Should You Get Pet Insurance?

Let’s be real – this post is just an excuse for me to share adorable pics of my parents’ new puppy, Rudy.

Rudy 3

Tired out from 10 minutes of hardcore wrestling that stuffed animal.

Just kidding. Pet insurance is a real thing. And with the vet costs on the rise, it’s something a lot of pet owners consider purchasing. My mom requested that I write this blog because she was wondering if she should get pet insurance for her new puppy. FYI – he’s an eight week old yellow lab in case you’re wondering. He just went home with my parents yesterday! I might have to move back in with them just so he has a sibling . . .

As cuddly and cute as Rudy is, he’s expensive. Your wallet gets hit the first time when you purchase your new pal. Then you have to spend more money on every day expenses like food, training, and accessories (leashes, crates, toys). By the time you get to vet fees for stuff like shots, neutering, and check ups Rudy and his fury friends are running up a pretty high tab.

According to a survey done by the American Pet Products Association, cat owners spend an average of $219 a year on routine vet visits. That’s a per cat cost, too, so if you’re a crazy cat lady then you can multiply it by 12. For dog owners the cost is even higher at an average of $248 per year. And that’s only if your four-legged friend is healthy. Costs go up dramatically if your pet has a health scare. Foreign body ingestion, aka your dog ate something he wasn’t supposed to, costs an average of $1,629 to handle. Our old dog Bode suffered from Inter-vertebral Disc Disease. The average cost to treat that? $3,282. Not cheap! Plus the only repayment you’ll get from your dog for a lot of these medical expenses are the laughs that ensue while watching them live with one of those embarrassing cones on their head.

Our old puppy Bode and his Cone of Shame.

Bode and his Cone of Shame.

All joking aside, most of us want to do whatever we can to keep our pets healthy. They’re members of the family after all. But with the cost of care so high, footing the bill for veterinary visits is no easy feat. A recent survey by the Associated Press showed that 41% of pet owners are somewhat worried that they could not afford medical care for a sick cat or dog. So is pet insurance a good solution?

The answer is yes and no. You see, experts still don’t agree on whether or not the cost of pet insurance premiums is worth the coverage you get. Because even though it’s for pets, it’s still insurance so it has to be complicated.

Consumer Reports did an experiment in 2011 where they compared the cost vs. payout of nine pet policies for Roxy, a healthy beagle. In her ten years of life Roxy’s owners had spent about $7,000 on veterinary costs. For the same period of time, the total price of pet insurance premiums exceeded $7,000 for each of the nine insurance companies they researched. Based on this study, Consumer Reports concluded that the benefits of pet insurance are very rarely worth the cost.

Here's another pic of Rudy in case the insurance talk is boring you.

Here’s another pic of Rudy in case the insurance talk is boring you.

That Consumer Reports study was done four years ago, however, and medical costs for pets have only gone up since then. New treatments for pets are being created all the time. Bode even went to a doggy chiropractor a few times. With more and more options for treatments available, pets are living longer. Which means owners are encountering more medical costs. So the chances that vet costs might exceed those insurance premiums are increasing.

At this point you’re probably thinking, “Kelsey, this doesn’t help me at all! Should I get pet insurance or not?!”

My answer to that questions is yes, you should consider pet insurance IF:

  • You can afford the monthly premium, which is typically anywhere from $20 to $60.
  • Piece of mind is important to you. If you don’t ever want to have to choose between your pet’s health and your wallet’s, then pet insurance might be right for you.
  • You understand the terms of the insurance coverage you pay for. Pet insurance, like other types of insurance, comes with deductibles and co-pays. Make sure you understand what is covered for your pet so there are no surprises.
  • You’re fine with the possibility that you could pay for insurance each month and never use the coverage for a healthy dog or cat.

If you don’t think pet insurance is right for you, then here’s an easy alternative – make a pet savings account! Put $10 or $20 a month into a savings account specifically designated for potential pet-related expenses. At our credit union you could set up a club savings account in minutes, in person or on the phone, to start saving for your pet ASAP. You can even set up an automatic transfer each month into that account so the money gets saved without you having to think about it. The money in that pet savings account will help you pay for vet costs. And unlike with traditional insurance, you won’t be restricted to using the funds for medical expenses, so you could use it to pay for other stuff like going to the groomers or extra treats! Bonus – if your pet lives a long, happy life you might never use the money and this way it would be in your bank account instead of the insurance company’s pocket.

