Is Pet Insurance Worth It & What Does It Cost? We Have Answers.

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Is pet insurance worth it? How much is pet insurance? Here’s everything to consider.

To Insure or Not to Insure. 

Choosing to obtain pet insurance is much like choosing the right home or school for your family. There are several factors to consider, and it’s a decision that only you, a loyal pet mom or dad, can make.

cat laying down how much is pet insurance

When my family adopted now-11-year-old Oskar, we didn’t think the cost of pet insurance was really “worth it”. We’ve had him since he was a kitten, and he’s always been a very healthy, active kitty.

Back in 2020, I noticed a strange shift in Oskar’s behavior. He was very lethargic and lazy, which is super unlucky. When we took him to the vet, they were able to find out he was having some serious stomach issues. This was an ongoing problem for months. At one point, I was talking to the vet on the phone every other day, panicking about what to do.

cat sleeping

Oskar lucked out by not needing surgery, and with some medication, diet, and behavioral changes, we were able to get him back to his regular self. This was, however, not an easy process, and it made me question if we had made the right decision by omitting pet insurance.

When pets need surgery, it can be thousands of dollars out of pocket. With insurance, it’s about $35/month, and, most of the time, that includes surgeries. No family should have to pick between saving a furry family member or paying their expenses, so this is really something important to consider whether or not it’s a good fit for you.

Did you know? Tractor Supply Company offers a PetVet Clinic with no office visit fees? Their clinics offer affordable and convenient preventative services from state-licensed veterinarians. No appointment is necessary.

While we can’t always learn from other’s mistakes, it’s important to weigh your options and give pet insurance a solid consideration.

dog laying on carpet wondering how much is pet insurance

What’s the typical pet insurance cost? Pet insurance plans are flexible to meet your individual needs.

For those who can’t afford expensive surgeries or treatments, sometimes putting your pet to sleep is the only option. That’s a painful decision. 💔 And it’s also pricey, with euthanization costing around $300. And since not all cities allow backyard burials, you might have to pay even more to cremate your pet.

Additionally, you’ll need to take your pet’s breed, especially dog’s, into consideration. If you have a show dog, you’ll want to think about theft or life insurance coverage for your furry friend, whereas if you have a breed deemed “dangerous”, canine liability protection is another facet you’ll want to consider. Check out this article from Bankrate, which takes a deep dive into determining the right coverage for your pets.

dog holding bowl

That’s where pet insurance comes in…

How does pet insurance work?

Just like human medical insurance, you pay a small amount every month to get coverage for those big, unplanned vet bills. Whether you want an emergencies-only plan or one that covers routine care, there are plenty of options at various price points on the market.

woman with her white poodle

What is pet insurance going to do for you and your pet? Let’s consider the benefits of pet health insurance…

Pet insurance will give you more peace of mind if your pet were to become ill or injured. With a plan in place, you’ll:

  • Be able to select care from any licensed veterinarian in your area
  • Get coverage for dogs, cats, birds, and even exotic pets
  • Drastically minimize the budget hit from hefty vet bills
  • Focus more on your pet’s health than the cost of their care

Besides, you already know the importance of home, health, and auto insurance… why not ensure that peace of mind for your beloved pet?

man with cat

Get the most out of your pet insurance plan with these helpful tips:

  • Pet insurance pre-existing conditions. If your pet already has a serious health problem, you might not be eligible for coverage with many plans. Some insurance providers also have age and breed limitations.
  • Read the fine print. Many plans require you to pay the vet first and then be reimbursed, however, some may pay their portion of the cost directly to your vet on the same day of service.
  • Do the math. Monthly premiums tend to average about $25 per month for cats and about $45 per month for dogs. If your pet is relatively healthy, an expensive plan might not save you money in the long run.
  • Shop around. Save money on prescription medications by asking your vet to write you a prescription and then check your local pharmacies–most also carry pet medications. For example, Walmart’s online pet pharmacy is very affordable. Vets are often willing to price match, too!
  • Check for discounts. Some employers offer pet insurance discounts that could help keep more money in your pocket. Many insurance providers also offer discounts for multiple pets, so you’ll likely save more when you insure your second furry friend. In fact, Embrace offers a 10% discount in most states when you insure more than one pet through their insurance policies.
  • Open a pet savings account. Just like a health savings account, you’ll be able to conveniently manage your pet’s expenses in one place.

adopted dog

So… is pet insurance worth it?

It depends on you, your finances, and your pet! If your emergency fund is sufficient to cover unexpected vet bills, you can probably skip the pet insurance.

