Lets talk about something serious for a bit. Vet bills are insanely expensive. Because there is no insurance*(there is but it's different - more on this later) for your animals like people have, there is nothing keeping the veterinary prices in check. Effectively vets have a monopoly and can charge $40 for a nail trim and if you don't have any other options, you're stuck paying it. Nail trims are easy, what about more extensive procedures like vaccinations, sutures, dentals, bloodwork, surgery, emergency care, hospitalization, etc etc etc? The prices get pretty damn awful.
Now I'm not blaming veterinarians here, running a clinic is not cheap. The economy is not having an easy time obviously, prices are rising and vet clinics have to keep up just like any other business.
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to have a plan in mind in case your pet should need unexpected care. Same goes even for routine maintenance - if your pet is healthy enough to only need a visit once a year you might forget how expensive the bill is until you see it in your hands again.
I can give an example from my own experience. One fine morning in February Perry came down with Hemorrhagic gastro-enteritis ("HGE" - blood in the intestines). We rushed him to Animal Medical Center in Manhattan and he wound up staying in the ICU for 24 hours recieving fluids and medication. We have no idea what caused it and it went away as quickly as it came. By the next day when he was home, you'd have never known that the little dog was so sick earlier.
I was hit with a bill for two thousand dollars. I never expected it. What helped me get through was Care Credit. I was approved on the spot and was able to pay the bill with it. The way it works is basically like a credit card. You charge your entire bill to your CareCredit account. And then CareCredit gives you three to six months to pay them off the full price. It is interest free as long as you pay the monthly bills on time. And believe me, it is easier to put two thousand dollars aside over the span of six months than coming up with the money up front. In fact I highly recommend this option.
Last night we took Perry to AMC again (in fact this is my inspiration to write about this topic). He didn't eat all day and in the evening he was hunched over in pain and started to scream. He did it several times within about twenty minutes, so we grabbed him and drove to the hospital. The doctor did not find a thing wrong with him. He was perfectly relaxed and showed no signs of pain. I asked to do an x-ray. The x-ray showed nothing out of the ordinary, no signs of anything. I had the vet go over him once again. Nothing. He was wagging his tail and happy to head out of the hospital. Made a total liar out of me. When we got home, he ran over and ate his brother's dinner and was happy like nothing happened. Apparently he just needed to go for a stroll. I'm glad that it was nothing (he was screaming like his insides were about to implode or something, I swear). But I'm now $300 poorer. With Care Credit, I will be able to make six payments of $50 rather than giving the hospital $300 out of pocket. Still stings but its easier.
Now lets talk insurance. I mentioned before that animals don't get insurance - that's not true. In fact pet health insurance is quite popular in Europe and getting more widespread in the United States. However the way is works is very different from "people insurance". In very basic terms, with health insurance for people you pay a certain amount when you go to a clinic - lets say $25 - and the insurance company covers the rest of the bill. I'm idealizing a bit, but that's the basics. With pet health insurance, you go to the clinic and have your procedures done. You pay the whole bill. Then you send a copy of the bill to the insurance company and they'll decide whether they give you money back or not. Sometimes they cover nearly the whole bill. Sometimes they only give a small fraction and it feels more like a discount than any real help. The coverage you get depends on your package, whether your pet has pre-existing conditions, etc etc.
Sometimes pet health insurance is worth it. Sometimes its not. I've thought about it a lot and personally chose not to go with it for my animals. For the amount of money I'd be spending per month (we have four pets), there is no guarantee how much of the bill they would actually cover, especially in emergency situations. I personally feel that its more efficient to take that amount of money every month and put it away in a seperate bank account where i can reach it whenever necessary.
However, i do urge you to reseach pet insurance to see if perhaps it will fit your situation. The Pet Insurance Review website has everything you want to know about pet health insurance, including people's personal insurance stories. There is a full list of US and Canadian pet insurance companies, as well as the right questions to ask and where to get insurance quotes. The site is not affiliated with any company so they should not have any bias. Read on!
In case you didn'catch them, here are the websites i mentioned, again:
-The Pet Insurance Review