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Pet insurance vs. saving for pet health costs

Posted on: March 17th, 2011 by

A puppy with pet health insurance sits on a pile of money.

Anyone who has owned a dog or cat understands vet bills can be pretty hefty. Between routine check-ups, vaccinations and tests, the costs can really add up.

When an emergency arises, however, the prices of testing and treatment become incredible— sometimes reaching the thousands! When it comes to handling the costs of the unknown future, it is important to weigh whether pet insurance policies or putting away savings is best for your dog, and your bank account.

According to an article published on concerning the economics of pet ownership, “Diagnostic testing can easily top the $1,000 mark and can be as high as $5,000 – this does not include surgical care or long-term treatments and medications.” For this reason, saving may not be so practical.

What happens if you have only just begun saving and your pet requires a $5,000 test or surgical procedure? It would seem that you would either have to scrape together the money or borrow it—because we all know what when it comes down to it, our pets are worth it. Dog and cat insurance companies make this unknown a much easier bite to chew. In all cases there will certainly be a limit to the amount that will be covered in an emergency. Regardless, if the surgery your pet needs is $5,000, a $7,000 limit will be more than enough—and a $250 deductible is certainly much easier to handle. Visit pets best insurance to learn about plan options.

The other factor to take into consideration is whether pet health insurance will cover prescriptions and tests. Routine care could also be covered under certain policies or packages, which could lighten the blow of vet bills all around. In all cases, it is a great idea to read dog and cat insurance information to understand what coverage is available for a particular company. Saving may seem cost effective in the long run, but when you realize the wide range of services that are included in many policies, you may think twice.

Dandruff on Black Dogs and Kennel Cough Vaccines

Posted on: March 16th, 2011 by

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. I’m at home today answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page.

The first question is, “My black dog seems to have more dandruff than other dogs. It’s especially noticeable after I give her a bath. Is there anything I can do to get rid of it?”

Black dogs do seem to have more noticeable dandruff just because of the contrast between their black fur and the whiter flakes of skin. If you are noticing it right after a bath, you might actually be drying the skin out a little bit. You might try using either a leave-in conditioner or a conditioning rinse, or a shampoo that’s meant to condition the skin. There are some supplements that can help as well, like fish oil or omega fatty acids. These can sometimes improve the quality of the skin health.

The next question is, “My dog caught kennel cough at doggy daycare just as she was due for her six month vaccination for kennel cough. I understand she didn’t need to be vaccinated again since she caught it, but the daycare manager won’t allow her back until she’s vaccinated. What would you recommend?”

Kennel cough is a tricky thing to vaccinate for because it can be caused by a number of different organisms and the vaccine only protects against one. If your daycare center requires a kennel cough vaccine, I would get her vaccinated. There is no harm in getting her re-vaccinated even if she already caught it. Obviously you wouldn’t want to do it while she’s sick, but once she’s feeling better, go ahead and schedule an appointment to get her vaccinated again.

Popular dog breeds: The Labrador Retriever

Posted on: March 16th, 2011 by

A Labrador Retriever with pet insurance enjoys the outdoors.

It must be nice to keep a coveted title of “Most Popular Breed” year after year. Edging out the Golden Retriever and German Shepherd by a few hairs, the Labrador Retriever holds that title.

It’s easy to see why these sweet-tempered, family-friendly dogs remain a favorite and why so many owners also have pet insurance for this breed.

Description and Size
The Labradors’ coat color is black, yellow, or chocolate brown. They are a medium-sized, strong dog with an athletic, well-balanced body. They are referred to as a “short-coupled” breed—the body being the same or just a bit longer than it is tall.

Their shoulders are set back and form a 90-degree angle with the upper part of the foreleg. This enhances the mobility of their legs and gives them a strong forward reach. They have a wedge-shaped head and their eyes are medium-sized, set far apart and either brown or hazel. The Labrador Retriever’s coat is short, straight, very dense, and weather-resistant. Females are 21-24 inches tall and males are 24-28 inches. They weigh between 55 and 100 pounds.

Character and Temperament
Because of their sweet, easy-going nature, Labs are very good family companion dogs. They are also one of the smartest dog breeds. They do best with a “job” that will keep them physically active and mentally alert. So it’s vital that the Labrador gets plenty of exercise. They love water and are great swimmers.

Pet Health Issues
The Labrador is prone to hip and elbow dysplasia like other larger dogs. The average life span is 10—12 years. Keeping a Lab’s weight under control will help them stay healthy. For more information about dog insurance coverage for Labradors, visit Pets Best Insurance.

