Imagine your pet becomes suddenly ill or injured and needs emergency veterinary care. Aside from her recovery, what would your greatest concern be? Chances are, it would be the cost of medical care. Diagnostic tests, hospitalization, medications, and surgical procedures can become quite costly, and most pet owners do not factor emergency pet costs into their monthly budgets.

The sad truth is that many owners in this position will not be able to afford even initial emergency fees. Others will have to pick and choose which pieces of treatment they can afford, depriving their pet of optimal care. Unfortunately, animals are euthanized, relinquished to shelters, or left to suffer every day because their owners cannot afford to pay for unexpected veterinary care.

If your pet experiences a health emergency and you have pet insurance, the cost of care will not be a concern during an already stressful time. Without the pressure of coming up with the funds for treatment, you can focus on your pet’s recovery.

Common pet emergencies

Emergency hospitals are open—and busy—24 hours per day because emergencies and severe illness will affect most pets at least once in their lifetime. Common emergency situations include:

  • Car accidents — When an animal is hit by a car, any type of injury is possible, from fractured bones and lacerations to head trauma and organ injuries. The cost of stabilization, diagnostic tests, treatment, and hospitalization can easily add up to thousands of dollars.
  • Gastrointestinal foreign bodies — Pets are known to eat all kinds of items that get them into trouble. Foreign bodies can become lodged in the stomach or intestines, causing a life-threatening situation that requires emergency surgery and several days of hospitalization.
  • Cranial cruciate ligament tear — Similar to the ACL tear that human athletes experience, a cranial cruciate injury renders the knee joint unable to bear weight. This injury occurs suddenly, and orthopedic surgery is usually the only solution.
  • Urinary blockage — Cats can develop a urethral blockage, leaving them suddenly unable to urinate. Life-saving treatment involves placing a urinary catheter while the cat is under sedation, several days of hospitalization, IV fluids, and medications.
  • Pancreatitis — With an acute onset of abdominal pain and vomiting , pancreatitis makes affected pets feel miserable. To resolve the inflammation, a hospital stay with IV fluids and injectable medications is often needed.

Choosing the right policy

The number of pet insurance companies and types of policies available can make choosing one an overwhelming task. At Riverbend Veterinary PetCare Hospital at Mountain Island, we recommend Trupanion medical insurance for pets. Some things to consider before you choose a policy:

  • What will the policy cover? Some policies cover routine preventive care while others cover emergencies and illnesses only. (Trupanion covers illnesses, injuries, and emergencies.)
  • Monthly premiums will vary depending on the services covered, the deductible you choose, and your reimbursement level. (Trupanion offers deductibles from $0 to $1,000.)
  • Will the premium increase after you file a claim? (Trupanion will never increase monthly cost based on claims filed.)
  • How much is the deductible? Will the deductible apply to each claim? An entire year? (With Trupanion, your deductible applies for the lifetime of the pet for that particular illness. For example, if your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, you’ll pay your deductible once, and then the diabetes treatments will be covered at 90 percent for the rest of your pet’s life.)
  • How much of the remaining cost after the deductible will the company pay? Coverage can range from 25 to 90 percent of the fees. (Trupanion pays 90 percent after your deductible is met.)
  • Is there a maximum amount per year or over the policy lifetime that the company will pay out? (There is no maximum payout with Trupanion.)
  • Will the company dictate what veterinary hospitals you are able to use? (With Trupanion, you can choose any veterinary hospital you like.)
  • Will payments be made directly to the veterinary hospital, or will they pay you after you pay the veterinary invoice and submit a claim? (Trupanion can pay the veterinary hospital directly at the time of service, saving you up-front, out-of-pocket expenses.)
  • Are there conditions, such as hereditary diseases, chronic illnesses, or diseases present from birth, that are not covered by the policy? (Trupanion covers any injury, illness, or emergency, but will not pay for a condition the pet had prior to the insurance policy.)
  • Can pets age out of the policy, becoming too old to be insured? (Once a pet is insured with Trupanion, she is insured for life, and the monthly cost will not go up based on the age of the pet.)

When to purchase a policy

You should purchase insurance when your pet is young to keep premiums down and to decrease the chances that your pet will have a pre-existing condition, making her uninsurable.

Questions about insurance for your pet? Call us.