If an expensive vet visit would present a serious problem for your budget, pet insurance will soften that blow to your wallet. With numerous plans and deductibles to choose from, you can easily pick one that will meet your needs and suit your budget.

A laptop on a desk displaying a pet insurance quote tool

Choose a top-rated pet insurance company.

If you do decide pet insurance is for you, here are some top-rated providers that we recommend:

  • ASPCA: ASPSA pet insurance will cover behavioral problems in addition to health problems.
  • Embrace: Embrace pet insurance offers the best value for the price and a 24/7 pet health line.
  • Fetch by The Dodo: Fetch pet insurance will cover online visits at no additional charge, and get 10% off every month for life!
  • Figo: Figo pet insurance has some of the best emergency coverage and offers a 100% reimbursement option.
  • Healthy Paws: Healthy Paws pet insurance processes claims quickly and also covers alternative care.
  • Lemonade: Lemonade pet insurance offers up to 90% coverage with a $500 deductible while donating unused premiums!
  • Nationwide: Nationwide pet insurance provides the best coverage for exotic pets and birds.
  • Trupanion: Trupanion pet insurance pays hospitals directly and doesn’t have long waiting periods for coverage.

woman laying on floor with dog

We think it’s better to be safe than sorry!

We’re so glad to hear that some people have been saved from financial ruin and are able to take care of their pets thanks to pet insurance. As always, consider what is best for you and your furry friend. No matter what you decide, I think we can all agree that pets make the world go around. ❤️

“Our vet was our dog’s lifesaver, but Trupanion was our money saver! Sometimes we wondered if it was worth the money since we never had any issues. But recently, our 5th child (aka our dog) developed a major skin issue / autoimmune disease, and wow the bills! Trupanion covered SO MUCH of months’ worth of bills totaling around $15,000. 😬 We now have our dog back to himself and we didn’t break the bank!” – Hip2Save reader

Is all this pet talk making you want to spoil your furry friend? Check out the best pet deals happening now!

About the writer:

Sara is a self-taught blogger & photographer and brings 9+ years of experience to her craft. Her work has been featured in numerous esteemed publications, spanning building, travel, and fashion. Beyond her creative pursuits, Sara’s primary mission is to empower others to embrace a toxic-free & sustainable lifestyle.

Join The Discussion

Comments 71

  1. atank

    A Star Hip2Saver is a recognized member of our Hip2Save community hand selected by our team for demonstrating a long history of engagement with helpful & friendly comments across and our social channels. Our Star Hip2Saver badge acts as a verification for readers who know the ins and outs of all Hip2Save sets out to accomplish — assisting our community to live extraordinary lives on ordinary budgets. Readers cannot pay or provide any sort of exchange in order to earn this badge. Rather, they are invited to participate by a member of the Hip2Save team and opt to have the Star Hip2Saver badge added to their profile & comments.

    Thank you for this Post appreciate it
    I have a older fur baby and its very hard now w medical bills

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      You’re so welcome! 💕

  2. Rebecca

    Please add Trupanion pet insurance to this list ! Our vet was our dog’s life saver but Trupanion was our money saver ! We paid the monthly pet insurance for about 6 years ( thinking same thing as you said … lots of small toys around our house with 4 kids) and all was good ! Sometimes we wondered if it was worth the money since we never had any issues. But recently our 5th child ( our dog) developed a major skin issue / autoimmune disease and wow the bills! Trupanion covered SO MUCH of months worth of bills totaling around $15,000 😬. And each time we went to our animal hospital – we needed the specialty doctors for all this, we would sit in the waiting area and hear the people checking out – emergency vet care is not cheap !! People without the pet insurance were handing them credit cards to pay their thousands of dollars of bills! Each time we heard that we sighed a bit a relief knowing our pet insurance had us covered ! We now have our dog back to himself (with a little medication to keep him healthy) and we didn’t break the bank ! So, to answer your posted question… for those emergency situations, yes pet insurance is well worth it!!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh wow! Thanks a TON for the suggestion and for sharing your experience with us, Rebecca! SO glad your dog is feeling better!

  3. Diana

    Healthy Paws is amazing. The insurance more than pays for itself if your dog has medicine. What I like about Healthy Paw is that you have no paperwork to fill out. You just take a picture of the Vets bill and they send you a check. So easy!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Awesome! Thanks for the feedback, Diana! Good to know how easy that insurance has been to use for your pet!

