Author Topic: Mustachian Dog? Health advice for the K9 needed!  (Read 2252 times)

LadyMustache

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Mustachian Dog? Health advice for the K9 needed!
« on: March 09, 2017, 05:40:03 PM »
Hi Mustachian Dog Owners!

In need of some advice for health plans for our beloved dog. We currently have a policy for her with PetPlan but it's very spendy. What do you all do? Pay out of pocket? Get health cover? How much is it?

Here's our situation:

Age of dog: 10
Breed: English setter
Health issues: nothing specific but she keeps getting cysts that the vet wants to biopsy and sometimes has suggested removing them; also has hip dysplasia, so will need painkillers at some point in the future
PetPlan: monthly $104 (and seems to go up 25% a year now she's getting older); deductible of $500 per annum. Note that we haven't ever actually claimed in the 4 years we've had it (it started at $50 four years ago).

I want to ditch the coverage, but DH is worried she'll get cancer/severe dysplasia and we'll end up losing out.

We adore our dog, and basically will do anything to prolong her life, but it's getting expensive to keep this PetPlan coverage going.

Any advice?

Thanks,

LM
« Last Edit: March 09, 2017, 05:44:11 PM by LadyMustache »

Miss Growing Green

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Re: Mustachian Dog? Health advice for the K9 needed!
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2017, 07:17:13 PM »
We use Trupanion and pay about $29/month.  I like their plans because A)- premium never goes up and B) the deductible (we have $500) is per INCIDENT, not per year.  So if your dog gets cancer (or something) and needs treatment over the course of years, there is just the one deductible to be met.
The catch is we enrolled her when she was a puppy, and the premium is based on pet's age, so I'm not sure what they would quote you.  I also don't think they accept pre-existing conditions?  Good luck!
I will say that I have had a few claims over the years and they were always processed very fairly.

PJ

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Re: Mustachian Dog? Health advice for the K9 needed!
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2017, 07:44:23 PM »
Hi LadyMustache,

I have mostly just paid out of pocket, but I don't know if that's what I would do in your case.  You said you would do basically anything to prolong her life (and to forestall any who might criticize you for causing your dog pain and suffering by keeping her going for your own sake, let's just stipulate now that you would do basically anything to prolong her life if you felt that she would continue to have good quality of life once treated.)

Given that you have the insurance in place, she's now starting to get to the age where you may actually need to call on it.  Many health issues, such as kidney or liver problems, cancer, heart disease, etc, will begin to cause problems gradually, before significantly impacting quality of life.  For example, you may be able to remove a cancerous mass, and return her to perfect health, though the cancer might come back again at a later date.  Even testing can be quite expensive, say for example, to have an EKG done.  If those are the types of thing you would want to go ahead with, to track down the source of an ailment, or to treat one, then I would think you'd appreciate having insurance in place.  Even the testing for one of those significant illnesses could eat up the equivalent of the $1,200 in annual premiums pretty quickly.

Like I said, I don't have insurance - I've always had multiple pets, and simply wouldn't have been able to afford to insure them all when younger.  But, I have looked into it once or twice, and one of the things you should take into account before deciding whether to keep it, is what the coverage looks like, not just the deductible.  Is the coverage per illness?  If so, is there a per illness lifetime cap, or an annual one?  What is that cap?  Talking to your vet about some of the likely illnesses, do they think that cap would adequately cover most of the costs associated?  Other coverage might not be per illness, but will likely still have some limit of coverage - is that annual?  Or lifetime?  Again, what's the cap?  If your dog gets cancer and hip dysplasia, will you have enough coverage for both?  (That also requires running the odds of your dog getting both cancer and hip dysplasia, which may be influenced by her breed and anything you know about her genetic history.)

Bottom line, insurance is always basically gambling.  There are 4 possible outcomes.  Some people will pour years of payments into the premiums, and have a pet be perfectly healthy until they quietly pass away in their sleep one day.  Others will pay their premiums faithfully and be glad they did so, when their pet's expensive treatment is totally covered.  Some people will count on nothing going wrong, and pay through the nose when all kinds of rare conditions strike pet after pet.  (That's me, by the way!)  Others (my sister) would never even dream of insurance, feed their pet the crappiest grocery store diet, and have their pet live a long and healthy life, never visiting the vet. 

LadyMustache

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Re: Mustachian Dog? Health advice for the K9 needed!
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2017, 08:17:49 PM »
let's just stipulate now that you would do basically anything to prolong her life if you felt that she would continue to have good quality of life once treated.)

Good catch! Yes, I meant we'd do whatever it takes to keep her comfortable and ensure she has a good quality of life, so if she gets diabetes, say, we'll pay for medication, not put her down because she got expensive. If she has little or no quality of life, then we wouldn't let her continue to suffer.

Thanks so much for your perspective, PJ. The current PetPlan policy has a unlimited coverage per year (so no cap), and a $500 deductible every year. 90% reimbursed.

If I go down to $15,000 cap per year + 80% reimbursed + $500 deductible, we'd save $30 a month...

LadyMustache

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Re: Mustachian Dog? Health advice for the K9 needed!
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2017, 08:19:18 PM »
We use Trupanion and pay about $29/month.  I like their plans because A)- premium never goes up and B) the deductible (we have $500) is per INCIDENT, not per year.  So if your dog gets cancer (or something) and needs treatment over the course of years, there is just the one deductible to be met.
The catch is we enrolled her when she was a puppy, and the premium is based on pet's age, so I'm not sure what they would quote you.  I also don't think they accept pre-existing conditions?  Good luck!
I will say that I have had a few claims over the years and they were always processed very fairly.

