What you should know about pet insurance
In this article we will address several things regarding pet insurance. Should I have pet insurance for my pet? How does pet insurance work? Is it worth it financially? How to choose the right provider for pet insurance? What kinds of things are covered by pet insurance? Pet insurance is still in its infancy in the United States. Many pet owners are unsure about it or have not even considered it. At Ludwigs Corner Veterinary Hospital and Coventry Animal Hospital we feel every pet should have coverage. We have seen it make a difference in our practices and thought we might share some helpful and useful information.
Should I have pet insurance for my pet?
If you ask any of the staff at Ludwigs Corner Veterinary Hospital or Coventry Animal Hospital the answer is “yes.” Have you ever brought your pet in for a check-up and they needed significant dental work? Have you ever had to take your dog or cat to the veterinarian for vomiting or diarrhea? These are just examples of when pet insurance comes in handy. As veterinary medicine becomes more advanced, and offers medical/surgical treatment options comparable to human medicine, the cost of care has increased. It is impossible to provide optimal care to your pets at minimal cost. Costs in the veterinary field are growing as a result of increased costs of medications, laboratory testing, diagnostic studies, medical equipment, facility requirements and training. Pet insurance helps by supporting some of the financial burden of top notch care. For the client who wishes to be able to provide optimal care and/or to seek veterinary care whenever an issue arises, pet insurance can definitely relieve worry about costs.
How does pet insurance work?
Although there are many different companies and policies to choose from, they all work in generally the same fashion. Pet insurance is a reimbursement system. You pay your veterinarian in full at the time of service. You then submit your invoice and summary of the issue to the insurance company for review. Based on your pet’s policy, you will then receive a reimbursement amount. It is similar to car insurance in that you are paying monthly to have coverage in the event an illness or accident occurs. Few if any insurances cover wellness or preventative care services. Everyone hopes they are never in a car accident and everyone hopes their pet never gets ill, but if it happens you have your insurance to back you and your wallet up.
Is pet insurance a financial benefit? Is it worth it financially?
Many say it depends on the animal’s general health and how the owners feel about what kind of care they want to provide. There are many folks who feel they will spend whatever it takes to give their pet the best medical care possible. However this doesn’t mean they have the financial means to do so. At the current level of technology in veterinary medicine many pets not only have a general veterinarian but also have an Ophthalmologist, Cardiologist, Dermatologist, or Neurologist that they see for specialized care. In today’s world bringing your pet in for an upset stomach, limping, lethargy and/or not eating can be a couple hundred dollars per visit depending on your geographical area and what care is needed at the time. This is when pet insurance can be greatly beneficial. While companies and policies vary, they generally pay a certain percentage after the office visit fee. This means that medications, laboratory testing, and other diagnostics would be reimbursed to you. Again, everyone hopes they never need to use their insurance, but if something does happen you will be glad you have it. As pets get older medical needs increase. The key to making your pet insurance worth it is getting a policy early. Many companies will raise your premium if your pet has “pre existing” conditions. See this link for information on pre-existing conditions as defined by healthy paws http://www.healthypawspetinsurance.com/Frequent-Question/Pet-Insurance/What-is-a-pre-existing-condition. Insure your pet while they are healthy, and any condition moving forward will be covered. There are many times in the veterinary field where an animal can be cured or treated for something but due to cost the owners elect to euthanize. Our goal is for this situation to be decreased, if not eliminated, by clients utilizing and having insurance coverage for their four-legged family members.
How do I choose a pet insurance provider?
While the pet insurance industry is new in the United States, there are still many options for providers. An insurance provider should be chosen based on your needs, your budget, and those things that you would like covered. Some of the largest and best known companies are Trupanion, VPI Petplan, Healthy paws and Embrace. We recommend that you shop around or ask your veterinarian who they recommend. Things to consider include: 1. Does the carrier provide a clear explanation of the policy details? These details should include any limitations and exclusions. 2. Does your pet’s premium change or increase as they age or if you relocate? 3. Are there add-on options for specific things such as travel coverage and/or dental coverage? 4. How do they handle pre-existing conditions? 5. Are there any breed limitations? Some groups consider certain breeds to be high risk and will not offer them coverage. 6. Are there any discounts for multiple pets? Remember to read the exclusions carefully so that if your claim is rejected you won’t be surprised.
What kinds of things are covered by pet insurance?