    • Amy

      We use Healthy Paws as well. I felt silly taking out a policy on a kitten, but months later, he needed emergency surgery, and then another major surgery the next day. The bill was THOUSANDS. I definitely did the right thing having him insured! I don’t know what I would have done without it! And it was not an unusual ailment for cats- quite common, in fact.

    • Maggie

      I’ve had about $10,000 in bills for ONE dog paid by Healthy Paws in the last couple of years — he got melanoma in his EYE and needed two surgeries by a top vet ophthalmologist to save the eye, and he got the cutting-edge immuno-therapy for melanoma that teaches his own immune system to mop up any surviving cancer. He has survived more than two years, and his team is optimistic that we beat the cancer — which rarely happens with dogs. It happened because we got him best-of-the-best care, due to Healthy Paws.

      If anyone wants to get a Healthy Paws quote, if you go through this link, it will generate a small donation to German Shepherd Rescue for each new policy:

      • Patricia Goff

        Our dog has been in remission for the last 4 years. He still has the tumors but they are in remission and he is very healthy other than severe arthritis in his back legs but then again he is 14 years old. My brother paid out of pocket about $500 but we probably would have paid that in insurance payments in 13 years. We were lucky as we have a great vet. They start with the most inexpensive tests first to find out what is wrong with the animal.

    • Linda Matthews

      I also have Healthy Paws for my cat. Very pleased with their service. If you don’t want to ever find yourself in a position where you have to decline medical care for a sick pet due to the high costs, this is an easy way to prevent that scenario.

  4. MessyT

    We have Nationwide and the monthly premium is paid through payroll deduction. They are fantastic and reimburse us very quickly for our claims. We got it when we first got our pup a year and a half ago and it has been so worth it. It even covers preventatives like heart worm pills and flea and tick meds.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      That’s wonderful to hear, MessyT! Thanks for commenting!

  5. orangeblue

    Nationwide gives you a multiple pet discount, and if you already have them for home or auto when you add pet you get a discount too. No paperwork, just download the nationwide pet app, take a picture and they will send you a check or direct deposit into your bank account. You do have a 30day waiting period when you sign up, you can have regular insurance or a “rider” that covers wellness visits like nail cutting, heart worm /flea/tick, physicals, shots. I have been very impressed with them! If you sign up under someone you each get a $25 amazon gift card(bonus!). I like some people didn’t originally have pet insurance but after our first puppy was able to get to an extension cord accidentally, we ended up with over $5k of vet bills trying to save him, we immediately got insurance and it has more than paid for itself! One thing to note is nationwide will not always cover the full bill(you are only allowed so much each year for certain things – ie: $35 a year for nail clipping), they don’t reimburse for tax(I think that is true for most), and you do need to pay upfront but the reimbursement is usually less than a week.

    • Taylor (Sidekick)

      Thanks for sharing your experience with Nationwide Orangeblue! I’m so glad your pet insurance coverage has been well worth it🙌. You never know when you’re going to need it, so it’s always best to be on the safe side! Yay for pet savings!

  6. T

    If we were to insure all our pets it would be well over 2,000 a month for them to be covered completely. Just one dog would be almost 200 a month. Cats for full coverage can be almost 100, you want blood work in there and x rays. Those are mad expensive. The only way pet insurance is worth it is I pay almost nothing. You pay for basic insurance then it does not cover a lot. If you have multiple pets than it is too expensive. And we have paid a lot in vet bills over our lifetime. If paid insurance for each pet without using it for a year that is a lot of money gone.

    • Sharon

      I am not in favor of pet insurance. It is a big expense for little payout. I would just have the pet put down if I could not afford it. My cat is 14 and has had a good life. Luckily, she is very healthy still. When she is gone, I cannot afford to have anymore cats. I sure love them but everything is too expensive now.

  7. Dkp91576

    I do PetSmart Banfield, it is more of a wellness plan, but it covers health visits, free teeth cleaning, discount off meds and some stuff inside Petsmart. I have 2 older dogs so I am constantly in for wellness checks, tummy issues, allergies. I have saved a lot of money. For 2 dogs I pay $60 a month.

    • Taylor (Sidekick)

      Good to know, thanks for sharing that info! That’s really not bad for 2 dogs per month! 🙌

    • dylanfan

      I have Banfield and probably wouldn’t buy them again for future pets. My dog had stones blocking his urinate tract and the vet flat out said it is a procedure they are supposed to do but she didn’t have time and told me to go to an ER place. That was after my dog sat there all day! With that plan I should have saved 40% having it done at Banfield instead I had to go pay full price at a surgical center which was over $4000. Banfield should have been $1200 after the discount. Basically useless of a plan. I can get shots cheap anywhere.

