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I dont know how pet insurance works in countries other than the UK but we always take out the best insurance we can afford and make sure it covers for the life of the illness and covers for holistic meds and alternative therapies like hydrotherapy and physio . For Willow we pay around £16 per month. we pay £75 access for each illness and other than that we are covered. it even includes £2,000000 liability insurance if she bites or causes an accident. we would always insure our dogs because i would never want to be in a situation where i cant afford treatment and would have to make a choice based on money (or lack of it). i know insurance isnt always possible and i know not everyone has had good experiences with it, but its always been great for us, so its something we would always try and budget for
 

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Just came across this on my home/car insurance website.

If you are a member of USAA, you get 15% off of pet insurance and they have other discounts (spay/neuter, multipet, annual payments, etc.) as well.

Doesn't really help with vet costs after the fact, but could be helpful if you're looking for pet insurance. It could help to check with your current property insurance providers and see if they partnered with any pet insurance companies.
 

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Pet Insurance: Sign-em-up when they are young BEFORE they have any "pre-existing" health conditions. Colt is signed up with Trupanion, and the first 3 years of his life he hardly used it (one incident with a toe he cut on glass, and a skin rash.) But the last month he partially tore his ACL and was diagnosed with heart disease. It is more than paying for itself and we have had NO issues getting them to pay.

Bank Account for Emergencies: Sometimes pet insurance isn't a viable option, like when your dog is 5 years old and has a plethora of pre-existing conditions. It may not be a cost-effective solution. Start putting money in a bank account every month. Write it into your budget. Cut money from elsewhere in your budget to cover it. Do what you need to do, but start putting money aside for an unexpected emergency. Don't wait until it happens and then wonder where you'll get the money from.

Prevention: Keep your dog active and feed him good quality food. We personally feed our dog home made and would never go back to kibble, but to each their own. The point here is that spending a little extra can end up saving you a lot in the long run. That goes for time and money. The time you spend making sure your dog gets enough exercise and maintains a healthy weight is just as important as the money you spend making sure he is eating healthy food.

Establish and maintain a good relationship with your vet: When started out with a high deductable on our pet insurance to keep the monthly payments down and use it as a backup in the case of major surgery etc. At the time money was really tight. When Colt nearly severed his toes, the vet told us without us even asking that if we couldn't pay the bill, not to worry, that we could pay it whenever we could. No interest. Just when we were able to. This is the same vet I have known and used my whole life. We did not take him up on this, and chose to use our entire food budget for the month to cover the bill and ate a lot of rice and oats (we buy in 25lb bags so we had more than enough to last us the month.) But that is us. When my mother-in-law's dog was hit by a car, the vet had no problem setting up a payment plan. Again, no interest. Same when their cat's liver was failing due to some dietary problem it had had prior to them adopting it. It worked well for them.

Budget: How much do you spend on takeout? coffee at starbucks? processed foods that you could make for a fraction of the cost yourself? haircuts? manicures? movie nights? cigarettes or alcohol? lottery tickets? Take a look at the unessential things in your life and cut back. Learn to DIY. Buy used. My husband and I have been able to cut $1500-2000/month (my entire paycheque) by hunting, growing our own food, cooking everything from scratch, cutting out unessential expenses, and buying used instead of new. That can cover a LOT of vet bills. It was staggering the amount we spent on "convenience" food. Still the vast majority of that money, we still can not attribute to what we were spending it on before we created a budget. Create a budget and stick to it. Even if you can only cut $100/month, that is $100/month you can start putting into a savings account for when something does come up and your pet needs it.

Make some extra money: Sell things you don't really need or offer services to earn some extra cash. Take advantage of facebook swap-n-shop groups, craigslist, kijiji, ebay, local markets, etc. Are you a good baker? Got extra vegetables growing in the garden? Can you build a deck? Are you artsy? Do you need that treadmill that has been gathering dust in the corner for years? How about all those DVDs you've watched a thousand times? Take odd jobs. Someone needs help moving boxes for a couple hours on the weekend? chopping fire wood? House cleaning? Offer to be available to take extra shifts and work overtime at your job. Take a second job. It doesn't need to be permanent. I had 3 jobs, working 16 hours a day 7 days a week for 9 months to cover bills. It sucked, I wouldn't want to do it again, but I got through it and if I needed to, I would. Work as hard as you have to.

Ask for help: Sometimes you just can't do things on your own. Do you have family or friends that can help out? It can beat taking a loan from a bank if you have a good relationship with them as you can avoid interest charges and wont have creditors on your back if you "miss a payment. Also look into crowdfunding type options already outlined by other people.
 
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