Pet Insurance, Is It Really Worth It?

Pet Insurance, Is It Really Worth It?So you have just purchased or adopted your new puppy or kitten, taken it to the vet and discovered that there are multiple sets of vaccines that are needed, a spay or neuter, and now they are recommending spending money on pet insurance too!!  With so many costs in a pet’s first year, is paying for pet insurance really worth it?  YES!!!

We think one of the hardest parts of our job, and our team would agree, is trying to marry the fact that we want to save every pet that walks in our door to the fact that we need to be able to pay our rent, pay our employees and also get paid for what we do.  As the care that we are able to provide for our patient evolves costs for emergency procedures, surgeries and unforeseen events can get quite expensive.  Having insurance takes finances out of the picture when trying to make a difficult decision as to what is the best next step for diagnosis or treatment of your pet.  Yes, there is a chance you will pay for it and be lucky enough to have a really healthy pet and never need to cash in on it, but if the cards go the other way, it is horrible to be forced by the reality of your financial situation to have to let go of your friend.

Both Dr. Fleming and I have had pets with serious and chronic medical conditions.  My black lab, MacKenzie has a rare liver disease that has required 2 major surgeries and daily lifelong medications, and my lovely kitty Ella has had 2 major surgeries after suffering a fracture. Dr.  Fleming has 2 dogs with orthopedic problems, one of which will be having surgery to the tune of $3500 (Oliver Frances the French Bulldog) and the other takes 2 supplements, 3 different medications, a special diet, and 2 different eye drops daily (Emma the very spoiled English Bulldog).  We have been on the other end of the counter to pay a large veterinary bill and know that it can be both stressful and unexpected.

The best time to get pet insurance is when you first get your pet.  If you have ever been through applying for insurance yourself, you know that if you have been to a doctor for a specific problem, that problem is excluded from what is covered.  Hopefully, at your first routine visit you have a healthy little pal who would therefore have no exclusions on their policy.  We try to have this talk with all new pet owners.  Many have come back to thank us when months or even years later, there is a medical or surgical emergency in the night that costs a pretty penny and are thrilled that they had someone else to send the bill to!!   There are lots of companies out there now offering insurance for pets.  Please call us to discuss which we would recommend for you!

Dr. Ilana Smolkin

Buying or Adopting a Pet in the Age of Kijiji

Buying or Adopting a Pet in the Age of KijijiIt is becoming more and more common for me to see pets that were acquired (bought or adopted) from kijiji or other online classified site. I think that it is great that there are so many ways to re-home a pet so less animals end up in shelters, but I think it is an area where many people get taken advantage of. It breaks my heart to see someone pay for or adopt a pet that is a different age, breed, or health status then that which was advertised. So, if you are the Kijiji surfing type, here are a couple pieces of advice to consider before jumping into the commitment.
Let’s put this in perspective of buying a car:

1) Check Carfax! You would never buy a used car without seeing a history of the accidents and mechanical problems, so you should be able to see the pet’s medical history from its previous veterinarian. I would love to say that everyone out there is honest, but some people are trying to offload a pet that has been diagnosed with an expensive condition that they don’t want to deal with. I also sadly see people being dishonest with the age of the pet, knowing that younger pets are easier to get adopted than older ones. You should be allowed to know what you are getting into.

2) Have a pre-sale inspection! If the pet has not been to a vet more recently than in the last year, are the sellers willing to take it for a health check? Alternatively, would they allow you to take the pet in to your veterinarian for a check-up before you commit? This would allow you to be aware of big ticket problems such as advanced dental disease and be aware what you are looking at cost wise.

3) Take it for a test drive! Are you able to do a trial period in your home? You want to ensure that the pet you are adopting is a good fit for your home and lifestyle. Some pets thrive on a busy household, others require a quiet laid-back pace. To avoid the pet requiring another rehoming, it’s best to know that its personality works with your home.

There are lots of wonderful pets out there in need of homes, so take the time to find the one that works for you and your family.

Does My Dog Really Need a Bed?

It’s a common question of dog owners whether or not to purchase a bed for their pooch.  Some people prefer to allow their dogs to share a bed with them or let them lounge on furniture and still others think a dog is fine simply lying on the floor.  While it’s ultimately a personal choice, it’s important to note that there are a number of ways dogs benefit from having their own beds, not the least of which is comfort.  Here are just a few to consider.

Safety – Most human furniture is high enough that a dog has to jump to get on and off.  This can result in joint, muscle and ligament stress or injury to your dog, particularly if he is a puppy or has reached his senior years.  Providing him with a safe place to sleep that is at his level is best.

Cleanliness and Hygiene – As much as we love our dogs we can’t ignore the fact that they are animals.  Even the cleanest dog can carry bacteria which could pose a health concern when sharing furniture with their owners.  Dander and fur can also cause a problem.  For everyone’s health and wellbeing, it’s a good idea to let your pup sleep on his own bed.

Comfort and Security – Imagine having to lie on a hard floor every time you wanted to rest.  It’s no more comfortable for a dog than it would be for a human.   This is particularly the case for older dogs and dogs that have joint issues.  Providing a soft bed gives your dog a comfortable place to sleep and a place where he can feel secure.

Once you decide to purchase a bed for your dog the next step is selecting the right one.  Consider things like breed, size, age and any health conditions to determine which type best suits your dog.  For instance, memory foam and orthopedic beds are great for older, larger or dogs with joint issues while round or “donut” shaped beds are perfect for dogs that tend to circle before sleeping.

The bottom line is this: providing a comfortable bed to sleep on will not only benefit your dog, but will also create a cleaner, healthier environment for everyone in the family.

Reasons to Adopt an Older Cat

When it comes to bringing a new feline into your home, many people lean toward kittens.  Who could blame them?  Those fuzzy balls of fur are irresistible!  Older cats, however, can be just as rewarding and make excellent companions, both for your family and other pets.  Here are just a few reasons why you should consider adopting an adult cat.

First, older felines are typically already trained to do things like use the litterbox and not scratch the furniture.  Since you will have to put little to no effort into training, you can instead focus on getting to know your new cat and letting him get acquainted with his new home.  Additionally, unlike frisky kittens, adult cats tend to be more docile and less likely to get into mischief.  You won’t have to worry about how your house will look when you return from being away all day because an older cat will probably just use this time to catch some z’s.

Another reason to adopt an adult feline is that older cats, particularly those who have spent time in a shelter, tend to be extremely grateful to their new adoptive owner.  They are thrilled to be in a loving home where they are warm, well-fed and the recipient of attention and they’ll spend their lives repaying you with unconditional love.  Also, if you already own an adult cat and are adopting another as a companion, older cats typically adjust much better and are more tolerable than kittens.

Finally, adopting an older cat is a very humane decision.  The sad fact is that for every kitten that is adopted, an unwanted older cat is euthanized because she can’t find a good home.  By choosing an adult cat you are in many cases literally saving his or her life and that’s a decision you can be proud of.

If you’re thinking of adding a new cat to your family, please consider these things before making your decision.  While a kitten is certainly lovely to have around, an older cat can bring more love and personality into your home than you could imagine.  More importantly, they will be incredibly grateful for the chance to be accepted into your family and have a forever home to call their own.