  8. Meranda

    Great post! Not everyone knows pet insurance is a thing. It’s definitely saved our butt!

    • Taylor (Sidekick)

      Woohoo, I’m so happy it’s helped you guys out!! It is so worth it and gives you much more peace of mind.

  9. Tiff0820

    Also, if you come into a problem with paying a vet bill I highly recommend Not every vet hospital is listed, but 2 near me are and they accept it and it has helped us so much to get our babies the care they need and then to make monthly payments. We lost our bulldog unexpectedly in May, cancer. We were hit with her loss and $1676 in emergency vet bills & euthanasia/cremation costs. We couldn’t have done it without a payment plan from Scratchpay. Carecredit was too difficult with us and took too long. So for any of you that don’t have pet insurance, keep this as an option if you come into an unexpected large vet bill or tough times.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for the helpful recommendation!

  10. Lisa

    I know this has nothing to do with pets, but when our son passed away end of May we were left with $10,000 funeral bill. He was only 26 and wasn’t even thinking about life insurance like most young people. We were completely honest with the funeral home and told them we didn’t have the money. They still went through with everything, but now they need their money and some days idk how we’re going to pay them. Having insurance on us and pets in my mind is definitely worth it however I think our 8yr old dog is probably to old. Thank you for posting this I’m going to look into this!

    • Beth

      I knew someone w an elderly dog. The dog had a blockage and they did not have insurance. Bc the pet was so old the premium would be very expensive. The vet told them to put the amt of the premium(or what they could afford) in an envelope for vet bills.

      • Taylor (Sidekick)

        In some situations, that is the better thing to do as some insurers offer costlier premiums for elderly animals. I hope their dog is doing well now!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      You’re welcome, Lisa. SO very sorry for your loss. ❤️

    • Carrie O.

      Lisa, my prayers and sympathy regarding the loss of your son.

      • Carrie O.

        Lisa, maybe you could try a go fund me page to try to raise money for your son’s funeral expenses?

    • Toni

      Sorry for your loss. I know how difficult it is dealing with all the arrangements and trying to pay for it. It has to be doubly hard as it was your son. You never think you’re going to lose them. Parents should go before their kids.

  11. chime

    i wish there were more discounts at the vet for us pet parents. not enough is known about why we are charged so much at the vet. it can be very difficult when ur furry friend is your “therapy” and he /she gets sick or injured. honestly its traumatic for me to have to take them to the vet wondering what the bill is gonna be. fortunately my vet works with me on the bill which is very nice and all i can ask. the place i used to take my furry friends , however, took advantage of my vulnerability and didn’t fix my pet but charged out the door which was wrong.

    • Hunterwoody

      Good comment. Ask for a written estimate. They are easily generated in the computer. I am a vet but have to take my pets in for care to another vet. I always appreciate the estimate so there are no surprises.

    • Taylor (Sidekick)

      I’m sorry to hear that, Chime, but I’m glad your current vet is flexible with the bills. That probably makes the situation a lot less stressful for you. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Toni

    I have to say Nationwide (formerly VPI) has been a huge life saver for us. We think of our pets as our children and our first dog has been with them since we got her around 9 months old. I had almost canceled the policy recently due to a 30% increase in premiums last year. Something told me to not do it. I’m so glad….she ended up almost dying. She became diabetic and dehydrated. It was over $3,000 for a stay in doggy icu to save her. They paid all but our deductible of $100. We then had issues with her blood sugar skyrocketing. We found out she had Cushings as well. They do have a maximum per premium year for items so we did still have a lot we paid out last year but we saved way more. The premium went up this year again but it will pay for itself since she takes insulin and veteroyl. All the other tests, immunizations, etc. will be paid for as well barring a major crisis.

    As our pets get older they’re like us they need more medical attention. Just one or two items can make up for all those premiums you pay in the younger years.

    If you’re going to do get insurance make sure to do before they turn ten. The younger the better the premiums. Most wont insure after 10.

    • Taylor (Sidekick)

      Great tip, Toni! Thanks so much for sharing that info. That’s pretty amazing that Nationwide covered almost all of your bill🙌

  13. Michelle

    We use Pet’s Best and have been very happy with them! We use Sam’s club pharmacy for pet prescriptions as they tend to have the lowest prices.

