If you have taken on the rewarding responsibility of caring for a pet, there are going to be medical bills for that pet at some point in time. Even if they are fortunate enough to never have an emergency, a healthy pet will grow old, and as mentioned in previous newsletters, medical conditions can slowly creep up with age. As we all know, having to pay for goods and services is a fact of life, and veterinary medicine is no different.

In a perfect world, veterinarians would donate most of their time and energy to help all animals in need. Heck, in that perfect world, none of us would ever need money! While this is certainly a wonderful dream, the cold, hard reality is that veterinary food, medicine, supplies, and staff all cost time and money. Even when the building is “empty”, money is still being spent on things like heat and electricity.

As “Murphy’s Law” would dictate: accidents, emergencies, and illness will usually happen at the worst possible time. Like most veterinary clinics, we will always work with our clients to come up with the best solution, both medically and financially. There are always options!

So, how does one cover a pet’s medical expenses? Preparedness is key, and although it may sound difficult, it can be done!

If you are fortunate enough to be able to pay as you go via cash, check, or major credit card, that is wonderful; but it is still always good to have a backup in place. Financial hardship can happen to anyone and is often unexpected. The simplest way is to set aside a planned amount of money every month in a savings account–kind of like a health savings plan for your pets. It is always best to setup an account as soon as you can and have a specific purpose in mind. You may want to use this account for routine veterinary care such as checkups and vaccines, for routine testing and medication when your pet gets older, or for pet emergency situations. Even a small amount of money saved every month will add up over time!

Pet insurance is another good option. There are many companies offering pet insurance, and some home and auto insurance companies are starting to offer some pretty good pet insurance deals, too. If you want to go the insurance route, definitely shop around, as there are different types of plans available for a variety of coverage needs: general wellness, emergency, oncology, and so on. Most pet insurance plans run on a reimbursement system. Again, it is always best to purchase insurance immediately after acquiring your pet, as emergencies can happen at any time. Unlike human health insurance these days, most insurance companies will not cover any type of pre-existing condition. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a nice guide about finding reputable pet insurance companies: www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Pet-Health-Insurance.aspx

Care Credit is another wonderful option, and it is something that I use myself. Care Credit is a credit card that can only be used for medical expenses (doctor, dentist, veterinarian, etc.) and has some very nice credit terms for bills over $200. However, like all credit cards, you must be sure to pay off your bill within the term limit, or you will be hit with all the interest and finance charges at the end of the term. Care Credit is easy to use and can be quickly applied for online. For more in depth information on Care Credit or to apply for a card please visit www.carecredit.com

While there are certainly other options available, such as borrowing money from a relative or selling a vehicle (I’m not advocating this, but I have seen this done before), they are certainly not ideal. I also never endorse euthanasia as an option for a treatable or manageable condition due to a financial situation. With a little preplanning, most pets can get the medical care they need to have long and happy lives!

From all of us at Cats On Broadway Hospital, we wish you a spectacular start to your Spring! =^_^=