The Blog

September 18, 2020

Pet Insurance: Financial Planning for Pet Ownership

by Magali Cohen
One thing we are seeing during this global pandemic is an increase in pet adoptions. If you just adopted a new furry family member recently or are thinking about adopting, you may not be aware of the overall costs involved. Some of these costs may take you by surprise in the form of a large vet bill. Just like children, pets sometimes get sick. Find out how good financial planning and good pet insurance can protect you from surprise costs.

Typical Cost of Owning a Dog

The typical cost of owning a dog includes the following:

• Spaying or neutering- $200. If you did not adopt an already spayed or neutered animal, you can use your local animal shelter to perform these services for much less than a veterinary office will. San Diego Humane Society provides this service for just $75-$95.
• Adopting a dog through a breeder- anywhere from $500- $3000 depending on the breed.
• Adopting a dog through a local animal shelter- anywhere from $25- $200 depending on age of pet.
• Food- $30-$60 a month depending on quality of food.
• Pet supplies including leash, collar, crate, pet bed, toys, etc.- $ 150-$300 depending on quality of items you purchase. The best way to save on these items is to use an online store such as Amazon. Big name pet stores usually charge much more for these items and they are not always higher quality.
• Flea medication- around $20 a month.
• Heartworm medication – around $7 a month.

Choose a reputable breeder

It is important to visit the site of a breeder if you choose to adopt through a breeder. Beware of any breeder who wants to meet you in a parking lot with just the puppy. It is best to never put yourself in this situation to prevent falling in love with the cute puppy. Always visit the site of adoption and meet the puppy’s parents to make sure the animals are treated well. Often, these poor parking lot puppies are sick and will leave you with possible heart break and a hefty vet bill. The puppy should be at least 8 weeks of age before leavings its mother’s litter. Make sure to use the Humane Society’s guideline for adopting through a responsible breeder.

Protect your pet and your savings with pet insurance

Once you have adopted your pet, consider purchasing pet insurance. If you have not yet adopted your pet, beware that some policies exclude pre-existing conditions and breed-specific conditions. This is why it is very important to screen the pet for health conditions before adopting. Research the pet’s breed for common health conditions as well.

Pet insurance allows you to choose whichever vet you are comfortable with and is reasonably priced. Insurance premiums could cost you more over the lifespan of your pet than what you would pay out-of-pocket for most vet visits. However, similar to human health insurance, it gives you peace of mind for possible catastrophic events.

It is especially important to either have funds readily available through emergency savings or to have pet insurance for an unforeseeable event such as Fido eating his or her chew toy. Shop for different quotes from various pet insurance companies before choosing one. Make sure to ask what is covered under each plan, co-pay costs, premium costs, any restrictions, and overall deductible. It may not be the best choice for everyone but can help those who do not have emergency funds readily available.

Prevention and planning

One simple way to protect your pet beyond just financially, is to use monthly flea and tick medication. Fleas and ticks can transmit Lyme disease, tapeworms, and other life-threatening diseases. It is also important to give your pet heartworm medication. Heartworm is very expensive to treat and can be fatal but is relatively inexpensive to prevent. At the very least, these two medications will prevent you from many possibly expensive vet trips.

Other simple actions can protect your pet. Make sure to keep trash away from your pet. Often, animals can get sick from eating something in your trash can. Keep poisonous household cleaners off the floor. Never leave plastic bags on the floor that can cause suffocation. Beware of poisonous trees, plants, and foods that your dog cannot eat.

Just like human health, the best way to save money and to have a healthy pet, is through prevention. Start by doing your best to screen the pet for obvious health concerns. If you choose to adopt through a breeder, always screen the breeder with multiple questions. Do your research before even visiting the breeder to stop you from making impulsive decisions and be aware of possible hazards in the home. Try and save $5,000- $10,000 for possible emergency events before you adopt your pet. If this is not possible, consider purchasing pet insurance.