New Year’s Resolutions For Pets

“I don’t want to.”

“What do you mean you don’t want to?”

“I don’t want to and I’m not going to do it this year.”

“But, but, but…that would be nontraditional. That would be un-American.”

“Call it whatever you want, but I’m not making New Year’s resolutions this year!”

You can have this argument with yourself all you want to, but, let’s face it: You’ll probably make at least one New Year’s resolution for 2010. Let’s talk about making a really good one for the benefit of your four-legged best friends.

And, in these tough and unpredictable economic times, let’s talk a little about financial planning.

I would like to see more people take advantage of the modern health care insurance options that are available for pets. When the insurance companies say they have a plan for anyone, it’s not hype, it’s really true. You can get catastrophic care plans, major medical, preventive care, comprehensive care, optical, dental, anything but cosmetic surgery plans (and there may be some of those available if you look hard enough).

For those who can fit it into their budgets, the preventive care plans make the most sense. They ensure that you will have the money to keep problems from happening to your pets by paying most of the cost of routine visits, and even help pay for certain prescription foods, screening labwork, dental prophylaxis and vaccinations. The annual or, better yet, semiannual physical examination is the foundation of your pet’s preventive care program, and this plan helps make it possible for you to be financially prepared to keep those visits happening on schedule.

But, some pet owners figure they can handle the routine visits, but want to be able to make the best choices in case of a catastrophe. “If my pet gets cancer, am I limited to the least expensive chemotherapy options, or can I combine state-of-the-art surgery and radiation with the best chemotherapeutics?” Major medical health insurance can make the latter an easy choice.

Of course, there’s always the option to “self-insure.” This option works only for the most self-disciplined individuals, but having a savings account or even piggy bank to which you contribute regularly will ensure you have the money on hand in case you’re faced with devastating injury or disease. If your pet has a broken leg you won’t have to choose a splint when what he really needs is surgery with internal fixation.

A long time ago, when I was a child (let’s just say I’m a Baby Boomer) pets were, well, animals. They were expendable, and even if we loved them, middle class families would never have considered spending a lot of money on them. Now, as family members, we can barely remember when dogs and cats held that status and we go to any lengths to keep them happy and healthy. So, to have the ability to save their lives, as well as to maintain the quality of their lives and limit their suffering brings a higher quality and peace to our own lives and that of the rest of the family.

That sounds like a pretty good New Year’s resolution: to make our pets’ lives and our own lives better all at one time!

Talk to your pet’s doctor on your next visit about what pet insurance companies and policies he likes. He will be able to advise you about a plan that best fits your unique situation.

Happy New Year from our families to yours.

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