Do You Need Pet Insurance? 6 Ways to Save on Care

Photo (cc) by {ErinKphoto} aka redcargurl

What’s in a name? When it comes to our pets, often a sense of humor – or just plain weirdness.

Veterinary Pet Insurance, a company that insures 485,000 pets nationwide, culled the most interesting names from its database and created the 10 Wackiest Dog and Cat Names of 2012

Dogs Cats
1. Chew Barka 1. Pico de Gato
2. Nigel Nosewhistle 2. Dingleberry
3. Sir Maui Senqkey Schwykle 3. Dumpster Kitty
4. Spark Pug 4. Schnickelfritz
5. Agent 99 5. Koobenfarben
6. Stinker Belle 6. Sassy Pants Huska
7. Vienna Sausage 7. Vincent Van Furrball
8. Furnace Hills Dante 8. Kitty Gaga
9. Senorita Margarita 9. Beefra
10. Trigonometry 10. Mister Bigglesworth

Care to guess the breeds? (Spark Pug and Vienna Sausage are easy). You can see photos of these animals and the stories behind their names at WackyPetNames.com. You can also look at last year’s winners, which include a cat named Murderface and the dog Sir Seamus McPoop.

Of course, we make fun of our pets because we love them. And because we love them, we’d consider this obvious marketing ploy to get us to buy pet insurance. Do you need it? Check out this video story Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson did on pet policies, and then read on for other considerations, plus ways to save on more pet expenses…

How to evaluate pet insurance

As we recently wrote, $13 billion was spent on vet care in 2010 alone. The average annually spent on routine vet visits is more than $200, and the average surgery costs more than $400. VPI’s “comprehensive” plans run $27 to $37 a month for dogs and $17 to $24 a month for cats, but some plans cost as little as $6 a month, according to comparison site PetInsuranceReview.com.

So pet insurance might make sense. But as with people insurance, it depends on what’s covered and excluded. Illness? Injury? Hereditary and pre-existing conditions? Prescriptions? Dental? Cancer? Preventive care?

And what’s the deductible or co-pay? With only 80 percent of accidents covered and a $200 deductible, that $6-a-month policy doesn’t sound so great. VPI and several other insurers list a $50 deductible.

Then there’s the maximum the policy will pay. Depending on your finances and how much risk you’re willing to take with a pet, you may want to pay more per month for a higher limit, instead of chancing an enormous vet bill after a disaster.

And finally, research company strength. A little-known company might have lower rates, but if they go out of business, you’re out of luck.

If you decide you can’t afford pet insurance or it isn’t worth it, there are still plenty of ways to save on pet spending…

1. Check with the local animal shelter

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has local listings for animal shelters. These places may offer discounted services and cheaper (sometimes even free) vaccinations. Plus, they work for animals, not for profit – so they may be a good source for recommendations and referrals.

2. Comparison shop

Just like the doctors who treat two-legged patients, vets don’t all charge the same rates. Visit HealthyPet.com for local listings of vets accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association. Then call them up and get some quotes. Don’t be afraid to try negotiating.

3. Find cheaper prescriptions

Compare the prices your vet charges with online and local stores, including warehouse stores. Ask your friends and animal shelter workers what they use. There are plenty of places to find pet medications online, and stores like Target and Kroger may offer $4 generic pet meds.

4. Pet sitters

Sometimes you need someone trustworthy to watch your animals while you’re out of town. If your family and friends can’t do it, try PetSitters.org or Pet Sitters International, where you should be able to find a good local sitter for $15 to $35 a day.

5. Take good care of your pets

This sounds straightforward, but it’s easy to miss if you have a busy lifestyle. Make sure your pets are getting a proper diet – some animals have very specific needs. (This doesn’t mean generic pet food is bad, as long as it has the right ingredients.) Make sure that dangerous chemicals, chocolate, and even some poisonous houseplants are out of their reach. See that they get enough exercise, and follow all your vet’s recommendations. Don’t skimp on preventive care like vaccines. Spend enough time and money now to save yourself heartache and debt later.

6. Prioritize your pet budget

Many people treat their pets like kids, and it’s natural to want to spoil them. If you have the money, that’s OK. If you don’t, then look into sites where you can save on pet supplies, including major online retailers like Amazon. I get 40-pound bags of cat litter shipped straight to my door for less than I pay in the store.

But remember that health is more important than luxury, and animals don’t need a lot of expensive toys or high-priced food. Unlike kids, they have no sense of how much money you spend. What they really value is your time and affection.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Deadly Health Mistakes People Make After Age 50
7 Deadly Health Mistakes People Make After Age 50

Simply avoiding these actions, or lack thereof, can improve the odds of a longer, more healthful life.

3 Costly Social Security Mistakes That Women Make
3 Costly Social Security Mistakes That Women Make

Women face unique challenges when planning for retirement and making these mistakes can result in a skimpier retirement.

What Brand Makes the Best Rechargeable AA Batteries?
What Brand Makes the Best Rechargeable AA Batteries?

The best battery depends on what you need it for and how big your budget is. Here’s how to find the cheapest brand that will do the job you need.

14 Things We Buy and Then Almost Never Use
14 Things We Buy and Then Almost Never Use

Save your money. These items seem alluring, but they often end up as coat racks and dust magnets.

10 Ways to Nail Savings on Your Remodeling Project
10 Ways to Nail Savings on Your Remodeling Project

Here’s how to save on your next remodeling project with discounted materials and more tips and tricks.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners
8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Some of these deductions and credits are available to a wide swath of homeowners.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

12 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
12 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.