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GREENFIELD, WI

With the rising cost of veterinary care due to medical advancements, pet owners are often faced with a dilemma — cost versus care.

Dr. Marla Lichtenberger, owner of Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals strongly suggests pet owners consider purchasing pet insurance to alleviate the burden of having to choose between proper health care and a bill you may not be able to afford.

'Years ago, we couldn't treat animals for many of the things we do today. Technology and advancements in animal medicine have allowed us to significantly prolong the lives of our companion animals. Unfortunately, the cost has risen with that advancement,' said Lichtenberger.

According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spend $15.7 billion dollars per year on vet care for their pets — and another $14.3 billion on medical supplies and medication. Tests and treatments from MRI's to chemotherapy are now available for our family pet, meaning one trip to the vet or animal hospital can cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the situation.

Pet insurance companies have grown tremendously in the last few years. Pet owners are mitigating the risk by opting to pay a few hundred dollars in premiums per year instead of risking thousands in unforeseen veterinary care — or worse.

'Carrying pet insurance is showing responsible pet ownership. Many people know they cannot afford to have their pet treated in the event of serious illness or injury. In those instances, the choice is often made to euthanize the animal instead. Pet insurance gives us options,' added Lichtenberger.

Is Pet Insurance Right for Me?

Lichtenberger suggests asking yourself key questions to determine if pet insurance is worth it for your family.

Consider the overall health of your pet. Unlike human insurers, pre-existing conditions will not be covered by pet insurance. Make sure you are clear on the insurance plan's definition of pre-existing conditions, as they all vary. You don't want to purchase insurance to find out later that your dog's chronic ear infections aren't covered.

How old is your pet? Plans vary drastically when it comes to the age of your animal. Some plans will insure pets as old as 14, while others will increase premiums depending on age.

Ask about breed. Some breeds of animals are predisposed to certain ailments. Be sure your provider will cover any hereditary or congenital problems.

What kind of coverage does the plan have? Some plans have no limit to what they will pay out; some are much stricter. Some have low deductibles while others are very high. Read the fine print and make certain you are choosing the plan that is right for you.

Finding pet health insurance

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance 800-453-4054

Embrace Pet Insurance 800-511-9171

ASPCA Pet Insurance 888-716-1203

Nationwide Pet Insurance 877-263-6008

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