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The Importance of Pet Insurance

Our pets are a part of the family, and when they are sick, it can be very stressful and oftentimes very costly. I can certainly attest to the stress level and expense of having a sick pet. I am very lucky to have my oldest lab, Emily, with me today after she became very ill. I also learned some hard lessons along the way on how important pet insurance is.

Emily was around 5 years old when she became extremely sick unexpectedly. I came home and Emily was not her normal, energetic self; rather she was lethargic and would not eat or drink. The most significant and alarming symptom was that her eyeball has swollen to such an extent that it looked like a softball was protruding from her eye socket. Needless to say, I was beyond panicked. Immediately I called my vet who said to bring her in. The vet was very concerned and took many tests to try to determine exactly what the issue was. He sent her home with some medicine to make her comfortable while we waited on the test results.

The next morning the vet called and said he would recommend that we take her immediately to College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois. He said he had a suspicion of what the trouble was, but he wanted them to take a look and see what they thought. He said that the university personnel were experts on rare pet diseases and conditions. I dropped everything and headed down to the college. By this point Emily was very bad off, and I was fearful that I would lose her. The vets were extremely helpful and immediately admitted her. They started to treat her for dehydration because she was not drinking and set about to run some tests to determine what the issue was. I had to leave her overnight, and let me tell you, that was one of the longest nights of my life!

The next day the university called and said that they had figured out what the trouble was: Emily had contracted what is called blastomycosis. This is a fungal infection caused by an organism that is typically found in the soil. Of course I was completely shocked and wanted to learn more about what this was, but first we had to get Emily taken care of. The treatment was very costly (we are talking several hundred dollars per month for her medication), and the treatment lasted for over 4 months. She improved tremendously with just a few doses of the medicine, and the swelling of her eye started to subside. The doctors were concerned that her vision was compromised with the extreme swelling that she suffered, but luckily she has had a complete recovery and her vision was not affected.

As I researched more on blasto, as it is commonly referred to, I found that this is an organism that can be present in all sorts of places but is most common in wooded areas and in river beds. I live right by a river, so most likely Emily, being the hunting lab that she is, was after something and was digging in the soil by the river and contracted the infection. The vet thought she probably has a small cut on her eye, and that was all it took was for the fungal infection to reach that area and invade her eye and subsequently her entire body. Many dogs do not fare so well when faced with blasto. Often the condition is misdiagnosed as cancer or can be misdiagnosed as a bacterial infection and treated with the wrong medications. Luckily my vet suspected it was blasto and wanted the medical college to confirm his finding. Had he not told me to take her immediately to the college, Emily’s outcome would have been very different.

At the time that Emily became ill I didn’t have pet insurance, and I certainly wished that I did. Not only were the vet bills for both my local vet and the veterinary college costly, but the medication was very expensive. I don’t even want to think what would have happened if I could not have afforded the meds because that medication was the only thing that stood between a sick Emily and a healthy Emily. Luckily Emily recovered and only had to take the meds for 4 months, but it was still a great expense from an unexpected situation. In the end it really goes to show how important pet insurance can be because insurance is there to cover the unexpected things in life and give you peace of mind. The stress of a sick pet is difficult enough, let alone the stress of paying for the treatment. I recommend pet owners consider pet insurance for unexpected events that occur with our friendly companions.

William Bosch, CPCU, AIC
Commercial Claim Representative

Call Toll-Free 1-800-322-0160