Animal health care isn’t cheap
Pets are like family. But as health costs rise, few are insured that way.
PROTECT YOUR POCKETBOOK FROM PET MEDICAL EXPENSES
Selling pet products to humans is big business. Last year, according to the American Pet Products Association, owners spent nearly $70 billion on their pets.
While much of that money is spent on pet paraphernalia, some of the biggest, and most unexpected, costs are for drugs and medical procedures as pets live longer and occupy a more central role in homes. By one estimate, owners spend $9,000 to more than $13,000 for medical treatments over their pets’ lifetimes.
While a new collar may be a happy expense, emergency surgery to remove a sock lodged in a dog’s intestine is not. And the cost for such surgery can stretch to many thousands of dollars, blowing up a monthly budget.
Consider Lord Tigglesworth, known as Tiggy to family and friends.
He was living a fine feline existence, as a fat cat with doting parents in Wilmington, Delaware. A few months ago, he began vomiting and eating less. Claire Anderson and Andrew Logan, his owners (or pet parents, as some call themselves), began to worry. At first, they thought he just needed some teeth removed, so they had that done.
“He was incredibly low maintenance in terms of any health stuff,” Anderson said of her 8-year-old cat. “He had lost 7 pounds, and he only weighed 18 pounds to begin with. When he lost the weight, that’s when I knew it was more.”
It turned out that Lord Tigglesworth had cancer in his gastrointestinal tract. The treatment was effective, but he still didn’t eat. And giving him a pill — not an easy feat with any cat — was stressful for him and his owners.
The couple’s veterinarian prescribed an ointment, Mirataz, a drug that was originally used to treat depression in humans but has a side effect of increasing appetite. Logan said he and his wife had already spent $6,000 on Lord Tigglesworth’s care, so they didn’t flinch at paying about $30 for a two-week supply.
Unlike humans, only about 10 percent of dogs and 5 percent of cats are covered by medical insurance, according to a survey by the American Pet Products Association. And since 2015, the costs of veterinary services have risen over 10 percent for medical treatments and 5 percent for regular checkups, according to the Nationwide/purdue University Veterinary Price Index.
“It’s not what veterinarians are charging,” said Dr. Carol Mcconnell, vice president and chief veterinary officer for Nationwide. “It’s more what consumers are choosing to pay.”
The pet insurance industry grew 17.5 percent last year, but to only 1.83 million pets, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.
Claire Anderson and Andrew Logan spent upwards of $6,000 on various drugs to keep their cat, Lord Tigglesworth, known as Tiggy, eating and recovering from chemotherapy, in Wilmington, Del.
Lord Tigglesworth was diagnosed with cancer gastrointestinal tract. in his