The first pet insurance policy was sold in 1982 by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co, a subsidiary of Nationwide. Today, there are 12 major companies that offer pet insurance plus some lesser known companies. Many employers are even starting to offer it as a benefit to their employees.
Pet insurance is health insurance for your pets. The difference is that with most policies, you will pay for services upfront and the insurance company will reimburse you. Pet insurance could save you thousands in the event your pet gets sick or injured.
Your monthly or annual premiums will vary based on different factors.
Type of Pet: Dogs usually cost more than cats. Sex of the pet as well.
Breed: Larger breeds of dogs will cost more as they have shorter lifespans and more health issues.
Age: The younger your pet is, the cheaper the premium will be
Where you live: Premiums could be based on your state and town.
Premium Care: Upgrades and add-ons that are not part of a basic plan, will run you more.
Multiple Pets: You could save money insuring multiple pets in the household.
You most likely will have a deductible and max allowable benefit per year.
What is Covered?
Basic Coverage is for accidents or illnesses.
Comprehensive Coverage will help cover costs of vet visits, prescriptions, x-rays, labs, and vaccines. A small percentage of companies will cover pre-existing conditions and hip dysplasia but make sure to read the fine print. There are usually stipulations.
You will find most companies offer a combination of the above.
The monthly cost of pet insurance is $10-$100. With the average being $30 a month to $50 a month for decent coverage. So $360 to $600 a year. The average life of a dog is 10-13 years. Average life of a cat is 13-17 years.
Accidents and illnesses can be very costly, running up thousands of dollars! If you don't have the funds, you can find yourself and your pet in a difficult situation. Tough decisions will need to be made. So if you can afford the monthly premium, I would say you should at least have an accidental/illness insurance policy.
Routine annual vet care like visits, tests, and vaccines for dogs averages about $200-$400. For cats, $90 to $200. So whether or not to get a comprehensive plan would depend on what's included in the policy and how much the premium and out of pocket costs would be.
Its important to research coverage and get quotes from several different insurance companies. Ask your veterinarian who they recommend, this is also important as you may be limited to what vet you can use depending on insurance company. Ask other pet owners who have pet insurance. Read reviews online.
Like with most insurance, you are paying for peace of mind and a possible future need.
If you are wondering what companies to check out, be sure to read this informative article 10 Best Pet Insurance Companies of 2020 from Money.com
On October 17, 2020 our family got a 3-month-old boxer mix puppy. This happened 6 months after our senior dog passed. 7 weeks after we bought our first home. It was a decision that did not come lightly. The kids were begging but that’s not what lead us to add a pet to the family. I could resist their pleas.
It was me who had to mull over the idea as I knew I would be the one caring for the dog. I love puppies and dogs. I have had one pretty much in my like since I was 15 years old. Before that, I consistently begged for one since I was 6 years old. After my Drake passed in April, I was heartbroken. I also admittingly felt some relief. Pets can be a lot of work, especially dogs. They can cost lots of money.
I was enjoying the break while my sadness weaned. It never fully goes away after loss, but it becomes manageable. We could leave the house and not have to worry about our time of return. I didn’t have to clean up messes anymore. I didn’t have to worry about buying dog food. I didn’t have to worry about costly veterinarian visits. I didn’t have to worry about taking dog out in bad weather. It was one less stress during these stressful times of COVID-19.
Usually we take a vacation one time a year but between buying a house and COVID-19, that wasn’t in the plans this year. But I thought about future trips and how it would be nice to only worry about our cats being cared for and not a dog. All these reasons to not get another dog weighed on my mind for months.
We bought a house with a good sized fenced in yard. Previous owners had dogs and Beware of Dog signs were left on the fence gates. We live in a court and I noticed everyone had a dog or two. Our neighborhood actually has many dogs. I was starting to feel a little left out.
My husband surprised me by saying he thought it would be good if we got an intimidating looking guard type dog. That was something I never thought I would hear him say. He had said before if we were to get another dog, he wanted a small dog. He knows my love for German Shepherds and was okay if we got one. I was excited now.
I follow on Facebook a pet store that “adopts” out rescue puppies and dogs. They partner with a shelter who takes in dogs from other shelters/rescues around the country. I was looking at their page when I came across these adorable Shepherd mix puppies that were going to be available the next day. We as a family decided we wanted a shepherd pup named Joe.
That night while trying to fall asleep, I was excited and nervous. I questioned if this was the right decision. I knew what it meant getting a puppy. The next morning, we headed to the pet store. We got there as they opened and because of COVID-19, we put our name on a list and had to wait in our car until it was our turn to see the puppies. Another shepherd mix male I had some interest in was “adopted” by the family on waiting list before us. It was our turn to come in.
We took out Joe right away. They brought him out to us in one of the yards they have designated to play with the puppies/dogs. Joe was just the cutest fur ball. But he was a bit shy and scared. I think having to wear masks didn’t help. We tried playing with him. He cowered in the corner of fenced in area. I picked him up and he relaxed a little. It was explained this would be normal behavior as the litter was new to the store and frightened. After a bit, my husband wanted to see another pup they had there, from a different litter of puppies.
I had seen her when we walked in and honestly had no interest. She was a small fully brindle pup. I am not a fan of brindle dogs as I think they are kind of ugly and scary looking. Her face looked like a boxer or possibly pug. Looking at her, I immediately thought pit bull mix as well. But to humor my husband, we had them bring her out to the yard to us.
