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Chihuahua, Misdiagnosed for Years, Finally Gets Relief

By Christy True
published: November 30, 2023 • 3 min. read
Chihuahua in grass

Diagnosis: Abnormality in anal sac
Cost: $1,020 | Healthy Paws reimbursed: $846
Coverage options:  90 percent reimbursement | $250 deductible

Nacho is a sweet, curious, smart, food-motivated, laid-back, and happy-go-lucky Chihuahua. At nine years old, he likes to nap, lay on a couch all day, and burrow in the blankets.

He’s also protective of his pet parent, Kerrin. He gets anxious when someone tries to hug her and barks incessantly when people come to visit his home.

Trouble from the start

Kerrin adopted Nacho when he was a year old, and shortly after, she noticed something was wrong. He would often randomly yelp and cry in pain and look behind him. These incidents resulted in many trips to the regular, specialty and emergency vets. Kerrin changed vets three different times, trying to find a solution.

“In one particular instance, he cried in pain and laid down, frozen like a Sphinx and wouldn’t move. While at the ER vet, he worked himself up so much that they had to stick him in an oxygen tank because he had trouble breathing which triggered a separate, collapsed trachea issue,” Kerrin said.

Chihuahua at window
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A possible misdiagnosis

All the vets she talked to said it was most likely a slipped disc or a back issue. They prescribed painkillers and muscle relaxers when he suffered an episode and advised that he shouldn’t jump or use stairs.

This went on for years, and then when Nacho was five years old, she took him to the vet to have his anal glands expressed, something that had been performed many other times. But this vet, Kerrin’s third, said she felt something abnormal in the anal sac, and it would need to be removed with emergency surgery. 

Chihuahua with cone

During the surgery, the vet removed an anal sac and the abnormality that was inside. It was only the size of a lentil, and it disintegrated when she touched it. The vet said she didn’t know what it was because the biopsy couldn’t identify it, but apparently, it was the cause of Nacho’s pain.

Nacho was sutured up and given pain medication and laxatives. Kerrin applied warm compresses daily with medical-grade soap until he healed.

How is Nacho doing now?

Nacho recovered from the surgery and has not yelped in pain or looked behind him since.

Today, except for an issue with his windpipe and a heart murmur, Nacho is doing well. He is on medication for those ailments.

How pet insurance helped

Kerrin had heard many stories from other pet owners who wished they had pet insurance, and she saw her sister spend more than $10,000 on two knee surgeries for the family’s American bulldog.

Chihuahua with cake

She was enrolled with a different insurer and was not happy with it, so she enrolled Nacho as she viewed it as essential to her financial and pets’ well-being. She has been pleased with the service through all of Nacho’s health issues.

“Had it not been for having Healthy Paws insurance, I would have been struggling to pay the lump sum of money and submitting the claims was as seamless as ever,” Kerrin said. “I’ve always had such a great experience with Healthy Paws that I’ve insured my second dog upon her arrival and know if there are any surprises, Healthy Paws has us covered.”

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 28 dog years. She also coordinates media requests and manages the Healthy Paws Foundation. A background in journalism may be why she enjoys writing about offbeat animal studies and the latest viral pet trends. She has been owned by several dogs, and she volunteers with a local dog rescue. Outside of work, she can usually be found sliding down a mountain near her home in Bend, Ore.

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