    • Taylor (Sidekick)

      Good idea to save at Sam’s Club, Michelle! I’m happy to hear your furry friend is covered!🤗

  14. Lisa

    Thank you guys so much for all your sweet and wonderful comments:) I will try to see about a go fund me account. Thanks for that suggestion!💜

  15. Autumn

    Ok so I have had Healthy Paws since my two papillons were 6 months old. They are now ten. Every year the premium keeps going up. Last year I paid $180 for two dogs. It just went to $250 this month. I love that they don’t have a yearly cap. But $250 is a lot to pay each month. We are considering Nationwide. It would be $62 a month but the yearly cap is 7,500. Do any of you ever need to pay more than $7500 a year in pet costs? Ugh I hate this decision. Keep paying $250 a month and never worry or save $200 a month and just realize if costs exceed $7500 I will have to pay out of pocket. Any advice?

    • Gina

      Wow pet parent kudos to u for caring so much for ur fur baby. I can’t imagine a vet bill higher than 7500. My question is how come ur best isn’t enough. If we are in a world now where u have to pay a whopping 250.00 a month for several years on vet insurance then tell me that’s still not enough! And what about the innocent souls out there who cherish they pets and don’t waste money frivolous and take necessary precautions to keep they pets safe, don’t feed table scraps etc etc and feel hopeless when the vets wants to overcharge and take advantage of the situation!!!!

      • Sharon

        I think one thing that started to cause vet bills to rise was the invention of pet insurance. Money I save on ridiculous premiums is money I have in savings to pay for the actual vet bills.

    • Maggie

      Yep. A cancer diagnoses or major ortho issue can easily get you over 7500. My dog’s cancer care has exceeded 7500.

      Worse, Nationwide/VPI has a “schedule of benefits.” The vet’s bill might be 750, but the schedule of benefits says 250, so you get a percentage of 250 even though no vet near you actually charges so little for that procedure. Some of their plans also have a med formulary. They don’t cover hip dysplasia generally, and they have a lot of other exclusions. HP doesn’t — HP pays based on what your bill is (less the exam fee). You pay less for the other plan because it will pay YOU less when you need it. Also, you’ll get hit with pre-existing conditions if you change policies — everything in your file up til this point will become pre-existing and excluded when you change policies.

      It’s really important to read the policy docs before changing — they bury a LOT of nasty fine print in there with some companies.

    • Leslie Baker

      So frustrating! buying insurance always feels like a big gamble. I wish it were an easier decision for you.

  16. DJ

    I have First Pet insurance. As a rescue dog owner, the shelter has always offered me a free pet insurance trial. My second rescue had to be taken to the vet within the first month. She had a severe uti and ear infection estimated to have been there even before I got her from the shelter. The insurance originally denied the claim as pre-existing condition but paid later on account that dog left the shelter with insurance. Cookie got once more sick to the tune of $2k and we never found out what happened . The insurance eased the financial process. We decided to insure our first dog after that. Tips: Insure for what you need. If your dog is healthy, don’t get top of the line. Get based on your experience. If you adopt, for sure sign up for the trial. Call before renewing, you might want to reconsider the amount of insurance

  17. Debra

    I have two free roam house rabbits. They’re considered an exotic species so vet care is expensive. I started putting $300 a month in a separate account as an emergency vet fund. It is up to about $5000 now. I hope I never need to use it.

    • Sharon

      That is the way to do it. Good for you. On a side note: I know someone that had rabbits. I guess they get hairballs like cats. But her bunny was not eliminating them and had to have surgery twice.

  18. Erin

    I have Bivvy. Saved us a bunch and it’s $29 a month and it includes wellness.

  19. Amanda

    My baby is almost 16 and I will say that her age alone makes her insanely expensive to take out a policy. I wish I would have insured her as a puppy and locked in a more reasonable rate. Now her medication costs alone are a couple hundred per month. (Rimadyl and Proin, my other dog is on Rimadyl and Tramadol) Be careful too because some policies I looked into only covered catastrophic events, not wellness exams, routine vaccines or bloodwork, etc. Over the years we’ve easily spent thousands and thousands on annual checkups alone.

    • Maggie

      Amanda, you can probably save money if your vet will let you not buy those meds from him. Have you looked into getting those meds from a REPUTABLE pet pharmacy online, like Valley Vet, with your vet’s prescription? I buy generic Carprofen (Rimadyl) online — a bottle of 180 costs around $100 (but that’s probably a 6 mo. supply for one dog), or bottle of 60 is around $50. Look up “Carprofen” (that’s generic Rimadyl) at the online pharmacies — even Walmart’s pharmacy now sells it! You can probably save money buying Proin from Valley Vet too (a bottle of 180 is around $50, or 60 for around $25). Tramadol you can fill at the human pharmacy (Walmart, Costco, etc.) — look up the cheapest price on and take one of their coupons with you to fill it. It should be around $10.

