CONCERNS REGARDING GRAIN-FREE AND "EXOTIC INGREDIENT" DOG FOOD In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), reported concerns regarding a possible connection between grain-free and so-called "exotic ingredient" dog foods and a type of canine heart disease called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). While this subject is still being investigated, an article published that year in the Journal of the American Medical Association ("Diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs: what do we know?" by Lisa M. Freedman, DVM,et al), these specialized diets may be linked to DCM in dogs. According to the article, dog foods that use lentils, chickpeas, potatoes, vegetables, and fruits to the exclusion of grains, may put dogs' health at risk.

Is Pet Health Insurance Worth It?

Veterinary medicine has made huge strides in the past several decades.  In addition to the care provided by your family veterinarian, it is now possible to get specialized care for your pet from a veterinary cardiologist, neurosurgeon, internal medicine specialist, oncologist, or other highly trained veterinary professional.

The question to ask yourself is what you would do if your beloved cat, dog, or other cherished member of your furry family needed diagnostics, surgery, or treatment that was going to cost $2,000, $5,000, $10,000, or more.  For most of us, it would be impossible to come up with this kind of money quickly, if at all.  I have known people who have taken a second mortgage on their home to pay for veterinary bills.  I know several others who hope against hope that nothing will happen to their pets, since they have no "Plan B."  Veterinarians will tell you that some of their clients sadly choose "economic euthanasia" because they cannot pay for the care and treatment that their pet so desperately needs.  Sometimes, gofundme and other similar accounts can help raise funds from friends, as well as strangers, to help pay for a pet's veterinary care. 

Instead of playing the lottery, I highly recommend looking at the many pet health insurance options out there.  The internet makes this a pretty easy process.  Most, if not all, sites give you price quotes instantly once you fill out an online form with basic information on your pet, such as breed and age. 

I think you'll find that pet insurance premiums are pretty affordable, especially if you compare them to the cost of even one surgical procedure for your pet!  The plan I chose for my cats and dogs is called PetsBest ( ).  Like all other pet insurance companies, PetsBest offers a variety of options.  For my 4 year old black and white tuxedo cat, Dunkin, I chose a plan with a $500 annual deductible, an 80% reimbursement rate, and a $20,000 annual benefit limit. Dunkin's premium runs me $22.34 per month.  And that's just one example.  You'll find dozens of companies out there.  One of the best places to check is at your regular veterinarian's office.  They may have some brochures available in their waiting room, and also may give you some valuable insight on the various companies' reputations and reimbursement practices.  

Two important caveats before I close: 

To my knowledge, most pet health insurance policies are based on the reimbursement system.  This means that you, as a pet parent, will have to pay for the procedure upfront, and then submit for reimbursement.  If you don't have the necessary cash available in your checking or savings account, you may be faced with putting the charge on a credit card or borrowing the money.  This is an unfortunate downfall, but in my experience, reimbursement typically is very quick.  Many companies offer an online claim form and direct deposit within a week to 10 days. 

Like any health insurance, each company has a list of exclusions.  Fortunately, any limitations, waiting periods, and exclusions are listed up front on their website. 

Taking the time to look at several plans online will give you all you need to make the right choice for you and your furry family members!  Here's to a happy and healthy rest of the year!

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