Pet Insurance Can Save You Exorbitant Costs

NEW YORK (MainStreet) —After Tobi Kosanke spent more than $5,000 on medical care for her pet chicken Lucy, she decided to cover Lucy's future medical needs through the Veterinary Pet Insurance Company, which already insured her parrots.

VPI was the only company Kosanke - of Hempstead, Tex. - found that would insure her "avian and exotic pets," meaning pets other than cats and dogs. She now has insurance through VPI for four parrots, four chickens, a duck and two geese, costing her $13 per month, she said.

"They are currently paying for chemotherapy for one of our chickens, who was diagnosed with leukemia - she lives in the house - and they have covered expensive surgeries for my other chickens as well," Kosanske said. "The insurance is so inexpensive that it is crazy to not have it."

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, Americans spent $19.1 billion on medical care for dogs in 2011, up 18.6% from 2006. For cats, the number increased 4.2% between 2006 and 2011 to $7.4 billion. Yet, only 6% of dog owners and 3% of cat owners carry pet insurance, according to the AVMA.

In addition to the VPI plan, Kosanke has ASPCA pet insurance for her seven dogs and one cat, costing her $300 per month. "We spend a lot on insurance," Kosanske said. "But the providers have paid so much that I am amazed they don't drop me"

Christina Khuly, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., nearly lost her 10-year-old Rottweiler mix, Madison, to salmonella poisoning after she fed him raw trout bought at a grocery store.

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"I didn’t know that this disease existed in farmed fish," Khuly said. "Two local vets didn’t catch it, and after four agonizing days of lack of appetite, vomiting, and finally bloody diarrhea, we took him to UC Davis. With their heroic efforts and Madison’s toughness, he made it through 20 days on the edge with the worst case their highly-experienced staff had ever seen."