I Made This Mistake When I Adopted My Dog and I've Regretted It Since

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  • There are numerous expenses associated with adopting a pet.
  • While I made sure to pad my savings before bringing home a dog, I neglected to make a key move that cost me.
  • It's best to get a pet insurance policy as soon as you bring a new pet home.

Do yourself a favor and learn from my big blunder.

When my family adopted our 75-pound lab mix a couple of years ago, I wanted to set some initial ground rules. Rule No. 1 was that everybody in my household, kids included, had to help out in some shape or form. Rule No. 2 was that my children were not to fight over the dog. Rule No. 3 was that the dog would not be allowed to sleep in my bed, but rather, get his own bed on the floor adjacent to mine.

Well, thankfully, my family managed to uphold Rules No. 1 and No. 2 pretty easily. But I immediately violated Rule No. 3, and to this day, my giant of a dog takes up half my bed, and there's not much I can do about it.

But that wasn't the biggest mistake I made in the course of adopting my pup. Rather, my most significant mistake was failing to put a pet insurance policy in place right away. And to this day, I'm kicking myself for not acting sooner.

You don't want to wait on pet insurance

My current dog isn't the first one I've owned, and when we sought to adopt a dog, I knew we'd need plenty of money in savings to account for extra costs. But while I did have the good sense to pad our emergency fund before adopting, I didn't have the good sense to buy pet insurance right away.

Part of it was that I got caught up in adjusting to our dog and his new walk schedule (and to the fact that my sleep was constantly interrupted by paws digging into my side). And part of it was that I figured I'd take my time pricing out insurance options and comparing my choices.

Meanwhile, my dog started having pain and trouble walking early on after we adopted him, and we weren't about to delay his care -- or deny him care -- due to money. So we rushed him to the vet and for a series of costly tests to address the problem at hand.

Thankfully, it's an issue that's now treated with medication and careful exercise. But the cost of getting to the bottom of things was a whopping $3,000 that had to come out of our savings because we didn't yet have pet insurance in place.

But that's not the worst of it. Because my dog's condition is now considered pre-existing, once we did get pet insurance, we lost out on the chance to have it covered. So going forward, all future medications, therapies, and tests are on us to cover without any help from our insurance company.

Lesson learned

Clearly, waiting to get pet insurance was a move that cost us. But I'm sharing my story in the hopes of helping other pet owners avoid a similar mistake.

If you're looking to adopt a pet, get insurance right away. You might think you're bringing home a healthy animal without issues only to discover something is wrong shortly after the fact. And the sooner you put a pet insurance policy in place, the more financial protection you'll end up getting.

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