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Saving Pets and Pockets: How Much to Save for a Pet Emergency Fund

Most Americans are not prepared for a pet emergency. 

According to 2018 data from the American Pet Products Association, 70% of American households have at least one pet. Unfortunately, an alarming 60% of these pet owners don't have enough to cover $1000 worth of emergency medical bills. 

The numbers make us question our financial capability for having pets and how at-risk they are in our care. But more importantly, this is a wake-up call that raises the importance of having enough financial cushion for unforeseen pet care scenarios. So we're here to shed light on setting up and saving for a pet emergency fund. 

Before we tackle it, we'll first explore the concept of pet insurance and its relationship to your pet emergency fund. Then, we'll offer a financially sound alternative to pet ownership that will delight you.

Pet Insurance Protection: Do I Need It?

Most pet emergencies are health-related, so it's natural for loving pet owners to discover pet insurance. But no matter how they discover it, they'll arrive at the same concern: insurance cost and practicality. So let's clear the air on when pet insurance is beneficial for you and your pet. Here are three reasons it's practical to get your pet a health insurance policy.

Risk of Developing a Serious Medical Condition

Your pet's breed predisposes them to certain long-term and serious medical conditions because of genetics. It’s one practical reason to get pet insurance: it minimizes your risk should the illness manifest in your pet's life span.

Peace of Mind

Your pet may be a model of good health, but they are still susceptible to life's unpredictability. Accidents, fights, and unforeseen viruses can put your pet and your wallet in the worst shape. So if you value peace of mind, getting pet insurance is one way of keeping you worry-free.

Preparation for the Worst

Unfortunate events are one thing, but their intensity is another: one severe illness of a pet can burn through your savings. In this case, insurance will act as a protection not only for your pet but also for your future.

Is Pet Insurance the Emergency Fund?

Some may think pet insurance is the only financial safety net they need. More often, they see it as the pet emergency fund. However, these two are separate. Both solve the need for maintaining a fund for emergency purposes, but the difference becomes clear when the medical bill comes.

​​Waiting Period

You can only file a claim after a set period. Your pet insurance provider allots a buffer from the official start of the policy before your pet is covered. If something happens within that period, you must shoulder the entire cost.

Policy Mechanism

Once the policy is activated, you must first meet a spending amount (the deductible) before the benefits kick in. And even then, you still have to pay the full amount, file a claim, and wait a couple of days before getting reimbursed. Also, you will only receive an agreed portion because you and your pet insurance provider share the expenses in a co-pay and coinsurance arrangement.

Coverage Limits

A policy has a set annual reimbursement amount. It doesn't carry over to the next year. If your monetary claims exceed the limit before the year ends, you'll dip into your cash and cover the remaining cost.

Preexisting Conditions

If your pet is discovered or declared with an illness before you close the insurance policy deal, your insurance provider will not cover it.

The Importance of a Separate Pet Emergency Fund

Whether you find insurance impractical or necessary, you’ll realize that a pet emergency fund is vital. It's a mattress that keeps you secure when it gets tough. Without it, you’ll fall on the cold concrete and injure yourself financially.

On the other hand, pet insurance is like a comforter. You can rely on it to protect you from the cold, but it's not enough to cushion you from the fall. Ultimately, whether you choose to have the benefit of pet insurance or not, you'll need to build your pet emergency fund.

Setting Up a Pet Emergency Fund

A savings account is a vehicle where you can put your pet's emergency fund. It's highly liquid, so you can easily withdraw cash as soon as you need it. The only disadvantage is its exposure to undisciplined spending.

Talk to your banker about a possible automated clearing house transfer to automatically save some of your money for your pet's emergency fund.

When Should You Set Up a Pet Emergency Fund?

We have covered how crucial it is to have a pet fund. Now, let's explore the timing for starting one. Most of us cannot prioritize it right away, so it's best to find the right period and prepare for it emotionally and financially. Here are situations that tell you it’s time to save up for your pet’s rainy day fund.

Before Getting a Pet or Immediately After

It's ideal to be prepared with enough financial cushioning before you venture into pet ownership.

Start planting that financial seed ahead of time, and grow it until you reach your target amount. You can decide to own a pet halfway through your target or wait until you reach it. However you decide, what matters is you've established a habit of saving up for your pet emergency fund and you’ll be set to finish it.

If you already own a pet, start immediately. You’ll never know when misfortune will strike, so it's better to be prepared with little than with none. Cut costs on your pet care budget, and redirect them to your pet's emergency fund. We're sure your pet wouldn't mind.

