Is Pet Insurance All it’s Cracked Up to Be?

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Many clients come in with their new puppy and kittens asking us, what’s the deal with pet insurance?

Insurance for your pets is not a new concept, just the same as your car insurance or your own personal critical illness insurance. It is not a scam and can be very beneficial. We encourage everyone to do their research to find what works best for them.

There are a handful of pet insurance companies and they offer similar plans with deductibles and monthly premiums. Your monthly premium depends on what kind of coverage you choose, breed of your pet, area that you are in and any pre-existing conditions your pet may have. You can adjust your premiums and deductible to balance how you would like to pay. A low monthly premium and have a high deductible, vice-versa or somewhere in the middle.

I encourage pet owners to get insurance while their pet is young, before any pre-existing issues occur. This way the entire pet is covered without exclusions. You may be offered a free trial, take it! If your pet does not get sick in this time you don’t get the opportunity to try it out but it does give you 4-6 weeks of free insurance in case something does happen. This time can be used to research companies and have peace of mind you are covered.

There are countless stories of clients who have taken their free trial and their pet did unfortunately get very ill in that time of the trial. The insurance company they had the trial with paid for those bills no questions asked, no money out of the client’s pocket. We have seen upwards of tens of thousands of dollars paid for by an insurance company that the client has not even paid yet. That to me is a pretty good deal!

What if I just save the money I would pay for my premium with? This is an alternative, however, if your premium is $50 dollars a month, which is only $600 dollars a year. Should your pet have an emergency or unexpected illness you could expect to pay hundreds or thousands. As an example, if your pet were to develop vomiting and diarrhea it could be anywhere from $200-$400 or break their leg jumping off the bed, it could cost anywhere from $2000 to $4000. Having pet insurance may alleviate the stress of the vet bills. If your pet was insured you may only need to pay your deductible, saving you money and stress.

Not everything is covered under every insurance policy, preventative care and pre-existing conditions can be excluded. You’ll pay for the annual visit and vaccines but you are covered if your pet acquired an illness. Talking to the insurance companies and getting an understanding of what you are paying for, when do you need to pay your deductible and what they would be paying for is an important part of your research.

Pet insurance is not for everyone and some people choose to go other routes. When faced with an emergency, it is nice to not have to make the all too common decision between money and your pet.

Who and What is AAHA?

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The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) is the only organization in the United States and Canada that accredits companion animal hospitals based on standards that meet or exceed state and provincial regulations. Only 5% of all Canadian practices are AAHA Accredited. Established in 1993, the Association is well known among veterinarians for its leadership in the profession, high standards for veterinary practices and pet health care, and most importantly, its accreditation of campion animal practices.

Did you know that accreditation for animal hospitals is voluntary? Surprising, isn’t it? Nearly 60 percent of pet owners believe that their pet’s veterinary hospital is accredited when it is not. In actuality, only 5% of Canadian animal hospitals have gone through the accreditation evaluation process by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). We are proud to call ourselves an AAHA-accredited hospital.

Accreditation by AAHA means that an animal hospital has been evaluated on approximately 900 standards of veterinary excellence. To maintain their accreditation, hospitals undergo a rigorous review by veterinary experts every three years. State and provincial regulations can vary widely – in fact, some states don’t routinely inspect hospitals, only going in for an inspection when a complaint is filed by a pet owner. AAHA accreditation is considered the standard for veterinary excellence, and does not vary between states or provinces (AAHA accredits hospitals in both the U.S. and Canada).

We are an AAHA-accredited veterinary hospital. That means we hold ourselves to a higher standard. Pets are our passion. And keeping them healthy is our #1 priority. Here, we strive to deliver excellent care for pets. Because your pets deserve nothing less.

July 22 is AAHA Accredited Hospital Day. A day where we can celebrate holding ourselves to a higher standard!

Learn more about AAHA accreditation and why our accreditation is important to you and your pet. Visit aaha.org/petowner.

Oops, My Pet Ate Pot!

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Medical and recreational use of Marijuana in humans is common these days, making it all too accessible to our pets. It begs the question, should we be using marijuana therapeutically in our veterinary patients? The answer is no.

Marijuana in pets does not have a therapeutic dose at this time and can easily cause toxicity. We cannot tell you how much to use without causing toxicity, so it could end up causing another problem while we were trying to fix the first one.

Marijuana toxicity can be easily treated if we know that’s what the pet got into, so it is very important to let your veterinarian know if you know your dog or cat ate marijuana or a snack with marijuana in it.

Diagnosing the toxicity is done on clinical sings and/or the client’s information that their pet has ingested the toxin. The toxicity can worsen if the pet has eaten marijuana in a chocolatey snack. Now this patient has potentially 2 toxicities to treat and Marijuana is also a potent anti-vomiting drug so making the pet vomit it up is not always a feasible option.

Patients often present in a somewhat sedated state and can be easily agitated.  Other signs of toxicity can include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Drooling
  • Stumbling
  • Urine dribbling
  • Profound sedation

If we suspect or know that your pet got into Marijuana, your veterinarian can provide them with supportive care, IV fluids and time, however without treatment it can be very serious and even fatal for your pet. There is no antidote to this toxicity. Patients can recover in a matter of hours to days, depending on the amount ingested and if there was anything else ingested with it.

Don’t be afraid to tell your veterinarian what your pet ate, it could help save Fido or Fluffy and save you unnecessary tests performed on your pet.

To hear more on marijuana ingestion in pets, you can check out Dr. Morris on CBC Fresh Air 

My Dog is Heatworm Positive, Now What?

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Heartworm tests have begun for the season. We always hope when the results come in not come across one that is positive, but sadly, sometimes we do. So what exactly does it mean if your dog is heartworm positive?

If your dog’s annual heartworm test comes back positive it means that your dog became infected with heartworm in the previous warm season. Your dog was bitten by a mosquito who picked up heartworm from a heartworm positive dog and transmitted it to your dog. Your dog now is heartworm positive and requires treatment by your veterinarian.

Treatment for heartworm includes oral pre-treatment prior to the actual injectable treatment. This pre-treatment helps to decrease the chances of reactions.  Following is a series of intra-muscular injections administered by your veterinarian. This injection is the drug that kills the worms. The drug used to treat heartworm is not readily available and is very expensive. Treatment for heartworm can be very painful for the patient and patients may need to be hospitalized at any time during the treatment. There can be reactions to the drug, reactions to the worms dying along with complications of the worms dying, stroke, pain at the injection site and most terribly, death.

Once treatment has started, strict rest is essential, no running, no jumping, no playing. The recovery can be further complicated and detrimental to the dog’s health if proper rest regime is not followed.

Treatment for heartworm can be expensive and on average ranges from $800-1000 if uncomplicated. This cost would be equivalent to providing heartworm prevention for your dog for 13 years.

This is why we recommend to prevent rather than treat. Prevention is safer, easier and more cost effective than having to treat your dog for heartworm.

If you have any questions about heartworm or need to schedule your dog in for their annual heartworm test, please call us at 416-767-5817