Protect furry friends with insurance

DEAR READERS:Pet insurance is a smart move to protect your furry friends and your pocketbook. Our go-to source, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, has some great information about pet insurance.

Some types of insurance cover "maintenance," or wellness care. This includes vaccinations and annual checkups. Accidents and illnesses are more of a financial burden, and also generally are covered by pet insurance.

So, how does pet insurance work? The insurance costs between $300 and $400 per year, which breaks down to $25 to $30 a month. At your visit to the veterinarian, you'll be asked to pay the bill in full, then submit a claim form with your receipts.

The pet-insurance plan then reimburses you for 80 percent of the total after you pay a once-a-year $100 deductible per pet. There is a $10.50 issuance fee, but it is waived if you pay the premium all at once. There also is, in most states, a 30-day waiting period after you purchase a policy before coverage goes into effect.

There are some circumstances that pet insurance may not cover. These include some elective procedures, pre-existing conditions and procedures that may not be medically proven or are experimental in nature, such as acupuncture and chiropractic treatments. If something keeps happening to the animal, like your pet continually insists on swallowing foreign objects, this may not be covered. Breeding and pregnancy care and genetic disorders such as birth defects usually aren't covered either.


Teeth cleanings usually are covered as maintenance, but treatment for gum disease may not be covered.

These are very general guidelines for pet insurance. Consider the benefits of insuring your pet and keeping it healthy. Ask your veterinarian for more information, or check out the ASPCA's Web site at — Heloise

DEAR HELOISE:I don't like cat litter for my two cats, and they don't like it either. So I shredded scrap paper and old newspapers, and used that as cat litter.

Absolutely no smell and dust or cleanup for me. — D. Smith, via e-mail


And here is another litter-box hint, from Sue in Montana. She says: "Spring planting is around the corner. When my two cats thought my garden was their private potty, I put a litter box outside for them. They prefer it to my garden, and it quickly solved the problem for me. I use a covered one to keep the clumping litter dry."

— Heloise

What To Read Next
Get Local