She was a playful little pup. The kids immediately liked that about her as did my husband. I knew better than to fall for that but somehow did. The family convinced me this was the pup we would take home! I still wanted Joe. We inquired about adopting both but the store wouldn’t allow it. They said they would become litter mates and its too difficult to raise both together. Later, I would see that’s a good call!
I had previously filled out adoption application online that morning before we headed to the store. Just some basic questions really. I have filled out other adoption applications at other places that fell just short of asking for a sample of blood or first-born child. They printed it out right in front of me when I said I had previously filled it out. Didn’t even look it over. We paid the $445 adoption fee which included first vaccinations, spay, microchip, deworming, bag of dog food, couple bones, and a toy. We also purchased a few extras, so total with tax was $505.30.
Next thing you know we are on our way home with our new 3-month-old puppy. We discuss names on our 30-minute ride home. We ultimately decide on JoJo in honor of Joe the shepherd mix who lead us to the pet store. I’m still not convinced this pup with “only a face a mother could love” is the dog I wanted.
Let the fun begin and the money disappear out of our bank account! We needed a crate, leash, collar, and toys. I still had dog bowls from my Drake. We headed to the store. Spent about $60 on those supplies.
Right away at home we noticed little JoJo was a real mouther. She likes to bite our hands, feet, clothes, and anything she can grab. I have worked with and owned enough dogs, to know this is typical puppy behavior. We just need more chew toys and positive redirection. More on this in another post.
Potty accidents right away on our beautiful shag area rug we just bought the week before. Okay, she is a puppy she is learning. Problem is area rug is dark blue (can’t see the pee) and its thick so hard to clean or vacuum. Oh, and this pup is literally having to pee 3x an hour, that can’t be normal!
With her adoption came several coupons for several different vets that offer free first visit. I start researching these vets online. We have a lot of veterinarians near us but the problem is during this pandemic a lot of them are fully booked up. A vet that I really want to take her to, that’s like a minute from our house and from Google reviews is affordable, seems impossible to get an appointment. So, I decide to use a vet recommended that was in adoption folder with the free vet coupon. Google reviews are good but warned they were pricey.
I schedule an appointment with ease using their app. Her appointment day comes. I have to wait in the car because of COVID-19. I’m thinking free vet visit and couple more vaccinations. How bad can this be? Well to the tune of $368.45. Office visit of $59 was free. But she needed fecal exam, $24 (normally $48 but had coupon for ½ off). DHLPP third vaccine, $44. First flu vaccines (2 different strains) $70, Urinalysis ( I did request this because of constant need to urinate), $63.49. Heartworm treatment for year, $117. Parasite medicine, $46.49. Medical Waste fee $3.00.
I still have to bring her back in a few weeks for rabies, final flu vaccines, DHLPP Booster, and another medical waste fee. That was $153. Kicker is a day later the doctor calls me to say that she still has another intestinal parasite and needs an additional medication on top of the one they already gave me to treat this parasite. Oh, and I have to pay for another fecal exam after she is done with that round of medicine. So that will be $58.44.
After that round of medicine, parasites are gone! Woo-hoo! I take her for her final rounds of vaccinations. Thinking we are done with the vet for a while unless something comes up. Well when I had that urinalysis done, it did show some small amounts of bacteria but doctor said it was up to me if I wanted to give her antibiotics. I declined at that time. Flash forward a few weeks later and I believed our little JoJo had a UTI. She was peeing small amounts frequently. Luckily, I was able to call and get antibiotics and just pick them up. That was $33.89 for 14 pills of Clavamox 125. Also bought a probiotic for her to take on Amazon for $22. I also give her pet CBD as it was great for our last dog, $22.
We also sprung for a DNA test through Wisdom Panel. That was $79.99. We just had to know what she was a mix of. Turns out she is 7 different breeds. 34% Boxer, 34% American Staffordshire Terrier, 10% Labrador, 8% Pekingese, 6% Shih Tzu, 4% Braque du Bourbonnais, and 4% English Cocker Spaniel.
In the 6 weeks we have had her, we have had to buy an additional 4 bags of premium dog food. Cost about $55. Numerous chew bones and toys, probably about $75. A coat and some sweaters, about $15 (found these on the cheap). She has short hair and its cold winters. Had to get her a slow eater bowl, $6 on Amazon, though I used points I had with my Amazon Prime Credit Card. I also bought training bells, another collar, leash, and training clickers. About $60. Other extras, about $30.
So total of what we have spent on her just in 6 weeks is right around $1430. Sure, some people spend that on buying a puppy alone or more! The costs could be less. Her food costs will grow as she grows and we will need to feed her more. I’m pretty sure she has ruined our area rug which we got on sale for $112. Accidents in the house are probably down to 1 a day now. We wasted some money on harnesses and chew toys she has no interest in. Its trial and error. We also paid for a DNA test that you don’t have to have.
Breakdown of typical and added expenses:
That said, the biggest cost is your time, love and patience! It’s worth it to me, to have a happy and healthy companion. The next morning after getting JoJo, she stole my heart. She is my baby. My daughter would go as far as to say she is “my favorite child now”. I don’t have favorites (wink, wink).
She has grown on me quick. She is a little gremlin at times. We are working hard at training and “no biting”. She is a smart puppy! She was not what drew me to the pet store nor the pup I would imagine we would have, but I’m happy she is apart of our family now!