Veterinary care and treatments have advanced substantially over the years and continues to progress every day. But, despite the rise in cost of veterinary care, less than 1% of owners have their pets on insurance plans. This is mind blowing. Most of the population have at least 1 pet in the household and more people today are viewing their pets as their “fur babies” (and why shouldn’t they be?).
Why have insurance?
So, what deters pet parents from getting insurance? There are many different companies, plans, and packages out there which means you must do your research. The process of choosing may seem daunting but your veterinarian may have some recommendations. Its best to start an insurance plan as soon as possible, especially with puppies and kittens. Your veterinarian may also provide preventive care plans in their office for predictable care (such as annual exam, vaccines, etc.) but having an insurance plan can be greatly beneficial for the unpredictable care (emergency, illness, injury).
My first impression at the thought of insurance was “Ugh, just another bill that I have to pay!”. However, hind sight is always 20/20 and I can say with confidence that getting my pets on insurance was the best thing that I’ve done for them.
In July 2017 my Staffordshire Terrier, Jade, decided to use our TV remote and my husband’s Nintendo DS as chew toys. Of all the millions of toys she has around the house plus her favorite toy, the cat, she chooses to destroy the electronics. You can tell my husband and I were thrilled at the time. After x-rays, blood work, and medications my vet bill continued to climb. At the time my husband and I had just gotten out of college, therefore we had no wiggle room in our budget. So, after reviewing Jade’s blood results her doctor noticed that something was VERY abnormal with her liver values, they were astronomically high. Other than her eating bits of remote hardware she showed no other abnormalities.
“Just because pets don’t have obvious external symptoms doesn’t mean that there isn’t a concern.”
We ran further diagnostics (ultrasound, specialist consultations, more blood work, etc.) and concluded that she had an extrahepatic liver shunt ! This condition is more commonly seen in small dog breeds when they are puppies. So, a 2-year-old non-symptomatic pit bull was not to be expected with this problem. The only treatment is exploratory surgery by a specialist. This was devastating news to me and my husband. Jade is our whole world and knowing that she was being poisoned by her own body was heartbreaking to say the least. What was more shocking is that once she was diagnosed her weight plummeted drastically within weeks. There was no time to waste, so we did what every parent would do for their baby…we scheduled the surgery and prayed for a miracle.
I was so relieved when I got the call from her surgeon telling us that she did fantastic and is in recovery. After the surgery she needed to be hospitalized for 3 days for monitoring and to be put on anti-convulsant medication (seizures are very common after drastic liver changes). I knew she was in good hands, but I was still worried over how I’m going to pay for all of this.
Our total bill for the surgery was over $5,000! That doesn’t include the post medications and an ER trip not long after. But, because I enrolled her on Embrace Pet Insurance plan sooner rather than later, her shunt was not considered a pre-existing condition. Overall, Jade’s healthcare costs nearly match the cost of my car! But this story ends on a happy note. She is healthy again and her insurance covered over 80% of EVERYTHING! Without the insurance I don’t know what I would have (maybe rent out my husband?).
Moral of the story
Seriously consider pet insurance and start your pet(s) on it right away. Make sure you do your research to find the right plan that fits your pets’ needs. Ask your veterinarian and technicians for advice or recommendations. It could save your pet’s life like it did mine.
Sending best wishes and puppy dog kisses,
Savannah and Jade