While I was reviewing my New Year's resolutions from last year, I mentioned that one of my biggest expenses for the year was veterinary care for my four pets. I have three dogs and a cat. Last year, I estimate I spent between $3,000 - $4,000 for veterinary health care for all four animals, which put a serious dent in my emergency fund. This year is getting off to a similar start.

First, my Border Terrier injured one of his dew claws, and treatment was more than $200. Then, my cat got seriously ill. He was wheezing and lost a lot of weight. When we brought him in to the vet, we were informed he had lung and ear infections, and had lost more than two pounds, which is a lot of weight for a 10 pound cat to lose. Total bill: $400, although the vet wanted to run additional tests which would have pushed the bill over $1,000. We got the bare minimum treatment for the cat.

Since the month of January isn't over yet and we have already spend more than $600 for veterinary care, my wife and I have made the decision to invest in pet health insurance. I went online and researched a few companies, and found one that I think will work best for us. Total premium each month: $125, or about $1,400 for the year with the multi-pet discount.

Here is how it works: we bring the pets to the veterinarian for regular check-ups and illnesses, and pay the vet bill. Then, we send the bill and receipts to the pet insurance company for reimbursement. The insurance company reimburses 80 percent of allowed expenses, just like an insurance company for humans. If I had this insurance last year, I would have paid about $1,000 for pet care for the year, instead of the estimated $5,000.

The insurance quotes are for three of our four pets. My oldest dog is 14 years old and insuring him would be more expensive, of course. Besides, other than injuring his dew claw, he has never been sick a day in his life. He spends most of his day sleeping.

While I am creating another monthly bill, in the long run, this will save my family (and we consider our pets members of the family) a lot of money.

2 comments

  1. Lorain // January 19, 2009 at 7:17 PM  

    Pet insurance is a great idea, i have a great dane and his vet bills are as big as he is... lol
    they refund you the money (60%-70% depending on procedure) so you have to have it up front but its better then nothing!

    good luck!

  2. Jackie // January 29, 2009 at 1:17 PM  

    Wow! I can totally relate to your struggles with the vet. My cat Harry had an ingrown claw that I took him to the vet for. While I was there I asked the vet to look at his teeth. My husband and I have known for sometime that he has periodontal issues. When the vet took a look, she said that he was going to have to have some teeth pulled. My husband and I were prepared for a bit of a hefty vet bill. When all was said and done, 7 teeth were pulled, and a claw was removed at the cost of $700! That was a shocker. Needless to say, we too will be looking into pet insurance.

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