Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pet Insurance vs Vet Insurance.

Jekyll maximizing his couch real estate while I try to work.

One of the reasons I started is because I know full well that most people will do whatever they can to avoid making an appointment to bring their pet in to see me. Whether it’s the inconvenience of taking the time out of their busy day, the stress of taking their pet out of the safety of the confines of their home, the idea of being told that “some medical condition might be serious,” the looming diagnostics, impending follow-ups, and the undeniable fact nothing is cheap anymore, people if given a choice would rather not visit me.

All of the previously listed possibilities scare people. But the simple truth is that in almost all cases if you are concerned about the health of your pet then I am going to tell you that you should have your pet seen by a veterinarian. That physical exam and the discussion that will ensue after, are essential. I know, not what you want to hear, and not what you want to do, but there are a few secrets that your vet has that benefit your pet far more than you might imagine.

Here are a few of the secrets that I tell clients that many of you might not know. (Why we don’t stencil over the front door I quite frankly don’t know? If everyone knew these secrets they would likely not be so hesitant to call us and book that appointment).

OUCH! one broken femur. Fixed a few days later.

Insurance policies

My honest opinion on them is this; if you have enough disposable income and want peace of mind then get your pet an insurance policy. But remember insurance companies are for profit businesses. They will never be able to pay out more than they bring in. You just have to hope that you get the benefits that you expect, when you need them. Human insurance companies are notorious for denying claims and I hope the same is never the case for you. If you think that insurance is right for you then look into the insurance carriers that cover you for accidents and illness only.

Here’s why: Your pet’s routine costs should be fairly close to fixed, thus making it easier to allot for them. The unforeseen disasters are the big wallops that will hit your wallet where it really hurts. If you don’t have the ability to put a thousand or two dollars down for a life threatening illness think about insurance. (If you want a specific company that I recommend just ask).

There are a few guarantees in life. Very few. If you decide to take on the responsibility of a living creature at some point that pet will get sick. It is inevitable. How can you get your pet the care they need and do it without walloping your wallet?

If you think the answer is insurance? I would reply, Maybe?

Little Hunter at his last puppy visit.

But do you know where the best insurance to be found is? At your vets office.

And here’s what should be plastered on every clinics walls. “You want a guarantee? See your Vet.”
Now there aren't many times in life that you are going to get a guarantee. And, in the world of medicine guarantees are elusive. Why? Well, because guarantees are binding. And no half-witted doctor wants to give you a binding obligation. I mean, shoot, we aren't perfect, we don’t have the ability to foretell the future. So, it would be crazy to say “guarantee” wouldn't it?

But, this is a word I will throw around. And I will guarantee a few things when it comes to your pet’s care if you are my client.

Heartworm disease can be fatal. It is a preventable disease and there are many options available to protect pets against it. Insurance? Well, if your pet is tested yearly and kept on a veterinary prescribed preventative purchased through your veterinarian AND if your pet contracts the disease the manufacturer of the heartworm preventive will cover your pet’s diagnosis and treatment. For most pets this is about a $2500 insurance policy. For my clients their heartworm preventative also covers for the intestinal worms it prevents or treats. If your pet’s yearly fecal examination yields a worm on the heartworm label the manufacturer will pay for the fecal test and the de-worming. In my clinic we use this guarantee at least twice a month. Last year we treated one heartworm positive dog on the heartworm manufacturers tab.

Vaccines. Your pets vaccines should be individually tailored based on breed, age, location, and environment. Every vaccine your pet gets at your vet’s office is also guaranteed. If your pet gets the disease your veterinarian vaccinated for then the manufacturer will pay to test them AND to treat them. This includes kennel cough and Lyme disease. Which, unfortunately, dogs seem to get even with monthly flea and tick prevention and yearly vaccines. How many times have I called the manufacturer of these vaccines to stand by their guarantee? A lot! Almost weekly.

Any food or product you buy at the veterinary clinic or are prescribed by your vet is guaranteed. Ear cleaner, antibiotics, shampoos, flea and tick preventatives, the list goes on and on. If you spend $100 on a bag of prescription food, (not an uncommon price tag anymore), and your pet can’t tolerate it, or refuses to eat it, you can return it AND get your money back. All of the manufacturers will stand by their products and happily reimburse a client to keep the client and the veterinary clinic returning as customers.

Almost anything your pet needs your vet can help you resolve. ANYTHING. Big disasters can befall your pet, but your vet can help you find options. There are ALWAYS options. Ask for them, and don’t be afraid to ask about what your options may be at other veterinary facilities. There are referral clinics of every specialty, and if by chance they are beyond your means there are also general practitioners who have areas of interest and treatment options that your vet may not have. Ask many questions and search for a treatment plan that works for you.

Now, here is where I am going to stick my foot in my mouth. Veterinarians are some of the hardest working, most generous, compassionate, and selfless people around. Most of us own our own practice or work for someone who has spent decades building theirs. We live and work in our small community and word of mouth will kill you. We are, like many other small businesses in your community, there for the long haul and dependent on maintaining this relationship. If your pet needs something and I can help, I will. It is not a matter of how much you can afford, it is merely a matter of whether or not you want to help the pet that you are responsible for and that needs you. I’ll press my boldness further. We will stand by our services, goods, and your pet through thick or thin as long as we are both on the same side, and with veterinary healthcare there is only one side, helping your pet.

Be good to your vet, be better to your pet, and get the best deal anyone can ever give you by keeping your pets care under your vet’s roof.

I guarantee that there isn't anyone who can beat that deal.

If you have a pet related question you can ask it for free at Or find me at Twitter, @FreePetAdvice


  1. We have VPI insurance for Max and I am so glad. We took the policy that doesn't pay for wellness visits so it is not that expensive monthly. But they recently reimbursed us over $1000 when Max had 13 bumps removed and tested and his teeth cleaned and his gums trimmed. I feel more confident having insurance because I don't worry as much if something big comes up.

    1. Hello Shelley,

      thanks for reading and for sharing your experience. It's so important to get feedback from people who use the service. I hope that Max recovered well and continues to get the care he needs with the help of VPI.

      Thanks for reading!

      Happy New Year to you both,

  2. Thanks for sharing your very honest opinion about veterinarians and the animals in their care. I think your app is wonderful.

    1. Thanks for reading, and for taking the time to leave a comment.

      Have a great day!


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  5. The small shih tzu-like dogs were so badly matted, some with their own excrement, that their faces were not visible and one could not easily distinguish the front from the back of the dog.

    1. Hello Nina,
      Thank you for reading and for helping these dogs. I hope that they have a long happy and healthy life.

  6. I use to not take my pets to the vet regularly, but my wife has encouraged me to take our pets more often and I have to agree with her, and what you say in your blog. We can't communicate with our pets so we need to have them checked regularly and they need to get the proper care from a veterinarian. Luckily, we have a good one in our small town that we live in and they are always friendly and you can tell they really love pets and are qualified. I like your last posting about standing by your pet. It's very important!

    1. Thank you Chad! Wishing you and your pets a long happy healthy life!
      With love, krista
      also check us out at we are all there (its free to use) to help if you need us.

  7. I've been researching pet insurances and I can't seem to decide on one. I'd love a recommendation from you! Thanks!!

    1. Hello!
      I recommend Trupanion.. and, I should add, I am not paid to endorse anyone.. ;-)

  8. Beautifully written and we personally know how dedicated you and your staff are. You go above and beyond when it comes to finding options for illnesses. Thank you for all you do. We love ❤️ you all!