got home.
      5. I know what enemas are, but let’s be honest they aren’t formulas made by rocket engineers. I also know the costs of such things and what the mark up is.
      6. Well yes, an enema after-math is supposed to be messy – but I think I could have watched my dog better and would have checked on her more often than a harried vet tech who maybe checks the dog once every 3 hours. And by the way, in my dog’s case I doubt there was much ‘mess’ since it was a couple of days before she stopped straining to go – which made me think that maybe they didn’t leave the fluid in long enough or use enough of it.
      7. I’m well aware of how long vets go to school, and like any other professional yes, they end up with a lot of debt but what does that have to do with anything?
      8. I never said nor inferred that all vets were ‘in it for the money’ I simply said this one was and he is and he does drive a mercedes.
      9. I don’t mind if you disagree with me, but the name calling is a bit much. It’s not as though I attacked you or the vets you work for personally – I simply related an experience I had with one particular vet.
      10. And again, in the case of this particular vet, yes he was trying to scare me because that is one of the tactics he uses. I have other friends, in fact, one recently who went through a similar experience with this vet, where she paid nearly $1,000 to have an abscess lanced and then she ended up taking her pet to another vet to have it done correctly because the abscess came back even before the course of antibiotics ran out.
      11. Just because you work for ethical, kind and caring vets does not mean that all vets are created equally. And just because I related my experience and my beliefs about what happened does not make me ignorant, rude or stupid.
      12. In the future, I would suggest you not take posts so personally, since it wasn’t aimed at you at all.

      Again, thanks for your comments and while I do appreciate your passion – I’d prefer when you make your argument that you not resort to name-calling and personal attacks – should you ever come back and comment again.

      Have a great day.

      Writer Chick

      I know this is a really old post but I could not resist replying. Thank God for Rebecca who knows EXACTLY what she’s talking about. Clearly “Writer Chick” does not. First, like Rebecca said – a three view abdominal x-ray is required to see the ENTIRE abdomen, it doesn’t matter how much your dog weighs. And since you gave your dog a bone, it’s necessary to rule out a foreign body. Can you imagine if your vet simply did an enema then sent you on your way only to discover that your dog died from intestinal perforation of a bone! You KNOW you would try to sue!!! Secondly, you may have waited for hours for them to call but that doesn’t mean nothing was being done to your dog. Doctors have to see appointments all day long, squeeze in emergencies and take care of hospitalized patients as well as return numerous phone calls throughout the day. So unless your dog was the only patient that day, you shouldn’t complain. Thirdly, just to inform you – subcutaneous fluids are NOT fluids just for the skin as you stated. They go in through a needle under the skin and provide hydration to the ENTIRE body (which in turn may help your dog to poop later on). Fourth, an enema is NOT just water. Although you can use a soapy/warm water enema for slight constipation, it sounds like they may have used a hospital-grade lactulose enema in your case. Fifth, the observation fee includes all the work the technicians had to do for your dog. When given an enema, a once constipated dog makes a terrible mess, usually several times a day, requiring multiple clean-ups, towel/bedding changes, cage clean-ups, etc. So if you had to wait for them to clean up your dog, it was probably the last of many throughout the day and they wanted to be sure your dog was perfectly clean before you brought it home. Veterinarians go to school for a very long time and come out with high student debt and usually start out at a very low wage. Yes, they work up from there but they’re not in it for the money. At least none of the ones I know. And not one doctor at the 5 doctor practice I work in drives a Mercedes. I think your comments were not only rude but obviously ignorant. Sounds to me like the doctor was trying to provide the best possible care. It is ultimately up to the owner whether a certain treatment is done or not. He wasn’t trying to SCARE you into spending money, he was explaining the VERY REAL possibilities. Live and Learn is exactly right. Next time, ask for an estimate. OR don’t give your dog a rib bone as now you know, can be very dangerous. Any cooked bone can break apart, splinter and possibly injure your dog. Do your research and stick to dog treats!


  5. Same thing happened to my greyhound, but after hours. The consult was 200 bucks, two x-rays were 300, enema was 200. Plus a few injections to calm her tummy etc. the whole bill will work out 800 😦 But She was suffering and she needed the treatment so what can you do at 11pm on a Sunday when your pooch is so distressed and in crying in pain? I wish I’d gone to your vet and paid 400! Sounds like a bargain!

    Hi Helen & welcome,
    Wow, your experience was worse than mine. Maybe it’s because my doggie is so little and yours isn’t? Just kidding.

    The cost does jump when you hit those after hours places. And while we definitely want to make sure our pets are taken care of, it does hurt to have to shell out that kind of money when it ends up being something so simple.

    I did learn a secret after all of this, actually two. For constipation, you can give your pet a teaspoon of milk, cream or yogurt and for my doggie it works like a charm (the lactose loosen the bowels). Also, there is a product they sell commercially which is a pumpkin powder – you sprinkle about a teaspoon in their food and it works both ways – if the pet has diarrhea it firms things up if they are constipated it stimulates them so they can go potty. Again, works like a charm. My room mate has a rescue dog who was raised with a terrible diet and she has constipation problems but we discovered she loves lettuce – so at night he chops up a couple of romaine leaves and puts it on top of her food. She gobbles it right up and hasn’t had a constipation issue since he started doing this.

    Don’t know if any of that will help you but they are all gentle and natural ways to help your pooch if he or she is in distress from bathroom issues. Obviously, if there is something seriously wrong you have to take your pet to the vet.

    Hope your pooch is doing better now. I love greyhounds, they are such ‘old souls’ in the canine world.

    Writer Chick


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