Pepper (a.k.a, Sergeant Pepper) is our dog. He’s a five year old Tibetan Terrier; he sometimes shows more humanness than many humans; he has my wife and I well-trained; and still, he’s all dawg! At least when it comes to eating things he shouldn’t, that is.
As a pup, he decided to chew on a horsehair rug pad. He also did the usual bit of chewing on our wood-framed bed, but not out of malice. Pepper was just trying to get a toy that fell down between the footboard and the mattress. One or both of these caused his spleen to swell, requiring its surgical removal.
At almost five, he did it again (or so, we think). He ate something that severely irritated his small intestine. We got to see the images taken during his endoscopy. And we can attest to the fact this got him very, very sick.
Following blood tests, barium-based x-rays, ultrasound scans, overnight hospital stays, and more pills than either my wife or I take each day, he is again well. I cannot say the same for my wallet.
Prior to each of the above events, my wife and I talked about purchasing pet insurance. Each time we didn’t. However, we did purchase routine/preventative medical care coverage for him through Banfield Pet Hospitals. This coverage, excellent for routine shots, office visits and basic tests, has saved us a lot of money over the past three years. And since we bought the higher value coverage, Pepper even gets his teeth cleaned once a year for free (which almost pays for the insurance unto itself).
We are seriously exploring the purchase of major medical coverage for our dawg, as well. We are doing this because of his past history, as well as his age. But, as with any health insurance policy, we intend to check the fine print and read some reviews.
I started with a web search and went to a single web site. Then I found an insurance-comparison web site that enabled me to input my pet’s vital information once and get multiple quotes. What surprised me the most was that the quotes came back, not in hours or days, but in minutes and seconds. And the plans were tailored to our area and the medical resources or doctors within a plan. Still most/all plans provided nationwide coverage.
As with any type of medical purchase, we quickly discovered that it was impossible to compare “apples to oranges.” Every plan was slightly different and had varying exclusions, limits or caveats. All plans let the purchaser choose deductibles, one way to lower monthly premiums. All/most seemed to allow for existing conditions, unless the condition was currently being treated. Thus, for our pet, we can get coverage.
The Right Food – The Right Price
But another outcome of this medical crisis was that we discovered that our dog actually had allergies to some of the ingredients in his then current dog food. His veterinarian suggested that we move him to a more natural dog food, sans the grains and fillers so often present in typical dog foods. Our dog now eats Natural Balance brand venison and sweet potato dog food and treats. His diet is now fancier than mine!
But it has worked. Not only is he healthier, but also, believe it or not, his poops are better formed, more regular, and much less odiferous. These are all good things.
The Natural Balance foods are not cheap, however. The 28-pound bag now costs almost $60. Still at $2.00 a pound (without any waste), it’s a good deal. The treats are much more costly, running about $8.00 for a 14 ounce bag.
So, it was time to search online for better deals. The bags of food are just as pricey online (and often involve hefty shipping charges). But, you can find treats at much reduced prices and even eliminate shipping charges and/or sales tax.
I opted for Pet Nutrition Products (PNP) for several reasons and I give them highest marks. Their pricing is far below store pricing and well-below competitor’s online pricing. They offer cash-back credits on orders and their free shipping policy (right now minimum order of $59) can’t be beat.
I just saved 38 percent off the store pricing for Pepper’s latest order of Natural Balance Venison & Sweet Potato Treats.
So, dog lovers unite. You can buy well-care and health care insurance for your pet and you can also feed him/her some really healthy, non-allergenic foods are “reasonable” cost. It just takes a little homework and a lot of love. And for us pet lovers, these are two of our most abundant qualities. Our dog, Pepper, agrees.