Life with Differently-Abled Dogs

After this month's edition of Belly Rubs went out, I received this email from one of our Embraced pet parents sharing her story about her differently-abled pets. I enjoyed it so much, I thought I'd share it with you.

Your latest Belly Rubs Newsletter (“Differently-abled Pets are AMAZING”) brought happy tears to my eyes, because you shined a very positive light on an issue that hits very close to home for me.

BenjaminMy sweet special-needs boy was Benjamin. A little schnauzer-beagle mix, he came into my life as the runt of an unwanted, pound-bound litter. When he looked up at me with those soulful brown eyes, I was a goner. He needed me and somehow I knew it. I couldn’t realize at the time just how right I would be...and just how much he would give back to me in return.

Within the first week of rescuing him, kennel cough surfaced. Shortly after, he began experiencing chronic digestive problems no one could seem to fully diagnose. After a couple of rough years full of trial and error, it was discovered he had a combination of food allergies and inflammatory bowel
disease (IBD). The search for a diet that would eliminate his symptoms began. Thankfully, the perfect food eventually came along. Little did I know…this medical struggle would only be the beginning.

Shortly after his fourth birthday, while chasing his favorite ball in the back yard, Ben ruptured a disk in his back. Our local vets didn’t have the facilities to repair the damage, so I transported him to the nearest neurology center...three hours away. It was there I was given the option to authorize the
very costly surgery, or have him put to sleep. He was part of my family. I couldn’t let him go without a fight. And so, I maxed out my credit cards, and the surgery began. Although the procedure prevented him from becoming a quadriplegic, his hind legs were permanently paralyzed. Thankfully, he was in no pain and still had a lot of fight left in him.

Ben (Special Olympics)The months that followed were full of sadness, frustration, and a lot of trial and error, while navigating through this new wilderness in which Ben and I now found ourselves. I held tight to my determination to give this precious little dog the best care possible, and to the faith that God would give me the strength and resources I needed to do so.

I had to do bladder expressions and bowel stimulations for Ben four times a day, but I devised ways of doing both that made the routine much easier and kept him clean and dry. I fitted him for a custom wheel chair, which vastly improved his quality of life.

Benjamin’s incredible spirit and patience with his new life was so moving, and his condition gifted me with the chance to enrich people’s lives in a distinctive way. I began taking him to nursing homes and adult daycare facilities for the developmentally disabled, where the vision of him in his wheelchair fascinated the residents and put them instantly at ease. He also enabled me to educate young children on the importance of accepting and embracing the differences that make us all unique.

As word spread around town (our local newspaper did a story about us), people began to seek me out for my advice and/or assistance in helping them grapple with their own special-needs pet situations. It was yet another positive way this challenge impacted my life. The day a young woman tearfully told me that meeting me and Ben had just helped her make the decision not to euthanize her
recently paralyzed dog will be one I will never forget.   

The road is difficult; however, the journey is worth the sacrifice. Life will be different, yes, but it can also be rich, beautiful, and more rewarding that you could ever imagine. As a special-needs pet parent, I realized I am a much stronger and resourceful person than I ever dreamed and I have to say, that kind of self-awareness is a priceless gift.

Bodhi & Stuffed Dog (low res)Benjamin passed away last April. Although I miss him terribly, I wouldn’t change a moment of our life together. I actually adopted a little carbon copy of him last November. He crossed my path when I least expected it. Another rescue terrier mix, his name is Bodhi, and he is the spitting image of Ben in
looks, temperament, attitude... He’s only lacking the wheels :-)  

My purpose for writing this letter and sharing my story with you is to let you know how much it meant to see a company like Embrace showing the wonderful, uplifting side of adopting special-needs pets. More often than not, people tend to focus on the negative aspects...the hard stuff...the challenges.

I also wanted to thank you for creating Embrace. When I went through everything with Ben, I didn’t have pet insurance to help defray the cost. When I first adopted him, I looked into getting a policy, but there wasn’t what I considered to be solid pet insurance companies out there back then. It was all too subjective and I didn’t feel confident the coverage would be there when I needed it. Consequently, I am still paying off Ben’s massive medical bills.

