Why Pet Insurance? Because they are worth it!

Our pets are our family. We all want the absolute best care possible for them- that care, however, comes at a price. Just like with people, as pets age so does the cost of their regular care. Imagine having the freedom to say “YES” to whatever your pet needs- Insurance allows for more opportunities to diagnose illnesses and obtain treatment — even expensive treatments like surgeries and cancer care. Like most insurance, pet insurance gives you peace of mind.

Accidents happen

No matter how responsible we are, accidents and illnesses happen. Statistically speaking, 1 in every 3 pets will experience some kind of emergency during their lifetime. Dog bites, fractures, and object ingestion can cost thousands of dollars to treat. A ligament repair in dogs can cost $3,000 to $7,000, not including X-rays, anesthesia, and follow-up care (yes, physical therapy exists for pets!). For cats, a urinary obstruction (UO) often requires lab testing, antibiotics, and even surgery, which can cost up to $3,000. These events are unexpected and impossible to plan for. Pet insurance helps to alleviate some of the financial stress of these unexpected expenses.

The cost of medical care over the course of a pet’s life can really add up!

How does pet insurance work?

Like people insurance, pet policies come with a variety of deductibles, co-payments, and premiums. You can pick a plan that insures costs due to accidents (such as injuries caused by motor vehicles), or accidents and illness (including arthritis, cancer, and colitis). Some providers also offer wellness coverage for certain routine care, like annual exams, flea and tick treatments, and vaccinations.

Is pet insurance worth the money?

Yes. You can’t predict when or how your pets will get sick, or how much it will cost. Unexpected veterinary costs can add up to thousands of dollars.

Even if you try to save up money in advance, you could come up short. Pet insurance prevents you from having to take on lasting debt or forgo veterinary care.

What is the average cost of pet insurance per month?

The average monthly premium for a dog is about $47 while the average monthly premium for a cat is about $29. However, the costs of insurance vary depending on the pet and your choices. If needed, you could opt for less coverage or a lower reimbursement rate to get a lower monthly premium.

Does pet insurance make sense?

Pet insurance makes good sense from a risk perspective, and it can give you peace of mind. You can expect your pets to need medical care at some point, just as you can expect to need medical yourself in the future.

Do vets recommend pet insurance?

We do! Pet insurance helps ensure your pet will receive the care they need and won’t be euthanized (or abandoned) for economic reasons. It also allows us and pet parents to focus on care during their consultations rather than finances.

Who should consider pet insurance?

Every pet owner should consider pet insurance. Even if you believe you have enough money to cover veterinary costs, pet insurance could still save you thousands of dollars if your pet gets sick or injured. Especially if you have multiple pets, your out-of-pocket costs could add up considerably without insurance.

Questions? For more information about Pet Insurance- check out Pumpkin! You can visit their website here and see exactly what they have to offer- or give them a call! Their team of experts can get you a quote and answer any questions you may have!


Canine Schistosomiasis

Does your dog play in the ponds and canals in our area? If so, you may want to re-consider….

In the past month, one of our patients came in with bloody, watery stool, vomiting, pain and lethargy. After several days of treatment and medications she was not improving and was transferred to the Internal Medicine Department at The Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists. Following more aggressive diagnostics and treatments, they discovered that she had “Canine Schistosomiasis”.

What is Canine Schistosomiasis? It’s actually a disease caused by a parasite that lives in stagnant freshwater and can enter a dog’s bloodstream through their feet/pads. Most people have never even heard of this parasite. It can be a deadly parasite and difficult to diagnose and treat, but it isn’t all that uncommon- especially in the Southern regions of Texas. Here is an open-letter from our client regarding her recent experience with this parasite:

A warning to dog owners along the Gulf Coast (and southeastern US):

We had the unfortunate experience of learning all about a parasite that is endemic to the Gulf Coast, particularly Texas and Louisiana. It is called Heterobilharzia americana. Dogs are at risk if they swim/wade in water that contains a certain type of freshwater snail. The parasite penetrates the dog’s skin or mucous membranes and gets into the bloodstream. It then migrates to the liver then moves to the intestine. In the intestine, it invades the blood vessels and intestinal tissue causing a significant amount of inflammation. Eggs are passed in the feces. If the eggs contact freshwater, a form of the parasite is released that can penetrate a snail’s soft tissue. The parasite reproduces inside the snail and free-swimming forms of the parasite are released and the sequence starts over again.

Life cycle of Heterobiharzia americana
Some interesting tidbits we learned:
  • Infected dogs have bloody vomiting and diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy, and significant debility.
  • Often there is a significant delay in diagnosis because symptoms are usually attributed to other things. Too much of a delay can be deadly.
  • People will not be in infected with this parasite. However, humans exposed to the contaminated water may have “swimmers itch” because of skin penetration from the parasite. Once inside a human, the parasite is unable to complete its life cycle.
  • Raccoons are the natural definitive host, but apparently dogs and some other mammals work too. The snail and freshwater are required for transmission. There is no direct transmission between dogs, or between dogs and raccoons.
  • It takes about 10 weeks from the time of initial skin penetration to when eggs are shed in the dog’s feces.
  • Most cases are in Texas and Louisiana, but cases have been diagnosed in dogs throughout most of the southeastern US and as far north as Kansas.
  • Samples are sent to Texas A&M for diagnosis.
  • Treatment is not always effective, but a high dose of a combination of antiparasitic medications can result in resolution of the clinical signs in some dogs.
  • The recommendation for prevention is to not allow your dog to swim in canals or ponds.

Ripley had significant intestinal bleeding, intractable vomiting, was weak, miserable and in a significant amount of pain. She needed to be carried into the car because she was too weak to walk. Thanks to the wonderful people at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists, she was able to come home after only three days in the Doggy ICU. She is doing much better now but is not 100% yet. She still has a long road ahead. She is just starting her treatment, which at such high doses has unpleasant side effects. Thankfully only two days now, then another two days in a month. Fingers crossed that it will be effective.

“Thanks to the wonderful people at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists, she was able to come home after only three days in the Doggy ICU. She is doing much better now but is not 100% yet. She still has a long road ahead.”

Of note to the people in this area, the only real pond she has splashed around in is the retention ponds (Sunrise Lake) in The Reserve. I do not know for certain but am concerned that this water may be contaminated. I would hate for other dogs to go through what ours has.

Interestingly enough, our client shared this post on Next Door and a neighbor responded detailing their recent experience with this parasite. Their dog contracted the parasite from stagnant water towards the back of Sylvan Rodriguez Park and almost died during treatment. They too were completely unaware of the parasite and the risk of exposure by allowing their pup to play in the water at the park.  

Prevention is key! Avoid allowing your dogs to play in stagnant bodies of freshwater in the area. Be sure to tell your vet if your dog has been playing in stagnant bodies of water- especially if they have had any sort of gi issues.

Thankfully, Ripley is finally starting to feel like her happy, sweet self again!