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I Paid $450 to Save My Goldfish’s Life

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A man in Norfolk, England, reportedly paid more than $450 (300 British pounds) to have his pet’s digestive issues surgically resolved. The pet, which went unnamed in the news report from the BBC, is a goldfish.

The owner noticed his fish was in poor health and brought it to Toll Barn Veterinary Centre, the BBC reports, where veterinarians discovered a lump blocking its digestive tract. The hourlong surgery was necessary to remove the lump and relieve the fish’s constipation, the vets told the owner.

Why would it cost so much to help a fish poop? This is kind of cool, actually: The vets use anesthetized water to make the goldfish unconscious. Instead of laughing gas, fish get sleeping bubbles. It’s not too surprising to hear that (plus the vet’s time and the actual surgery) would cost so much. Goldfish surgery, while uncommon, isn’t unheard of: A 10-year-old goldfish named George underwent surgery in September to remove a tumor that was inhibiting his ability to eat and swim. George’s procedure cost AU$200 (about $160), according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The British fish has reportedly recovered well (as did George, it seems), presumably able to swim (and poop) for another decade or two. Mashable reported the fish was nearly 3 years old at the time of surgery, and the average life expectancy for a goldfish in captivity is between 10 and 20 years. Coincidentally, a British fish holds the Guinness World Record for oldest goldfish — Tish the goldfish died in the UK in 1999 at the age of 43.

As far as pet healthcare, the fish’s procedure was relatively cheap. It’s not uncommon to hear of people going into debt (often credit card debt) to pay for their pets’ medical needs, but many people take out pet insurance to protect themselves from that situation. For example, the most common claim is foreign body removal, a surgery that costs $7,000 without coverage, according to Trupanion pet insurance. Most pet insurance companies insure only dogs and cats, but you can find insurance for other types of pets, too.

If pet insurance isn’t available to you, or you think it’s not worth the cost, make sure you have an emergency fund to take care of unexpected pet care expenses, just as you should for your health emergencies. Otherwise, you may face thousands of dollars in debt or worse — having to choose between your pet’s health and your financial security. Credit card debt can seriously damage your credit score, especially if you can’t afford the minimum payments, which may create more financial obstacles. Your credit score alone could cost you thousands of dollars in your lifetime — see how by using the lifetime cost of debt calculator. You can also see your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

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