While Still Employed with Disposable Income

Employment brings a steady income; if you have an excess, it's the perfect time to stack that cash and put it in your pet's emergency fund account. 

Your fund will come in handy should you become unemployed. More than covering your pet’s medical emergencies and sickness, you can also use it to cover their daily needs. In addition, it will keep your personal savings account in good shape until the next paycheck.

When Your Pet Has an Existing Medical Condition

If your pet is already diagnosed with a medical condition, it's best to immediately get started with a pet emergency fund. Doing this is critical, especially if the illness is detected early and still in the mild stage.

It may be quite late to set up a pet emergency fund at this stage, but it's your only option if you want to stay afloat financially. So start setting aside a thicker chunk from your income to prepare—it will save your pet and your pocket in the long run.

How Much Should You Save for a Pet Emergency Fund?

Your pet’s fund balance is arbitrary; it depends on you and your pet's lifestyle. But if you need a number to target, aim to save no less than $8000 in cash. 

You must maintain the fund annually. For example, if you used up a portion or all of $8000, you must replace it before the year ends.

As a disclaimer, the $8000 target is strictly for medical tests, treatments, and procedures only and does not include inpatient admission costs. Here are other things you need to consider before you set your pet emergency fund's ideal balance.

Existing Insurance

Factor in your existing pet insurance before you build your pet emergency fund. You can allocate less to the fund since you’re paying premiums and your provider will shoulder a portion of the eligible medical cost.

The Pet Price Tag

If you're planning to own a pet, consider the cost of caring for one. You'll need to know how much you will shoulder in one-off and recurring costs; these will affect the money you'll route to the fund and how much you're comfortable maintaining. 

Read our article The Pet Price Tag: Unpacking the Cost of Pet Ownership to get an idea of the costs involved in taking care of a pet. 

Common Pet Emergencies

Consider the possible pet emergencies that you'll need to cover. The list below includes only the most common emergencies based on the most recent statistics.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Cost estimate: $550–5000

Severe vomiting, diarrhea, or gastroenteritis are examples of gastrointestinal issues. Treatment may involve multiple medications and other services. Other common stomach issues are intestinal obstructions and pancreatitis, which may require a higher level of treatment or surgery.

Heatstroke

Cost estimate: $1000–6000

This type of trauma is life-threatening and can claim your pet's life in seconds. Heatstroke is more common during summer and happens when it's too hot and your pet is dehydrated. The treatment depends on the severity of dehydration and heat exhaustion.

Breathing Difficulties

Cost estimate: $1000–3000

This condition is common among dogs, and most cases require oxygen therapy. But if there is any obstruction causing breathing difficulty, the treatment may cost more. 

Blunt Force Trauma

Cost estimate: $250–8000

Your pet may experience a fall from an elevated plane, suffer a car accident, or take a hit from a blunt object. These are blunt force trauma cases, and the treatment depends on how severe the case is.

Penetrating Trauma

Cost estimate: $300–10,000

Animal fights causing lacerations and bites that pierce your pet's skin are examples of penetrating trauma. This category also includes other foreign objects that stab through, such as a sharp knife.

Ingesting Poison

Cost estimate: $250–6,000

Many substances, both indoors and outdoors, can be poisonous to your pet. That means treatment is also dependent on the type of poisonous object ingested. Your vet may include pain medication in the treatment if necessary, which increases the cost.

Emergency Surgeries

Cost estimate: $1000–5000

Scenarios such as cesarean births, exploratory surgery to discover illnesses, wound repair, or removal of foreign objects from parts other than the intestines fall under emergency surgeries.

Perfect Petzzz: A Pocket-Saving Pet Alternative

Pet insurance and emergency funds can put a dent in your income. But if you're living on a budget and still thinking about pet ownership, we recommend Perfect Petzzz as an alternative. 

These handcrafted animals give you a realistic pet parenthood experience without the heavy financial burden. Owning one incurs a one-time payment and lets you off the recurring premiums of pet insurance and the financial pressures of building and growing a pet fund account. Thus, it’s a safe and financially rewarding way to own a pet. 

Check out the different Perfect Petzzz breeds in these two categories.

  • Originals — The Original Perfect Petzzz resembles the scale of puppies. Each comes with a bundle of items that gives you the full pet parenting experience.
  • Minis Minis are smaller and closely follow the size of newborn puppies and kittens; they purr and snore like them, too. They come sleeping on a pillow bed.

If you're ready for a pet ownership experience that's financially sound and brings you peace, these lifelike animals can’t wait to meet you. They will keep you company and let you express all the love you have for a furry friend without compromising your future and finances.Check us out on Amazon to start owning a Perfect Petzzz!

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