ASK THE VET

Pet Insurance Myths Debunked!

By Kelley Gebhardt, DVM

The following are actual statements made by local pet owners regarding pet insurance.

Myth #1: All pet insurance carriers are the same.
There are currently 16 pet insurance carriers in the United States and all of them differ based upon their quality of service, monthly premiums, reimbursement percentages, deductibles, and payout limits. The best advice would be to take time to research each of the pet insurance carriers and compare them to one another. The most helpful and user friendly web resource that we have found is www.petinsurancereview.com. This website will help you find the right pet insurance for you and your pet through quick and easy comparative sheets and tools.

Myth #2: I do not need pet insurance because I have no problem paying for general pet care.
Pet insurance is not designed to cover general and wellness care, which can be budgeted for. It is intended to be used for unexpected pet health issues, such as illnesses or accidents. For example, a pet that was seriously injured after being hit by a car may require extensive medical care, surgery, and days of hospitalization. The total cost of care can be significant (thousands of dollars). Wouldn’t it be easier to make the decision to treat your pet if you knew you would be getting up to 90% of your money back?

Myth #3: My pet is indoors only, so I would never have the need for emergency services or pet insurance.
The majority of patients seen for illnesses or accidents spend most of their time indoors with their owners. Indoor pets still chew up toys and ingest inappropriate items, get into the trash, receive table scraps, ingest human medications, suffer traumatic injuries, develop systemic disease (i.e. kidney disease, heart disease, cancer), and so on. The medical care required to treat all of these problems and many others would be covered by pet insurance.

Myth #4: My pet is 10 years old. He is too old to qualify for pet insurance.
Most pet insurance carriers have plans for senior pets, as long as they are enrolled before 14 years of age. While pet insurance often excludes pre-existing conditions, there are many senior pet health issues that would still be covered by pet insurance.

Myth #5: I have a Great Dane. Because of his breed, he is predisposed to bloat and would not be approved for coverage by pet insurance carriers.
Pet insurance companies do not exclude specific breeds from being covered. However, they often exclude coverage for specific conditions that are high risk in certain breeds (i.e. bloat in Great Danes). These specific medical exclusions vary between pet insurance companies. This should not stop you from getting pet insurance for your Great Dane. Since there are so many other health issues that can occur with any pet, their breed or certain excluded conditions should not keep you from getting pet insurance.

Myth #6: I have a Dachshund that had back surgery or a Labrador who had knee surgery, so he would not be eligible for pet insurance.
In both of these cases, the problems arose and the surgeries were performed prior to the owner applying for pet insurance. Therefore, these specific problems would be considered pre-existing conditions and would not be covered under any pet insurance policy. However, there are numerous other health issues that would be covered by the pet insurance including: vomiting, diarrhea, allergic reactions, traumatic injuries, heart disease, and kidney disease, just to name a few. Pre-existing conditions should not stop you from getting pet insurance.

Myth #7: My cat has had urinary issues before, so he would not be eligible for pet insurance.
Like the Dachshund and the Labrador in the previous example, this cat would not be covered for any medical issues relating to his urinary tract problems because they would be considered a pre-existing condition. However, other health issues that he might develop would be covered. Examples of such potential problems include: a corneal scratch; bite wounds; abscesses; vomiting caused by eating a toxic indoor plant; or foreign body surgery. There are many more medical problems that would also be covered by pet insurance.

With all veterinarians accepting pet insurance and the realization that up to 90% of your unexpected veterinary bills for your sick or injured pet could be covered, what are you waiting for? By having your pet covered by pet insurance, you will be able to give them the necessary medical care without worrying about the cost. Remember to visit the website www.petinsurancereview.com to compare all the pet insurance carriers. If you are looking for a suggestion, we frequently recommend Trupanion Pet Insurance. Visit www.Trupanion.com for more details or call (855) 591-3103 to take advantage of their free 30-day trial.

 

 

 

The Woes of Aging...Managing Arthritis

By Katherine Wallace, DVM

SHOULD I BE CONCERNED?
Does this sound familiar? Fluffy has a hard time getting up in the morning or moving around after long naps. She used to love to take five-mile hikes and now seems to get stiff or sore after a one-mile trot. Maybe you have noticed that she plays less and naps more. Sometimes, she may be reluctant to go up and down stairs or has difficulty getting into the car. You may wonder, “Is my pet feeling a lot of pain, or is this a normal change associated with aging? Could this be arthritis?” It can be difficult to determine how much pain our pet is experiencing. Your veterinarian is the best person to evaluate your pet for arthritis and to steer you to the right treatment to help keep Fluffy moving and grooving for as long as possible.

WHAT IS ARTHRITIS?
Arthritis is a painful joint disease that tends to worsen over time, and it can affect both dogs and cats. Arthritis can affect any or multiple joints such as the knees, elbows, hips, shoulder or back. As the bodies of our pets age, normal wear and tear can damage parts of the joints. Deterioration of joints also can be hastened by obesity, previous injury, or other orthopedic conditions. This deterioration results in inflammation and eventually pain. You may see this expressed in your pet as slower movement, stiffness, decreased activity, or in severe cases, limping.

HOW IS ARTHRITIS DIAGNOSED?
Your veterinarian starts by taking a detailed medical history and then performing a thorough examination. Sometimes blood tests and other diagnostics such as X-rays are recommended to diagnose arthritis and to rule out other diseases and orthopedic conditions.

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS ONCE MY PET IS DIAGNOSED WITH ARTHRITIS?
Most owners have heard about prescription pills that help with arthritis-associated pain. However, many people don’t realize there are other good options that may work for your pet. Not every dog and cat is the same. Below are some options that you may want to discuss with your veterinarian.

LASER THERAPY
Laser therapy is a therapeutic treatment that uses light energy to reduce inflammation and block pain. Laser therapy does not take a lot of time, and there is no heat, redness or swelling during or after the treatment. Most owners notice positive results after one to three treatments. Chronic conditions such as arthritis can be controlled or improved with regular laser therapy sessions.

ASSISI LOOP
The Assisi Loop is a device that uses low-level pulses of electromagnetic energy to help improve pain, increase mobility, reduce swelling, and decrease the need for pain medication in an animal with arthritis. It is a loop that you put around the area of pain and leave on for 15 minutes. The Assisi Loop can be used at your home and works well in combination with other arthritis treatments or on its own.

SUPPLEMENTS
Supplements, including Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate (Dasuquin, Cosequin), Adequan injections, Omega fatty acids (fish oil), and Vitamin E help lubricate your pet’s joints and thus protect the joint cartilage from further wear-and-tear. Studies show these supplements also may provide a slight anti-inflammatory benefit. Overall, these products won’t hurt your pet and are a good addition to other arthritic therapies.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEDICATIONS
Anti-inflammatory medications, specifically NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications), are commonly prescribed for arthritic pets because they have the most consistent noticeable beneficial effects. You may have heard of these products (Rimadyl, Metacam, Previcox, Deramaxx), which work by reducing swelling, stiffness, and joint pain. It is important for your pet to have routine blood work done while on these medications because potential long-term side effects can include stomach ulcers, and liver and kidney problems. There is a new anti-inflammatory medication on the market called Galliprant which may be associated with less severe side effects.

Don’t forget, any extra weight on your pet can worsen arthritis pain. Always talk with your veterinarian to make a plan that is right for you and your pet.

 

Ask the Vet columns can be downloaded by clicking on any of the links below:


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