When I brought Bodhi into my life, I researched pet insurance again. This time, I found your incredible company. Right away, I knew it would be different. Your policies, your coverage, your amazing customer service team, and your general overall approach to the pet/person bond let me know I could be confident in purchasing a policy with you. And that is precisely what I did. In January of
this year, Bodhi’s policy took effect.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Related Posts:
May is All About Differently-Abled Pets at Embrace Pet Insurance
Guest Post: differently-abled dogs and people
Podcast: Dr Patrick Mahaney on Differently-Abled Pets
Life with Differently-Abled Dogs

Claim Example: traumatic injury to Bernese Mountain Dog tooth

The Embrace Pet Insurance policy covers dental accidents as part of the accident and illness coverage and dental cleanings and illness are covered by the Wellness Rewards Plus plan.

Here we have Wynston, a one year old Bernese Mountain dog living in Bellevue, WA with a broken tooth that suddenly appeared early January.

We did not see or know of a particular event, however we did experience unusual behavior during the night of January 2. He did not sleep well. His sleeping behavior was unusual in that he could not stay in one place for more than 30 minutes - he tried to rest in his bed, on the cool bathroom tile, the kitchen floors, on our bed, near the bed on the floor, back to the bathroom etc. with no where comfortable enough to sleep. I was extremely worried about him and feared that something else might be going on - like bloat. I sat up with him for over 2 hours- outside until I froze, because he seemed to feel a little bit better in the cool weather, but I never figured out what might be going on.

Wynston settled down for a while but then:

A week later we were at a conformation practice and as the judge inspected his mouth, noticed his grey/black tooth and informed me that I should check it out since it looked like it was "dead". I sought a dental vet consultation the next day in which the doctor confirmed that the tooth was dead and it was caused by a force and trauma. I mentioned the night that Wynston didn't sleep well and the vet thought that it could have been likely that this was when the trauma happened based on his discomfort and poor sleeping behaviors, but we don't know for sure.

After that, Wynston was off to the dentist for a root canal and a teeth cleaning procedure. Here are the claim details, which demonstrate how a claim can be split between a wellness claim (for the teeth cleaning) and an accident claim (for the treatment of traumatic illness):

ClaimType Diagnosis Claim Amount Covered Amount Paid
Accident Traumatic injury and
Fractured tooth
$1,909.12 $1,625.24 $1,140.19
Wellness Rewards Dental Wellness $1,909.12 $283.88 $283.88


Wynston has a $200 deductible, 80% reimbursement percentage and $10,000 annual maximum with prescription drug coverage, plus a $400 Wellness Rewards Plus plan, all for $77 a month.

Here are the details of the accident claim - note how the shared charges are split 75% for for the accident and 25% for the wellness:

Wynston dental trauma accident claim
It's a little complicated when you first look at it but it works. And now Wynston's tooth feels sooooo much better.

Related Posts
February is National Pet Dental Health Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Does Pet Insurance Cover Dental Cleanings and Illness?
Podcast: Dr Patrick Mahaney on Pet Dental Health
Guest Post: the importance of dental x-rays for your pets
Claim Example: traumatic injury to Bernese Mountain Dog tooth
An alternative to brushing your dog's teeth?


Claim Example: dog cataracts

Rascal is a 7 year old mixed breed dog who has had a number of claims for cataracts. His dog mom noticed something was awry nearly two years ago and visited the opthamology specialist who suggested a wait and see approach. Three months later, Rascal had bilateral cataract surgery on his eyes.

Here are all the costs so far.

Vet Visit Status Diagnosis Invoice Reimbursed
5/26/2011 Deduct Bilateral Cataracts $196.00 $0.00
8/31/2011 Deduct Cataract $42.00 $0.00
9/7/2011 Paid Cataract Surgery $4,201.00 $3,638.70
9/15/2011 Paid Cataract $243.00 $218.70
12/7/2011 Paid Cataract $170.13 $153.12
1/7/2012 Paid Cataract $90.35 $81.31
11/28/2012 Deduct Cataract $98.00 $0.00
      $5,040.48 $4,091.83

Rascal has made a very good recovery since his surgery. I think his mom's bank account is well on its way to recovery too.

Has your dog gone through cataract surgery? How successful was it?

Related Posts
January is Eye Care Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Guest Post: Common Eye Issues as seen by Dr Rex Riggs
Podcast: cat and dog eye questions with Dr Patrick Mahaney
Claim Example: Dog Cataracts

Claim Example: Ruby the Dog is kicked by a Moose

When I was looking for claims that related specifically to Winter Dangers, this one stuck out as rather unexpected - poor Ruby gets kicked by a moose! We asked Elizabeth B, her pet parent, to tell us what happened and this is what she said:

Ruby in AlaskaRuby is proof that old dogs can learn new things.  We moved to Alaska in the winter of 2012.  Our dogs, Ruby (age 12) and Willow (age 3) , instinctively knew to be cautious around the bears we crossed paths with on our hikes.  But our dogs did not see moose as an obvious threat.  Although moose can weigh upwards of 1,500 pounds, they come off as curious, docile, and almost clumsy creatures, and accordingly are easy prey for dogs. What our dogs didn't know is that while moose tend not to run from a perceived threat, they can and will kick forward with their front feet, knocking down and trampling the threat.  