Bottom line: whether you chose to use insurance or not, pets are expensive. Make sure you factor in all potential pet costs when creating your budget, including those pesky unexpected trips to the vet.

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My Dog is Better than Yours

Today is National Dog Day. And although my 12 year-old yellow lab lacks the ability to read, what he does have is a keen sense of sarcasm. So what better way to honor him than by writing a post detailing all of the reasons why he is, in fact, the greatest dog to have ever lived?

10 Reasons Why Bode is Cooler than Your Dog:

1. He’s photogenic. Just look at his face. LOOK AT IT. If you could snuggle this photo, you would. Don’t lie.

Hello, friend.

Hello, friend.

2.He’s a creep. And he embraces it. Bode is always lurking somewhere, just casually staring you. Like you’ll let him outside, won’t see him for a while, and then you’ll just look out the window to see him staring at you like this . . .

Here he is just hanging out in the woods. With devil eyes. Casual.

With devil eyes. Casual.

3. He loves my mom. Bode has an undying loyalty to this woman. His only goal in life is to be as close as possible to her at all times. He will do whatever it takes to succeed.

She went in this room and closed the door. This is how he waited until she came out.

She went in this room and closed the door. This is how he waited until she came out.

4. He enjoys a good cuddle! Bode will snuggle with you any time, any where. Probably even if you didn’t want to snuggle. Most likely even more so if you’re afraid of dogs and you tried to resist him. And 100% if you sit on the floor, you will cuddle with him. You have no choice. Why would you sit down there if you didn’t want him in your lap?

"Love me." - Bode

“Love me.” – Bode

5. He appreciates a good fort. Bode’s hobbies include eating, sighing loudly for no reason, and squishing himself under furniture. I’m not really sure how he fits under my parent’s coffee table. He just does. And it’s adorable. But the real hilarity ensues when he tries to get out. How he moves is best described by the word “scuttling.” He looks like a crab.

Under the table, where the spooks can't get him.

Under the table, where the spooks can’t get him.

6. He looks good human clothes. Slippers? Don’t mind if I do! Hats? Certainly, good sir. Bode looks dapper no matter what accessories you force him to wear. But I think it’s the slight look of, “Must you really, with the clothes and the photos? Psh, humans,” in his eye that really pulls his looks together.

Bode Hat

He looks like a train conductor.

Shoes.

Shoes.

7. He’s sassy. As a puppy, Bode once ran up behind my mom and jumped a solid 3 feet into the air, just so he could nip her on the bum. Then there was the time that my sister tried to give him a treat and he rejected it. He took the treat in his mouth, gave her the hairy eye-ball, then actually tossed his head and released the treat back at her. He’s always judging and always dolling out the sass.

Throwin' shade.

Throwin’ shade.

8. He’s surprisingly good at catching things. One time, one of our neighbors free range chickens roamed a little too far down their driveway, and Bode caught him. He picked the chicken right up in his mouth, but gently so he teeth didn’t dig into him. And then he came running towards us all proud, showing off. My mom saved the chicken and brought him back to his home, but he might have died from a heart attack shortly afterward.

One time I threw a ball for Bode and he came back with this pear.

One time I threw a ball for Bode and he came back with this pear.

9. He’s majestic. Most of the time he’s a total goofball, but every now and then he will catch you off guard and look like one of those dogs in the lab calendars we’re always buying my mom for Christmas (she likes those, right?).

Gazing off into the distance.

Gazing off into the distance.

10. He’s just an all around good boy. And that’s all there is to it. As much as I may complain that he smells or licks my face while I’m sleeping or gets little white hairs all over my clothes, he is the best dog in the world. And I love him.

Love Bug xoxo

Love Bug xoxo

In conclusion, your dog is probably pretty great, but my dog is better. Happy National Dog Day, to all my four-legged friends out there.