Does my pet need pet insurance?

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In almost every case, the answer to the question, “Does my pet need pet insurance?” is a definite yes. Find out how having insurance can save you thousands.

When you bring home a new puppy or kitten, you do so with the understanding that is it for life. To ensure the life they have is long, happy and filled with good health, I see pet insurance as essential.

The question, “Does my pet need pet insurance?” is one I get asked all the time by dog and cat owners who visit my clinic. I usually answer with a scenario and a question of my own.

Here’s an unfortunate situation I have seen all too many times during my years as a vet:

It is two in the morning and you’re wide awake at the emergency animal centre. The vet on duty has just explained that your dog or cat needs emergency surgery to survive. This involves calling in a surgeon, having them perform the operation and then managing supportive care over the next few days (or even more). Without this treatment, your only option is to put your beloved friend to sleep. The estimated cost to save your pet’s life is between $8,000 – 10,000.

What do you do???

Without pet insurance, this scenario calls for a horribly difficult decision. Most people are forced to choose between the anguish of grief and taking out a loan which will push them to their financial limits.

Does your pet need pet insurance?

You can see from the above example why my answer is always YES. This goes for dogs and cats from birth to adulthood, across breeds, who live in apartments, houses or on large properties.

I worked for many years as a veterinarian in an after-hours emergency clinic and while it is encouraging that we can do more to help pets than ever before, saving their lives is not a cheap exercise.

The costs involved include operating expenses, equipment, medication and post-op care and the list goes on. In the end, someone has to pay for it all. Unlike with human healthcare, Medicare is not going to supplement your pet’s care fees or the cost of tablets and injections. And looking at the vet to see if they can pay the bill is not a valid option either!  

In these life or death scenarios, I have spoken with some people who said, “Well, that’s fine. I’d put the bill on my credit card.” That’s great, if you’re in that position and don’t have to worry about the huge cost of interest! (PS, please tell me your money-making secrets!)

No matter where you live or what kind of pet you have, if you’re not in the position to spend thousands in one hit on your credit card, you need a plan in place.  

Sometimes, people who don’t want to pay for monthly pet insurance, say, “I will put away the money I would put in for pet insurance each month into a separate savings account. Then, if I need it, I can use it. If I don’t use it, I’m going to go on a holiday.”

Yes, this is a valid option. But what if you are hit with a $5,000 expense and you have only been putting $30 away per month for one year? You won’t have anywhere near enough cash. Unfortunately, puppies and kittens often get very sick during the first twelve months of their lives, even when they are well cared for.

Simply hoping your pet will never get sick or be injured is one approach, but we can’t predict the future. And if it does happen, you’ll be faced with that terrible decision.

It breaks my heart to be with a family who has no choice but to put their pet to sleep because they can’t afford to help them. Yes, insurance is another item to add to your monthly budget but there are costs involved with having a pet and in my opinion, this is one of the most important ones.

So unless you’re cashed up enough to afford to pay several thousand in emergency vet fees out of your own pocket at a moment’s notice, pet insurance is a must for you!

If you have any questions regarding this article please feel free to email me at

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