This fall, we came across a female moose on one of our hikes.  Ruby and Willow circled around it, barking until the moose became agitated and kicked Ruby in the hip.  Ruby lumbered out of the brush with an immediately swollen hip and back. Fortunately, she did not break any bones, but did tear a muscle which is still in the process of healing.  

We are fortunate to be covered by Embrace, which reimbursed us for the majority of the emergency visit and follow-up care she needed.  And now when we see moose on the trail, Ruby keeps her distance.  Willow is another story!

So there you have it - moose are not as docile as they appear to be! Ruby's claim details look like this:

Ruby's vet bill for moose kick
Ruby's claim payout calculation
Ruby's policy costs $12.59 a month for her accident-only policy, living in Anchorage AK.

Related Posts:
November is Winter Dangers Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Guest Post: Winter Dangers With Dr Patrick Mahaney
Guest Post: A Warm Winter Is Not Necessarily A Good Thing For Pets
Veterinary View: An Increase in “Blocked Cats” During Autumn?
Claim Example: Ruby the Dog is kicked by a Moose


Claim Example: Mast Cell Tumor in German Shepherd/Golden Retriever/Labrador mix

Embracer Lea has been off on maternity leave with her super cute daughter Stella but she has been going through some tough times with her dog Lyger, which she wrote up for us. Here's Lea's story of Lyger and his mast cell tumor.

FYI we know Lyger's breed mix because he's Embracer Lea's dog and we did the genetic test on him as
part of an Embrace contest. He's a very happy German Golden Lab :)

Lyger and his red boneMy old retriever Lyger has more bumps and lumps than I can count--he's had lypomas for years.  Sometime in the summer, I noticed a new, soft, squishy bump on his neck.  I was a working student, very pregnant, and had just been joking with my vet tech about the possibility that I have Munchausens syndrome with my dogs--taking them in for any little thing.  So, I figured I'd just take a wait and see approach with this lumpy bump, keep an eye on it for any changes.

Fast forward a few months later and I'm in my vet's office for a senior check up--Lyger's been acting a bit sluggish.  The vet checks his hips, his neck, looks at a mole, does bloodwork.  Everything appears normal--it appears to be just  normal aging.  As an afterthought I mention the neck lump.  He does a needle aspirate to check the fluid in the lump.

Now, here comes the one downside to having a good relationship with your vet: You know when he sees something bad but is trying not to scare you.

He sends it out for pathology and calls me the next day to say it's cancer--but, a very treatable form of cancer, mast cell.  I confirm with some of my vet tech colleagues--they agree, this is a good cancer prognosis, if such a thing exists.  I never thought I'd want to put him through surgery at his age, but it was the best chance he had.

Lyger's mast cell surgery incisionTo remove a mass that was only about half the size of a ping pong ball required a very large incision, about 7 inches, to get clear margins.  But, we got very lucky--the vet was able to remove all of Lyger's cancer.  He won't require chemotherapy or other treatments.  But, as grade 2 mast cell tumors have a 50% chance of recurrence, we'll have to watch that area carefully.  A sample biopsy from his lymph nodes indicated that the cancer had not spread, despite my decision to "wait and see".

Speaking of the wait and see, that's what I'm here to tell you.  Don't do that.  First of all, the cancer could have spread to other systems, causing the prognosis to be much worse.  Secondly, I was waiting to see if the lump would get bigger.  It never did--but I later learned that's a characteristic of mast cell tumors: they can get bigger and smaller again!  Sneaky!  These tumors are especially common in senior dogs, particularly Retrievers, Boxers, Beagles and Bully breeds, among a list of others, and are
often found on on a dog's extremities.

This was a very costly close call, with about $1,000 in diagnostics and the surgery. But, I learned a very valuable lesson--don't play wait and see when it comes to health concerns, whether it's for your pet or yourself.  I could have lost the friend that's been by my side for over a decade, and would never have forgiven myself for it.  Fortunately,  Lyger is doing fine, enjoying the extra hugs he's been getting, and will continue to get for a while to come.