Doggie Flu

Posted on: March 16th, 2011 by

A dog with pet insurance recovers from canine influenza.
By: Dr. Jack Stephens
For Pets Best Insurance

In the past few months, a few of my pack of 10 dogs have been showing mild pet health symptoms of canine influenza. First, one will have a soft cough and mild sneezing similar to kennel cough, and then another.

They will get a slight fever for a few days and have a diminished appetite as well. Although this might be alarming to some, working as a vet and now in the pet insurance industry– I have seen canine influenza frequently.

A recent alert from the American Veterinary Medical Association reminded me that the disease is on the rise across the country. According to the alert, the virus that causes canine influenza has two forms; mild and severe. The mild form is as I have described above for my own dogs, however they report it lasts from 10-30 days, where only one of our dogs persisted for more than a week and need treatment.

The severe form requires pet health care from a veterinarian and although death is rare at 5-8%, it can result in pneumonia. It is thought to be a mutation of the equine influenza. There is no transmission to humans known at this time.

A dog can be susceptible to infection at any age and the disease is transmitted by other dogs from things like nasal discharge. Humans may transmit the virus from an infected dog to another dog, if the virus is on their hands, toys, bowls, etc. So be sure to wash your hands if you handle a dog outside your household before interacting with your dog.

If your dog is showing symptoms do not board them or visit dog parks or other areas where they could transmit the virus. Also, before you board your dog, inquire whether any canine influenza has been present in the facility lately. The virus can be killed by disinfectants; therefore if the kennel has good hygienic protocols for cleaning the risk will be lowered. Dogs showing symptoms should be isolated immediately from other dogs to prevent spreading the virus.

If your dog demonstrates symptoms, call your veterinarian as they may want to provide antibiotics to diminish secondary infections or provide fluids if you’re pet becomes dehydrated. This condition is covered under the “illness” portion of many pet health insurance companies but it is not covered if you have accident only coverage. To learn more go to

Pet insurance lets you fight cancer

Posted on: March 15th, 2011 by

A Greyhound with pet insurance relaxes on the floor.

By: Tracie Hotchner
For Pets Best Insurance

People often ask me if they should get pet insurance for their dogs – and I say that while there are dozens of reasons to get pet insurance, the biggest one of all is because of the explosion of cancer in dogs and cats, which the best pet insurance plans pay for.

If you needed no reason other than cancer, then getting your dog health insurance from the moment she joins your family can give you a lifetime of peace of mind knowing that if (or when) cancer is found, you don’t have to worry about being able to afford the sophisticated treatments that can extend life with good quality- and in some cases even conquer the cancer – because you have pet insurance that will cover most of the cost.

Many times people react as though cancer is something “that happens to other people” but sadly it happens to nearly half of us who love our dogs – and to kitties, too, although not as often. Pet health and pet insurance go hand in hand. There are brilliant treatments for cancer, which can give your pet a positive outcome – and which gain you more time and quality of life with your beloved four-legged family member. But it is usually only those people who have planned ahead by getting pet insurance who can choose these costly medical options, which otherwise they probably could not afford.

How terrible would it be to have your pet diagnosed with cancer and then not be able to choose the treatment your veterinarian recommends, since most options are way out of most peoples’ reach financially. However, with a policy like the one that I chose from Pets Best Insurance for all my dogs, after the one-time deductible they will pay 80% of every bill I receive. I wish people could get health insurance as good as the very best insurance policies for pets!

Do you ever doubt that your own healthy dog has less real risk of getting cancer? Because I have to tell you that the statistics are frightening! Veterinary oncologist Dr. Alice Villalobos (the Official Cancer Specialist of both my radio shows) tells me that half of ALL dogs over two years old will get some kind of cancer! Some breeds like Greyhounds have a 2-in-1 chance of getting cancer – large male Golden Retrievers have a 75% chance of getting cancer. Boxers and Rottweilers have terribly high rate of getting cancer, too. Keep in mind that even mutts that are a mix of some of these at-risk breeds can inherit the cancer gene. So I say, how can anyone afford not to get pet insurance?!

Because it’s not all gloom and doom – cancer does not have to be a “death sentence.” There are excellent treatments that can halt the cancer and extend your pet’s life with dignity and comfort, offering you precious extra time with your pet. Since most cancer medication for pets is the same as used on humans, the costs are sky high but the results can be tremendous – and pet insurance puts them within reach. There are even treatments that can stop some cancers completely. Preparing for the possibility that your pet can get this disease means buying a pet insurance plan early in your pet’s life, which will include cancer treatment and has a high lifetime benefit so that everything is covered.

While frightening to think about, the important thing to realize is that cancer does not need to be a death sentence – for people or our pets – but the odds are high that you will have to deal with it some day. Giving yourself the protection of the best pet insurance plan can make it possible to afford the cancer treatments that will give your pet a fighting chance.