Pet medicine: What’s out there?


Cats, dogs and other house pets are more like children than animals to their humans. When they hurt, we do, too, seeking out the latest advancements to keep them healthy, but at what cost?

Senior dog “Beau” — very much a part of the Semuta family — was diagnosed with cancer.

“I was really struggling to put him through the chemo,” owner Katie Semuta said.

Semuta decided to go holistic, using acupuncture and supplements to support Beau’s immune system.

“I’m probably spending the same amount of money for the acupuncture, but I see a huge difference. The prognosis without chemo was six months, so we’ve passed that,” she said.

Beau is Dr. Linda Stern’s patient. Stern owns Healing Creatures Animal Hospital in Camp Hill. She mixes traditional and integrative pet care. She also fills in at Rossmoyne Animal Trauma Center where the need for diagnostic technology is in so much demand that it added a CAT scan.

“To help the patients that we have here, that we always refer out, that are needing these, we felt it was best to have one here to treat our patients,” Danielle Johnson of Rossmoyne Animal Trauma Center said.

In Perry County, at Animal Hospital of Rye, 8-year-old Lloyd’s owner is picking up his “give at home” chemotherapy pills to keep Lloyd’s lymphoma in remission. The treatment cost $4,000.

“It just didn’t seem right to put him down,” said Kelsey Pianka, Lloyd’s owner.

In a procedure room a few doors down, Dr. Alan Kirmayer performs an ultrasound and a liver biopsy on Penny, a West Highland terrier.

“I’m always impressed with the advancements that they’ve made,” said Chis, Penny’s owner.

“A few years ago, CAT scans and MRIs were few and far between. Now, it’s becoming more common in animals for diagnostic purposes,” Kirmayer said.

There’s even pet physical therapy. TJ, a Portuguese water spaniel, is recovering from ACL surgery. He uses an obstacle course and a water treadmill to help with his healing process, costing owner Joan Klinger thousands of dollars.

“Because he’s my baby,” Klinger said.

If you have ever been blessed enough to have a member of the animal kingdom as part of your family, you have also dealt with the heartbreaking decision of when is it time to let go.

“Sometimes they just need somebody to put it in words and say look, I understand you’ve done all you can, it’s not fair anymore. On my end, it’s based on quality of life. Unfortunately, for owners, it’s based on finances,” Kirmayer said.

You may want to consider pet insurance. ABC27 sat down with Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman to see which companies earned state approval, and what you should look for when choosing a pet insurance company.

You can watch the interview below:


National Association of Insurance Commissioners

North American Pet Health Insurance Association

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