While providers and polices can range, the general reasons for pet insurance are for accidents and illnesses, not for annual or preventative care visits. Coverage typically includes medications, diagnostics including radiographs and lab work, surgical treatments, emergency care and hospitalization. Some of the most expensive conditions paid for include but are not limited to torn knee ligament/cartilage, foreign body ingestion surgery, stomach torsion/bloat, broken leg, and laryngeal paralysis. Look at each provider’s guidelines and services covered before picking a plan that is right for you. If you have questions regarding service or what things you might need under your coverage, consult your veterinarian.
By Theresa Klales
Did you know that Turkey is toxic to dogs and cats?
Thanksgiving is all about sharing, and of course a large delicious meal. Many pet owners do not realize that the vast majority of veterinarian and emergency visits during the holiday revolve around turkey. So while the holiday is all about eating and sharing, you should not indulge your pets with holiday foods. Turkey and other holiday foods can be hazardous to your pet’s digestive system. Even a small slice of turkey can cause pancreatitis. Don't risk it! Abstain from giving pets anything from the table during the holidays. You can end up with a large veterinary bill or even worse at an emergency center. While even a little bit to “Fido” can be fine, it is not worth it. You could end up with a very sick pet. If you see any vomiting, diarrhea or lethargy you should call your veterinarian right away. Even if you did not see them ingest something, it is possible they helped themselves while you weren't looking or a guest was too liberal with sharing some left overs. For more information on canine pancreatits visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canine_pancreatitis.
Also be mindful to withhold bones. Cooked animal bones can splinter and get stuck in your animal’s throat or digestive tract causing damage. The carcass can also create dangers as it may harbor salmonella, an organism that lives in the turkey’s intestinal tract. The cooking process usually kills all of the bacteria, but occasionally the center of the turkey may be undercooked, especially if it’s large or full of stuffing. Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, listlessness, fever, and loss of appetite. Be sure to take all of the bones and waste from your meal outside of the home so your pet does not raid the trash can.
See the link for information on why bones can be bad for your dog. http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/05/19/caution-bones-can-kill-your-dog-find-out-which-ones-are-safe.aspx
Heartworm Prevention Guidelines For Dogs
Cardiology - General Practice & Preventative Medicine
Canine heartworm disease is a serious parasitic disease caused by a long, thin worm that lives in the blood vessels and heart of infected dogs. The disease is spread from dog to dog (and to cat) by mosquitoes. The mosquito bites a dog with heartworm infection, collects some of the microscopic heartworm offspring and then, after a couple of weeks,passes these on to another dog or cat.
Inside the dog, the microscopic heartworm can grow into a parasite exceeding a foot in length. The life cycle is somewhat complicated. The important thing is to prevent worm development using safe and effective preventative drugs.
Heartworms are present (endemic) in most parts of the United States and in many parts of North America. Mosquitoes are the key – without them the disease cannot spread. The highest rates of infections are found in subtropical climates like those of the southeastern United States, the Gulf states and Hawaii. However, heartworms are also found throughout the central and eastern United States, particularly near oceans, lakes and rivers. Heartworm disease injures the lungs, the arteries of the lungs and the heart. Symptoms include tiring, coughing, weight loss and heart failure. Heartworm infection in dogs is usually diagnosed by a blood test.
Prevention of heartworm disease is simple. In most cases, a once-monthly prescription treatment is all that is needed to effectively protect your pet. These preventatives are only available from your veterinarian, who must first make certain that your dog is not heartworm positive. These"preventatives" kill microscopic larvae that are left behind by mosquitoes when they bite a dog.
Before beginning heartworm prevention, any dog over 7 months of age should first have a heartworm test. Preventatives in heartworm positive dogs can cause severe reactions. Repeated heartworm blood testing every year is recommended even for dogs taking heartworm preventative year round.Previous recommendations were for every 1 – 3 year testing but this changed with the 2005 American Heartworm Society (AHS) recommendations to yearly testing. This is due to concern with breaks of pets on preventatives that still contracted heartworms. Annual testing will ensure that an infection is caught in plenty of time to effectively manage it. Testing is also recommended when a pet owner switches between preventative medications.
The AHS recommends that all dogs in areas endemic for heartworms should take a year-round preventative. If you are not certain about the danger of heartworms in your area, call your veterinarian. Most veterinarians follow the guidelines published by the American Heartworm Society, a group of concerned veterinarians and scientists. As noted above, dogs over 7 months of age should first have a heartworm test. Speak to your veterinarian about administration guidelines.
Some heartworm preventatives also control intestinal or external parasites. The wide range of excellent and safe heartworm prescription products can be explained by your veterinarian.
For more information about the most recent recommendations on heartworm prevention, visit the guidelines posted on the Society's web site at www.heartwormsociety.org