We veterinary teams love to talk about prevention: parasite prevention, obesity prevention, dental disease prevention…the list goes on. And emergency prevention, like when your pet gets lost or accidently hurt, is one of our favourites. Microchips and pet insurance should be considered a part of every pet owner’s emergency prevention plan.
What is a microchip?
A microchip is a tiny computer chip about the size of a grain of rice that’s inserted under a pet’s skin and acts as invisible identification in the event a pet is separated from its owner. Each microchip has a unique number that’s entered in an international database and linked to the pet owner’s contact information, pet’s breed, sex, and colour etc.). Thousands of pets going missing each year, but those with microchip identification are more likely to be reunited with their families.
Update your information!
Microchipping is important for the identification of your pet but keeping the contact information associated with the chip up to date is even more critical! Got your pet from a breeder? Your pet’s chip may be registered with the kennel club or the breeder from which he or she was purchased. Moving? Got a new mobile number? Be sure to update the contact information associated with the microchip. This becomes extremely important when you’re travelling with your pet, because your cell phone is the number where you can be reached, not your home phone!
At your next veterinary appointment ask to have your pet’s microchip scanned. This ensures that the chip is where it should be on the pet’s body, it’s functioning correctly, and that the chip is registered to the correct person.
Bottom line? Regardless of how hard we try to prevent our pets from running away, it happens. Dogs find a gap in the fence. Indoor cats slip out the front door. The odds of having your pet returned is greatly increased if your pet has a microchip.
Pet health insurance: Is it worth it?
Every year, 1 out of 3 pets need veterinary care due to an unexpected accident or illness. Pet insurance is intended to protect pet owners from the unforeseen medical costs associated with these events.
Pet insurance is personal
Whether or not pet insurance is a worthy investment and which plan to choose is a decision only you and your family can make, based on your own personal circumstances. For most owners, the best way to decide is to research the plans and coverage available to you, and discuss the options with your family and our veterinary team. That way you can make an informed decision based on what you learn and how you believe you would act if faced with an emergency or critical illness involving your pet.
Taking money out of medicine
In the case of unexpected illness or injury, pet owners must decide on their pet’s treatment. That decision requires them to consider the cost of care—medical tests, procedures, surgeries, medication—all of which can cost thousands of dollars. Most people are not prepared to pay large unexpected veterinary bills and may be forced to make difficult decisions about their pet simply based on personal finances.
The benefit of having pet insurance in these situations is that cost becomes a minor factor in the decision of how best to care for a pet. It means that opportunities for a pet to be diagnosed and treated by leading veterinary specialists, of which there are many in southwestern Ontario, are a reality instead of a wish. Pet insurance takes the money concerns off the table, and lets you focus on getting the best care for your pet.
Chronic conditions mean chronic costs
It’s easy to think of insurance benefits for emergency situations but what about ongoing conditions like allergies, intestinal complaints (“sensitive stomachs”) or chronic urinary tract infections? Pet insurance policies are available that can help you pay for continuous care for your pet. Be sure to check the financial limits on a pet insurance policy for chronic conditions when doing your research; you don’t want your coverage to run out after a certain number of treatments.
Anybody have a crystal ball?
Like car or home insurance, pet insurance is something you hope to never need to use, because that means your pet is living a healthy life. The problem is that no one can predict if or when a pet will face a medical condition. And those are the moments when pet insurance becomes invaluable. While some may argue pet insurance is a waste of money, others feel that the peace of mind it offers knowing they can give their pets the best care possible, regardless of what happens, is worth the monthly fee.
Pet savings accounts: Good idea but rarely enough
A common argument against pet insurance is to put the monthly insurance fee aside in a separate savings account, dedicated for veterinary medical emergencies or treatments needed as the pet ages. However, if your dog were to be hit by a car only a couple months after starting the savings account, you wouldn’t have saved much to pay the medical bills. If the money, however, had been put towards a pet insurance policy, the medical expenses would have likely been covered in full.
Where to start?
It’s generally easier (and cheaper) to get pet insurance when your pet is young. As they age, premiums and deductibles often increase, as does the list of preexisting conditions that an insurance policy won’t cover. Policies are different in what they cover, the limits they set for individual conditions or body parts, the deductibles you pay, the percentage of coverage, etc.
Some people report having a difficult time with getting insurers to reimburse costs. If this happens to you, please contact us. In these cases, reimbursement will often happen with some clarification between the veterinary team and the insurance company.
Please contact us if you have any pet insurance questions!