Claim story: Ozzie's "perfect storm of a stomach" surgery

Today, we have a claim story from Embrace's Claims Manager, Chris Wrona. She has recently gone through over $12,000 of veterinary bills and two health crises with her dogs and shares her story here.

Ozzie 1My little boy, Ozzie, has had a rough couple of months and I’m so very thankful for Embrace. I’m the type of pet parent who will go to the ends of the earth if I know it can help my fur kids and I’ve been in the extremely difficult situation of not having an insurance policy in effect when my fur kids got sick. This was well before Embrace and I will never be without Embrace insurance again.  Prior to having insurance for my other pets,  I worked multiple jobs to pay off the debt  from their unexpected, uninsured medical expenses. I don’t have to worry about the expense now that I have Embrace insurance and can strictly focus on the best care that is needed. 

This was put to the test this past May. Ozzie, my youngest, is an amazing dog. He can jump a 4 foot wall from a standstill and is just always so full of energy but in May, Ozzie had something so simple turn into a life threatening condition and I’ll never forget the words of the surgeon “Mrs. Wrona, I need to let you know Ozzie’s prognosis is guarded and most of the pets who experience this don’t make it.” 

Ozzie began licking his rectum in May of this year. Being a veterinary technician prior to Embrace, I knew this may be something simple but shouldn’t be ignored too long. I checked his anal glands and they were normal so off to the vet we went. We decided to change to a vet closer to home (our prior vet was great but pretty far away). The vet diagnosed Ozzie with anal sacculitis but I wasn’t convinced; however, I decided to follow the treatment protocol to see how he responded. 

Ozzie 3Just a couple of days into the treatment he began bleeding from the rectum and his poor little bum became inflamed. Not large amounts of blood but enough for a neurotic pet mom to rush him to the emergency room on Mother’s day. The emergency room vet, who knows Ozzie very well due to his appetite for anything inappropriate, noted that she didn’t see much wrong with his anal glands but he had been on antibiotics.  We changed the treatment protocol but were warned to make a recheck appointment if he didn’t get better. Ozzie did very well on this new treatment until the treatment stopped, then it all came back. Off to the Internal Medicine Specialist we go! 

The beginning of June, Ozzie visited the Internal Medicine Specialist who changed the treatment protocol and warned me that if this didn’t work we would need to do further diagnostics including colonoscopy. So far the cost was only $911.00 but I knew how much a colonoscopy/endoscopy would
cost. The new treatment didn’t do anything to help Ozzie and the day of diagnostics were scheduled.  Ozzie had to stay at the hospital for almost two days and while I couldn’t stay with him overnight, I was at the hospital by his side early the morning of his procedure (of course visited with him most of
the day prior too). I never once had to worry about how I was going to pay for this because he was insured with Embrace. I made sure Ozzie was insured extremely early in his life before he had a chance to develop any pre-existing conditions. I had confidence this would be covered and after submitting my claim and going through our stringent internal review for Embracer claims, it was.  I was able to be worried about my boy and focus on just being with him.

The emotional/financial rollercoaster doesn’t stop there. It turns out Ozzie had Irritable Bowel Disease but not only did his story continue, my little girl, Mysha, became seriously ill 3 days after he came home.  Again, something simple that turned out to be serious. She coughed once and I didn’t think much of it. The cough progressed and of course we were into the vet immediately but despite the best efforts by the vets, they couldn’t save her. Ozzie came home on Tuesday and my Mysha
crossed the rainbow bridge the following Sunday. Ozzie’s expense for his diagnostics were an additional $2500 and Mysha’s expenses were $2600. It’s never about money when it comes to my babies care but knowing we didn’t have to worry about the financial side let me mourn my little girl and focus my efforts on Ozzie’s care.

Ozzie 2Well you guessed it, Ozzie wasn’t out of the woods yet. His treatment for the Irritable Bowel Disease caused more harm than good. I watched my beautiful boy waste away to nothing.  He was lethargic and lost all of his muscle mass. He didn’t play anymore, had trouble getting off and on the couch , we had to lift him onto the bed and my baby who once gave me kisses any chance he could, stopped giving me kisses. I consulted with the vet weekly and continually pressured to change the treatment because of what was happening. Again, Embrace came through and I was able to get a second opinion without worrying about the expense.  This occurred near the middle of August, and the new Internal Medicine Specialist changed his treatment. After only two days on the new treatment, Ozzie was more alert and wanted to play. He even gave me kisses again.

