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May 4, 2012

Here is part five (of five) of frequently asked questions dog lovers have asked me since Lilly’s ill-fated response to a vaccine earlier this year. This series of questions / answers covers the COSTS of diagnosing and treating Lilly’s vaccine-induced meningoencephalomyelitis / meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain and lining of the brain and spinal cord), including how much the pet insurance company paid, how much Champion of My Heart fans donated, and whether or not the vaccine company responded to my request for financial help.

Please note: These questions and answers were posted when it still looked like Lilly might survive. That was not ultimately the case. Lilly died on December 17, 2013. We lost the fight, after spending 23 months and nearly $31,000 trying to save her. 

How much Lilly’s adverse vaccine reaction diagnosis and treatment cost (so far)?

As of April 5, 2012, we’ve spent $8,122.04.

best dog blog, champion of my heart, adverse vaccine reaction costs

Lilly’s ongoing care may cost from $106 per month for medication refills alone plus an additional $85-$500 for exams / tests with the board-certified neurologist / neurosurgeon (as needed). We hope to continue weaning her off some medications over time, but she may be on others for the rest of her life. Lilly will be 8 this month (May 2012).

How much did Lilly’s pet insurance cover?

I had it in my head that our pet insurance policy had a maximum payout of $5,000 per incident / body system, but when I got brave enough to look at the fine print, I realized the maximum was only $3,000. So, that’s what they paid … $3,000.

Lilly now has a lifelong exclusion for neurological issues on her policy.

Even though Lilly will end up with a pre-existing condition exclusion, I’m looking at changing to another pet insurance company with better overall coverage and no limits … just in case (with our luck) something else big happens in Lilly’s lifetime. We’re looking at Trupanion because that’s what our veterinary neurologist recommended.

How much have you received from your Chip-In?

Thanks to many, many generous blog fans, friends, and family members (about 44 of you!), we received another $2,179.12 (after paypal fees) toward Lilly’s veterinary bills.

When we have time, we plan to send personal thank you notes to everyone … so for now … THANK YOU!!

Did you contact the vaccine company for financial help?

Yes. Our family veterinarian filed an adverse event report with U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has jurisdiction over things like animal vaccines.

When I didn’t hear anything from the vaccine company several weeks after that initial report, I sent my own letter via email directly to the vaccine company on March 12, 2012.

We did a dog blog poll on whether or not readers felt the vaccine company should / would pay.

Has the vaccine company responded to your request?

Yes. Stay tuned for details on that. We’re planning a whole series of blog posts, telling that particular element of the story. It is VERY interesting.

Have you identified the specific vaccine and vaccine company on the blog?

No. And, I don’t plan to do so.

Other than saying it was a 3-year rabies vaccine, I honestly don’t think naming names will help anyone because I believe that every single vaccine company would have handled Lilly’s case in the same way.



If you are new to our story, feel free to use the blog post category pull-down menu in the sidebar or this Adverse Vaccine Reaction category link to access all the posts we’ve published since Lilly got very, very sick with meningoencephalomyelitis (inflammation of the brain and lining of the brain and spinal cord) after an adverse reaction to a rabies vaccine given January 23, 2012. We’re working VERY hard to help her fully recover from both her cognitive and neurological deficits.



If you want to access all 5 blog Adverse Vaccine Reaction FAQ blog posts, please use these links:

FAQ Part 1 – Lilly’s health status and vaccine history.

FAQ Part 2 – The vaccine itself, factors that people think / assume may have led to the adverse vaccine reaction, and the incidence rate

FAQ Part 3 – Symptoms, diagnosis, and Lilly’s prognosis

FAQ Part 4 – Treatment

FAQ Part 5 – Costs





About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. WOW. I’ve been away from your blog for a bit and did not know what happened to Lilly. I hope Lilly is back to her old self soon.

    Our dog Dexter has many allergies and intolerance’s. For example, we do not give him heart worm pills because he breaks out in HUGE hives that last months. I give him the three year rabies as well and he will be due this fall. I am already dreading what may happen. This will only be his 2nd rabies shot. I hope your unfortunate story makes people more aware. People I talk to have no idea that there is even a three year rabies vaccine.

  2. Re: Trupanion … we don’t have pet insurance, but that’s the company I have always thought of going with due to their not having a lot of limits and the fact that they base their payments on a percent of actual costs, rather than a (very low) estimate of what things should cost.

    However, just FYI, I have read quite a few online complaints of a sort of “bait and switch” rate, where they give you a decent rate initially and then, after about a year, jack it up by a LOT — not a few bucks, but double or triple. I have not spent a lot of time checking out these complaints, but it’s something to be aware of. I was all set to go ahead and buy Trupanion until I read that. I can understand raising the premiums a little bit each year but this seemed to be much more than that. Of course, it could be untrue. But definitely worth looking into.

    1. I’ve heard that too. I think the pet insurance industry as a whole is terribly un-regulated, and providers get away with way more than they should. I have been screwed over by too many companies, too many times. Honestly I don’t even have pet insurance any more; I literally used to pay out more than they would reimburse EVERY SINGLE YEAR. My brother just signed up for a vet discount program (it’s called “Pet Assure”), he told me I should look into that. Maybe I’ll do that.

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