One important question for most pet owners is whether or not to invest in pet health insurance. Specifically, is pet insurance worth it for dogs? I have experience both having pet health insurance for our puppies and not having it, and I can understand both arguments. But that said, now that I do have pet insurance for Sacha, I would never, ever have a dog without getting them insured from day one.
Having Pet Insurance is Critical
To me, this is really a simple calculation. If you have health insurance for yourself and your family, then you should make sure your pet is covered as well. Our dogs are members of our family. And I would not let them go without coverage any more than I’d let any other member of the family go without coverage. For me, it doesn’t get any more simple than that.
As responsible pet parents, we know that when we bring our Samoyed (or other pets) home with us, we’re taking on a tremendous responsibility. These furry faced loved ones are completely dependent on us for everything. For their food, their water, their happiness, their well being, and of course, their health. You need to know this and accept it before you decide to take on the responsibility of becoming a pet parent.
For our three Samoyeds – Zoya, Ramius, and Sacha, we’ve had varying degrees of pet health insurance coverage. We never had any pet insurance for Zoya, we got it for Ramius about halfway through his life, and we got it for Sacha from the day we brought him home. This isn’t because we love Sacha more than the other. It’s about us not knowing or understanding the importance and benefits of having pet health insurance. Based on the experience we’ve had with our Samoyeds, we now understand that completely.
Animals are just like people in that you cannot predict whether they’ll suffer a devastating illness or injury sometime in their life. And of course, your dogs need at least annual visits to the veterinarian for a checkup and their shots. I don’t know about cats, but I assume it would be the same thing for them. This financial responsibility falls on you as the pet parent, and it can become a major burden on your pocketbook.
When it comes to your pet’s health, you want to take the financial decision out of the equation as much as possible. You want the focus to be on getting them the healthcare they need, not whether or not you can afford to get them the healthcare they need.
We have Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and for us, it’s the best pet insurance in the world. I can’t recommend them highly enough and I wrote an extensive review of them which I urge you to read. But whether you use them or not, the most important thing is just to get pet health insurance. There are plenty of companies out there that provide quality insurance and fit just about any budget.
Pet Insurance Means Peace of Mind
By 2003, Zoya had been a member of our family for 7 years and she had been mostly healthy; no major injuries or illnesses. We made sure she had regular visits to the vet, got all of her shots, had her heart worm and tick medicine regularly, and that was about it. The cost of her medical care was very manageable.
Then one day we noticed some changes in her behavior and began to worry. We took her to the vet to get her checked out and learned that Zoya had developed diabetes. I can’t explain what a shock this was. We have diabetics in the family, but never imagined that a dog could develop diabetes. Our first thoughts were; she has diabetes? What does that mean? Is she going to be okay? How will we care for her? What do we do? How much is this all going to cost?
Hopefully of course, none of your pets will ever develop diabetes. But sadly, it is a relatively common disease in dogs and cats. Some dog breeds, like Samoyeds, are more likely to develop the disease than others. When we first learned that Zoya had diabetes, we knew three things immediately.
- Our life and lifestyle were going to change so we could properly care for her.
- We’re going to do everything medically necessary to make sure she’s taken care of to the best of our ability.
- Since we didn’t have pet health insurance, our savings would have to finance all of her healthcare expenses.
The first two things were perfectly fine for us. It was that third part about the financial burden that we weren’t too thrilled about.
Make no mistake, diabetes is a very manageable disease in dogs, but that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. Quite the opposite. Your dog may need tests such as a glucose curve to determine how best to regulate her. This costs money. She’ll need regular visits to the vet to check on the status of her diabetes. This costs money. She may insulin shots as often as twice per day. This costs money. For perspective, A bottle of insulin where we live costs about $130 at the pharmacy and it would last us less about a month. Yikes!
Although diabetes is a serious disease, cancer is whole other ballgame entirely. Unfortunately, a couple of years after being diagnosed with diabetes, Zoya also developed cancer. I’ll talk more about that experience in subsequent blog posts but for now, suffice it to say that treating your dog for cancer can be a very expensive proposition. And when you don’t have pet insurance, as we didn’t for Zoya, that burden falls all on you.
Lesson Learned – But Not Right Away
After our experience with Zoya’s medical issues, you’d think we would’ve gotten insurance for Ramius right way. After all he was an adult, but still relatively young and very healthy. But believe it or not, we didn’t. We got some bad advice and that advice was if you don’t get insurance for your dog as a puppy forget about it. The insurance companies either won’t cover your pet or it’ll be cost prohibitive. And unfortunately, we listened to that advice. But let me tell you, that was bad advice. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Pet insurance can be very affordable for your dog, even if he or she is an adult. Most pet health insurance companies will not cover any pre-existing conditions, and that is true even with Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. But that aside, it’s very easy and affordable to get pet insurance for your adult dogs. I think we paid a premium of around $65/month or so for Ramius. That was with a $250 deductible and covered 90% of the cost of medical care as a result of injury or illness after that deductible was met.
Remember that monthly insulin cost of $130 I mentioned earlier? Well, sadly Ramius also developed diabetes later in his life and we had to purchase those bottles of insulin. Lots of them! $130 bottle of insulin each month vs. $65/month in pet health insurance premiums.
Do. The. Math.
Lesson Learned – Finally…
When we were thinking about getting a little brother for Ramius, who of course became Sacha, I started researching pet insurance options for both of them. After that investigation, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance clearly emerged as the best choice for us. So on the day we got Sacha, both he and Ramius were fully insured and protected.
This was an incredibly fortuitous decision. Although Ramius was completely healthy at the time he became insured, he developed serious health problems later in life. Not only did he contract diabetes, but he also developed a very nasty and horrible cancer. I’ll be talking more about this over time, but right now it still deeply saddens me that after a long and courageous bout with cancer, Ramius passed away in January.
But one thing I am thankful for is that we decided to get health insurance for him before he developed any of these health problems. That allowed my wife and me to make Ramius’s healthcare decisions strictly on what was best for him. The financial impact was taken out of the equation.
As for Sacha, he’s healthy now and is under strict orders not to get diabetes, cancer, or any other horrible diseases. You hear that Sacha?! No sick for you! That goes for injuries too!
Pet Insurance – Worth the Investment
I hope I’ve made the case that at the very least, you should investigate pet health insurance options for your furry family members. Yes, it’s an extra monthly expense that nobody wants to pay. But there are many companies and many plans available to meet your particular budget parameters. You’ll be doing the best thing you can for your pets, because you know you’ll be able to make the best decisions for them based on their medical needs. And you’ll be doing the best thing for your pocketbook since you won’t be stuck paying for everything out of pocket.
Again, I strongly recommend Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and urge you to add them to your research process as you look into pet insurance options. But there are many choices out there, so if you don’t like Healthy Paws, just keep looking. Eventually, you should find the right company and plan that’s best for you. If you and your family have health insurance for yourselves, it just makes sense to get it for your pet too doesn’t it?
Just. Get. It.