Pet owners beware: There will come a time when your vet (or, God forbid, a specialist) will ask you to pay more than you’d rather fork over for the treatment of one of your pet’s maladies. Whether it’s an unforeseen illness (after eating out of the garbage, let’s say), devastating injury (the dreaded hit-by-car) or a chronic issue finally rearing its ugly head (yep, it’s finally time for that hip replacement), the price is likely to be steep.


On the one hand, it’s a good thing that vet medicine has so much to offer that the price of technology is finally showing up on your vet invoices. On the other hand, how will you pay for them?


It’s this vet’s opinion that everyone needs a plan if they want to play their role of responsible pet owner to the hilt. Any less might leave you feeling the guilt forevermore. And if you think I speak self-servingly, recall that even vets have vet bills. Tally ‘em up and I’ll wager mine beat most of yours. (But that’s mostly just because vets are in a position to give themselves away—that counts as vet bills, right?)


VNN (the Veterinary News Network) has graciously agreed to grant me the privilege of using their informative three-minute video on this subject as a worthy talking point.


If you haven’t the time (or the MediaPlayer), I’ll summarize it for you:


You’re both blessed and cursed to live as an American pet in this high-tech world of vet medicine. Sure, you’ve got the fancy care just within your grasp… but only if your family can afford it.


So how can your family do its best to finance your inevitable injuries and ills? You've got three choices:


1) Make enough money to keep you in the veterinary high-life, come hell or high water.


2) Have enough, through a pet health savings plan, to accomplish the same ends. 


3) Latch onto a pet health insurance program so that the bulk of your bills get paid in most of your brushes with death and disease (though not all).


Of course, it’s all easier said than done. All of it requires that your family truly care for you, have sufficient monetary means to pay, in advance, for your worst case scenarios, and have the smarts and wherewithal to make it all happen.


No matter how you slice it, this video spells it out: Pet owners have to plan. The less they have, the more they need to do so.


And every year, the stakes are higher. With each passing month, in fact, what vet medicine can achieve becomes disproportionately greater than what the average pet owner has to offer to offset the mounting cost of high-end healthcare. Again, that’s both wonderful and frightening. It’s no wonder that we generalists increasingly stress out at the widening gap between what’s possible and what’s feasible, sitting in our front row seats as we do.


If there’s one take-away point here you can glean from my slightly depressing take on the subject of pet healthcare financing, it’s that most of you are in control. But it takes a dedicated, intelligent pet owner to make the most of this kind of information. In short: Get your s--- together. Dedicate a portion of your income to your pet. Decide what it’s going to be, up front, and start putting your money where your heart is.


Sure, it sounds like something you should take with a grain of salt. After all, I’m sort of the proverbial fox guarding the henhouse, extolling the virtues of saving your pennies…for me. But consider the alternative. One way or another you’ll be at someone’s mercy in the event of an emergency. May as well remain beholden to own resources.


Take it from me, your best bet allows you to stay in control of what you can and can’t do for your pet. After all, no planning helps you not at all.