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Akita Friends
VKH Forum - Costs
by Jamie Haight, Bea Pitts, Bev Lewis, Dr. Sophia Kaluzniacki, Les Ray
Definition and

VKH Diary





Regarding Eyes


I have received a few questions for the Q&A section of the VKH forum. The first question was concerning the costs involved with the disease.

In some of the VKH posts, we've heard about the costs of VKH in terms of emotion and pain to both the owners and the dog who is suffering. There is really no way to describe the roller coaster the owners ride. If we are lucky, our dog will live. But there doesn't seem to be any way to know ahead of time so out of our love and devotion, we forge ahead with hope in our hearts.

The financial drain too is worth mention. Because there are usually several emergency trips to the vet, the bills just continue to sneak up higher and higher. There is no way to cut corners either. You are either in for the long haul or you make the decisions upon diagnosis.

Once you have committed to fight the disease, there is no turning back. The specialists must see the dog every few days during crisis and in some cases keep the dog in emergency care for many days.

Some people are lucky, they have doggy health insurance but the $2500 allowed for this "condition" can easily run out. In the case of the Lewis', they estimate that in the 2 month period of their Taiyo's illness, they spent over $5000. His first emergency treatment was $1800 up front. Taiyo's breeder slipped us a few hundred but that was to be expected since we were only his foster parents. We still had to foot the bulk of the bill.

Their expenses may have been more extreme than that faced by others, but it is certain that VKH is a regular drain on the budget.

There is no cure. One can only hope to control it but it will always pop out when you least expect it.

Between the topical and oral steroids, the auto-immune suppressants, drops to keep the pressure down on the eye, usually some additional thyroid meds and massive vitamins - the cupboards burst with meds - all with a hefty price tag attached.

From Bea Pitts

I would like to chip in a small point here with regard to costs, if I may please. With regard to insurance companies - obviously there are good and bad, as with all things. In our own experience in England, my friend's 2 Rotties and 1 Akita were covered by one company, but knowing she intended to show him and he was more valuable in terms of purchase price than her others, she opted for a different company for the second Akita.

The second company is one that has blitzed almost every household in the whole country on a far too regular basis with junk mail, but offer what on the surface seems to be good cover for the premiums payable. They have also very recently been featured on two separate occasions on one of our TV consumer programmmes, for not living up to their statements given in the literature. Too late for us, but that's beside the point.

Well, they definitely did not want to pay out when they received the first claim for this boy, stating that Uveodermatological Syndrome (VKH) is an inherited genetic disease and they do not pay out for inherited genetic diseases ......... refer to clause xx on your policy (very, very small print).

Now, we all know that VKH is "thought" to be an inherited genetic disease, but until a DNA marker is found, that is not yet a clear cut case. Eventually after consultation with our own vet and with the opthalmic specialist, the latter sent a very strong letter to the insurance company to that effect and they did eventually pay up.

However, I also must add that the insurance company has also dragged it heels considerably on each and every claim that has been made during the past 18 months, and it is literally only this week - 9 weeks after the boys death - that they have now made the final settlement and that was only as a direct result of the owner telephoning them at least twice every week, anticipating that this would be the case, from her previous experiences with them.

Incidentally, they also deducted the excess from each and every interim settlement of bills. Now the company I use only makes that deduction from the first claim settlement, and all other claims for "continuation of treatment" are settled in their entirety.

We can all do without this type of hassle at such an emotionally stressful time, and I cannot emphasise enough how extremely important it is to make sure you have medical insurance for all your dogs - and that it is with a company with a good, responsible reputation - preferrably recommended by another dog owner who has experience of the company's methods and dealings.

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