How I saved $350 on my dog’s vet bill

Working at Petfinder, I spend a lot of time talking about the importance of pet health insurance. And I have a policy covering my 11-year-old Pit Bull, Champ, through our partner PetFirst. But I’d been fortunate enough not to have to use it — until recently.


Champ and his portrait (on velvet)

In early June, Champ’s ear became visibly red and swollen. He would occasionally shake his head as though his ear bothered him, then cry out in pain. He would flinch if you tried to touch the ear.

We took him to the vet and he was diagnosed with an aural hematoma. The treatment was surgery and the recovery would be rather long and arduous.

A few days after the diagnosis, the vet surgically drained the hematoma, inserted two temporary drains into the skin of Champ’s ear and stitched up the circumference of the region to prevent a recurrence of the swelling.

Champ was to keep the drains in place for a week — and let me tell you,
he was one depressed, uncomfortable dog during that week. The drains
dribbled some bloody fluid at first, but soon stopped, and miraculously,
Champ didn’t scratch them out despite his not wearing an e-collar.


Champ, doing what he does best

At the end of the week, the vet removed the drains and most of the stitches in Champ’s ear, then put in new stitches to close up the wounds left by the drains. Another week of pitiful dog depression followed.

(If you’ve ever known a Pit Bull, you know that they are, by nature, happy goofballs — and there are few things sadder than a depressed Pit Bull.)

Finally, the vet removed the last of Champ’s stitches. His ear looked a little lumpy with scar tissue from the drains and folded over more than the other, but neither took away from his natural handsomeness. And his personality instantly reverted to its default of optimistic clown.

Great news — except that the bill for the whole ordeal came to a whopping $426.84, plus $12.84 for pain medication. We submitted a claim to PetFirst with high hopes. After all, I knew PetFirst pays 97% of claims within seven business days and offers 90% reimbursement

And sure enough, within two weeks we got our check for $350.72 — 90% of our claim after a $50 per-incident deductible. Best of all, I was able to track the whole process online on the PetFirst website.

I’ve always had pets and figured the occasional expensive health crisis came with the territory and was something I needed to be perpetually saving up for. But my insurance costs me only $29.95 a month (PetFirst also offers an accident and illness policy for Petfinder visitors for just $5 the first month and $14.95 a month thereafter). And having my dog feel better without dipping into my rainy-day fund? That’s priceless.

Learn more about pet insurance from PetFirst:

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