Is pet insurance really worth it? We talk to a vet about the benefits

Is Pet Insurance worth it in the end?

Auckland Pet Hospital Vet, Dr Vicki Lim chats to us about the importance of getting pet insurance. I insure my dog Poppy, but I haven’t always had pet insurance…I always imagined putting aside $10 a week or something would be sufficient, that is until my other dog suffered from an incurable, rare, autoimmune disease and had to have many tests to find out the problem. It turns out there’s only one place that does this particular test and it’s in California… thousands of dollars later and a lifetime of medication we’ve found her cure but it’s something that may have been covered, if she was insured.

Having pet insurance gives you flexibility, especially with the C-word

At the start of this year, Poppy had a growth on her side that popped up out of nowhere; I took her to my vet and long story short, she had to have almost 20cm of skin removed from her little body. I was able to send tissue samples away for testing (at the expense of Southern Cross) before making the decision to go ahead and remove so much of her skin. Taking so much from her felt like a violation, how could something so perfect have something so awful on her? Cancer. The C-word us pet parents dread. After some reassurance from my amazing vet (Erin, we love you), some heavy tears and a big cuddle from Poppy I could make the right decision without cutting any corners. THAT is what you pay for when you get pet insurance.

From a vet’s point of view, is pet insurance that important?

I wondered how much having an insured pet had an impact on how vets treat our dogs and if pet insurance was something they’d actually recommend…Vicki highlighted the importance of getting insurance from the start in puppyhood, mainly because they are less likely to have any pre-existing conditions which might be excluded from cover.

“Young animals get up to all sorts of shenanigans – when pets get hurt it’s useful for me as a vet to know that I can give them the best care possible. Insuring our loved pets when they are young means peace of mind as they get older which is when more complicated medical or surgical issues can sometimes develop.”

What does this mean for vet staff and the patients?

It takes a serious amount of strength mentally to be able to do what a vet does… sure, there are so many perks of looking after animals, seeing new puppies for their first vaccinations and nursing new kittens back to health; but when there are highs, there are certainly lows. As I write this I think of the devastating moments vets have to experience and I’m not sure my heart could handle the heartbreak. Veterinary professionals, unfortunately, have some of the lowest rates of mental health and well-being which can only be exacerbated when working with cost constraints and in a capacity where they aren’t able to treat the animal.

“We’ve trained really hard to do the jobs we do and all of us come into the job wanting to help animals; when we’re unable to do that, the sense of failure can be quite gutting. When we can work through cases properly to help diagnose and treat our patients it really gives us a sense of satisfaction being able to help the animals and their owners!”

Don’t be nervous, we have some tips for anxious owners

It’s not just us that can get a bit of anxiety about visiting the vet. Dr Vicki Lim assured me that there are many things that they can do for your pet to make vet visits less stressful and having prior knowledge of their fears or anxieties can help them adjust schedules, prescribe medication, or choose the appropriate vet for you and your dog. Keeping calm and relaxed for our pets is just as important.

“We understand when owners are stressed, upset, or even angry. Dealing with a sick or injured pet is highly stressful and emotions can run high; but please try and be civil with your vet, and then we can work together to try and get your pet better”

southern cross vet and puppy

A Google diagnosis, we all do it!

It’s often after a Google diagnosis that we visit our vet with some preconceived ideas or at least, the thought of the worst-case scenario… checking Google can be a useful tool for signs of concern but we really should try and leave the diagnosis to the professionals. Vicki said she didn’t mind when her clients come in with some prior reading under their belt though.

“Some vets really hate it when clients come in with ideas from Google, but I personally don’t mind it – I’m happy to discuss these things and chat about them. The bottom line though, is that you’re coming to see us and paying for our expertise, so try and trust us! Most of the time, we know what we’re talking about.”

And finally! We’d love to know some tips for keeping our pets healthy at home so we got the full rundown from Dr Vicki Lim, here are the key points:

  • Exercise the mind and the body; especially if you have a high-energy or working breed
  • Prevention is always better than cure – regular checkups with your vet can pick up on issues at the early stages
  • Good nutrition is key; when your pets are young, ensure you are on an appropriate diet for growth. Be careful with weight gain in middle age and look into how you can support their needs with diet and supplementation as they age.

This article was supported by Southern Cross Pet Insurance


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