Over the last couple of decades, veterinary medicine has become more sophisticated and technically advanced. While this is good for patients, it’s not always great for pet owners’ wallets. The single biggest reason pets don’t get optimum care or their owners deny care altogether is financial cost. But pet insurance can make that obstacle go away.
Pet insurance is obviously a huge benefit in the case of an unforeseen emergency, but even if a pet never suffers from a costly accident or illness (which is highly unlikely), pet insurance covers a wide variety of additional services. It also provides peace of mind for the pet owner, as well as the veterinarian, who is also deeply saddened when a pet’s life is lost because of financial restrictions. There really is no downside to pet insurance and it provides a huge advantage to pet owners. It helps pet owners pay for treatment, but veterinarians and owners still have total control of what care pets receive. It simply removes the obstacle of finances, ensuring that pet owners will almost always be able to afford optimal care, no matter what the cost.
There is an abundance of pet insurance companies and options. However, the first step to deciding which pet insurance is the right fit is to determine exactly what you want out of an insurance plan – coverage of routine wellness care, coverage of a pre-existing or hereditary condition, etc. Once you’ve established why you’re buying the insurance, talk with your vet about your options. The vet is a neutral party who is not compensated for making a recommendation and has a lot of experience dealing with insurance companies. They also hear feedback from their clients, so they will likely have a good feel for the companies that get good ratings. Next, there’s just no substitute for good research. Shop around, talk to a variety of insurance companies, read the policies to understand what is covered, and make sure to get your questions answered. Important questions include: Are there limitations or caps on what the insurance company will pay out in a year or a lifetime? What’s the co-pay and deductible? Is there a discount for multiple pets? What’s the payout process for a claim? Pet insurance companies typically payout through a reimbursement system, that is the pet owner pays the vet and the insurance company reimburses the pet owner. Only after you’ve done this research should you look at the premium. Human nature is to look at the premium first, but this should be the last step to determining if the plan is the right fit.
Pet insurance can be purchased for as little as $1 per day, but the general cost varies widely depending on what it covers. If it includes pre-existing conditions it will be more expensive. This is one benefit to insuring a pet when they’re young; they often have no pre-existing conditions. Including wellness care will also likely increase costs. However, many pet owners don’t need coverage for wellness care because it’s an anticipated expense that can be factored into the budget. Unanticipated events are where you often run into thousands of dollars for catastrophic illnesses and major medical care. If, for example, a cat has cancer or is hit by a car, it will be sent to a specialty hospital, where it’s not unusual to come out with thousands of dollars in bills. Almost every pet at some point is going to have a major, expensive health issue and if a pet has just one accident, the insurance pays for itself.
Ultimately there is no real downside to pet insurance, so it’s hard to understand why so many pets are still uninsured. Pet owners often don’t think about it until it’s needed, and then it’s too late. Please, don’t wait.
About Pets In Need:
Pets In Need, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, is committed to helping pets stay healthy and together with the people who love them. Pets In Need provides low-cost veterinary care and food for pets from homes in which income is at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. The clinic is the only resource of its kind in Greater Cincinnati and currently serves cats and dogs from hundreds of low-income households. To learn more about Pets In Need and the services it provides, please visit http://pincincinnati.org .
Education is the first step in pet poison prevention.
Pet owners should take the time to educate themselves on the various, sometimes unexpected, pet poisons in their environments. The Pet Poison Helpline provides an extensive list of poisonous items for pet owners to be aware of, but here are a few of the most common items seen by veterinarians:
Many people believe certain dog breed, such as huskies and malamutes, are capable of living outside all of the time because of their thick coats. However, no dog breed should be consistently left unprotected outside. According to the City of Cincinnati, when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a pet owner should not leave their dog outside for longer than sixty minutes without adequate shelter. For outside dogs, owners should provide a warm, dry, draft free shelter with fresh, unfrozen water. Heated water bowls are a great option to ensure consistent access to unfrozen water. Owners should also feed their outdoor dogs more during the winter because their bodies use more energy trying to keep warm. In 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance with further restrictions and shelter guidelines for dog tethering and weather conditions, which can be found by clicking here
A common winter hazard that vets encounter consistently with cats is engine belt injuries. Cats will climb into cars to keep warm, and without knowing they’re there, people will start their cars and harm the cats. Before starting your car in the winter, it’s advised to give the car hood a few raps to make sure there are no cats cozied up inside.
Pets start an estimated 1,000 fires per year. While this isn’t a huge number, it’s easily preventable. Pet owners should identify the risks in their home and make sure they’re contained from pets. Risks to consider include, open flames such as candles, space heaters, stovetops, fireplaces, and frayed wires chewed by puppies.
Even if all fire hazards are contained from pets, there’s still always a chance of a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) , there’s a home fire reported every 86 seconds in the United States. So while the hope is that you and your pets never have to face a fire, it’s important to have a plan.
In case of a fire, pet owners should hang window clings that let firefighters know there’s a pet in the home. The ASPCA offers a free Pet Fire Safety Pack that includes a window decal. When leaving home, pet owners should know where their pets are and keep them close to exits if possible. Pet owners should also consider investing in monitored smoke detectors that alert homeowners of a fire when they’re not home and automatically dispatch firefighters.
Getting your dog microchipped is an easy and relatively inexpensive procedure that drastically increases the odds that your pet will find its way home if it’s ever lost. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique identification number. It’s injected into a pet’s skin between the shoulder blades on their back. When scanned with an electric scanner, the chip will show the unique identification number and manufacturer of the microchip. This unique identification number will be linked to the pet owner’s contact information in the microchip manufacturer’s database.
If a stranger ever finds your dog, a shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet for a microchip. Once they have the identification number and manufacturer from the chip reading, they will call the manufacturer in search of the pet owner’s contact information. Therefore, if a dog owner moves or changes their contact information, it’s extremely important for them to update the contact information associated with their pet’s microchip identification number.