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More and more people are disassociating themselves from the "dog owner" label and are instead embracing the role of pet parent. We are realizing that dogs are not mere objects to own but members of our family and therefore should be treated with as much care and respect as you would your own kids. Birthdays, holidays, family vacations and even the occasional spa day or restaurant outing are some of the events in which including the family dog isn't so unheard of anymore. As a cherished member of the family, it's important to keep your dog happy, healthy, and well adjusted. Proper obedience training, biologically appropriate nutrition, and regular visits to your veterinarian are all important ways we can help ensure our dogs get the best opportunity to live a long and happy life. When it comes to your dog's health, it's always a good idea to be prepared for anything; because you never know when an accident will happen or you or your pet will run into a medical emergency. Make sure to keep a well-stocked first aid kit on hand with all the items necessary to keep both you and your family safe... including your dog! You should keep a first aid kit on hand in your home, in the car, at work and even when you're traveling with your pets. Health Insurance Not Just for People Anymore Another way to be prepared in case your dog is injured in an accident or contracts an illness is to have a pet insurance policy. Health insurance is not just for people anymore. Pet parents now have the opportunity to purchase insurance for their dogs to help offset healthcare costs down the road. Similar to health insurance for people, pet insurance can cover everything from routine checkups, emergency procedures, alternative therapies and even genetic conditions (depending on the plan). Pros and Cons of Pet Insurance So why would you want to get health insurance for your dog? Well the benefits of pet insurance are many: • Pet insurance can help cover costs associated with routine care, accidents, illness, medications, and immunizations (depending on the plan). • Some policies will cover prescription foods or alternative therapy such as acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathic, or hydrotherapy. • Many plans are customizable so you can add or remove coverage as needed. • Most companies offer a 30 money-back guarantee if you decided to cancel and don't use the insurance within the 30 day window. While there are many people that swear by having insurance for their pets, there are some critics out there that aren't as convinced. The main arguments against pet insurance are: • Some policies don't cover pre-existing conditions and have strict guidelines on what is considered a "pre-existing condition". • Some companies have age-limits set within their plans. This means that older pets may have reduced coverage or worse, they may not even qualify to be covered. • Some plans require that you seek care from an in-network veterinarian in order to qualify for insurance reimbursement. • Some plans charge a penalty if you cancel your plan early so be aware of this. Questions to Ask When Shopping Around There are many different companies out there that now offer pet insurance. Before you make a decision, it's a good idea to do some homework to make sure the plan is right for you and your dog. Here are some questions you should ask: 1. "Can I choose my own vet or do they have to be part of your in-plan network?" 2. "Do you cover:" Genetic conditions (hereditary/congenital)? Alternative therapies (chiropractic, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, etc.)? Pre-existing conditions? Breeding, whelping, pregnancy? Prescription drugs or food? 3. "How is reimbursement calculated?" (Actual vet bill vs. average rate for service) 4. "Can I customize my plan such as choosing my own deductible or adding/removing benefits?" 5. "Are there policy payout limits? If so, what are they and are they based on per incident, annual, or lifetime basis?" 6. "Do you exclude dogs that are fed raw food diets from your coverage?" 7. "Are there any multi-pet rates, military discounts or any other offers available?"
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