Saturday, July 4, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Were You Smarter than a Vet Student, Health Insurance, Dog Advocacy and more ...

Is pet insurance broken? Does it need to be reinvented in some way?

Pet health insurance, should be a no-brainer, shouldn't it? But how well does it work? When we got Jasmine, we were considering whether we should get one for her or not. We talked to the vet, we researched online. A lot of people still recommend a dedicated savings account instead.

Given all the information we gathered then, we figured that a dedicated savings account sounded good. Whatever we'd pay for the insurance, we put in the account instead. We saved up $5,000. We though we had plenty. Then Jasmine busted her knee ligament. Then she needed diagnostics, including exploratory surgery, and treatment for her IBD. Then her other knee went ...

From the time she was 5 years old, we spent about $75,000 on her veterinary care. The money we saved didn't take us very far, did it?

After all that, we decided that we have to have health insurance for our dogs. We insured JD and we insured Cookie immediately after we got her. We even passed on a dog we were going to adopt initially because she had too many preexisting problems. We just couldn't afford any medical expenses that wouldn't be covered.

We chose an insurance that covers everything other than preexisting conditions. Any health problem, any treatment available, with no limits per condition or per lifetime. It covers 90% of all procedures, minus deductible. That's the only way of doing it that makes sense to me. It doesn't cover routine procedures or consultation fees. There are plans that do that, but cover only up to 80% of the bill AND they can lower it further if you overclaim, whatever that means.

Jasmine's integrative vet had a dog whom the insurance cut off completely for overclaiming. A dog cannot control how sick they might get and what kind of care they're going to need.

Our premium is quite high and I can see it increase every year. Presently we're paying about $250 monthly premium for our two dogs. Is it eventually going to increase to the point we won't be able to afford it any longer? Still, though, I feel we got the best insurance for our guys we could.

Unfortunately, the insurance also doesn't cover the tax portion of the bill. With the tax being 13%, we don't actually get 90% of the bill but only 80%, don't we?

But still, I know that one big emergency can come to $10,000 or more. One busted knee will cost around $5,000 to fix and that's not including physical therapy. If our guys needed stem cell therapy, cancer therapy, even hyperbaric chamber therapy, they can get it. They are covered for acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy. The plan we chose still makes sense to me. But it hurts to pay for it.

On the other hand, I can understand the dilemma of the insurance companies, with the continuous advances in veterinary medicine. The fancier the treatments, the higher the cost.

Is there a way out of this where everybody can win? Check out Dr. Pete's thoughts.

How to be the best advocate for your dog or cat

What does it mean being your dog's advocate? Dogs cannot speak for themselves. They cannot decided when they want to see a vet, what treatment they'd prefer when ill. It is our job to do these things on their behalf.

I believe that being our dogs' best advocates involves the following things:
Yes, this involves more work on our part. We love our dogs and we want what's best for them. We want them to live long, full, happy lives. I think that the little bit of extra homework is well worth it.

Feeding Dogs with Diabetes

The main task in managing your diabetic dog is the control of blood sugar levels. These are affected by many things, including the amount and type of food, exercise, stress, hormonal fluctuations and more. A healthy body can adjust the amount of insulin that gets released into the blood to accommodate all these changes. With insulin injections, the amounts are not flexible. That's why a consistent routine is crucial.

Read Dr. Coates' recommendations.

Sweet Potatoes versus White Potatoes: What is the difference for your pet?

Potato is a potato, isn't it? Actually, not really. They look different, they taste different, clearly they are made of different nutrients. Botanically, sweet potatoes and white potatoes are completely different species.

Find out what are the differences and what does that mean for your dog's nutrition.

Were You Smarter Than a Vet Student About Canine Heatstroke?

Last week I introduced Dr. Kay's awesome series, Are You Smarter than a Vet Student? It was about heatstroke in dogs. Did you take the challenge? Find out how you did.

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