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A pill for the bill

Veterinarian Nicholas R. Nelson, the medical director at the Animal Hospital of Central Kitsap, does a little bonding with “Magnus Rayburn” after the dog had been treated for an inflamed pancreas.  The dog is an 11-year-old Icelandic breed. - Photo by Rogerick Anas
Veterinarian Nicholas R. Nelson, the medical director at the Animal Hospital of Central Kitsap, does a little bonding with “Magnus Rayburn” after the dog had been treated for an inflamed pancreas. The dog is an 11-year-old Icelandic breed.
— image credit: Photo by Rogerick Anas

Magnus Rayburn was admitted to the hospital Saturday April 5 in bad shape. Diagnosis: an inflamed pancreas. Doctors performed two ultrasounds, administered IVs that dripped medicines and plasma into his body, and watched him around the clock.

By Wednesday, April 9, the 11-year old Icelandic breed dog was more than ready for the familiar sights, sounds and smells of home.

Despite the IV lines, which threatened to get tangled with the leash, Magnus’ tail wagged at the sight of visitors.

He is what Nicholas Nelson, DVM and medical director for Animal Hospital of Central Kitsap calls a success story.

But the modern miracles of veterinary medicine aren’t cheap.

Chemotherapy and surgery for pets can cost thousands of dollars. In recent years however, as the technology and cost to treat animals has increased, so too has the need for pet insurance.

About 3 percent of pet owners nationwide and about 10 percent of Animal Hospital clients have pet insurance.

“It’s a great thing for emergencies,” said Jennifer Dibley, veterinary assistant for the hospital.

Catherine Revell, an insurance and financial services agent for Farmers Insurance in Silverdale, just started offering pet insurance to her clients. While she offers people auto, home, life and mortgage protection insurance for Farmers, she has included pet insurance in her services because animals are family members.

She works with PetCare, which is not sponsored by Farmers. The Canadian company is relatively new to the United States and offers extensive coverage for pets.

From about $10-$30 a month, depending on the plan and the animal, a person can receive 70 percent or 100 percent reimbursement for medical expenses incurred by their pet after they pay a $50 deductible. This particular plan does not include annual checkups, Revell said.

“This is for responsible pet owners who want comprehensive protection,” she said. Premiums are fixed and it is open to all breeds of pets.

Revell, who has exclusive rights to PetCare for Kitsap County said this particular insurance covers everything from advertising when your pet is lost to acupuncture.

“They not only protect their pet, but protect themselves from financial catastrophe,” she said.

Other insurance plans available cover annual examinations, but the premiums tend to go up over time, Revell said.

Pet insurance is widely accepted since the pet owner pays the veterinary office directly then is reimbursed by the insurance company. Revell said PetCare has a turnaround time of about five days.

The Animal Hospital of Central Kitsap offers people facing large medical bills a credit card service. Many times pet owners have asked friends and family for money to help with costs.

The Animal Hospital sees plenty of emergencies. Fifteen patients received care Wednesday afternoon, April 9. One dog had been hit by a car, the most common emergency in this area, Dibley said.

Rocks and other stomach obstructions are also common and require surgery if serious enough Nelson said.

He said pet insurance can be a good thing as long as people do their research and read the fine print on what is covered.

“It’s very important the client ask the hard questions,” Nelson said.

“Temper action with wisdom,” he said.

For information about pet insurance contact Revell at 692-0402.

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