The next day he was playing and doing so much better but we didn’t realize we were at the top of another hill on the roller coaster ride. Ozzie vomited at 3:00 am on a Sunday morning, he had a lot of activity the day prior and he didn’t seem critical so we decided to wait a bit to see how he did. Later that morning, he was worse and didn’t want to eat anything including my breakfast, which is not like him.  We rushed to the emergency room again.  The vets were suspicious of a foreign body but due to the treatment of Irritable Bowel Disease he was not a good candidate for surgery. They decided to keep him and have the radiologist review the radiographs and possibly do more diagnostics. I decided to go home because I couldn’t stay with him and I would just wait for the vets update. 

I hadn’t been home for 15 minutes when I got the call. The veterinarian called to say that Ozzie’s stomach had ruptured and she needed my authorization to rush him to emergency surgery. I went back to the hospital to at least be in the building during his surgery. I was able to visit with Ozzie and meet the surgeon who reviewed all of the details with me including the uncomfortable (for the vet) topic of expense. I think he actually breathed a sigh of relief when I told him Ozzie was insured and we didn’t need to worry about expense.  

My husband left work as early as he could and met me at the hospital to wait. Over 4 hours later the surgeon emerged to let us know that Ozzie did well through surgery but the prognosis was bad. Ozzie had ingested 5 socks and a bandana but the surgeon felt this isn’t what ruptured his stomach.  He let us know that he took a biopsy sample to figure out what caused this. This is when he let us know that Ozzie most likely wouldn’t make it (well, at least that’s what we heard) but he was going to do the best he possibly could. The surgeon let us know he would call us immediately if Ozzie worsened so we could be there if he should go to meet his sister across the rainbow bridge. Again, we were not concerned about finances and could just focus on Ozzie.  My husband and I have been through this before and knew this was going to be between $5000 and $8000. The final bill was $7500.

My strong boy amazed everyone and not only pulled through but exceeded everyone’s expectations.  He has since gained most of his strength back and has returned to the hyperactive boy he was before this whole ordeal. His Irritable Bowel Disease in maintained and we are weaning him off of all treatments. 

We found out that his stomach was the perfect storm. He was immune-compromised due to the treatment of the irritable bowel disease and he developed an overgrowth of bacteria that caused an ulceration in his stomach. Plant material was found on biopsy of the tissue so we can only speculate that he ate a piece of plant material that was hard and it punctured the weak spot causing it to rupture. Where most dogs eat grass when they’re stomach is upset, Ozzie eats clothing.  We are
doing everything to prevent a relapse and we have puppy proofed the house even more diligently than before.

As an Embrace employee, it’s difficult to tell people about my claim stories because many feel that employees get special treatment working for Embrace; however, this is the farthest from the truth.  Employee’s undergo a much more strict claim review than our non-employee pet parents. Our claims are processed according to the same policy terms and conditions but there is an additional review by our Chief Embracer to ensure there’s no funny business and are audited by our insurance underwriter twice a year. Our claims are just as real and even if I didn’t work for Embrace, all of my pets will be insured by Embrace.  There’s no way I could save up to pay for the $12,000 in bills that piled up in just 4 months.  Thank you Embrace for all you do and helping me to provide the best care to my family members without having to worry about how we will afford it.

To date, Ozzie is recovering remarkably well and has been spitting his ball onto my laptop trying to get my attention as I was typing this.  He’s even gone as far as licking my laptop screen :)  I’m so very thankful to have my boy with me today and thankful to Embrace for being the company they say they are. Ozzie sends you many puppy kisses for helping to save his life!

Related Posts:
October is Pet Adoption Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Guest Post: veterinary perspective on adopting your cat or dog
Claim story: Ozzie's "perfect storm of a stomach" surgery
Guest Post: Dr Patrick Mahaney talks about pet adoptions

"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - surgery for vicious dog attack

This claim was Embrace's first big claim and I couldn't believe how perfectly it illustrates why you should get insurance - you just can't imagine a scenario like this. Poor Storm, an Akita puppy, was attacked by the dog next door. Norma Jean tells the story in her own words.

DSC00019_editedStorm was in our fenced backyard with Rich (my husband). He was running along the fence when our neighbors Malamute managed to get a part of his head under the fence and as Storm ran by he grabbed Storm's right front right leg and tried to drag him under the fence. Storm was just a few months old and the other dog was about 6-7 yrs old. My husband had to go over the 6 foot fence and beat the dog off to free Storm.

