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Why I Wish I Bought Pet Insurance When I First Got My Dog

In 2012, my husband and I adopted our mixed breed mutt Fritz from our local animal control. They said he was a stray they found on the street and he was about a year old.

We went to meet him with his foster mom in a park near her house. She kept saying she’s glad he’s great on a leash and didn’t go after squirrels or other animals, because he was fast. His speed was confirmed when my husband went for a full run with him and Fritz barely broke into a trot.

He has always been the perfect picture of health, with his vet saying the same during his annual visits. No health problems, just a happy, energetic boy who loves hiking, fetch, and his pet parents.

I considered pet insurance and even looked into it when he was younger. I figured the cost wasn’t worth it, since he was only going to the vet once a year to get examined and any vaccines he needed.

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The day I wish I bought pet insurance

Fast forward to earlier this month, Fritz is now 10, but you can’t tell this high-energy boy he’s a senior. Imagine our surprise when we came home after a few hours and there was vomit everywhere. He was laying quietly on his bed and barely acknowledged us when we got home.

We immediately began to clean everything up. The rug had to be scrubbed, his bed thrown in the wash, and old towels used to clean up the mess. 

We were baffled because there were no foreign objects in what came out of him, and he has never been a dog to eat anything other than food.

Thinking it could just be a bug or upset stomach, we watched him closely. He was not interested in food at all and anytime he drank water, it was back up within the hour. 

Our normally high-energy dog could barely move, other than shifting every few minutes to try to get comfortable.

The next day he still wasn’t better. I called the vet, gave them his symptoms, and they asked me:

  • Did he eat anything he wasn’t supposed to?
  • Was there anything in his vomit?
  • Could he keep anything down?
  • What color were his gums?

I answered No to the first three and said they were still pink and I didn’t notice any discoloration. They advised me to keep a close eye on him (I work from home) and to call them back the following day if he still wasn’t better. 

They reminded me of the emergency vet hospitals in our area, just in case.

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The problem is revealed

That night, my husband was lying with him and massaging his belly. He noticed something hard and massaged it towards his rear end. He yelled for me to come downstairs and said he felt something move.

Within the hour, Fritz was outside trying to get something out but couldn’t. My husband went out to check on him and I threw him a glove in case he needed to assist. 

What came out was disgustingly gross, but it also gave us an answer.

Without realizing it, our dog, who had never eaten a foreign object before, had apparently removed fuzz from a tennis ball and eaten it. 

It was a wonderfully disgusting sight to behold. 

The reality came to me pretty quickly – Fritz had ingested a foreign object and had an intestinal blockage. Had he not passed it, we likely would have been rushing him into emergency surgery.

Related: 10 Things You Must Know Before You Buy Pet Insurance

The costs of intestinal blockage in a dog

Luckily for us, the intestinal blockage didn’t lead to obstruction, requiring a vet visit, surgery, and hospitalization.

If it did, our vet bill could have been upwards of $7,000 or more, especially if he had to go to the emergency vet for foreign body removal surgery.

It would have been a blow to our bank account, but we could have afforded it. However, it was in these moments I had a deep regret, wishing I had bought pet insurance when I first got my dog.

Real Cost Savings from Nationwide Clients

Senta

Nationwide insurance saved his parents

$6,609

Senta got a bone disease called hypertrophic osteodystrophy. Therapy and drug treatment cost $7,770. Senta is now back to his playful self.

The price of pet insurance

This led me to check for rates for my now 10-year-old senior dog. Here are the quotes I got from several of the pet insurance companies reviewed here.

  • Healthy Paws – $93.93 per month, 50% reimbursement, $1,000 deductible, unlimited annual payouts
  • Embrace – $86.21 per month, 70% reimbursement, $1,000 deductible, $15,000 annual limit
  • Figo – $64.05 per month, 70% reimbursement, $1,000 deductible, Unlimited annual benefit
  • Nationwide – $115.40 per month, 50% reimbursement, $250 deductible, $10,000 annual benefit limit

After reading the reviews on each pet insurance company, I purchased a policy with Figo

Had it cost us $7,000 for Fritz’ intestinal blockage, we would have been reimbursed nearly $4,000 after the deductible if we would have had Figo pet insurance in place and past the five day waiting period for an accident.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to buy pet insurance!

We are so thankful we had the best possible outcome for Fritz. Though I regret not buying pet insurance sooner, I’m glad I now have the peace of mind with Figo’s coverage. At 10-years-old, it’s only a matter of time before the old boy needs something other than a routine vet visit.

Waiting it out could have cost us our dog’s life. If we had pet insurance already, I probably would have called the vet and asked for an appointment, rather than advice over the phone. An x-ray would have shown the blockage and he could have been monitored by the professionals.

My story is one of caution. Don’t gamble with your pet’s life if you can’t afford to pay for an undesirable outcome. We’re in a position to have paid for his surgery and aftercare if needed, but many people are not.

If you don’t want to be like more than 50% of pet owners who have to choose euthanisia because their pet’s care costs were out of reach, buy pet insurance…before it’s too late.

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