Why I bought pet insurance (because you never know when your dog may try to poison themselves)

Taking care of four dogs can be costly (if chewy.com had a rewards program, I’d be VIP-status). That’s part of the reason I put off buying pet health insurance for so long.

But last week, I took the plunge. I felt like The Universe was nudging me to purchase a pet insurance plan before it was too late. If you have a fur baby (or four), I recommend you consider doing the same.

So, why do I believe I need pet insurance now?

Dogs eat disgusting, dangerous, and toxic things

It all started a few weeks ago when an instagram post by my friend, Linn, caught my attention.

Linn shared a terrifying story. She and her husband had to rush their adorable, intelligent, and super-sweet dog, Jada, to the nearest emergency animal hospital (located more than an hour away!!!), in the middle of the night.

Like my dog, Bruce, Jada is a hound mix. So, like Bruce, she’s very independent, stubborn, and curious. Basically just a really naughty bundle of cuteness you can’t take your eyes off for so many reasons.

This is Jada on her way home from the hospital the next morning. Just look at those eyes! Photo by Linn Tyhurst

After undergoing (costly) diagnostic tests, the vets determined that Jada must’ve eaten some mushrooms she found in the yard. As a hound mom, this doesn’t surprise me at all. One of the first times I had to rush Bruce to the vet, it was because he’d eaten toxic black walnuts that fell in our yard and got so sick couldn’t even keep water down. Even after that debacle, I’m sure he’d go right back and eat them again. I’m constantly zapping him with the e-collar in an effort to keep him away from fallen acorns (also poisonous to dogs in large quantities).

Jada was lucky that her pawrents were willing to do anything to help her. Linn was lucky to have had pet insurance at the time this happened.

A few days after their hospital visit, Jada was on the road to recovery. About that time, I got an email from Brandon at ConsumersAdvocate.org with a very informative report on the best pet insurance companies.

It turns out, the insurance company they rated #1, Healthy Paws, is also the one Linn had purchased for her doggos. Even though everyone says that money is no object when it comes to their furry best friends, I’m sure it put her mind at ease to know that 90% of her vet bill would be reimbursed after a manageable $250 deductible.

Because, really, who has the brain space to worry about money at a time like that!?!?

Thank God, Jada is okay and back to her normal self.

pet insurance success story
Jada (literally) on the road to recovery shortly after her emergency vet visit. Photo by Linn Tyhurst

Jada’s story really hit home. I could easily see myself in Linn’s position. So, I spent some time studying the ConsumersAdvocate report and contacted a couple of companies for quotes.

Ultimately, I purchased a Healthy Paws plan for Bruce. For $42.82/month, I get 80% reimbursement after meeting a $250 deductible.

Rates vary depending on the size and age of your pet. Also, not all insurance companies cover older pets with pre-existing conditions (like arthritis or diabetes), so you need to consider that when choosing a policy.

We have three other, older dogs, but are still shopping for the right plans for them.

I felt the need to cover Bruce right away because he’s the one most likely to get hurt or eat something poisonous.

Haaaay frenz! i Bruce an i do wat i likes. sniffin? yasss! smellz good? i eats. chase aminal. over da cliff? in treez? no frighten dis guy. i Bruce. hound frum heck. i boss. liv large.

And that brings me to the other reasons I opted for pet insurance. In the three years I’ve had Bruce, I’ve taken him to the vet FOUR times for non-routine visits.

Here’s some examples of previous vet expenses that will be covered under his insurance plan moving forward:

Foxtail, anyone?

If you have dogs, chances are you’ve had some type of encounter with foxtails. These spiky grass seeds are notorious for burrowing a one-way tunnel into dogs’ skin, where they can cause potentially life-threatening injuries and infections.

The very first time I ever took Bruce to the vet was because I thought he had a foxtail in his ear. Turns out, it was just an ear infection (something he’s prone to). But since I suspected a foxtail, the vet wanted to check inside his ears. She had to sedate him for it and that alone cost about $200, making the entire visit, including medication top $300.

About a year later, Bruce got a very real foxtail stuck IN HIS EYE! Fortunately, I was able to remove it, by myself, after about an hour of squirting saline solution into his eyeball. We were lucky because so_many_things could’ve gone wrong there.

Dog fights

The third time I took Bruce to the vet was especially traumatic. It was the first time he was ever attacked (it’s happened multiple times since then).

I was renting a cottage on a shared property with my landlady’s house. One day, her roommate’s dog ran up to Bruce and I as we were returning from a walk and bit both of us. We both had puncture wounds on our legs, but the emotional trauma was so much worse. 

I asked the dog’s owner to pay for Bruce’s vet visit, where he was once again sedated while the vet cleaned out his wounds. Not every pet owner is willing or able to do this, so I wouldn’t count on it moving forward.

The fourth vet visit was also for a fight, this time one between Bruce and my husband’s livestock guardian dog, Sam. They got into a scuffle over a bully stick stuck beneath the car seat while we were in the middl-of-nowhere, Nevada, on a road trip.

Sam neatly bit Bruce’s head, leaving a gaping hole in his dome that needed stitches.

Fortunately, things have calmed down since then and I’m pleased to say that Bruce has only been in for check-ups. He’s a very healthy, athletic doggo.

But, still…

You just never know what may happen

Environmental hazards aside, dogs develop chronic illnesses, such as arthritis and cancer, the same way humans do. Testing for and managing these diseases is expensive, just as it is for humans.

If one of my fur babies ever needs to take medication on a regular basis in order to live a comfortable and happy life, I don’t want to have to worry about how I’m going to pay for it.

Final thoughts on pet insurance

One thing I really like about Healthy Paws is that there’s no limit to the benefits. Some other companies pay up to a certain max, like $15,000. One thing I don’t like about Healthy Paws is they don’t offer multi-dog discounts. Other companies, like Embrace, do. We may end up choosing a different plan for the other doggos because Healthy Paws actually isn’t great when it comes to the older guys.

That said, there are quite a few pet insurance companies to choose from and I think there’s an option that works fur every situation.

So please, take a look at the ConsumersAdvocate report on best pet insurance and see what works fur you.

If you do opt for Healthy Paws, please sign up via this link http://refer.healthypawspetinsurance.com/Lauren460

I don’t get anything personally, but Healthy Paws will make a $25 donation to homeless pets on my behalf. I think that’s a pretty good deal.

Thanks for reading! Do you have health insurance for your dog or cat? I’d love to know what you think!

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