Every pet owner who has taken a trip to the vet knows that medical treatment for pets is not cheap. The annual medical care for pets can range from $150 for small dogs and cats to $200 for large dogs. However, these numbers only cover preventative care. What if your cat has bladder stones or your dog needs a tooth pulled? These special procedures can cost about $985 and $829, respectively, according to an analysis of claims data by Veterinary Pet Insurance. Generally, the average spent annually on routine vet visits is more than $200, and the average surgery costs more than $400. With prices like these, it makes sense that many pet owners have chosen to invest in pet insurance in order to prepare for any unexpected pet emergencies.
Standard pet insurance is similar to human health insurance in many ways. It is provided by a third party and can be used either at any vet or one within a participating network of providers. Pet insurance plans may include deductibles, co-payments and exclusions. Premiums typically vary depending on your pet’s species, breed and age and the level of coverage you choose. If you are seriously considering pet insurance, keep in mind that not all plans are created equal. Make sure to ask questions regarding insurance policies, exclusions, co-payments, and coverage limits.
So, is pet insurance worth the money? From a financial standpoint, it may be cheaper to set aside money each month for pet-related expenses. It is also important to make sure you have emergency funds in case your pet needs a special procedure. If your pet or your pet’s breed has a high incidence of health issues that require expensive treatments (for example cancer or a torn ACL), then pet insurance might be the right choice for you. Look back on the last few years and how much you spent on pet care. This might help you determine if pet insurance is worth the money.
If you decide you can’t afford pet insurance or it isn’t worth it, there are still plenty of ways to save on pet spending:
- Specific providers may offer wellness plans, which are usually plans that cover routine care, sometimes with a few extras, in exchange for a monthly fee, usually between $20 and $40.
- Visit your local animal shelter. They may offer discounted services and cheaper (sometimes even free) vaccinations. If not, they may still have great recommendations and referrals regarding pet care.
- Comparison shop for everything: from veterinarians, to prescriptions, to supplies like cat litter and dog food. Remember, your pets don’t know or care about how much you spend on them. Health is always more important than luxury.
- Lastly, take good care of your pets. Ensure they are getting the proper diet and exercise and make sure dangerous substances (like chocolate) are out of reach. This could save you an expensive trip to the vet.