msnbc.com
updated 3/14/2007 9:00:30 AM ET 2007-03-14T13:00:30

An emergency visit to the vet: $700. A course of doggie chemotherapy: $3,000. Prolonging your beloved pet's life: Priceless. At least, that's what many MSNBC.com readers say. A recent article by the Associated Press highlighted the trend of Americans spending more and more on pet health care , and readers were quick to tell us why they spend as much as they do.

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"My dog is my baby. I love her like I would a child. I would take all the same measures to treat/ save her that any mother would take to save a child. She is family, and is just as important as any two-legged member!" Kris writes, echoing the sentiments found in the overwhelming majority of responses.

And an MSNBC.com poll on this topic seems to back up Kris. The majority of readers (54 percent) said they would spend upwards of $5,000 to keep their pets alive. A total of 30 percent said they would spend as much as necessary.

On the opposite end of the debate are people like Bobby from Seattle, who writes that he would spending nothing, and that people should instead "... focus more on the human suffering within our own nation and put them above our animals. After all, we are higher on the food chain/evolutionary chart."

And others wonder about pharmaceuticals' and veterinarians' goals. "I think vets give too many drugs these days, its becoming another money-making business," writes H. Vale of Gilmer, Texas. And an anonymous reader writes, "I think what is happening is that the pharmaceutical companies have embarked on a new way to make millions. It's all about the money, they don't care about anyone's pet."

Read on for more reader responses:

We have treated our pets for thyroid troubles, tumors, cancer, arthritis, kidney disease, infections and preventive measures as they become available. We also have improved our awareness of their diets and how their health is affected by changes in them. This is not extreme. It simply reflects our awareness of health issues and the knowledge we have in implementing measures to offset them. If you can't care for a pet, then how can you care for yourself?
— Eric, Albany, NY

If the drugs given improve the quality of life for the animal I would go for it. If the medication is used to hold on to a pet because the owner can't let go, that's not right. You have to do what is best for the animal, not what is best for the owner.
— C. Wright, Duluth, Minn.

People who don't have pets don't understand the emotional attachment we have to our pets. They are not just dogs or cats to us, but another member of the family. These "pets" would do anything for us. Why shouldn't we be as loyal and compassionate with them as they are toward us?
— Shani, Texas

Garbonzo was a cat who owned my heart. Unfortunately, he had contracted feline AIDS while on his own. It took years for it to become symptomatic. I was able to give him a probable extra five good years at a cost of close to $20,000 and many hundreds of hours of research and care. I hope, should I be fortunate enough to have another buddy like him, that I am able to provide this kind of care.
— Lauri Fiedler, California

Animals cannot tell you what is ailing them, nor can they tell you about the horrid side affects of the meds so "caringly" pumped into them. For almost all issues listed, there are natural alternatives to mainstream pharmaceuticals. ... The "extreme" measure I would do to keep my pets alive is buy a quality food, see a holistic vet, primarily use natural and organic products, and exercise my pets.
— D.B., Boulder, Colo.

We've spent at least $5,000 on vet and hospital bills, drugs, therapy and management for our dog's grand mal seizures, not including what we spend on fresh veggies, supplements and meat prepared daily for this 7-year-old Giant Alaskan Malamute. ... Some say we should put him down and I say, "Would you put one of your friends down just because they had a medical condition?" I don't see animals as being a lower life form. "Mitakuye oyasin." That means "We are all related."
— Whitewolf, Adelaide, South Australia

I was watching a pet program once on TV, and the dog [on it] became seriously ill and died. So, I instantly got up to the computer and checked for pet insurance. It costs me $30 a month to keep my little bundle of joy safe and happy.
— John, Charlottetown

At one point, my dog had a canine dermatologist, vet and canine surgeon for various ailments. She is well now, but I average about $400 to $500 a month to maintain her health. I would do anything to keep my dogs healthy; get a second job, sell my belongings, borrow money, etc. I cannot put a price on what my dogs have given me — unconditional love, loyalty and much happiness.
— Sabrina, Massachusetts

Do these people realize their pets may be in severe pain, and they are actually abusing them by keeping them alive with drugs? Pets can't tell you when they are in pain. But the pharmaceutical company's are making out very well.
— Anna, Oshkosh, Wis.

I spend much more on my 16-month-old German shepherd than many people spend on their children. She and the rest of my family eat the best quality foods we can find. But when my vet insisted I vaccinate her a third time, I paid three times the vaccine cost to have titers testing instead in order to avoid overvaccinating. So I actually spend more to medicate less. Not everyone believes drugs are always the answer to everything — for pets or humans.
— Dani, Grapeview, Wash.

I have a 17-year-old cat with heart problems, kidney disease, high blood pressure and a herpes-based eye infection, all kept under control with medication. He has been part of the family for so long that we don't begrudge the medical care. As long as he is comfortable and not in pain and we can afford the costs of his care, we will keep him going.
— Lucia Jameson, Dayton, Ohio

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