  20. Allison

    Do all these pet ins companies premiums go up every year?

    • Nae17

      Yes, as we are about to get our first little fur puppy I’m wondering that too? If so it really might be worth it to put that same amount each month into a savings account instead…

      • Maggie

        The savings account works if you don’t have a big bill for several years. OTOH, if your pup gets badly injured and needs a $6,000 orthopedic surgery in the first year of owning it, that savings account might not help much. You could make the same argument with car insurance, home owners insurance, etc. — you could self-insure by putting money away, but none of us do that because the cost of a catastrophic bill is more than we want to self-insure. You have to make the same calculation with your dog — is there a number that’s more than you want to self-insure, and if so, what is it? I personally don’t care about the wellness bills for a few hundred bucks (so I don’t pay for wellness pet insurance–that’s piddly stuff); I care about the big multi-thousand dollar bills, as I’ve seen WAY too many of them over the years.

  21. Sera

    I have two cats with kidney disease (😭) – my then-6-yr-old was dx’d stage 3 two years ago. PSA FOR CAT OWNERS (and likely applicable to dog owners, too!): From what I learned, I discovered some really important (also concerning and maddening!) stuff I want to share including picking up on my then 15.5 yr old’s Stage 2 kidney disease ***myself!*** Believe it or not (and I tried to start a petition, it angers me so!), there is *often* a discrepancy regarding what is considered “normal range” for many bloodwork levels depending on the resource or the lab running the bloodwork. How is this a thing??!?! In this instance, I’m referring to the labs “normal range” (in this case IDEXX) vs. the go-to resource for Kidney Disease Staging in cats/dogs: the Iris Kidney Disease Staging resource. (More on insurance and financials after something I feel is really important to know!) Wouldn’t you think these numbers would be the same for all resources across the board? NOPE! Bear with me here… because it might be so worth it for your beloved pets. So the go to resource for kidney disease staging, the Iris Staging for Kidney Disease, states, and this is for cats based on creatinine levels (they list dogs too, but the levels differ): • Stage 2 at a creatinine level of 1.6 to 2.8 • Stage 3 is 2.9 to 5.0, and • Stage 4 (End Stage) is anything > 5.0 But the lab that processed my cat’s bloodwork, IDEXX in this case, said the normal range for creatinine is up to 2.4!!!! That means the lab work won’t register the creatinine level as “out of range” until they’re halfway through Stage 2 Renal Failure at a creatinine level of 2.5, when the go to resource says Stage 2 begins at 1.6! 🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️ My then-6 yr old was dx’d Stage 3 (June 19, 2018) when I saved up and took her into a dental (which never happened). A month later we found a low-income clinic associated with a vet school in Worcester MA, and my then-15 yr old’s creatinine was 2.3 as of July 18, 2018 – which wasn’t registering on the lab work as out of range. So when I realized this discrepancy, I had them do a urinalysis (Dec 2018) to check urine specific gravity, aka USG (basically how well urine is excreting toxins from kidneys) and sure enough: my poor girl’s urine was “low concentration” which means the kidneys aren’t doing their job as well as they should be. ☹️ Now both my kitties officially have a kidney disease diagnosis! 😭😭😭 As of September last year, my sweet (now) 8 yr old entered end stage. But as of our most recent checkup – her creatinine is stable at 6.1 for 4 months straight! Even better news, my old lady had creatinine level of 2.8 in Feb and I wasn’t able to do regular checkups with them when coronavirus began. So I was convinced she’d tip over into Stage 3 by the time we saw a vet next. I started giving her fluids via phone approval from my local vet. I’ve been giving my other girl fluids for > 2 yrs now due to her Stage 3 status. And when we returned to the vet two weeks ago, my Sweet old lady’s creatinine bad dropped from 2.8 in feb to 2.2 as of Monday June 29th! Note: Kidney disease cannot be cured. Yet with creatinine level of 2.2, she’s back to registering in normal range according to the lab’s specified ranges! 🙄🙄🙄 OKAY THE MONEY: Fluids alone jumped for me from $21/mo (when I only gave my younger cat 100mL/day at $7/1000mL bag) to now $96 because: • Willow (my 8 yr old baby girl) now gets 300cc daily, and • Goose, my 17.5 yr old sweet girl gets 100cc daily. • The price went up to $8 a bag. I now need 12 bags for 30 days. That is a HUGE cost increase to keep my babies hydrated and to assist their kidneys to flush toxins as best we can on the daily! Then there is the prescription food, specifically designed to be low in phosphorus, which is: • Hard to get samples of, and • Can’t be return if they don’t like it (because prescription) And they run: • $50/8ish lb bag of dry food, or • $40-$60/ case of 24 cans of prescription wet food. ON TOP OF THAT: You also have to deal with the fact that the poor kitties don’t know their sick, and when they’re nauseous, they will often relate the nausea to the food and, in turn, reject it completely and often don’t ever go back to it. And this process will likely repeat itself again. And again. 