Got the Pet Healthcare Blues? This Pet Parent Did

By March 21 | See Comments

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Got the Pet Healthcare Blues? This Pet Parent Did

Jazz and Blues are big dogs, and their owner, Emily McVeigh, has an equally big heart. Since rescuing the dogs in 2009 and 2011 respectively, Emily estimates that she has spent over $15,000 on the dogs’ health care, not including the $1,000 she spends monthly on prescription foods and medications.

And because Emily does not have pet health insurance or a membership plan like PetPlus, these are all out of pocket costs.

“When I adopted Jazz I was not aware of pet insurance,” Emily says. “By the time I became aware of it, she had already bloated and had too much health history to really make it cost effective.” Jazz has been plagued with a number of health issues from a young age, starting with a diagnosis of hip dysplasia at 11 months, followed by bloat at 12 months. Despite having two procedures to prevent future bloat, she has suffered many more episodes. Jazz also has

Cushing’s disease, chronic pancreatitis, food allergies, and irritable bowel syndrome. And last summer, she tore her ACL and a tumor was discovered on her abdomen.
From left: Jazz, Emily, her Yorki mix Preston, and Blues
From left: Jazz, Emily, her Yorki mix Preston, and Blues

“Jazz's health status is a daily struggle,” Emily says. “She is my heart and soul. I hate to see her so ill. Jazz has also taken a significant toll on my finances. That brings a whole different level of stress. Not knowing what the next round of testing will bring, what new medications she will be needing.” But there’s more. The same summer that Jazz tore her ACL and a tumor was discovered, Emily’s other Great Dane, Blues, was diagnosed with

cancer. “My world stopped spinning when I found out Blues had cancer,” Emily says. “I was actually notified on my birthday. Blues was my travel buddy, we went everywhere in town [together]. We volunteered together, trained together, at the house he was velcroed to my side. The thought of him no longer being there was almost more than I could handle.”

Coping With the Unexpected Costs of Pet Illness

Emily picked up extra shifts at work and asked family for help so that she could pay for both Jazz and Blues' treatments simultaneously. Jazz needed surgery, and Blues needed both surgery and radiation to have a chance at survival. “Trying to get funds together for that treatment when we only had a 30-day treatment window -- from day of surgery to starting radiation for treatment to work -- was horrific stress,” Emily says. Today, Emily is happy to report that Blues is cancer free and only suffers from seasonal allergies. All of Jazz’s illnesses and treatments, however, are still a lot to handle without insurance. “Knowing we are in a chronic state so that costs will never go down only up is hard,” Emily says. “With Blues it was a one time hit; it hurt but it was over as quickly as it came. Jazz's financial strain is here to stay, so I just constantly look at alternative income sources [and] cost saving measures.”There are times, Emily says, when there is no spending outside of basic necessities. She has also made some significant life changes to pay for the dogs’ health care. “I switched full time jobs to one that had better pay and more flexibility so that I could get the dogs to the vet more efficiently,” Emily says. “I started working weekends to earn extra money, did odd jobs, more competitive shopping -- anything to ease the burden.” Emily has also looked for ways to save on the dogs’ medications. “We call local pharmacies for [the] lowest price and take advantage of discount programs. I also use manufacturer coupon/rebates, [and] buy in bulk from warehouse stores for non prescriptions to save money.” While none of it is easy, it is all worth it for Emily, who keeps two blogs about her dogs -- bluesfightscancer.com

 and 

jazzandbluesblog.com

. “The dogs are such an important part of my life,” she says. “First and foremost they are my family and I treat them as such.”

Lessons Learned

When asked if she had any advice for other pet parents about how to pay for their pet’s health care, Emily said: “Get pet insurance; [a] savings account does not prepare you for catastrophic events, especially if you were to have more than one, which can and does happen. I cannot imagine the pain of losing a pet due to financial hardship.” Here at PetPlus, we were so moved by Emily’s story that we decided to offer her a free year of

PetPlus

coverage. “That is absolutely amazing!” she said. We think so too and are honored to be help! We’ll look forward to checking back in with Emily after she’s had a chance to take advantage of all the benefits offered by PetPlus. For now, check out a video of Jazz and Blues playing in the snow below, and head over to Emily’s blogs to keep up with the whole gang.

Have a story you'd like to share or know a pet-family deserving of a free trial of PetPlus? Contact the Pet Savvy editors at content [at] petplus {dot} com or leave a note in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you. 
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