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Bella the Havanese and Her Very Bad, No Good Year

By Christy True
published: March 17, 2023 • 3 min. read
Bella, a Havanese

Diagnosis: Bee sting, poison ingestion, hemorrhagic gastritis
Cost: $4,793| Healthy Paws reimbursed: $4,118
Coverage options:  90 percent reimbursement | $200 deductible

Bella is a 3-1/2-year-old Havanese cutie pie who is everything to her pet parent Debbie, especially since her husband passed away nearly a year ago.  

“She has one of the sweetest personalities I have ever seen. She ‘smiles’ just about all the time. I am her person. She literally follows me everywhere I go,” Debbie said.

Bella loves to watch out the window, and when she sees something interesting, she will run to the back door to investigate. She never barks at birds, squirrels or other animals but will bark loudly to announce another dog or people. Once Deb acknowledges her ‘warning’, she becomes quiet.

While Bella is generally a healthy dog, she has experienced three acute incidents in the last few years.

Stung by a bee

Bella, a Havanese

The first mishap occurred on her first birthday in April 2021. Bella was playing in the front yard and suddenly became very ill, Debbie said. By the time they got her to the emergency vet, she was almost unconscious.

She spent the night in the hospital, where the vets determined she had been stung by a bee or wasp and was in shock. While rare, Bella was one of the unlucky dogs who suffered an anaphylactic or allergic reaction to the sting, which is life-threatening if not treated right away.

The veterinary team stabilized Bella by ensuring her airway was open and blood pressure and circulation were maintained. She was given IV fluids and emergency drugs including pain relievers, anti-nausea medication, anti-toxins, and antihistamines.

Fortunately, Bella recovered quickly and was able to go home the next day. A re-check of her liver about a month later showed no damage.

The final vet bill was $436, with Healthy Paws covering $397.


Ingested medication

Bella, a Havanese

Just a few months later, Debbie’s late husband accidentally dropped a medication pill. Before Debbie knew what happened, Bella gobbled it down.

She called Pet Poison Helpline and they had no information on what that pill would do to a pet and suggested she take her to the hospital, which, thankfully, Debbie did.

The vets found her kidney values to be elevated, and again she was given intravenous fluids, emergency drugs including activated charcoal to absorb the toxin, pain relievers, anti-nausea medication, a muscle relaxant and a sedative. Bella had to stay in the intensive care unit for three days.

“She experienced seizures, and they said if she had not been treated quickly, she would not have survived,” Debbie said.

The final vet bill was $1,899, with $1,709 reimbursed by Healthy Paws.

Hemorrhagic gastritis from stress

About a year ago, Debbie left for a two-week trip and left Bella with a trusted pet sitter. She suddenly developed bloody diarrhea and became lethargic.

Even though Bella loves her sitter, Debbie believes that Bella missed her so much that she became stressed and developed hemorrhagic gastritis, which causes internal bleeding. It is another condition that can be fatal if not treated right away.

Again, Bella was hospitalized overnight where the vets performed diagnostic tests, such as fecal testing and X-rays to diagnose the gastritis.  The doctors treated her with IV fluids and gave her antibiotics and anti-nausea medications. 

Thanks to the quick treatment, Bella recovered quickly and was able to go home the next day.

The final vet bill was $2,458, with Healthy Paws reimbursing $2,212.

How is Bella doing today?

Today, Bella is a healthy, happy little girl and Debbie’s comfort and constant companion since her husband died.

How pet insurance helped

When Debbie and her husband purchased Bella, she asked several of her pet-owning friends if they had pet insurance and none did. Fortunately, Debbie decided to get it anyway, and it paid off.

“All I could think of was she was a very tiny puppy and her life expectancy was 13-15 years. I thought surely in all that time there were bound to be issues that would need to be treated,” she said. “Signing up for Healthy Paws was one of the best decisions I ever made for her health.”

Debbie said the claim process has been quick and easy, and a decision on coverage was made within 10 days. Not one of her hospitalizations and subsequent treatments have been denied.

“It has been great to know she is covered for such things,” Debbie said.

The claim scenarios described here are intended to show the types of situations that may result in claims. These scenarios should not be compared to any other claim. Whether or to what extent a particular loss is covered depends on the facts and circumstances of the loss, the terms and conditions of the policy as issued and applicable law.

Insured persons providing testimonials in this report have not received compensation for their statements.

Christy True and Tomas
By Christy True

Christy has been writing about pets for Healthy Paws for 21 dog years. She previously worked in journalism, hence her penchant for writing about offbeat animal studies and the latest viral pet trends. She has been owned by several dogs, and right now, Tomas, a Mexican street dog rescue, is staring at her because he wants a walk. Outside of work, she can usually be found sliding down a mountain near her home in Bend, Ore.

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