It’s Always Something
Posted at 12:38PM - Comments: (7)
Here’s the biggest problem concerning pet insurance for many of us dog owners: the more dogs (or total pets) you have, the less it seems to make sense. If only there was a company that offered some sort of “pack” insurance that you could apply to whichever one of your pets most needed care.
I have two cats and two dogs. If I bought insurance for all four, the cost of the premiums and co-pays (or, depending on the insurance company, the percentage of any bill that the company does not cover) would exceed the total cost of veterinary care that I provide for them most years.
My pets are not even the whole problem.
I also have covered the cost of care needed by relatives’ dogs. My son’s dog has had a couple of costly visits this year, and given that my son was in his last semester of college, and then an unemployed recent graduate, I picked up the cost. Another relative’s tiny dog badly needed a dental cleaning and some tooth extractions (which were necessary due to years of neglect, due to money woes). I paid for the work, because I see this sweet dog often and couldn’t stand for her to be in so much discomfort. A few months later, the same dog was attacked (in her yard!) by two large loose dogs, and badly mauled. She had a broken scapula and bites down to the bone. My relative could not begin to pay for the care. I picked up the tab for that emergency visit and hospitalization, too.
I also have an additional challenge: I also foster for a financially strapped shelter. I do not ask them to reimburse me for veterinary care that I have sought for the dogs and puppies (and very occasional kittens) that I foster. The shelter provides the basics: antibiotics if the animal is sick, vaccinations, spay/neuter surgery, and basic first aid care if something happens (or, more commonly, we discover something medically wrong) with the dog I’m fostering.
There have been a number of cases when my foster dog or puppy needed extraordinary care – but if the animal had been an ordinary shelter ward, not being cared for in my home, the shelter would have likely taken a “wait and see” approach, or at least, a far less extensive (perhaps overprotective!) approach than I took. For example, when I accidently kicked (as I was walking, holding a pan of water, and couldn’t see) one of the puppies I fostered this summer, and he was in a lot of pain, and holding up one leg for over 12 hours after the incident, I took him to my veterinarian for x-rays. I’m certain the shelter staff would have recommended waiting. But if something had been broken or dislocated (nothing was, as it turned out), I would have wanted him to be casted or splinted or operated on or something! It was hard enough living with myself watching him hop about on three legs for days without also wondering whether something was broken. So that’s money well spent, in my mind.
But, obviously, these sorts of expenses add up!
Last week, my dog Tito was playing with a tennis ball when he suddenly shrieked and began pawing frantically at his mouth. A moment later, he spit something out: a fragment of a tooth. And not just any fragment: the piece looked like a perfect slice of an entire molar, from tip to root. He had a slab fracture of a molar; it had to be removed. And since dental x-rays were needed, we found that he had a retained puppy tooth in his jaw that the vet thought should be removed, along with the root of a front bottom incisor (that I thought he had lost altogether, but it turns out, had just broken off, bad owner!), and the incisors next to that root, which were all loose from damage to the bone . . . and since he was going to be “out” and on the table anyway, it only made sense to clean his teeth. I was pleased that the total was only about $800, and to know that he’s going to fell far better now. But given that I was mentally allocating my next veterinary spending to be on Otto (he needs his teeth cleaned) – darn it!
Anyway, I guess I’m whining; I’ll stop. This has been an extraordinary year for veterinary care, and I’m glad to be able to (sort of) afford it (the credit card balance has proven extraordinarily difficult to reduce this year). If this is the price of caring about so many wonderful dogs, I’ll pay it. I just hope next year is a little easier!