We rushed Storm to the emergency clinic. His poor little leg was barely attached and when the people at the clinic saw it, their first thought was to try to save his life. The bone was shattered and he Storm after forelimb surgerywas just barely alive. They managed to stabilize him and found that the main artery going to his foot was still intact. Our Hero, Dr.Paul Moss, did surgery on him for hours and Storm came through it. He had an external metal brace with pins that kept the bones in place and Dr Moss adjusted it for his growing leg about once a month.

Storm had a number of other surgeries over the next year and a half. He is now 6yrs old and weighs about 150lbs and limps a little, but other than that he is doing pretty well.

Now for Embrace. A few days before the accident, I was on the net looking at Pet Insurance… I checked with a number of the companies, but when I spoke with the person at Embrace (I think it was Laura), she was so nice and caring that I decided the take out a policy right there and then. I paid the insurance premium.

DSC00460ALittle did I know how soon we would need it. Storm's accident happened just a few days later …we didn’t even have a copy of the policy yet. I call Embrace and told them what had happened and they were wonderful. There was never a question about their paying the bills and to top it off they stayed with us by phone and email the whole way. They were rooting for Storm as much as we were.

We have been with Embrace since that time and had other claims and they have been just great. They pay more quickly than our own health insurance! And we feel as though they are a part of our family. They are always there when we need them and I recommend them to anyone who has a pet.

I've written about Storm's claim details before but an update on all Storm's claims over the six years insured by Embrace is as follows:

Diagnosis Claimed Covered Paid
Dog attacked - fracture left radius and ulna 1,927.92 1,797.14 1,277.71
Follow up visits and removal of ring fixator 1,251.42 918.62 734.90
Follow up care, right rear leg patella luxation 185.81 119.99 95.99
Rebandage leg 100.00 100.00 80.00
Recheck ulnar ostectomy 100.00 100.00 80.00
Recheck ulnar ostectomy 25.00 25.00 20.00
Follow up reck on ulnar ostectomy 75.00 75.00 60.00
Follow up radiograph on Ulnar Ostectomy 25.00 25.00 20.00
Ulnar Osteotomy 766.93 727.73 582.18
Recheck Ostectomy 50.00 50.00 40.00
Bilateral Medial Luxating Patellas 1,377.52 1,266.72 853.38
Re-stabilze Tibial Crest 545.33 461.05 368.84
Medial Patella Luxation, Losing Weight 463.33 394.89 315.91
recheck x2 50.00 50.00 40.00
re-operate left medial patella luxation 192.00 70.00 56.00
dermatitis - insect bite 89.00 33.00 26.40
dermatitis, dermatophytosis and pyoderma 315.82 48.00 38.40
dermatitis, alopecia, trauma or insect bite 89.98 33.00 26.40
Upper Resp Infection, Conjunctivitis 55.70 33.00 0.00
Lick Granuloma, Dermatitis 104.95 33.00 0.00
Dermatitis, Allergies 130.45 48.00 0.00
Forelimb lameness and Diarrhea 235.62 207.42 5.94
Diarrhea 235.36 211.10 168.88
Total 8,392.14 6,827.66 4,890.93

Related Posts:
September is Pet Health Insurance Month
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - painful choice to euthanize
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - close encounter with dental floss
Guest Post: can I get pet insurance for that?
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - vet techs need pet insurance too!
Guest Post: Pet Insurance Q&Amp;A from Dr Patrick Mahaney
"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - hip dysplasia surgery for 1 year old German Coolie
"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - surgery for vicious dog attack
"So Glad I Had Pet Insurance" story - cats and lilies do not mix

"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - hip dysplasia surgery for 1 year old German Coolie

Being Pet Health Insurance Month, it's time for a "so glad I had pet insurance" story. How's this for a good one. A one year old German Coolie (yes, it's a real cool looking dog too) based in Salem, NY who unexpectedly needed hip dysplasia surgery, for a total cost of $5,417.

Here's Amy H's story in her own words: 

2012-07-01_16-07-51_500When my 1 year old German Coolie Elliot Cool came up three legged lame after a fun weekend of
running and playing, I knew something was wrong right away.  After bringing him to the vet for an exam and radiographs, my worst fears were confirmed.  Elliot Cool was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and would need hip replacement surgery if he was going to be able to live out a full, active life without constant, debilitating pain.  