🤦🏻‍♀️ I do not/did not have either of my cats insured and I promise, I’ll be thinking about this next time I get a new fur baby! I find myself suddenly on disability as of 7 yrs ago so my income is incredibly limited. That itself was unexpected, never mind having two sweet babies with kidney disease at the same time! If you’ve made it this far… I wanted to share our experience in case this info might help anyone be able to best care for their feline family members. I did receive a $300 grant paid to my vet from The Pet Fund but I can only apply for one animal in my lifetime! 😳 So while I’ll forever be super super grateful, that lasted about a year to pay for Willow’s fluids supplies only (fluids, drip lines, needles)…. We’re now 2 yrs in with some pretty darn healthy kitties who you wouldn’t even know they were sick had I not told you… and sadly the costs are only going to increase as we get further and further into this terminal disease. Upon learning of their dxs, I started with a full workup for both girls every 3-6 mo for them. If anything wasn’t stable, it was more like every 1-2 months. At this point, I do full work ups at least every 3 months, and if it wasn’t for that low-income clinic in Worcester MA (associated with Tufts Veterinary School) there is simply NO WAY I’d be able to remotely afford giving my girls the care they deserve. I’ve received some donations as well, from friends and strangers, who have been through this journey themselves, and who often recently lost their pet and have a bunch of supplies laying around. (Again 😭😭😭) Last but not least, from experience: I recommend getting a baseline on EVERYTHING you can when adopting a new fur baby, no matter their age. I truly believe, had a urinalysis been done any time within the first 3 yrs of my time with Willow, we’d have caught that stubborn UTI (that took 6 months and 3 meds to get rid of)… that she probably had since I adopted her at 3 yrs old. And saddest of all, while I’ll never know, numerous vets concur this was likely the cause of her kidney disease at such a young age. In the end, learn from me: • Get a baseline for new pets, not just bloodwork but urinalysis/urine culture, too. • Consider pet insurance *before* preexisting conditions set in and disqualify them for coverage. • Familiarize yourself with their diagnoses and check the labs and do some research yourself to know what to test for, what to look for, what certain numbers mean. • Know what tests to ask for, and don’t be afraid to do so! So as of June 19, 2020, Willow and I celebrated her 2 yr post-diagnosis anniversary. I’m so grateful for every moment I have with my now 8(ish) yr old girl. And my dear sweet Goose, who’s been with me 15.5 amazing years, has remained stable in Stage 2 for TWO FULL YEARS (I guarantee adding fluids in back in Feb/March of this year prevented her from tipping into stage 3!) We’ll be celebrating that July 18th, when she had her first official bloodwork done where I caught her Kidney Disease status. I know that’s a lot, and slightly off topic of the post. Yet, had I known or explored the option of pet insurance before both my babies began renal failure… the financial burden, may not be so great. Especially given that: • 2 yrs later they’re still going strong, and • I now find myself unexpectedly on disability. To those who made it this far… good luck with your fur babies always!

    • Sera

      I tried to make it easy to read with paragraphs and bullets but that formatting disappeared when I hit post. SORRY for length!!!

      • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

        No worries, Sera! Thanks for taking the time to share this with us. Hope your fur babies continue to do well! 💖

    • Samantha

      Thank you for your story. I have 6 cats, all rescues. March of 2021 our one cat, Jett was diagnosed with idiopathic hypercalcemia after his yearly checkup. March of 2022 his Litter Mate, Jaime was diagnosed with the same condition. Luckily it did not lead to kidney failure as of yet. Specialists and blood tests and medications are very expensive. We have Fetch insurance which we purchased from the day we picked them up at the shelter. All 6 are insured with Fetch. They were formerly Pet Plan. Since they have switched to Fetch my claims are paid within 2 days direct deposit to my checking account. You can’t ask for better service than that!

    • Sharon

      Way to long to read past the first few sentences. But, as a lab person, I will tell you normal ranges for tests vary from lab to lab because different labs use different instruments and methodology.

