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A plea to pet-owners
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Poor Maya's having a hard time with her shoulder today. It's her left shoulder, as usual - it was permanently dislocated long before we found her, possibly from being thrown out of a car, and by the time she first saw our vet, new bone had already grown around it. This morning, while she was running madly and joyfully through the forested valley near our house, she wrenched it badly, so it's gone from a noticeable and worrying limp to a really, really awful one, and she's spent most of today being unusually quiet and subdued because of the pain. We know she's already got arthritis in that shoulder, and our vet's been working through a couple of different treatment options. The next step is hydrotherapy, so we'll be trying that one next. (Last time we stopped at the local MyPetStop store to pick up toys for her, we peered through the windows at the hydrotherapy pool, where a dog was swimming with patient resignation. I hope Maya's reaction is no worse than that!)

And all of this has reminded me of just how grateful I am that we have pet insurance. The funny thing is, I know for a fact that pet insurance is available and reasonably affordable in America and has been for several years now, but I'm constantly amazed by how few pet-owners I know take advantage of it. I only even heard of pet insurance as a concept a few months before moving to England, even though I'd been visiting vets and pet shops with Nika for about two years by then; it's just not well-publicized as an option. One of my best friends in America is a veterinary technician, and she's talked about how heartbreaking it is to see owners choosing not to treat beloved dogs for perfectly treatable, curable conditions because they never bothered to get pet insurance, and now can't afford the treatment. We did get pet insurance for Nika as soon as we heard of it, when she was 3 years old. At the time, I wondered whether it was really worthwhile; after all, we already knew Nika's only medical problem, which was (again) a dislocated shoulder from being hit by a car as a pup, and the pet insurance we got her wouldn't cover that, since it was a pre-existing condition.*

Oh, was it worth it. It paid itself off within the first year, when Nika had a horrible, scary night in emergency care for a problem with her stomach lining, which would have added up to hundreds of pounds if it hadn't been covered by her insurance. And then when Nika was diagnosed with dermatomyositis at 6 years old, and she had to go to the vets almost weekly for 7 months, have test after test, visit specialists, get medicines of various types...well, we would have ended up thousands and thousands of pounds in debt, if we hadn't had pet insurance for her. And I never, ever want to be in a position where the best or even just the necessary treatment for my pet's health is an option that I can't afford.

So here is my plea this holiday season, for the best Christmas or Chanukah present any pet-owners could possibly buy for your pets: get them pet insurance, for their sake and yours. You really will be so glad of it.


*We've been really lucky with Maya's insurers at PetPlan. They decided not to make an exception for her shoulder, even though it was a pre-existing condition, and oh, are we grateful for that! We would do whatever it took to keep her pain-free and healthy anyway, but it is such a relief not to have to worry about the cost of it.

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