DSC00321I had never doubted the wisdom of signing Elliot Cool up with Embrace pet insurance when he joined my family at 4 months of age last year.  I have been an Embrace customer since 2008, I know the quality of customer service Embrace provides.  As a financial planner, I also know the importance of having a plan in place for unexpected financial emergencies.  For my policies with Embrace, I have chosen a higher deductible and higher co-pay, in order to keep affordable coverage for those expenses that I can't plan for.

Elliot THRI never anticipated needing to use the coverage for Elliot Cool so soon, but I am so thankful Embrace was there for us when we needed them.  Without Embrace, I would not have been able to provide Elliot Cool the surgery he needed to ensure he would be able to live a pain free life.  

Thank you, Embrace!

There were a couple of vet visits to determine the diagnosis and then an initial specialist visit at Tufts University but then the main surgery details are as follows:

Waste $10.00
Chem 25 $62.00
CBC & Platelet Count $60.00
Micro Exam Blood Smear $0.00
UA A/O $28.00
Radiograph $88.00
Rad Addl $79.00
Total Hip Series 4 views $292.00
Butorphanol 10mg/ml CIV $13.44
Atipamezole 5mg/ml x 0.31 $10.00
Atipamezole 5mg/ml x 0.15 $10.00
Dexdomitor 0.5mg/ml x 0.31 $10.00
Dexdomitor 0.5mg/ml x 0.15 $10.00
Anesthesia 2hrs $220.00
Anesthesia Pre Work Up $54.00
Anesthesia Disposables/Agents $81.00
Hospitalization $58.00
Anaerobic ID & Aerobic $174.00
Lab Accession Fee - Send Outs $3.00
Daily Professional Care $69.00
Cefazolin x 1 $18.00
Total Hip Series 4 views $292.00
Surgery Supplies $14.00
Surgery Implants $1,941.00
Total Hip Replacement Unilat $1,178.00
Cefazolin Sodium 100mg/ml $10.94
Methadone 10mg/ml C II $29.04
Hospitalization $58.00
Daily Professional Care $69.00
Cefazolin x 1 $18.00
Meloxicam 1.5mg/ml Susp x 2.60 $7.57
Hospitalization $39.00
Daily Professional Care $69.00
 TOTAL $5,074.99

Eliot Cool had a $500 annual deductible, an 80% reimbursement percentage and a $10,000 annual maximum, with prescription drug coverage not chosen, for a monthly premium of $24.91.

The surgery reimbursement was calculated as follows:

STEP 1: Calculate Potential Refund
  Billed Amount:         $5,074.99
  Covered Charges:       $5,074.99
  Annual deductible remaining     $122.00
  subtotal     $4,952.99
  Your Share of the claim (20%)     $990.60
Potential Refund          $3,962.39
STEP 2: Compare against annual maximum
     Annual Maximum       $10,000.00
     Prior refunds for this policy year     $0.00
     Coverage remaining     $10,000.00
Total refund is:       $3,962.39

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Guest Post: can I get pet insurance for that?
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - vet techs need pet insurance too!
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"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - vet techs need pet insurance too!

Continuing the theme for Pet Health Insurance Month, here's a story from Chrissy, one of the Veterinary Account Representatives at Embrace. I love seeing Bella in the office and had no idea of this story until today.

I have worked as a technician in the Cleveland, OH area for the past 10 years.  While I always thought pet insurance was an excellent idea for clients, I never dreamed I would need it for myself.  Being in the profession, getting a hefty staff discount, and having a whole bunch of great contacts in the field, I did not foresee the cost of veterinary care ever becoming a problem.  I could not have been more wrong! 

Rewind to Christmas Eve 2007.  Bella, at the time a 2 year old pit mix, was always getting into things she wasn’t supposed to. She was obsessed with having things in her mouth so it didn’t surprise me when she vomited that morning.  However, a few hours later come breakfast time, I started getting concerned when she was not interested in her food.  She is a chow hound so that was very out of the ordinary.

As the day progressed, Bella really started to go downhill.  She had vomited many times and it had that characteristic, foul, obstructed smell.  I knew we were in trouble and as much as I wanted to try to make it wait a day and half until my hospital opened, I knew Bella needed immediate attention.  Off to the emergency clinic we went.

After bloodwork and x-rays, it was determined it was either an obstruction or something irritating the bowels passing through.  It was hard to tell exactly what was causing her symptoms as nothing was very clear or apparent on the x-rays.  They hospitalized her, put her on IV fluids, gave appropriate medications, and decided to see what tomorrow would bring and hope whatever she ate would pass on its own.

