For many of us, a seriously ill pet is our worst nightmare. Our furry companions are real members of the family, with paws wrapped tightly about our heartstrings. When Fido or Fluffy experiences a life-threatening illness or accident, it is truly devastating. And not just to our minds. A pet emergency can also devastate our pocketbook.
A recent article in Consumer Reports explored the value of pet health insurance. Many pet owners buy pet insurance plans expecting to save not only on routine care but those unexpected emergencies as well. Unfortunately, as Consumer Reports determined, pet insurance rarely pays out more than it costs.
What does Consumer Reports recommend? “We believe most pet owners will be better off passing up pet insurance and instead putting some money in an emergency “kitty.”
If you’re concerned about the havoc routine care (e.g. exams, and vaccinations and dental cleanings) can wreak on your budget, as well as the cost of unexpected pet medical emergencies, open a pet savings account. Your emergency “kitty” will be there when you need to cover your best friend’s medical costs.
Consider this: According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the average amount a pet owner can expect to spend on a canine or feline family member (for food, supplies and medical care) is $700 to $875 per year. In fact, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimates that Americans will spend more than $50 billion on their pets in 2011 alone. Of that amount, $14.11 billion is projected to be spent on veterinary care.
The highly respected American Pet Products Association annual pet owner’s survey reports that routine veterinary services for dogs average $248 a year and $407 for surgical visits. For cats, veterinary services average $219 per year for routine visits and $425 for surgical visits.
A savings account is the smartest way to ensure that these annual expenses are covered without devastating your budget. With just a small monthly deposit, your pet’s rainy day savings will grow quickly. Deposit $25 per month and you should have one pet’s annual routine veterinary visits covered. Deposit more each month and you will be ready for the inevitable emergency.
An even more responsible pet parent should combine their savings plan with a veterinary discount program. These plans provide discounts on services at participating veterinarians and are designed to save a pet family at least twice of what they cost. They often also have negotiated discounts with pet-related retailers and service providers – sort of like a virtual wholesale club. Because these programs are not pet insurance, they have no exclusions and no complicated claims forms.