Have you ever wondered if you should get pet insurance for your pet dog or service dog? You know, the kind that covers a good chunk of medical emergency expenses for your pup, regardless of whether he's "just" a pet or your valued service dog?
I personally have. After all, our pet dogs and service dogs are so much more than just animals who happen to live with us, right? They're part of our family, and their short lifespans are hard enough to deal with.
That being said, I'm sure that we can all agree that losing them earlier than necessary to a medical emergency is the biggest nightmare of any dog parent, and pet insurance can be a helpful option with that scenario.
Imagine this: Your cat-crazy Golden Retriever spots a kitty on the other side of your fenced-in yard, jumps the fence and starts the hot pursuit. He gets hit by a car while blindly chasing after the cat and the next thing you know is your vet's emergency surgery quote of $5,000. Ouch.
Or how about this, your 30 lb. service dog gets attacked by an aggressive 80 lb loose dog and ends up with multiple bites that require immediate medical attention. Your vet's quote is $1,500-2,000.
And what about your service dog's hip dysplasia surgery for $6,000? Or your Boxer's cancer diagnosis with a quote of upwards of $7,000? And your other Boxer's molar fracture for $700? I've been faced with the last two myself!
Would you be able to come up with the funds to cover those vet bills, or would you struggle?
That's an important question because it's going to affect your decision-making process about getting medical insurance for your pet dog or service dog.
That being said, let's look at the benefits of medical pet insurance for pet dogs and service dogs, as well as the cons, followed by realistic alternatives. At the end, I'll share my own decision, including how I paid for my Boxer pups' bills.
The biggest benefit of enrolling your pet dog or service dog in pet insurance is the financial help with medical bills that you can expect from the provider. Even if you have to pay a deductible and are only getting a certain percentage back from the overall cost (usually 70-90%), it's still very helpful.
That brings me to the next benefit, which is peace of mind for you, the dog owner. There's just nothing like knowing that you can afford your pet dog or service dog's medical emergency.
On the other hand, there are a few things to consider before you can benefit from those types of reimbursements.
First of all, there's the jungle of rates and policies along with the plethora of providers. It takes a good amount of time to read through them all and understand the differences.
Next up, it's important to understand that almost every pet insurance provider has a waiting period of 10-14 days. That means that during this timeframe, you can't file any claims for an accident or illness of your pet dog or service dog.
Also, be aware that your older pet dog or service dog with pre-existing conditions may not be able to enroll in illness coverage. Many pet insurance providers have this policy. That's why if you do decide to get pet insurance, make sure to enroll your dog when he's still a puppy or a fairly young dog without any pre-existing medical concerns.
Finally, the financial commitment you take on with your pup's pet insurance is a considerable one that adds up. You'll usually pay monthly rates, although some providers also offer a little discount for yearly payments and for multiple dogs.
Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and your financial habits when you decide if you should get pet insurance for your pet dog or service dog.
Of course, if you have the financial means to cover an unexpected, hefty vet bill, you don't need pet insurance for your pup.
I'd suggest to have at least $7,000 in easily accessible pet emergency funds. It would be a good idea to have it sitting in a high-yield savings account so that you'll get at least a little return on your money while you're not actively spending it on emergency vet bills!
Another option is to pay those bills with a credit card that has a:
There's also the option of applying for a care credit card for your pet dog or service dog. This type of credit card can only be used for veterinary financing and requires a credit score of at least 600.
After weighing the pros and cons of paying for pet insurance for my two Boxers, I decided to enroll them in insurance.
I wanted to have the assurance that a medical pet emergency wouldn't cause a major financial crisis for me because I didn't have a minimum of $7,000 in doggie health savings. It ended up being the right decision for me personally since three years into making monthly pet insurance payments, I needed to start filing some claims!
That's because my Boxer girl Missy was diagnosed with cancer, and her brother Buzz ended up with a broken molar from chewing on a recreational bone that was too hard for him. All in all, I paid $2,800 in insurance costs, and the insurance provider covered $6,500 in illness and accident claims.
Like I mentioned above, deciding whether or not to get pet insurance for your pet dog or your service dog mainly depends on your individual financial situation. If you have a well-cushioned savings account for your pup's potential emergencies, you probably won't need to get pet insurance.
However, if you suspect that an expensive vet bill could break the bank, the peace of mind that comes with having pet insurance for your pet dog or service dog is probably a good idea.