Author Archives: Hadley Rush

The actual cost of owning a cat

A cat with the best pet insurance cuddles in her owners arms.

By: Dr. Jane Matheys
Associate Veterinarian
The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance

Cats can make wonderful pets for many people and, in fact, pet cats in the US now outnumber pet dogs, making cats the most popular pets, which is likely why cat insurance has become so popular. While the cost of owning a cat is much less than that of a dog, there is still significant cost and it is most likely much more than the average pet owner thinks.

There is truly no such thing as a “free” kitten. Being a responsible owner of a cat carries with it certain financial obligations. Cost does matter and directly influences both the type and the quality of care that a cat will receive. Each day animals are denied basic care and veterinary treatment because of the failure of owners to recognize that pets cost money. No pet should suffer because of poor financial planning and lack of commitment of the owner. It is essential to consider the expense of owning a cat before adopting one of these beautiful creatures. Researching the best pet insurance options for your cat is also a good idea. Having cat insurance may ultimately help you afford the best possible care.

The first year of a cat’s life can be one of the most expensive, depending upon how you obtain the cat. Pure-bred cats vary in price range from $300-$1,000. Shelter cats are usually around $50-$150. Both costs may sound expensive compared to getting a “free” cat, but most shelters and some breeders have already paid to neuter/spay, vaccinate, deworm and microchip the cat, so the initial cost isn’t expensive when you compare it to paying out of your own pocket for all those services performed on the kitten you got from a friend or relative. Additional initial cost items include supplies such as food and water bowls, litter boxes, grooming supplies, cat carriers, scratching posts and toys. These first year costs may add up to an average ranging from about $900 to $1500.

After the first year, the average yearly cost of owning a cat is estimated to be $1,320. This includes items such as food, cat litter, and annual veterinary check ups. These costs generally increase in older cats due to additional medical costs to treat conditions which may develop as cats age. If you consider that the average lifespan of a cat is around 14 years, this means you will spend an average of around $18,000 on your cat during his or her lifetime.

Are you surprised by the total cost? Keep in mind that these totals do not take into account costs due to accidents, injuries or unexpected health problems. This is where pet health insurance may help you more easily afford vet bills. If you have a cat with a chronic illness, your veterinary costs could triple. Prices could easily be doubled in large metropolitan areas versus smaller urban or rural areas. While some people think they can cut costs on food, litter or veterinary expenses, experience shows otherwise. If you feed cheap food, you may end up with a cat with urinary or intestinal problems and high veterinary bills. If you use cheap litter, your cat may use the living room carpeting instead. The same goes for avoiding routine veterinary care. By cutting corners, you will likely shorten your cat’s life or pay more money in the end.

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Or Call 877-738-7237 to Add a Pet to Your Current Policy

For many people, cat insurance is becoming an increasingly attractive option to help manage the cost of owning a cat. Improvements in pet health insurance over the past decade or so have made it more worthwhile than ever. There are more companies offering the service and more policy options available, so you have a better chance of finding a policy that covers what’s important to you and your cat at a price you can afford. Pet health insurance provides the financial help needed to afford excellent medical and surgical care. It’s best to enroll in pet health insurance while your cat is young and healthy and there are no pre-existing conditions. Companies like Pets Best Insurance have very affordable and comprehensive cat and dog insurance plans.

The animal shelters in this country are overflowing with abandoned and unwanted cats and dogs. Millions are euthanized every year, and millions more lead unhappy and poor quality lives with owners that do not meet their basic needs. If you are thinking of adopting a pet cat, make sure you’re prepared financially for the life-long commitment of a furry companion.

For more information about pet health and cat insurance, visit Pets Best Insurance.

Dog Park Etiquette Part II

A dog with pet insurance relaxes after playing in the dog park.

By: Chryssa Rich
For Pets Best Insurance

In last week’s pet insurance blog, we covered pet owners’ top 5 dog park pet peeves. Read it here. This week, we’ll round out the top 10 so dog owners everywhere can help keep their neighborhood parks great places to hang out.

6. Take Your New Dog During Off-Hours
If you’ve recently adopted a new dog, take her to the park at a non-peak time and let her explore it quietly on her own. This way it can become familiar territory so she isn’t dealing with too many new situations and smells when it’s full of doggie friends.

7. If Your Pet Seems Sick, See the Vet First
Most dog owners have experienced the humiliation of trying to clean up a diarrhea mess, and you won’t make many friends if it happens at the dog park where other people’s pets are running around. If your dog has an upset stomach, is coughing, or otherwise seems under the weather, avoid other animals until a veterinarian has given him a clean bill of health. Almost nothing transmits disease faster than the shared toys and communal water dishes often found at dog parks. Because your pet can become sick or injured whether you’re at the dog park or not, it’s a good idea to look into pet insurance, as it can help decrease the cost of vet bills.

8. Leave the Kids at Home or in a Supervised Area
Not all dogs are accustomed to playing with children. Bigger breeds could knock down little kids, and smaller breeds could be seriously injured if a child falls on them or plays too roughly. If your kids must accompany you to the dog park, keep them in a safe area separate from the dogs, and remind them not to pet any dog without first asking permission from the dog’s owner.

