He may be a dog, but he’s our BFF

He may be a dog, but he’s our BFF

Years ago, our family spent more than $5,000 for the removal of a twisted spleen from our eight year-old standard poodle. Our three young sons sided with Buddy, their BFF, so euthanasia was off the table. Today, affordable pet insurance is available in Maine and New Hampshire by clicking here or calling 1-855-727-9088.

The number of covered pets is expected to increase 25 percent nationwide by the end of 2015 to minimize financially daunting but not uncommon health procedures.

For example, removing foreign but apparently irresistible objects from a dog’s innards is the most common pet insurance claim and the cost can be about $7,500 (see some examples below). A hip repair for dysplasia runs about $3,500 and medications can really rack up the bills over the lifetime of your pet. Cancer treatment and heart surgery are not atypical.

How far are people willing to go? A friend of mine spent over $10,000 for two surgeries on her cat following separate run-ins with a car. Crazy? Apparently not. Pets provide you unconditional love, force you to exercise, and often sleep with you. More than 60% of owners consider pets members of the family according to the U.S. Pet Ownership Demographics Sourcebook. Those family members are supported with nearly $60 billion a year in goods and services about half of which is for food.

Pet insurance is a relatively new purchase and requires a little homework to ensure the coverage is affordable and adequate for the accidents and treatments pets require. Though you pay premiums just as you would for your own health insurance, most plans reimburse you quickly once the bills have been paid.

There are about 7 leading insurance plans in the U.S., all with different deductibles, coverages and premiums. Here are some things you ought to consider:

  • Can I choose my own veterinarian?
  • Will it cover pre-existing conditions?
  • Are there financial limits on the annual amount they will reimburse?
  • Will they cover surgeries, diagnostic tests, medications and hospital stays?
  • Will they pay the actual amount of the vet bill less the deductible and co-pay?
  • Are there other wellness benefits to help address diet and therapy?

Premiums are based on the breed, location and age of the pet. Suffice it to say that the younger the pet, the less expensive it is to insure though premiums will increase with age. A ten year old dog is the equivalent of insuring a 70 year-old person. Of course the premiums are going to be higher.

The statistics for pet ownership in America are remarkable. About a third of all households have a pet. There are an estimated 70 million dogs and 74 million cats. Birds number about 8.3 million and horses 4.8 million.

Dogs, however, are the heaviest consumers of health care visiting the vet 2.6 times per year according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Those costs average $378 per year. Cats cost about $191 per year for health services.

It’s the big event that catches owners by surprise and can put a dent in the family budget. An ABC News/2020 report illustrated a sample of the not-so-discerning-but-costly diets of some lovable mutts:

  • Hooch of Middleburg, Florida, ate 309 nails, screws and staples he found on a construction site
  • Fred must have been feeling run down when he decided to eat a cell phone charger.
  • Bogie, the St. Bernard from California, decided to swallow the entire spoon while taking his anti-seizure medication.
  • Branson, a bulldog, found that even eating 27 pacifiers wasn’t enough to calm him down with triplets living in his house.

These expensive morsels are hard to imagine being delectable but we have to keep them out of reach just as we would if we had a teething toddler in the house. In addition to an annual visit to the vet, monthly treatments for heartworm and ticks can forestall debilitating conditions.

In the end, though, diet and exercise remain the best prescription for longevity and good health for both us and our BFFs.

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