Health insurance for dogs and cats was virtually unheard of a few years ago, but it's looking better and better to pet owners who have paid big veterinary bills. The average dog owner spends almost $800 a year on veterinary care, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. Surgery or other procedures can cost thousands. Veterinary Pet Insurance, the largest provider of pet policies, reports that it has insured more than one million pets
One reason for getting insurance is that it reduces the chances that you'll have to put a dollar value on the life of your pet. That unhappy task can arise if you are forced to choose between paying for the sophisticated and extremely expensive procedures now available (laser treatment, CAT scans, chemotherapy) or destroying a dog that might be saved.
The amount of the premium depends on the coverage you choose, where you live, and the dog's age. You'll spend from $2,000 to $6,000 on insurance over a dog's lifetime, on average. Certain costs are generally not covered: congenital or hereditary defects, elective procedures, vaccination, food, grooming, behavioral problems, parasites, orthodontics, routine teeth cleaning, and conditions present before the policy effective date. Before you sign up, read the actual policy carefully and be sure you understand all the fine print.
You may also want to check out the veterinary equivalent of a health maintenance organization. For a monthly fee, your pet's veterinary needs will be taken care of.