She improved somewhat on Christmas morning (even chewed out her IV line 3 times!), but still didn’t want to eat and the improvement was very short lived.  When I came to pick her up on December 26, I was told exploratory surgery was in her best interest.  I took Bella to the hospital I worked at, as we were now open after the holiday to be opened up.  The surgery was less than routine because there was not one object that was causing the problem!  She was obstructed in multiple places with tons of hair! Yes, hair! The doctor had to open her stomach, pylorus, and small intestines in a 3.5 hour surgery.  The copious amounts of hair had her poor intestines so inflamed that the doctor even felt it was necessary to biopsy, just in case.

So we think the worst is over……but not quite!  Back to the ER we go with Bella that night due to complications with her protein levels being so low from not eating for 3 days.  Fortunately, after another day of hospitalization and some more IV fluids, she was ready to eat and on the upswing within a few days.

After all was said and done, I paid over $2500 out of pocket between the ER visits and surgery – which was a HUGE hit being just out of college.  The Emergency doctor was even very generous, giving me a 25% veterinary professional discount for Bella’s visits. 

After pretty much breaking the bank with this ordeal, I have been a pet insurance advocate ever since and will never be without it again! 

This is just one example of why even veterinary staff members need pet insurance too.  You can never plan for accidents and illnesses that necessitate you visiting an ER or Specialist and these things always seem to happen at the most inopportune times!

Related Posts:
September is Pet Health Insurance Month
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - painful choice to euthanize
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - close encounter with dental floss
Guest Post: can I get pet insurance for that?
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - vet techs need pet insurance too!
Guest Post: Pet Insurance Q&Amp;A from Dr Patrick Mahaney
"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - hip dysplasia surgery for 1 year old German Coolie
"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - surgery for vicious dog attack
"So Glad I Had Pet Insurance" story - cats and lilies do not mix

Embrace's new Healthy Pet Deductible

When I announced the Embrace Pet Insurance move to our new underwriter, American Modern, I promised to tell you about our new diminishing deductible feature, also known as the Healthy Pet DeductibleTM.

If it sounds familiar, it's probably because you have seen quite a few TV ads from several large auto insurers with their own versions of the deductible reducing every year of claims-free driving. The Embrace Healthy Pet Deductible is very similar - if you go a year without any claims paid out for your pet, your next year's annual deductible reduces by $50 and so on every year, until you reach a $0 deductible.

Embrace is the first pet insurer in the world to offer this feature.

The point is not to discourage you from sending in your claims but to offer encouragement for those pet parents whose pets stay healthy and are not using their Embrace policy to stick around for when they ultimately will need their pet insurance.

It just kills me when someone cancels their policy because they haven't used it for 3 years and then call in 6 months later asking if we'd cover an accident or illness that has occured after the insurance was stopped. I never want that to happen again.

For specifics, you can learn more on our Health Pet DeductibleTM  webpage. For example, it is only available to those policies underwritten by American Modern so you'll have to wait until your policy coverts over to start earning those credits.

In the meantime, here's an example that I put together on how it works. 

Consider a multi-pet policy with my cats Rocket (annual deductible $500) and Rosie (annual deductible $200).

Year 1 – one covered claim for Rocket of $300 and one for Rosie for $300 as well.

  • Since Rocket’s claim is under her $500 deductible, there is no claim payout; therefore, Rocket accumulates a $50 deductible credit for year 2.
  • Rosie’s claim, however, is over her $200 deductible so there will be a claim payout in year 1; therefore, Rosie will not accumulate any deductible credits for year 2.

 Year 2 – another covered claim for Rocket of $600 and no claims for Rosie.

  • Rocket’s claim is over her deductible ($500 - $50 = $450), so there is a claim payout; therefore, Rocket will not accumulate any deductible credits for year 3 and her accumulated deductible credits are reset to zero.
  • Since Rosie has no claims in year 2, she accumulates $50 in deductible credits for year 3.

If we rewrote the example this way, you can see how the Healthy Pet Deductible accumulates:

Year 2 – another covered claim for Rocket but this time for $300 and no claims for Rosie.

  • Rocket’s claim is under her deductible ($500 - $50 = $450), so there is no claim payout; therefore, Rocket accumulates another $50 to make her total deductible credits equal to $100 for year 3.
  • Since Rosie has no claims in year 2, she accumulates $50 of Deductible Dollars for year 3.

So if you claim, you get reimbursed (if it's above the deductible) and if you don't (it's below the deductible), you get a credit.

What's not to like about that?

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Embrace has a new insurance partner - A+ rated American Modern Home Insurance Company


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