Insurance can lessen the bite of pet health care |

Insurance can lessen the bite of pet health care

Brad Horn / Nevada AppealGregg Meyer, D.V.M., examines Bailey the dog while her owner, Tedi Burger, watches last week at the V&T Pet Clinic in Carson City. Bailey, who is 19 months old, was adopted from Dog Town Canine Rescue.

As human health-care costs have increased, so have the costs to care for animals. But just as humans can purchase medical plans to pay for their own health care, they also can purchase health insurance for their pet.

There are many companies on the market offering pet insurance – Pets Best Insurance, Veterinary Pet Insurance, PetCare and The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals among them.

Like insurance plans for humans, plans for pets vary according to coverage selected, as do monthly costs.

“Pets Best works like human insurance,” said Debbie Bess, office manager of V&T Pet Clinic in Carson City. “It pays a certain percentage, about 80 percent of the bill, and you also have a deductible.”

Each of the pet insurance companies note that any veterinarian may be used with their coverage. Restrictions are typical, such as breed-specific hereditary problems and pre-existing conditions. Some offer discounts of 7 percent to 15 percent when more than one pet is enrolled.

“The insurance is something nice to have and hope you never have to use,” Bess added.

Carson City veterinarian Gregg Meyer said an illness such as parvo in a puppy can easily kill the pet and cost the pet owner a lot of money.

“You have treatment, hospitalization, medications – and there’s no guarantee the puppy will live,” Meyer said.

“An animal can also be hit by a car. Then you have broken bones, internal injuries, surgery and stabilization, pain meds – it’s very expensive.

“Another thing that commonly happens is animals falling out of the back of a pickup. An animal should not be in the back of a pickup without crosstying it in or being placed in a carrier. And cats wander outside. Accidents do happen, but spaying and neutering is a huge thing. The animal is less likely to wander.”

The calculated cost for a 6-year-old spayed female domestic long-haired cat varies from about $150 for six months through the ASPCA to about $205 through Pets Best, with the median-cost coverage plan, including well-pet health care.

The calculated cost for a 9-year-old spayed border collie varies from $197.70 through PetCare to $266.76 with Pets Best.

As the season of food and decoration are upon us, Meyer reminds pet owners to be cautious with things such as tinsel, mistletoe, ornaments, electrical cords and food.

“Ribbons and yarn get chewed and swallowed, and you’ve got 12-18 inches of it stringing out the animal’s intestine,” he said. “Then you’re looking at surgery.

“Also, no turkey, chocolate, macadamia nuts; peanuts and grapes are a no-no. Grapes and raisins cause kidney failure. Onions and garlic are no-nos also.

“The cost of vet care is escalating. Everything is escalating – fuel is a huge factor in the general economy. Families no longer have disposable income. Without pet insurance, it’s going to be tough to make ends meet. There are several good companies with good coverage. You just have to shop and see what fits your budget, lifestyle and your animal’s lifestyle.”

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