I have been blessed with pets that have lived a long time, which means that eventually each of them has required long-term, intensive medical care.
Sweetie had total hip replacements bilaterally (both hips), acupuncture, physical therapy, and finally osteosarcoma. Peanut beat elbow dysplasia, pancreatic carcinoma, and maxillary osteosarcoma only to succumb to renal failure. Ted, my cat who never gets any air time in this blog, has had inflammatory bowel disease and small cell lymphoma for 2½ years.
I am one of those people who gets the best medical care for my pets without consideration of cost. This has always been my way, even before veterinary school when I didn’t get a discount and was living off of my school loans. If I had to go without groceries so that my pet could get chemotherapy, so be it. I know lots of people like me who spend on their pets and then ask questions later. That shows a loving attitude toward your pet, but it can leave you in a financial bind that can be hard to overcome. Sometimes, you have to ask questions first because finances are tight. Having to make a decision between paying the rent and taking care of your pet is unfair to you and to your pet.
Now, we have pet insurance. Pet insurance allows pet owners to make decisions about their pet’s healthcare without worrying so much about how they will pay for it. Pet health insurance works a bit differently than human health insurance. In general, veterinarians will not file your puppy’s insurance form for you. Instead, you pay the total yourself and the insurance company reimburses you based on what your veterinarian writes on the form and what is on the receipt that you received when you paid your pet’s bill. Some animal hospitals are set up to take payment from the pet insurance company itself, but that is rare.
I made sure to get pet insurance on Maverick. He is young and now is the time to get insurance so that he is covered no matter what happens. There are lots of pet insurance choices out there. Which one should you choose?
Consider your puppy’s breed. What hereditary predispositions does your puppy have? If you have a large breed puppy such as a mastiff, Labrador retriever, or rottweiler, try to find a plan that covers orthopedic diseases. If you have a pug or a Boston terrier, try to get ophthalmic diseases covered. You may have to purchase an extra plan to cover certain types of diagnoses.
Consider getting coverage for wellness care. Clients who have coverage for wellness are more likely to bring their pets in for checkups. Checkups keep your pet healthy by allowing your veterinarian to spot small problems before they are huge problems.
Certain dog breeds are seen more than others for behavior problems, such as German shepherd dogs, or bull terriers who spin. If your puppy is likely to have a behavioral problem based on his breed, or if your puppy is already showing a behavioral problem, make sure to go with an insurance company that offers coverage for behavioral problems. At the time of this writing, only four companies cover behavioral disorders: Trupanion, Pet’s Best, Purina and Petplan. Trupanion has the most extensive behavioral coverage at this time.
Regardless of which company you choose, I strongly encourage you to get insurance for your pet. You don’t want to ever be in a position to choose between taking care of your pet or your family.
Dr. Lisa Radosta
1Ed. note: Included reference to the insurance company Petplan, which also covers behavioral disorders.