Today’s post is by my awesome staff writer Jordann. Enjoy!
This is, a bit of a sticky conversation, but one that I think is worth having.
A few weeks ago, my cat, Mia, got sick. She’s four years old and has been remarkably healthy so far in her life, requiring almost no vet care other than spaying her at six months of age. So when she started puking, me being the responsible pet owner I am, I dutifully took her to the vet. You can read about the whole saga here.
Mia is back home, safe and healthy now, but the whole experience set me back around $600. No big deal, that’s what the emergency fund is for.
Now that the whole thing is over with, I’ve started thinking about the what ifs.
What if the worst had happened?
What if she’d really been sick?
What if it had been a lot more expensive?
How much would I be willing to spend on my pets in order to bring them back to health?
After all, they’re family members. Their health and well being is important to me. If one of my pets got really sick, and needed life saving but expensive treatment, how much would I be willing to spend on them? I’ve heard stories of pet owners spending upwards of $10,000 on treatments, but I also know pet owners who wouldn’t spend more than $500 to save a pet. Where do I fall on this scale? What’s my threshold?
I think, to really answer this question fully, there are a few things to take into consideration.
Odds of Survival
Just typing this out is making my insides squirm, I hate thinking about my pets being sick.
One of the things I would definitely have to take into consideration when deciding how much I’d be willing to spend in a veterinary emergency, would be the odds of survival. If the life saving procedure costs $6000 and only results in a 30% change of success, I’m not sure I would go for it. If the procedure would 100% cure my pet, on the other hand, I’d be much more willing to spend the money.
Access to Funds
Right now I have a $2k emergency fund while paying off debt. If my pet got sick, anything beyond that, would have to come out of my various sources of untapped credit. That’s not an awesome prospect and would probably make me think harder about spending the money.
In contrast, if I was saving to buy a house, and had $40k in cash sitting in a savings account, I would probably be inclined to swipe a bit of that to pay for any emergency procedures.
Age of the Pet
Again this sounds terrible, but I would be more inclined to spend a lot of money bringing a young dog or cat back to health than one that is more than 10 years of age. At that point, I think poor health just becomes part of the equation. I’ve met pet owners that have spent thousands on chemo for older dogs with cancer, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.
There’s also pet insurance to take into consideration. While having pet insurance can definitely take the sting out of high vet bills, most plans only have a maximum threshold of coverage (say $1,500 per illness), so odds are you’ll probably still end up forking over some of your own cash if your pet is seriously ill. If you DO have a pet that you think will be prone to illness, I would definitely recommend pet insurance as an option.
So, what’s your threshold? Would you spend a fortune to help your dog or cat live a happy and healthy life?
Do you have a dollar value in mind as the maximum you’d be willing to spend?