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12–15 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy

A Guide to Your Puppy's Second Round of Vaccines :: How to Navigate the Pet Health Insurance Maze :: Instructions for Beginning Obedience Training :: Tips for Dealing with Your Puppy’s Growth Spurts

How to Navigate the Pet Health Insurance Maze

One of the main reasons pet owners have to give up their pets is finances. Everyday care of a dog is not too expensive but when met with an unexpectedly large vet bill, owners sometimes must decide to turn their dog over to a shelter. Shelters do not have funds for expensive health care and a dog with an illness is less likely to be adopted.

The minimal medical costs per year for a dog (meaning his annual check-up and shots) comes out to around $240 on the average. This does not include other common procedures such as dental cleaning or blood tests. A dog with cancer can rack up bills as high as $7,500. So, how can you provide your pet the health care he needs without worrying about the cost? Pet health insurance is the answer.

For around $220 per year, you come out even if your pet has no extenuating injuries or illnesses and you come out way ahead if he does. And there's no better time to buy pet insurance than now when you have a puppy - the younger the pup the lower the premium, especially since dogs of this age don't tend to have preexisting conditions.

There are many options for pet health insurance. You can buy a package that covers everything, including routine visits, or you can choose something that only covers emergencies. Here's a quick look at some of the companies out there.

  1. Pets Best Insurance through Progressive - This company insures everything from your health to your home to your auto to your pet. And their pet insurance is one of the most reasonable, especially if you're insuring more than one pet.

  2. VPI Pet Insurance - This company has been around for awhile and is considered very trustworthy. The average cost for fully insuring a puppy is $46.

  3. ASPCA Pet Health Insurance - Some people might feel more comfortable using a company associated with a large pet organization such as the ASPCA. Full monthly coverage for a puppy is around $78.

  4. Purina Care Pet Health Insurance - Purina is another familiar name. Full coverage with them is around $79 per month.

Keep in mind that the bottom three options are for full coverage. If you choose coverage for just accidents and illnesses, the monthly rate will average between $25 and $35. Other factors besides age that insurance companies look at are breed, preexisting medical conditions, size and location. It's very simple to get a quote. You just enter the basic required information online and in a few minutes, you will have a price.

You certainly don't have to get insurance for your pets but there's no way to know what medical costs may be down the road. Purebreds can have congenital defects, large mixed breeds can have severe skeletal problems, and any dog can run out in front of a car. Pet health insurance brings you peace-of-mind. With it, you won't be faced with the terrible decision to give up your dog or take out a second mortgage on your home.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

How to Keep Your Puppy Off the Christmas Tree

Puppies should be supervised at all times. She or he should be crated while alone, leashed while you are around. Time to teach the "leave it" command. You will really mean it when you fear for the dogs safety! Baby gates might deter him - unless he's that curious kind that looks to defeat all confinement. If he's leashed it's easy to give a sharp leash correction if he goes near the tree. Put the tree up for a few days without trimming to get the dog used to it without risking fragile ornaments.

~Liz H., owner of German Shepherd mix

When Puppies Lose Their Teeth

Puppies have a full set of 28 milk teeth - 4 canines, 12 incisors and 12 molars. The incisors and canines grow in first, the molars last. At around three to four months of age, your dog is going to start losing milk teeth and growing in her adult set of teeth, which consists of a total of 42 teeth - a lot more than the puppy teeth she has. The first to fall out are going to be her incisors, her front teeth. She will start growing her adult incisors first. Around four to five months of age you will see her adult molars and canines to grow in. By about six months, she should have her full set of adult teeth.

~Chris & Brian C., owner of German Shepherd

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