Thanks, Miss Growing Green. Going to check them out too.

PJ

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Re: Mustachian Dog? Health advice for the K9 needed!
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2017, 10:15:47 PM »
let's just stipulate now that you would do basically anything to prolong her life if you felt that she would continue to have good quality of life once treated.)

Good catch! Yes, I meant we'd do whatever it takes to keep her comfortable and ensure she has a good quality of life, so if she gets diabetes, say, we'll pay for medication, not put her down because she got expensive. If she has little or no quality of life, then we wouldn't let her continue to suffer.

Thanks so much for your perspective, PJ. The current PetPlan policy has a unlimited coverage per year (so no cap), and a $500 deductible every year. 90% reimbursed.

If I go down to $15,000 cap per year + 80% reimbursed + $500 deductible, we'd save $30 a month... 

Yes, well, the quality of life thing to me is implied, but different people have different opinions about what that means, and there has been more than one pet related thread in the forum over the years that blew up over such differing opinions, so I thought it good to clarify!  ;-)

Sounds like you've got excellent coverage, but that's also why you're paying as much as you are.  I might be inclined to consider the slightly lesser plan - even I haven't ever spent $15,000 on any one pet in a calendar year!  Much less if that $15,000 was only 80% of the total cost of treatment.  But then, that would save you $360 per year, but if you had (God forbid!) a $10,000 medical incident, would cost you $1,000 more in terms of percentage covered....

Like I said.  Insurance is like gambling!

LadyMustache

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Re: Mustachian Dog? Health advice for the K9 needed!
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2017, 06:38:44 AM »

Thanks again, PJ. I decided to spin the wheel, in my own risk-averse way and go for the $15,000 option with 80% deductible. Saving $360 per year. I hope!

PJ

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Re: Mustachian Dog? Health advice for the K9 needed!
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2017, 11:32:28 AM »

Thanks again, PJ. I decided to spin the wheel, in my own risk-averse way and go for the $15,000 option with 80% deductible. Saving $360 per year. I hope! 

Ooh, very daring, LM!  *wink*

Cromacster

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Re: Mustachian Dog? Health advice for the K9 needed!
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2017, 12:20:46 PM »
Personally, for a 10 year old dog I wouldn't treat the cancer, just do hospice care at that point.

For the hips just do what you can to keep her in shape and at a healthy weight.  Swimming is probably the best thing you can do for strong hips.  And if she is still in relatively good shape and hips don't bother her start swimming at least 4 times a week.  This is good advice for any dog prone to HD.

So I guess I am saying that I would drop the plan.

« Last Edit: March 10, 2017, 12:23:02 PM by Cromacster »

lbmustache

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Re: Mustachian Dog? Health advice for the K9 needed!
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2017, 02:18:36 PM »
I do not pay for pet insurance, rather just put the money aside if something were to happen.

The cysts: I'd leave them alone. I've paid to have them removed before and probably would not do it again since they are harmless.

Hips: my dog has some wonky hips too, I give her a glucosamine supplement which seems to help. She's about 9 years old for reference, but a smaller breed (shih tzu).

Cassie

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Re: Mustachian Dog? Health advice for the K9 needed!
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2017, 02:37:14 PM »
At her age I would put her on meds for her hips. We did this for our big guy when he turned 9. The generic is based on weight and he is 80lbs so it costs us 63/month. Now at 11 he still can talk walks, etc. No pet insurance unfortunately and now we have 4 very old dogs. They have cost us a small fortune even when young. It sounds good that you were able to reduce the cost of the insurance and keep the plan. We have treated many, many things in our dogs but cancer is the one thing we don't do.  It is expensive and it does not work. My vet did not even treat her 9 year old dog for cancer and this practice has all the latest equipment, etc.

alewpanda

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Re: Mustachian Dog? Health advice for the K9 needed!
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2017, 02:52:48 PM »
We pay out of pocket.  In all fairness though, I'm not sure we would have the extra income at this point to cover something like cancer treatment.  We would likely to hospice and pain management until life was no longer enjoyable for him/her.

Our oldest is 7, with at least 1 bad hip (likely a combo of a puppy injury and genetic inclination) and possible thyroid condition (soon to be testing).  We put him on a daily anti-inflammatory per recommendation of the vet, but even the vet admitted that surgery on the hip at his age and size (golden retriever mix) would be unlikely to fix the issues and could cause other complications.  The anti-inflammatory gives him the mobility to play, go for walks, and do mostly anything his younger sister does...besides jump.  And he LOVES his walks...so he certainly seems content without the surgery! 

Our younger is a black lab mix, age 3.  No issues outside of occasional incontinence...for which we currently have her on supplements. 

For us, its a matter of priorities, of which health insurance for the pooches doesn't make the cut.  We have a savings account for them, and cash flow high quality food, vet visits, tests, and treatments.  If it were bad enough to empty our reasonable cash savings, we would probably do a hospice care situation instead. 

Hoglet121

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Re: Mustachian Dog? Health advice for the K9 needed!
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2017, 06:57:50 PM »
We have pet insurance for our 3 cats. We're not able to take out insurance once they get to 8 years old, so you might find your only options are keep the insurance or ditch it, rather than being able to switch to a cheaper one.

Just as an aside, we're up on the deal cash wise for each cat now. Maybe ours are just accident prone but I won't be cancelling it any time soon, especially not now one of them is older. (Abcesses x 3, fat tumour (needed biopsy), actual tumour, and a ripped open neck as a result of missing the cat door at high speed and smashing the glass door instead.)