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Pet Insurance. Why Should I Bother?

Covid sucks on so many levels! And one of the not so spoken about consequences that have come from Covid is the explosion of the North American pet population. People were desperate not to be alone. Hey, if I’m home, why not get a puppy companion? Seems logical, right? But with puppies coming from many different sources, that can result in an increase in health issues. Whether it’s to do with the puppy’s pedigree, how the puppy was initially raised, or just “normal” accidents experienced by well bred puppies, there are many occasions when pet insurance can change the world for both pet owners and veterinarians.

What no one expected from the increase of pet owners was that it would create a veterinarian shortage. I have experienced firsthand the dramatic rise in sick puppies. I work closely with other primary care veterinarians that are in distress that ask me, “Where are all these pets coming from?”.

The Rise of Sick Puppies  

During this rise in demand for puppies, responsible breeders were overwhelmed with the requests they were receiving for their puppies and were unable to keep up. This is because well-bred dogs take time, care, and thought to produce, which cannot be rushed. Unethical breeders saw this as an opportunity and took advantage of the situation, breeding rapidly to supply the demand with no regard for the puppies. They were often bred without concern for health clearances or without the thought of producing happy, healthy puppies. Because of this, rushed breeding and lack of care has created a drastic increase in Parvo puppies – Parvo is an infectious DNA virus that commonly causes severe illness in young and unvaccinated dogs, and it has sadly become a daily encounter in the life of a veterinarian. 

Parvo puppies are often saved, but hospital stays can be a week or longer, depending on how sick the puppy gets. They need IV support while their gut and white blood cells regenerate, which can result in costly veterinarian bills.

That Won’t Happen to Me! 

Emergency room veterinarians are regularly experiencing overwhelming numbers of patients. I had one really excellent veterinarian come to me with yet another trauma case to discuss. She said, “I just can’t take another pet that has to be surrendered or put to sleep because people cannot afford even the basic care in these terrible trauma cases.” She sighed with relief when I said, “It’s ok, they have pet insurance.”

Then there are the foreign body cases. If you are lucky,  endoscopy can retrieve an object in the stomach without going to surgery. I’ve seen many unique cases you would never imagine happening to your furbaby! I once had a kitty patient in general practice who ate a plastic grape from an arrangement. The following year, a mutant ninja turtle! How did that go down? Who knows? 

Or a husky that disliked Grandma and decided to eat her glasses case? Or I had a lab puppy playing with his choke chain laying on his back enjoying life, mouthing the collar – gulp. His owners watched in horror! ”Did he just swallow his collar?” Yep, he did!

A common favourite that I see seems to be corn cobs, but anything from socks to balls can end up in the stomach of your furbaby.  The Christmas tree can be particularly hazardous for reasons you wouldn’t think about. I had a couple that return home wondering why their Labrador was doing laps around the room. Then they noticed the bottom half of the family tree was missing the Hershey Kisses. That’s an immediate trip to the ER!

Once I had a sweet kitty patient come to the animal dentistry department because he didn’t want to eat. Everything had been looked at before coming to see me – ultrasounds, X-rays, bloodwork etc. I didn’t think it was teeth, but we looked anyway. This clever kitty managed to wedge a needle along with 8 inches of thread under his tongue! There were no visible wounds. It was picked up on dental X-rays. Luckily the dental bill was small, and this kitty’s recovery was speedy.

Most often, the trauma patients are fixable. I am thankful that I personally have had to put only one patient to sleep in my 35 years of practice. But this takes time and not only financial but emotional resources. A lot of these patients need ICU time, especially the pets that go off balconies.

Why Pet Insurance is Worth it 

This year, a special and beloved dog patient, who is noise sensitive, went through a window and fell three floors! Because the owner had insurance, we were able to go all out and give this pup “Fanny” everything we could. Fanny is remarkable as most of our patients, and she wanted to live. Fanny has come a long way, and despite breaking almost everything, today, she is walking, swimming and being her independent self.

Freak accidents can happen to even the most conscientious owners. It was a common narrative before to say the insurance company probably won’t pay. They are a business! But I have to say, over the years, I have changed my tune. I have seen companies like Trupanion step up and go beyond what we could imagine. I am an advocate for pet insurance.

So when you get that new pet, and it comes with an introductory insurance program, whatever you do, do not let it expire! I can’t tell you the number of times that puppies and kittens have gotten into trouble right after the introductory offer is up. 

With some programs, you can even choose a deductible and monthly premiums. I am a working veterinarian, my pets have insurance, and my kids’ pets have insurance. There is peace of mind that their Insurance company has their back.

So please do some research – see what works for you and keep in mind there is an age limit for enrolment with all pet insurance companies.  Get coverage and get it early!

          Dr. Sharon French

Veterinarian and founder of  

Trupanion is’s pet insurance provider of choice.

PuppyViewer breeders get priority access to Trupanion’s Breeder Support Program, which allows breeders to provide their buyers with a special offer for coverage when they take home their new puppy.

Your new family member is precious and choosing the right puppy takes research and time. With PuppyViewer you can be sure that your time and effort will not be wasted!

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