I Don't Have Pet Insurance, and My Dog's Heart Condition Costs Me Thousands Per Year

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  • I did not buy pet insurance for my dog.
  • She developed mitral valve disease.
  • I pay thousands of dollars per year for echocardiograms and other exams. 

You never know when an expensive medical condition will arise. 

When my dog was 8 years old, she was diagnosed with a mild heart murmur. I did not have pet insurance on her at the time, as it never really occurred to me to buy coverage since I was easily able to afford her vet bills.

Unfortunately, over time, her mild heart murmur progressed into severe mitral valve disease. This is a type of heart condition that causes some blood to flow back into the left atrium. This led to congestive heart failure, which is a very serious condition.

This medical issue now costs me thousands of dollars per year, and it demonstrates the importance of buying pet insurance for any future animals I bring into my home.

Pet health problems can come at a huge expense

When my dog, Molly, was first diagnosed with congestive heart failure, my veterinary costs went from easily affordable to astronomical. First, there was a very expensive ER visit that became necessary when her heart failure left her gasping for breath. Then, I visited a cardiologist for an echocardiogram, ECG, and X-rays, which cost over $1,000. And I was told that I would need to bring Molly back every few months in order to see how her condition was progressing. 

I also had to put Molly on a variety of medications to try to help her heart work better so she would have less blood regurgitation, and so she could get the fluid out of her lungs that had accumulated as she went into heart failure. These medications cost hundreds of dollars. 

In most cases, mitral valve disease that leads to congestive heart failure is a fatal condition. And sadly, Molly was given 8 to 12 months to live. The condition can be managed, but not cured, with medication. Our doctor, however, told us that there were two surgeons in the world who could repair the valve -- one of whom was located outside of London at the Royal Veterinary College and the other in Japan. 

We fortunately had a large emergency fund that enabled us to take Molly to RVC and her surgery was successful so she was able to come off all medications. Amazingly, she is now over 15 years old. However, we still need to go to the cardiologist every few months to make sure her heart repair is holding -- so I still spend thousands of dollars a year to provide her with this care and I have for several years. This is money I'm very grateful to spend since it means she's still here with me, but it's undeniably a big annual cost. 

Mitral valve disease is just one of many expensive conditions a pet could develop. And without pet insurance, paying out-of-pocket for care could become necessary to extend your dog's life. 

By the time these problems develop, it could be too late to get insurance 

Molly's surgery would not have been covered by pet insurance because it took place abroad -- but her cardiologist visits and her medication would have. 

Unfortunately, by the time she was diagnosed with a heart murmur and I realized the extent of the costs, it was too late to get pet insurance because her condition would have been pre-existing and not covered at all. 

I'm lucky my savings and income can cover her needs, but I've learned the importance of buying pet insurance and will make sure to get any future pets covered early now that I've seen how much one simple condition could cost to treat year after year. 

Our Research Expert

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