What Does it Cost to Own a Pet ?

16th March 2017   Theo Lynch   No Comments

What Does it Cost to Own a Pet ?

Most of us wouldn’t baulk at spending money on our much loved furry companions; here at The Friendly Vet we appreciate that the cost of pet care may not be a concern for everyone. How many of us understand the true financial impact of caring for a pet though?

A recent survey in the UK showed that 98 percent of pet owners underestimate the lifetime cost of looking after their pet* (this statistic is likely to be reflective of the situation in Australia too). A pet owner should anticipate the cost of food, grooming and health care for their dog could exceed $30,000 over the pet’s lifetime, caring for a cat can come close to that figure too!

Advancements in veterinary medicine and technology have progressed amazingly over the last decade.  Here at Prahran and South Yarra we offer a huge array of treatment modalities from chemotherapy to keyhole surgery for pets and we regularly refer patients for specialist services such as CT scans and complex surgical procedures.  This leads to many wonderful outcomes for pets and their families, but in the absence of a publically funded petcare system it is inevitable that owners must be prepared to foot the cost if their pets are to benefit from such improvements in pet care.

As the table below demonstrates, veterinary care costs can stack up!  These are indicative and we accept some of these costs may have been incurred at specialist or emergency centres under exceptional circumstances, however they represent one-off health events for each patient and help to illustrate how veterinary fees may add up over the lifetime of a pet.

Biggest claims for dogs in September 2016 (Source – Petplan Pet Insurance)

Illness/injury Cost
Gastric Dilation-Volvulus (surgery for a twisted stomach) $7,880.00
Kidney cancer $7,528.40
Cruciate ligagment surgery (ruptured ACL) $6,966.22
Spinal surgery $4,759.12
Skin cancer $4,717.45
Cruciate ligament surgery $4,716.50
Gastric dilation – volvulus $4,593.36
Cruciate ligament surgery $4,067.05
Anaemia $3,979.00
Proximal suspensory desmitis (tendon injury) $3,591.45

Separating Emotions from Finances

Making decisions about the care of a sick family member or pet can be an emotional time.  The addition of financial factors can heighten anxiety and stress around doing the best for our much loved companions.  One way to mitigate against this is pet health insurance.  We observe the benefits of pet insurance everyday, it provides pet lovers with peace of mind and allows them to focus on their pet’s health, rather than the cost of care.

What does Pet Insurance Cover ?

Searching for pet insurance can be a daunting task. There are many different companies offering pet insurance products and discounts when you sign up, if you’re unsure what you are looking for choosing between them can become a time-consuming exercise.

There are so many different covers out there that the whole experience can be overwhelming, however when it comes down to it, all pet insurances may be divided into these types:

  • •  Genuine “Covered For Life” : Where chronic, re-occurring or lifelong conditions and illnesses are covered for the life of the pet, provided the policy is renewed each year without a gap in cover)
  • •  Guaranteed Life Time Cover : Only guarantees to cover the pet in old age, not lifelong or chronic illnesses
  • •  Maximum Benefit Cover : Will only cover claims to a set amount per condition, then the condition is excluded
  • •  12 Months Cover : Conditions are covered for 12 months, then the condition is excluded

When looking at the right policy for your pet, it is important to acknowledge that the greater the coverage you want the pricier the policy will be. Many cheaper policies will cover the bare minimum and still leave you paying when the vet’s fees are well into the thousands. It is inevitable that vet fees will increase as treatment options become more costly, due to the advancements in technology and medication that will increase the likelihood of your pet’s survival/recovery. To have your pet fully covered and you not having to worry about veterinary fees, a covered for life policy would be the best fit.

Pet Insurance Tips

  • •  People buy insurance of any kind to help them pay for large, unexpected or unplanned expenses for which they would have trouble paying for out of their own pocket.
    • •  You’re 38.1% more likely to claim on pet insurance (dogs) than you would for car insurance
      • •  Cruciate ligament surgery can cost as much as $8,500, and is very common in dogs

A common argument made against pet insurance is “why can’t I just open up a savings account to pay the vet bills rather than outlay money on insurance”. Sure, a savings account may allow you to meet the fees for routine check-ups, small accidents or illnesses, however insurance of any kind is there to help you pay for a large, unexpected or unplanned expense that you would normally struggle to meet out of your own pocket.

If you are still unsure about pet insurance, ask yourself whether you would be willing to pay more than $5,000 to save your sick or injured pet? If you answered yes, but are worried where the money would come from then pet insurance may represent a very practical option for you and your pet.

Thanks to Petplan we are able to offer a free four week pet insurance policy to all pets aged over eight weeks and upto twelve months of age here at the Friendly Vet.  Please speak to our knowledgable staff if you’d like to know more.

*PDSA animal wellbeing report, 2016

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