9. Leave the Human Food at Home
I’ve watched dogs devour a fast food meal (bag, straw and all) while the owner of said food cleaned up after his dog. I’ve also seen dogs jump up on picnic tables to grab grub, and some are even brazen enough to take it right out of a person’s hand. Considering all the common items that can cause serious problems in dogs – chocolate, grapes, onions, mushrooms, bones, dairy – it’s a better idea to eat at home.

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Or Call 877-738-7237 to Add a Pet to Your Current Policy

10. Keep an Open Mind About Other Dogs
Each dog will have its own personality and temperament, despite what you may have seen in pet food commercials or read in the headlines. Not all floppy-eared mutts are friendly, and not all Pit Bulls are fighters. Be cautiously optimistic and treat each new dog as an individual – you and your pup will both make more friends.

Is there something in particular you love or loathe about your local dog park? Leave your comments below. For more information about dog insurance visit Pets Best Insurance.

Ensuring your health is as important as insuring your pets’

A couple, who own a dog with pet insurance, hold him on the couch.

By: Steve Anderson, Editor
Health Insurance Resource Center
For Pets Best Insurance

Americans love their pets in a big way, but is it possible they love their pets even more than themselves? It appears true in many cases and oddly enough, it can have a tragic outcome for pets.

In 2011, pet owners were projected to spend more than $50 billion on their pets, according to the American Pet Products Association’s annual review. Pet owners are buying everything from pet toys and food to veterinary care pet health insurance.

But for as much as human companions do to care for their pets, they often neglect to care adequately for themselves – and that can end up dramatically affecting a pet’s future.

Each month, the Washington Humane Society in the nation’s capital sees a dozen or so pets relinquished to its open-access shelter by their owners or the owners’ families. The pets are usually healthy, but the owners were not.

“The majority of animals that come to us are in excellent condition. They’ve obviously had happy lives and have been well cared for,” says Stephanie Shain, COO of the Washington, DC, Humane Society. “So [the pet relinquishment] has nothing to do with the animal’s health, but instead with the health of the owner,” Shain said.

It’s heartbreaking, Shain says. “We’ll see an owner go into the hospital and there’s no plan in place for the pet.” Often, if the owner is unable to make provisions for his or her pet, family members will resort to dropping off the pet at the shelter.

Having to relinquish a pet to the Humane Society or animal control agency is not only heartbreaking; it’s often deadly. A recent study by the National Council on Pet Populations Study & Policy showed that 57 percent of dogs and 71 percent of cats relinquished to surveyed shelters were not adopted – and ultimately euthanized.

So even the most caring of pet owners need to take better care of themselves to ensure their pets’ survival, says Charles Smith-Dewey, founder of the Health Insurance Resource Center and the owner of two dogs and a pair of cats.

“It’s great that the number of pet owners purchasing pet policies is on the rise,” says Smith-Dewey, “it’s our duty as pet owners to do everything to ensure that our pets are well cared for. And we, as the people who love them most, need to ensure our own health.”

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Or Call 877-738-7237 to Add a Pet to Your Current Policy

That includes not only staying physically fit and avoiding unhealthy behaviors, but maintaining some level of health insurance coverage. “A health insurance policy doesn’t have to be expensive,” says Smith-Dewey, “but it has to be sufficient to minimize a hospital stay and stave off catastrophic medical costs that could leave a pet neglected … or worse.”

Fortunately, even for those who don’t have coverage through an employer, finding a policy that covers big-ticket medical expenses is not impossible. In fact, it’s now faster and more convenient than ever to find an affordable plan by seeking an online health insurance quote from a reputable site.

“Definitely insure your pets,” says Smith-Dewey, “but at the same time, do everything you can to ensure that you’ll be there for them as long as possible.”

For more information about how to get pet insurance for your best friend, visit Pets Best Insurance.

Dog Park Etiquette Part I

A dog with pet insurance runs in a dog park.

By: Chryssa Rich
For Pets Best Insurance

For many dog owners, dog parks are a necessary part of life. They’re a great way to let your dog burn energy, socialize and get a change of scenery. But what happens when your favorite park starts to go south? We recently asked pet insurance enthusiasts to share their biggest dog park pet peeves on the Pets Best Insurance Facebook page. Read and take heed, so you can avoid being “that guy”, so to speak.

1. Follow Park Rules
Most parks have posted rules that cover the basics – no smoking, clean up after your dog, use a leash when coming and going, etc. But some have additional requirements that your dog be current on vaccinations or even spayed or neutered. Respect these rules for the comfort of all dog owners, and to prevent yourself and your pup from getting the boot.

Oh, and clean up after your dog! It was the #1 complaint we heard from fellow dog owners. Many parks even provide plastic bag dispensers for your convenience.

2. Check Park Safety
When you first arrive, make sure the fences are fully intact so your dog can’t leave the premises. If there are playground or agility toys, make sure they’re not too hot in the summer, or covered with ice in the winter. Check any community Frisbees or tennis balls to ensure they’re not breaking into pieces that could get lodged in a dog’s throat. Because accidents can happen no matter what, it’s always a good idea to have dog insurance for your four-legged friend.

