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.
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.
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.
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.
Lauren from L Bee and the Money Tree wrote recently about how her dog, Murray, decided to take a little jaunt around the neighbourhood at 11pm in the middle of the rain storm, leaving her a nervous wreck until she found him.
While this story ends well, it’s one we’ll all familiar with. I’ve been a victim of it myself. My dog Molly pulled the same trick on me last summer, except she was a full half mile away when she was found.
Dogs and cats disappear every day. Some estimate that 10 million are reported missing every year. If you own a pet, odds are, it’s going to give you the slip at some point in its life, and go missing. Hopefully your story will have the same happy ending mine and Lauren’s did, but to improve those odds, here are some ways you can keep your pet keep your pet from escaping, and help ensure it’s found quickly.
Many, many dogs will take any opportunity to go exploring their neighbourhood, and an open backyard gate the perfect temptation. To help protect against this possibility, install an automatic closing device on your gates to ensure that if they are left open for any reason, they’ll close on their own.
In addition to this, consider installing an underground electric fence, which will deter against fence digging and wandering out of an open gate. I have one installed around the parameter of my property, and my dog Molly has rarely wandered off. The cost of one of these fences can be as low as a few hundred dollars, and is money well spent. There are even options available for cats!
In most cities, dogs are required to be registered, and will receive an ID tag to attach to their collar. This ID tag will contain a ID number and toll free number to call. Anyone who finds a dog with an ID tag, will have a way of getting in contact with the owner.
One caveat to this method: Don’t forget to update your pet’s info when you move! Otherwise, your contact information will be out of date and the people who found your pet will have no way of getting in contact with you. Registrations are typically inexpensive, renewable yearly and often required by law.
This is a great option for both cats and dogs, and is widely available at your local vet’s office. Instead of an ID tag, the vet will insert a small microchip underneath your pet’s skin. The chip will be readable by a scanner that most vet’s offices and animal shelters are equipped with. This is particularly beneficial if a pet is found by animal control.
It also has the benefit of always being with your pet, even if they slip out of their collar and have no tags on them. As I mentioned above, don’t forget to update this information when you move! This isn’t typically expensive, it cost me $10 to have my dog Molly microchipped at the SPCA.
Sometimes, despite your best intentions, your pet ends up missing. In these situations, having a plan in place to recover your pet could mean the difference between a few hours of searching and a few weeks. Have a “Lost Pet” poster prepared and saved on your computer, so that you can easily and quickly print out several posters to put up around the neighbourhood. Become acquainted with the local lost pets Facebook groups and message boards so you can quickly and easily get the word out to the local community. Finally, don’t forget to call your local shelter and vet’s offices with a description of your pet, in case animal control or a concerned citizen turns him or her in. By quickly publicizing the fact that you are looking for your pet, you increase the number of people keeping an eye out, thus increasing the chances your pet will be found.
No one likes to think about the fact that some day, you might be trudging the streets of your neighbourhood, calling your pet’s name. By taking these simple and inexpensive precautions you can minimize the chance of harm coming to your pet, and increase the odds of a happy ending to your pet’s adventure.
Happy Wednesday everyone! I had a great weekend and I hope you all did as well. Here’s to a great 2013!
The other day I received an e-mail from a reader who was wondering about pet insurance. I don’t have pet insurance, but it is something that I wonder about.
I’m writing this post more as a way to ask all of you: do you have pet insurance? What do you think of it? And also, how much does it cost?
I noticed that a vet near my house offers a “wellness plan.” It’s not exactly insurance but if your dogs are sick, then you are able to bring them in as many times in a year as you would like, and it also covers other things such as checkups and vaccinations.
The cost was around $300 per year I believe. At what point would this be worthwhile and when would it not be? Also, this is not insurance, so would you buy both or just have one of the other?
I love my pets and will spend whatever is necessary in order to ensure that they are in the best of health. One of our dogs is a French Bulldog and also a runt, so we do know that he has a TON of expected medical bills in the future.
I do see my dogs as a part of my family. I don’t care how many of you say that I am crazy. If pet insurance is truly worth it and the monthly costs are not excessive (in which just saving myself would be better) then I definitely plan on signing up. Sometimes procedures can cost thousands of dollars, and in the case that happens I would like insurance to lessen the burden.