My dog Josey became injured twice this past year.
First, as I watched him coming towards me in the woods, I saw his body stop and
tilt completely, mid-jump. He landed hard on his right side and got up holding
up his right leg, which appeared to dangle lifelessly. "Whoa," I said, feeling
sick, as I rushed to him.
He'd run a stick completely through the meat of his forearm. I picked him up
-- all 60 pounds -- and started for the house.
Fortunately, whatever had punctured his leg had missed blood vessels and
bone. My vet took x-rays, and sent me home with prescriptions for antibiotics
and pain medication. Those items, plus the emergency visit, came to $288!
A few months later, during some routine training, I remember seeing Josey slip awkwardly as he careened around a corner on the
wet grass. He began to favor his right back leg, seemingly unable to put any
weight on it.
Right, it was time for another emergency vet visit. "Classic ACL
presentation," my vet said, and my heart sank. "But, I don't think this is a
complete tear, and I'd like to try a shot of Adequan,
and give him a chance to respond to that before we do any surgery."
Josey got the pain medication and the shot, and in
a week, another shot. He was noticeably better in a week and completely better
about a week after the second shot. On my vet's advice,
I rested him for a month. He has had no further problems. The total vet bill
I'd wager a bet that all of us have insurance for our homes, vehicles and
personal health; but, although many of us are multiple dog owners, we haven't
looked into pet insurance. And it's easy to research -- I just did it (www.Purinacare.com), and I can vouch that
it's well worth the time. There's a comparison tool on that website, which
allows you to compare rates, options and coverage benefits for a dozen
A basic accident only policy was just $12.50 a month. If I'd had a pet
insurance policy for Accident and Illness, with a 20 percent co-pay and $100
deductible, I'd have paid $38.31 per month for the policy, in round numbers
$460 a year.
My total vet bills for Josey's two injuries were
$596. My 20 percent co-pay would have been about $100 and I would have paid the
$100 deductible. Bottom line: The $460 policy would have covered about $396 of
the vet bills. Ah hah, you're thinking, so, is it worth it?
Well, yes. Just change Josey's ACL injury to a
complete tear, requiring surgery. The average cost for that is more than
"It's just like when you buy auto or home insurance, you might think, well
I'm spending this money, but I haven't had a claim," said Mike Albo, director of sales & marketing for PurinaCare Pet Health Insurance. "What you want to have is
that security blanket -- it's not about saving money, but about protecting
yourself against financial disasters and having to make emotional decisions.
"Pet insurance is not for everyone. It's for highly-involved pet owners who
see their pet as part of the family," he added. "You won't miss not having it
-- until your pet has an unfortunate illness or accident."
Expenses which are covered by an Accident and Illnesses policy include
hospitalization, surgery, diagnostics, and prescriptions. Policies typically
don't cover illnesses, which could have been prevented, with proper care, such
as treatment for kennel cough, parvo-virus and
But what happens if your dog gets quilled by a
porcupine while you're grouse hunting in Maine?
Gets hit by a car crossing a dirt road in Michigan? And both those things happen when
you're not anywhere near your home-state vet?
"You would just have to present the claim to your insurance carrier," Albo explained. "As long as the treatment is performed by a
licensed veterinarian, and you have the documentation, the policy will be in
Pet insurance may make even more sense for those who are starting with a
puppy or younger dog (Policy premiums adjust up with age milestones, 5, 8 and
10 are typical.) Although I opted to look into a policy, which covered accident
and illness, there are more comprehensive policies which include preventive
care such as vaccinations, annual exams, spaying/neutering, heartworm tests and
medications, flea and tick products and even dental scaling.
Preventative care policies may cover as much as $700 a year in annual
benefits for routine care. According to statistics, the average cost for
routine care for a dog per year is $356. Dental scaling -- a component of
preventative care many of us overlook -- typically costs at least $150.
Still think pet insurance may not be worth the cost? As an example, consider
the case of Garbage Can* (*not his real name), an exuberant, 3-year-old black
lab. His owners were painting a room in their house, and as they removed the
protective blue tape from the trim around doors and windows, they rolled the
sticky, paint-covered tape into tidy balls.
Yep, you guessed it. Garbage Can was just trying to help. He ate not one,
not two, but several of the balls. Removing the balls from various parts of his
digestive system cost his owners a little over $6,000.
They had a pet insurance Accident/Illness/Preventative Care policy with a
premium of $23.51 a month, 20 percent co-pay, $250
"Some people who own a dog and are facing a bill like that may opt for
euthanasia, because to them, it's just a dog, disposable," Albo
said. "But most of us don't feel that way about our pets -- I have an
11-year-old dog that is part of my family.
"Most of us would be willing to put a large amount of effort and money into
treating a pet's serious illness or injury, but if the family simply couldn't
afford the treatment you'd have to make a decision, which could destroy you
emotionally," he added. "Having pet insurance protects you from having to make
tough decisions about a large veterinary bill."
Monthly premiums vary based on the amount of coverage you seek, the age of
your pet and the amounts of deductibles and co-pays. Many companies offer
multiple-pet discounts. As we start a new year of life with our hunting dogs,
it may be time for us to do a little hunting on their behalf.
For a fine selection of Dog Supplies,