  22. Amy

    Having pet insurance was a huge help when our dog (Corgi/dachsund mix) suddenly became paralyzed at 3 years old. He was diagnosed with IVDD, and the surgery, ICU stay, and physical therapy cost over $10K. We paid a little over $2K out of pocket.
    If you have a dog whose breed is prone to IVDD, please consider pet insurance. We have Healthy Paws and they have been amazing. (Of note, he now has a preexisting condition, so we wouldn’t be able to insure him with another insurance company)

  23. Janet

    We have a puppy and after many research we decided to get Trupanion and he hanvent used it but they have amazing customer service.

  24. Peaches

    There are also Wellness Plans available for your pets. My sweet girl has been on Banfield’s (Target) wellness plan for 14 years. She gets two exams per year and a teeth cleaning as well as her annual shots. All prescriptions including her flea and heartworm meds are discounted. When she was a pup she had skin issues and all of those office visits were covered too. This is a good option if your fur baby is healthy.

  25. Patricia Goff

    I just put money in savings and use it on whatever we need including pets but then again my brothers live with me and they do all the plumbing, yard work and auto maintenance etc. They are good at using youtube to fix things like washers and dryers. LOL

  26. Kari H

    I have Fetch insurance for my two year old dog, and it’s been WELL worth the money. My premium is only $21/mo. My dog seems to always get into things and causes him parasites and other tummy issues. We have been at the vet more times than not. Everything has been covered by Fetch quite easily. They cover 80% and usually within a week I have my reimbursement. Zero complaints about Fetch.

  27. PW

    Saw on the news that Nationwide was canceling numerous pet insurance policies. Sad for those who paid premiums and depend on the insurance.

  28. llc

    for those without insurance but have dogs on medication, get a written rx and look up meds on hoodrx or the other discount med sites. my great danes antibiotics were $150 at the vet, 80 at kroger and $30 with goodrx at kroger. vets are making way too much money on meds.

    • Heidi

      Also check Chewy and Amazon if your vet “prescribes” something that’s not covered under GoodRX. I am able to get two of the meds my dog needs for half of what the vet charged me initially

  29. krystal-1

    I have Healthy Paws, it’s the only kind I’ve used so I can’t compare it to anything else. The claims process has been a little annoying, but it’s worthwhile in the end. I got it after my cat broke her foot and I spent a pretty penny on an x-ray and medicines. That same cat is now 11 years old and diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, which is common in older cats, the medicine is covered and I was able to appeal and get her required blood work covered (it’s the only way to monitor things, but they originally told me it was preventative care). I plan on doing the radiation treatment for her, which is a cure, and that can be a couple thousand dollars – so in that sense the insurance is definitely worthwhile. She’s technically a senior, but she’s still so young considering some cats can live over 20 years.

  30. Margaux

    Nationwide discontinued our policy then increased the rate by 68% (no thanks). I was able to get the same coverage from Pet’s Best for even less than what Nationwide was charging and they pay our faster.

  31. Margaux

    *Pet’s Best. Autocorrect can be a beast 😉

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      LOL! No worries! Fixed it for you! 🤗 Thanks for sharing where you’re saving on Pet Insurance! 🙌❤️

  32. Debbie Frasier

    After spending $5k to to try and save out cat of 10 years from kidney disease,I realized sadly,that most people could not even think of spending that,and the average income household can no longer even have a pet because of the cost of vet care.When they need to see a vet,office visits alone for a check up and vaccinations are so high that most owners just skip it and hope for the best.😢We were blessed to be able to pay our bill,but it made me sad to think of all those who love their pets and can’t afford the cost of bills when they get sick.Pet insurance is great,but a luxury most incomes can’t support.We had two cats and now only one,and she is 12.For now she is healthy,but we know we will probably see more vet bills in our future soon because of her age,and insurance cost is way higher for older pets.Because of all this, and because we are getting older ,we have decided we will not have any more pets.Hurts my heart.The loss of a pet is so devastating 💔 Pet insurance is wonderful if you can budget it in.I wish everyone could have it.🐾💕🐾

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      So sorry to hear about your kitty’s illness, Debbie. 🥺 Glad you were able to provide care during that time. ❤️ I agree about how expensive routine vet visits are – I’ve sure felt it each time for my pup. Unexpected vet visits even more so. Our Hip sidekick, Angela, convinced me to check out pet insurance options, so we currently have coverage, which I know will be so helpful if it’s ever needed. Thanks so much for taking a moment to share about your experience and pets. Wishing your family and kitty the best! 🤗

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