By Dr. Elizabeth Knabe, DVM, and Holly Henschke, CVT
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
As with anything you own and want to protect, the time to buy insurance is when you do not need it. Pets are part of our family, but we also own them. We plan to have enough money to cover their feeding, housing, and entertainment needs. We also plan for routine medical care and wellness needs such as for vaccinations and parasite preventatives. It is the unexpected need for medical care that catches people unprepared. For some owners, having an insurance policy for their pet could make the difference between getting the needed medical care done or having to choose from another, less favorable option.
Pet health insurance needs to be purchased ahead of need and before your pet develops any lifelong conditions that would be considered pre-existing and not covered.
Veterinary staff like to discuss pet health insurance with owners of puppies and kittens as enrolling them at such a young age means they have not had time to develop lifelong conditions. Allergies, chronic ear conditions, arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease are just some of the chronic illnesses that take time to develop.
Also, puppies and kittens tend to get into mischief and injure themselves. Puppies tend to explore their world via their mouth and swallow many things they should not such as socks and plastic items. Kittens sometimes swallow strings or other parts of fabrics. Surgeries to remove foreign objects would often be covered by insurance.
Adult dogs and cats also can benefit from health insurance.
As pets age, some will develop cancer. There are more options now than ever before in diagnosing it. Cancer treatments are also improved with targeted radiation therapies and chemotherapy. Veterinary bills for specialty cancer care can range easily from $5,000 to $10,000, and pet health insurance may pay for a significant chunk of it.
Hip and knee problems tend to plague older dogs and high-energy, active dogs. They may need costly knee operations or hip replacement surgery. Multiple alternative and complementary therapies such as chiropractic care for animals, acupuncture, and therapeutic laser for chronic pain are available and covered by many insurance policies.
I like to tell owners they can purchase a pet policy early in case it is needed later. They can always drop it later if they do not feel it is needed.
We veterinarians and our staff do not sell policies. There are many companies out there to choose from, and owners should do their own research but feel free to ask their veterinary professionals for advice.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.