Pet Insurance

The Path to Funding Fido

March 22, 2018

Pet Insurance is something you don’t think about until you really need it. If you have ever been to a Vet’s office clutching your injured pet, you know that sinking feeling when you get the bill. After your bulging eyes shrink to a normal size again, you realize that pet insurance may have been the way to go when it comes to taking care of your furry family member. The problem with animals is they are wild. That bar of chocolate smells delicious and that set of stairs looks like an adventure. The Wooding Group family has had many experiences with the vet and while most of our pets have recovered, our wallets are slower to recuperate. Here are some reasons to consider pet insurance and how to avoid using it in the first place.

1. Diet, diet, diet

The fact is animals will eat until they are incapable of moving. It’s in their genetic code. In the wild, these animals have no idea when their next meal will be and so portion sizes are not a factor. However, domesticated animals rarely miss a meal. When it comes to diet, high quality, nutritionally sound food goes a long way. While an occasional treat for Fluffy may not have a big impact, regular overfeeding can be detrimental to the health of your pet. Here is a Wooding Group horror story about diet:

“My dog Kramer has always had a very good diet. His “treats” include carrots, broccoli and lettuce. He seriously begs for lettuce. It’s strange. My husband and I went away on vacation and put the dog in the care of a family member whose dog eats very differently. After a week of indulgences, we returned home to find Kramer sluggish and unable to keep a meal down. We became concerned and took him to the emergency vet. After blood tests they determined the poor guy had Pancreatitis- a potentially deadly inflammation of the pancreas. We had to put him on I.V. fluids and spent days and nights worrying about him. A huge vet bill later, we all felt sick to our stomachs” – Julia

2. Daredevil Dogs/ Crazy Cats

Pets seemingly have no limits. They are incredible in terms of athleticism. They are also incredible in terms of clumsiness. Pet Insurance can help protect your pets from themselves. Sometimes a routine trip to the dog park or a quick cat bath can turn into a serious injury ( in the case of a cat bath, you will probably be the one injured). One way to help avoid injury is to make sure that you remove any potentially hazardous items from the space your pet will be occupying and paying close attention to the dangerous behaviours they gravitate towards. Do you have a jumper on your hands? Keep them away from the tall shelves. A chewer? Tuck those wires away or fasten them behind electronics to make them less accessible. Do you have a combination of both? Good luck. Here are another two Wooding Group disasters to share:

“Our new puppy, Pip, suffered an unfortunate trauma to her head and lost the sight of her left eye. For two weeks post-injury, she had several emergency vet visits, ultra sounds, X-rays, and then prescriptions. The costs were enormous – as in half a TFSA contribution! She was quite young and we hadn’t arranged for pet insurance. I see the benefits of having insurance… however, a dear client (fur mother) had a plan that I thought made great sense. Each month she saved the amount that would have gone to insurance premiums over the years and because she had the good fortune of having a healthy pet, there was an $11,000 nest egg for her pet’s later years.” – Deb

“When our Beagle, Zoe, was young she was playing with a larger, older dog in the backyard. Acting as puppies do, she began playing with her new pal and they roughly ran around each other. Before we had a chance to intervene, the bigger dog came down hard on Zoe’s leg and she ended up shattering her bone. We spent all night at the vet and had a huge bill to take care of. She spent weeks in a cast- we spent weeks in the red.” – T.J.

3. Keeping them clean

According to statistical information from Nationwide, the top ten reasons for vet visits are:

Dogs:

  1. Skin Allergies
  2. Ear Infection
  3. Non-cancerous Skin Mass
  4. Skin Infection
  5. Arthritis
  6. Periodontitis/Dental Disease
  7. Vomiting/Upset Stomach
  8. Diarrhea/ Intestinal Upset
  9. Bladder or Urinary Tract Infection
  10. Anal Gland Inflammation/Infection
Cats:

  1. Periodontitis/Dental Disease
  2. Bladder or Urinary Tract Disease
  3. Chronic Kidney Disease
  4. Vomiting/Upset Stomach
  5. Excessive Thyroid Hormone
  6. Diarrhea/Intestinal Upset
  7. Diabetes
  8. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  9. Skin Allergies
  10. Valvular Heart Disease or Murmur

https://blog.nationwide.com/news/reasons-to-take-pets-to-the-vet/

As you can gather from this list, a lot of the visits to the vet revolve around skin, ear and dental issues. Preventing a skin infection or an ear ache can be tricky since many of these issues arise from a pet’s environment. The best way to deal with them is to notice the signs of infection or irritation in your pet early on. Repeated scratching or chewing on their skin, rubbing up against surfaces and dragging their paws or behinds can all be signs of an issue. Proper dental care is also extremely important in keeping the vet bills low; but try explaining that to your dog or cat. Pets suddenly have the jaw strength of an alligator when it comes to prying their mouths open for a nice brushing. If you have Pet Insurance coverage, you may be able to schedule a professional cleaning for them every few years or pay out of pocket to maintain their mouths.

4. The Sad Realities

Even with all of the preventative measures listed above, there are some unavoidable losses when it comes to pets. Animals can be stricken with the same diseases humans face such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Money doesn’t seem like an issue when a beloved pet is suffering, but without insurance or savings set aside, the bills can be endless. Here is a heartbreaking Wooding Group experience:

“When my best bud, Wool, got sick in the late summer I thought no big deal even if it is a couple hundred dollars, he is worth it. At one point when he was a puppy, Pete and I were asking ourselves “What is his number?” (How much would be too much for a Vet bill?)  As anyone with a fur baby knows, they become like family, and just as with family- there is no number. We had no idea that in August, Wool would progressively get much worse; a journey which not only broke our hearts… but also the bank. When he was young, because he was such a large breed and because he was a Bernedoodle (half Bernese Mountain Dog and half Standard Poodle), the monthly insurance amount seemed outrageous. ($125 a month!). We decided instead to “self-insure” – putting aside the $125 in “Wool’s” account for future needs.

By October, Wool was hospitalized and on November 17, 2017, we made the very difficult decision to help Wool pass on after a lengthy cancer battle. We spared no expense in his treatment. I even had a Vet assistant say to me “bet you wish you had insurance!” We don’t see that Vet with the new dog! lol

He was 5 years young and my heart still hurts. So looking back, should we have bought the insurance? The math is as follows: 5 years of Insurance payments would have been $7,500 – In the end Wool’s care was more than that. I still don’t think there is a right or wrong answer… and I admit I haven’t bought insurance for the new pup, Fitz. I still feel that self-insuring works for our family. Let’s just hope our new guy has a long, and healthy life!” – Lindsay