What’s a Wellness Plan? On Ways to Pay for Your Pet’s Preventive Health Care

Kitten being examined by a vet
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Ever heard of a wellness plan? If you’re like most pet owners, you probably think of it as the sum total of all the simple things your veterinarian recommends for preventive care. Others among you may automatically associate the term with pet health insurance. Both perceptions are kind of accurate — but neither camp is wholly correct.

Have I piqued your curiosity? Good. Because before I can offer you the answer, you’ll have to read a bit of background on pet wellness and the many ways you might find yourself paying for your pet’s preventive care.

Better to Prevent Than Treat

We veterinarians are always trying to come up with novel ways to make sure your pets get all the preventive care they need. Here are a few examples of the standard recommendations you’re probably familiar with:

  • Annual or semiannual physical exams
  • An individualized vaccination plan
  • Routine testing for common conditions
  • Breed-specific screening (for example, heart checks for Boxers
  • Prophylactic dental cleanings
  • Medication to prevent parasites and the diseases they might carry

It all sounds great. Who wouldn’t want to do everything their veterinarian recommends to help keep their pets happy and healthy? After all, keeping up with tried and true means of preventing problems (or identifying them early on) is considered the most humane and cost-effective way to manage any veterinary patient’s health care.

But we also know that kind of care doesn’t come cheap. Sure, it beats having to pay for conditions that could have been prevented. Or worse — losing a pet to a highly treatable disease. None of us should have to suffer the agony of knowing we failed our pets by falling down on their fundamental medical upkeep.

Scenarios like those explain why, as a profession, veterinarians are increasingly looking for ways to make preventive veterinary care more affordable. Because, as we all can attest, cash has a way of getting kind of scarce.

Payment Options

With that in mind, here are a handful of the most common methods available for paying for your pet’s preventive health care, and more:

1. Budgeting. Worried about what preventive care will cost you? Get an individualized list of what your veterinarian recommends for each of your pets each year. Budget accordingly.

2. Pet health insurance. The trouble with budgeting is that major accidents and illnesses aren’t anticipated. That’s what pet health insurance is for. However, most companies will also offer plans including coverage for wellness issues, too. Personally, I’m a fan of budgeting for wellness and using pet insurance for the big stuff, but if sticking to your budget isn’t so manageable, consider one monthly payment — to your pet health insurance company — for all your pet’s health needs.

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