Pet health insurance

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I took Otto and Tito to the veterinarian yesterday for wellness exams (and heartworm tests and blood tests) and spent $500. I had priced things beforehand, and knew what I was in for, but it’s still quite a bite.

I strongly believe in the value of annual wellness checks. It’s a perfect opportunity for the vet to find things that we owners wouldn’t necessarily notice, such as the beginning of a mass growing on the roof of our dog’s mouth, say, or a swollen abdomen. Routine blood chemistry, blood cell counts, and heartworm tests (where heartworm is a threat) are also valuable early-detection tools for any number of budding health problems; even if they don’t reveal problems, the “normal” values result may serve as a useful baseline down the road if problems do develop. It’s also a good time to ask the vet about low-priority things that you have been wondering about. Be sure to let the receptionist know when you book the appointment that you need a little extra time to have a number of questions answered or things looked at, so the vet has time to talk – and then prepare to pay for that time.

Health insurance plans vary, but many pay for – or at least discount the price of – regular wellness visits. I’ve priced these plans, but have blanched at the monthly cost of covering two dogs and two cats. By the time I pay, completely out of pocket, for the wellness visits and the various things that come up in a multi-pet family, that I would pay less annually for insurance and co-pays, but I just haven’t been able to make myself sign up yet. I’ll kick myself, I know, if Otto needs costly care – if he tore an ACL or got cancer, for example — but right now I just keep crossing my fingers and paying for things out of pocket. 

How about you? Are your dogs insured? Have you found insurance to help keep costs down? If you haven’t gotten health insurance for your dogs yet, why not?

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