How to Combat Unexpected Vet Bills

14 AUGUST 2023

Pet emergencies can leave both your finances and emotions in tatters, however, we look at solutions that could help prepare you for unexpected vet bills.Unexpected Vet BillsLife with your pet is full of surprises, but sometimes those surprises come with a hefty price tag... Unexpected vet bills can wreak havoc on a monthly budget, and depending on the seriousness of the illness or incident, bills could range from a few hundred to a few thousand. However, as with many things in life, planning and preparation will go a long way in helping curb the impact of an unexpected situation.

Common Pet Procedures and Associated Costs:

Pets, like humans, can require medical interventions throughout their lives. Understanding common procedures and their potential costs can help pet owners prepare for unexpected bills. While actual prices may vary, here are a few examples of common procedures and their estimated costs in South Africa:

1. Routine Vaccinations: Essential for maintaining your pet's health, vaccinations can range from R300 to R800 per year, depending on the type and number of vaccinations required.

2. Spaying/Neutering: Sterilising your pet is crucial for population control and associated health benefits. The cost of spaying or neutering can range from R800 to R3,000, depending on the gender of the pet and where you have it done.

3. Dental Cleaning: Dental health is important to your pet's overall well-being. Professional dental cleaning can cost between R500 to R2,000, depending on the complexity and the level of dental care required. As pets get older, they also may require some teeth to be removed.

4. Foreign Object Removal: Curious pets may ingest foreign objects, leading to potential health risks. The cost of surgery to remove a foreign object can range from R1,500 to R5,000, depending on the complexity of the procedure and necessary follow-up care.

5. Accidents: The cost of dealing with accident related injuries can be overwhelming and by their very nature these sorts of bills aren’t often planned for. Stitches and x rays will usually come to a few hundred rand but if surgery is required costs can easily soar to over R5000.

6. Hip or ligament injuries: Should your pet start suffering from a skeletal or joint issue, or an over-enthusiastic pet endures a ligament injury, you could be in for a serious bill. Hip replacements, for example could set you around R40 000, and often these types of injuries will come with a few peripheral bills due to the need for special tests or specialist treatment.

These are just a few common situations that pet owners could find themselves sitting with, and bills are likely to only increase for more specialised treatments or procedures. However, there are various ways that you can look to combat these costs:

1. Pet Insurance: Pet insurance offers peace of mind by providing coverage for unexpected veterinary expenses. Premiums can vary depending on factors such as the pet's age, breed, and the level of coverage desired. In South Africa, companies like PetSure, MediPet, and Oneplan Pet Insurance offer some excellent pet insurance options. PetSure offers comprehensive pet insurance coverage with annual premiums varying depending on factors such as the pet's age, breed, and desired coverage level.

MediPet provides a range of plans starting from around R300 monthly for the Lite plan, to over R500 for the Ultimate 360 plan. Oneplan offers provide flexible pet insurance options with monthly premiums starting from just R80, depending on the chosen coverage level and the pet's details. It is also important to note that many pet insurance options would still require you to pay the vet upfront and claim your cash back (such as Petsure), while others like Oneplan allow you to get claims paid upfront. Plans can be compared via Hippo here.

2. Create a Savings Fund: Building a savings fund specifically designated for emergency pet expenses is a wise financial strategy. Even a small monthly allocation can accumulate over time, providing a safety net when unexpected veterinary bills arise. South African banks and financial institutions offer various savings account options, allowing you to choose one that suits your needs. However, it is important that whichever savings account you opt for, you need an account that allows fast access to the funds, as emergencies can’t wait 30 days for a withdrawal.

3. Personal Loans: Sometimes higher costs can be difficult to manage in one go, so doing an online loan application will allow you to tackle the costs and pay them back over a longer period. Choosing an RCS online loan could allow you to have cash in your account within 24 hours, and you would also get to choose terms that suit you. Remember though, a personal loan requires that you are in a good financial position to take on credit.

The above solutions could ensure that even though you may face a stressful emotional emergency with your furry family member, it won’t add further stress to your household. And as a side note, it is important that when you consider adding a new member to the family that you thoroughly research the type of pet you bring into your home, and consider approaching renowned animal breeders to ensure that you are at less risk of acquiring a pet that may suffer with serious health issues.