I Didn't Get Pet Insurance for My Old Dog. Here's How I Make Sure I Can Afford Her Care

A woman sitting in a sunny park with a dog.

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My beloved dog Molly will be 16 on Dec. 24, 2022. She has been a member of my family since she was eight weeks old. When she first came home, I was still in school and I didn't understand the importance of getting pet insurance -- or even really know much about what pet insurance did at the time.

Molly has pre-existing conditions now, including a heart issue that was surgically repaired. Because of her age and because of her medical history, getting insurance coverage for her now would be difficult and expensive, and any policy I would buy wouldn't cover the medical issue that most affects her.

I want Molly to get the very best medical care money can buy, so I've taken steps to make sure I can afford to pay whatever veterinary bills may arise -- including for twice-yearly visits to the cardiologist to ensure her surgical repair is holding. Here's what I do to make sure I can afford to pay for her healthcare.

This is my plan to cover veterinary care

To make sure Molly can get any medical care she might need for the rest of her life, I actually have two separate savings accounts for vet care.

The first is an account I put money into each month for her routine healthcare. I know she must visit the cardiologist twice a year for an echocardiogram and a complete blood panel, and this visit costs around $800 each time. She also sees her regular vet once a year for annual exams and sees a chiropractor once a month because she has joint issues. I've added up the costs of all of this care and divided the amount by 12 so I can set aside money every month to pay for it.

I also have a "vet emergency" account where I save additional money each month for unexpected expenses. This is money I can use for anything from an unplanned vet visit due to an ear infection to a hospital visit if one should become necessary in an emergency.

By setting aside money in my bank accounts, I won't have to reach for the credit cards -- or worse, refrain from taking Molly to the vet if I think she needs to go.

The expenses have convinced me to buy coverage in the future

I'm lucky to be in a financial position where I can save money every month for all of this veterinary care -- but the fact that I have to put aside so much money each month has convinced me how important pet insurance is.

If I had bought pet insurance when Molly was a puppy, I would likely have saved thousands -- or even tens of thousands -- over time because my insurer would have covered many of the expensive treatments my dog has needed over her 16 years.

After my experience, I will never go without pet insurance again. In fact, buying pet insurance will be my first task when I invite more animal companions into my home.

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