by Dr Megan Kelly
The cost of medical and veterinary bills is increasing every year. Vets, like doctors, are becoming more specialized, and this means that the days of your vet down the road being able to treat your pet for every condition, are decreasing. For example; did you know that there are specialist orthopaedic veterinary surgeons? If your pet has a disc prolapse, your general vet would refer your pet to an orthopaedic specialist. General Practice veterinarians do not have the equipment or the expertise to perform these complicated back surgeries. The estimated cost of this operation is R20 000. The cost for an emergency twisted stomach is R15 000. A total hip replacement is R40 000.
Would you be able to afford this amount if your pet was diagnosed with this condition today?
If not, you should consider Pet Insurance. This type of insurance is not for everyday skin problems or stomach upsets. It’s for those emergency situations; for example, when your pet gets hit by a car, gets poisoned, or needs surgery to enable it to walk again. Pet insurance gives you the peace of mind that in an emergency situation that you have the cover to enable the vet to do everything possible to save your pet’s life.
In emergency situations, diagnostic procedures can be very costly and are important when deciding on the correct treatment for a pet. Without a diagnosis, we don’t know what condition to treat or how to treat it.
When funds are limited, pets often have to be treated leaving out important diagnostics steps. For example, an MRI to confirm a disc prolapse could cost R5 000. Without doing this procedure, your vet may not be able to treat your pet correctly. Paralysed pets are often put to sleep because their owners are unable to afford the MRI and surgery. But in order to know if your pet needs surgery, an MRI would need to be done.
Before taking out a pet insurance policy, I would recommend that you do your research. Different companies offer different policies, exclusions, and excesses. It’s best to get your pets insured when they are young, before they have been diagnosed with any conditions. Once your pet has been diagnosed then the insurance company will often exclude that condition. Senior pets or pets over the age of 8 are often not eligible for pet insurance, but this age does change depending on the company. Find a company that has a policy that suits your needs, and get peace of mind so that money is not the deciding factor for your pets’ wellness.