3. Know What’s Fair Play
Normal play between dogs of all sizes includes parallel running, pouncing, chasing, nipping, tug-of-war and even light growling. Unless one dog is yelping or trying to escape or hide, there’s generally no reason for concern and no need to scold another dog or pet owner.

If a situation does escalate, use a leash to remove your dog and ask the other dog’s owner to do the same. NEVER pick up a dog that’s agitated or in a fight, no matter how small he or she might be.

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Or Call 877-738-7237 to Add a Pet to Your Current Policy

4. Expect from Your Dog What You Expect from Others
Snarling, aggressive growling, lunging and biting are inappropriate behaviors, whether your dog is a 3-pound Chihuahua or a 70-pound Rottie. If your dog exhibits these behaviors, remove him or her from the park (on-leash) and opt for a less stimulating setting.

5. Be in the Moment
When the dog is occupied and there’s a nice shady bench nearby, it can be tempting to reach for your smartphone to answer emails and check your Facebook page. But distracted pet owners are a big no-no in dog parks. You need to be alert in case your dog tries to escape, harasses another dog, or makes a mess that requires attention. Besides, disconnecting for a few minutes can make the experience a relaxing break for you as well.

Check back next week for Dog Part Etiquette Part II – our Facebook friends were full of advice!

For more information about pet health insurance and pet health, visit Pets Best Insurance.

Do you go to the vet often enough?

A dog with dog insurance sits on a table at the veterinarian office.

By: Dr. Fiona Caldwell
Veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance

Dogs and cats are increasingly becoming part of the family, and are being treated as such. Dogs are no longer just outside animals, and are now sharing the bed and the couch with us. About two thirds of US homes have a dog or a cat, and the majority of people seem to agree that their animals are members of the family. However, despite the increase in the roles pets are playing in our family lives, there has been a disturbing negative trend in pet health. Veterinarians are reporting in the past several years fewer pets are coming into veterinary clinics and preventable disease seem to be on the rise.

There seem to be several reasons veterinary visits are declining in the US:

1. The economic impact of the recession and the cost of veterinary care
Money is tighter for a lot of families and the cost of veterinary medicine is on the rise. Most people have health insurance for themselves but may not have considered their pets ought to have pet health insurance too. It is well documented that people with dog and cat insurance tend to visit the vet’s office more frequently, and sooner when a problem occurs. This is likely due to the fact that the cost associated with veterinary care is defrayed with pet health insurance. Most veterinarians agree that pet health insurance is extremely beneficial to the owners, and subsequently the patients benefit as well.

2. Fragmentation of veterinary services
Low cost vaccine clinics and spay/neutering clinics have their place in the community, but they are not substitutes for a routine wellness exam. Vaccinations clinics are just that, only for vaccines. Most of the time the doctor at the low-cost clinic is not able to take the time to fully examine the insides of the ears, palpate the abdomen, or carefully auscultate the heart to screen for other problems. The doctor will often not have the time to ask and answer important pet health questions, such as changes in water consumption or limping, which can indicate an underlying problem.

3. Consumers substituting internet research for office visits and the perception that regular medical check-ups are unnecessary
A recent study by Bayer showed 15 percent of owners said that by using the Internet, they believe they have less need to visit veterinarians. While it is true some websites are credible sources of background information, an alarming number of pet owners take online blogs written by non-experts as infallible.

A wellness exam is an important time for a veterinarian to examine all parts of your pet so that disease, such as obesity, periodontal disease and even diabetes can be prevented. Animals can be skillful at disguising their illness, and veterinarians are trained to recognize early signs of some preventable or manageable diseases. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure in veterinary medicine, which can be expensive. As we take on the responsibility of adding pets into the family, we take on the responsibility of keeping them healthy as well.

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Or Call 877-738-7237 to Add a Pet to Your Current Policy

Most manufacturers of vaccines have altered the vaccination recommendations, and veterinarians have adopted these new regulations, which tend to require fewer vaccines and more years in between vaccines. This may equate to less vet visits, but vaccines are only a very small part of keeping your pet healthy. A regular yearly wellness exam is crucial to maintaining health, even if vaccines aren’t due, and even if the pet is primarily indoors.

4. Pet resistance, especially cats
Veterinarians understand it is hard to get your pets into our offices. Especially cats, which tend to vocalize, hide, and become aggressive or scared. It is thought that this may contribute to the falling numbers of vet visits, especially in cats. If you have issues getting your cat to the vet, you might consider a house-call veterinarian who will come to the house to perform wellness exams there. There are products, such as Feli-way, a pheromone spray that can also help calm cats and dogs for stressful trips to the vet.

By taking in a pet as a member of your family, you are making a commitment to a lifetime responsibility for their care. They are completely dependent on us and offer so much in return. Always follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for frequency of visits and consider pet health insurance as a way to help in case of an emergency or unforeseen illness.

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