Veterinary medicine is constantly advancing both in scope and in quality, and one newer option many pet owners aren’t familiar with is pet insurance. At Kingsbrook Animal Hospital, this is a topic most often brought up in conversations with new puppy or kitten owners, but animals of all ages can benefit from a pet insurance plan. Below, KAH shares some information on pet insurance to help owners make an informed decision!
1. Pet insurance plans are usually for accident/illness, but many offer additional coverage for wellness care. This can help to cover things like routine vaccinations, annual (or semi-annual) physical exams, and even oral health care such as dental cleanings. Some companies even offer additional riders for breeding dogs or those who are at increased risk of hip dysplasia.
2. Most plans are customizable in cost, where owners can set their own premiums and/or deductibles. A higher deductible amount usually means a lower monthly or quarterly premium, just like with human insurance.
3. Pet insurance covers new problems, but not pre-existing conditions. For example, if a dog has been treated for an ear infection previously and comes in for a new exam because he is shaking his head and scratching at his ears, pet insurance will not cover the new exam or any treatments if the problem this time is another ear infection. This is why Kingsbrook Animal Hospital discusses pet insurance plans with all new pets–if they’re enrolled while they’re young and healthy, there are no pre-existing conditions!
4. Different than human health insurance, with its co-pays and delayed billing, pet insurance reimburses owners once claim forms and invoices have been submitted. Owners still have to pay for exams and treatments out-of-pocket, but once the insurance company processes the claim a check will be mailed for the amount covered.
5. Not all pet insurance is created equal. Kingsbrook Animal Hospital recommends Pets Best insurance (click on the link to learn more), but several other companies such as Trupanion and Embrace have gotten good reviews from our clients too.
KAH patient Swaggy is ready to look into pet insurance! Be sure to research which company has the best plan for each pet before buying!
6. Keep in mind that most insurance companies have a “waiting period” after enrollment, usually between 10-30 days. This means that any exams or issues within 10-30 days after applying for coverage will not be picked up by the new insurance.
One of the most important things owners can do for their pets is giving or applying preventative medications. These “preventatives” help protect our pets from all sorts of yuckky things. Below is some information on preventatives.
These are some of the parasites that can be avoided with the regular use of preventatives!
Preventatives cover parasites inside and outside of the body. Flea and tick preventatives like Nexgard also help prevent tapeworms (which are carried by fleas), and Interceptor also has a basic dewormer included to take care of hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. We see all 4 types of intestinal parasites here in Frederick! Worst of all, some of these are zoonotic parasites, which means they can be shared with people too.
Cats need preventatives, too! Feline friends who go outdoors, or who live with dogs with known flea problems, can really benefit from preventatives. Frontline will address the fleas and ticks, but Revolution (another topical medication) also prevents heartworms and certain mites.
Preventatives need to be given monthly in order to do their job. This means once every 30 days! There is no “carryover,” which means once every 2 months isn’t protecting the pet for the second month. Most manufacturers of preventatives will guarantee their products, but ONLY if they are given monthly!
Flea and tick prevention is just as important over the winter as it is during the summer. Ticks in Maryland do not die off in the cold, and in fact are searching harder for a warm furry body to live on. If the winter stays temperate, the fleas don’t die off either, and here at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital we have indeed seen pets with fleas over the winter!
KAH’s own Dr. Cook displays Nexgard, a safe and effective oral flea & tick preventative.
Preventatives cost much less than treatment for parasites. Fourteen years’ worth of heartworm preventatives still cost less than one round of heartworm treatment, and usually dogs need 3 treatments. Unfortunately, heartworm disease in cats is fatal since they can’t tolerate the medication used in dogs. Fleas can take up to 6 months to be completely eradicated from the environment, which means washing all fabrics in the house several times and treating all pets (even indoor-only cats) who live there.