Giveaway Tuesday: On the Go Kits from VPI

Congratulations to our winners: Quinn, Pamela J, Shelly, Elizabeth and the Lab Crew, and Oralia!

For going on a year now, I’ve been suspicious that Kekoa might have Cushing’s disease. Her symptoms have waxed and waned, certain bloodwork values have gone up and down, but I haven’t quite been able to pin it down.

Have I tested her? Oh yes, I have, over and over. And ACTH stimulation tests, if you haven’t had the pleasure, don’t come cheap- even to us vet types. The tests for Cushings continue to come up normal. So I wait, and a few months later test again. It adds up. Like Mulan, my “free” Golden who waited an entire year before blowing out her cruciate ligament and needing a several thousand dollar TPLO, no pet truly comes cheap, not even a free one.

It’s hard to convey that to the average owner, though. The true cost of pet ownership can be pretty significant, depending on what life and fate throws your way. Sure, $800 for a pug puppy sounds like a lot at the time, but just you wait until you have to throw in the soft palate resection, the cherry eye repair, and the cryptorchid neuter. When owners aren’t prepared for those unexpected expenses, everyone suffers- most of all the pet.

To that end, Veterinary Pet Insurance has a nifty Cost of Care planner that allows you to plug in your pet’s breed and age, and get back some estimated costs of care for common conditions.

OK, so Cushing’s wasn’t on there, but there were some other lovely medical conditions that popped up as common occurences. Please, Kekoa, don’t get a bladder tumor. Arthritis, fatty tumors, been there, done that. I played around with a few different breeds and conditions and found the overall estimates to consistent with the bills I have seen in my time. It’s not exactly a joy to see those numbers, but it’s a reality pet owners have to face every day.

Even if you aren’t sold on the idea of pet insurance, it’s worth a spin just to see what comes up. To entice you to give it a go, VPI has provided 5 First Aid kits with a collapsible water bowl for anyone who wants to try out the cost of care calculator and share your thoughts in the comments.

These are great for hiking and outdoorsy stuff- water to prevent heat stroke, and first aid in case you have a dog like Brody who loves ingesting bees, stepping on splinters, those sorts of shenanigans.

To enter, just give the cost of care calculator a try and comment below with your result. Anything surprising?

Contest open to US and Canada residents. Entries close July 29, 11:59 PST. 5 winners will be chosen using Good luck!

Filed: Daily Life, Giveaways, Lifestyle Tagged: , ,
  • Steph B.

    Interesting! I put in the information for my Springer puppy, and the calculator returned a list of common problems for pretty much every dog… the only one that stood out was ear infection, because Springers and their long drop ears definitely have problems there! Other things, like Kennel Cough, Laceration/bite wound, or injured muscles/soft tissue dont seem like things that are particularly breed-specific, but would be useful for a noive dog owner to know the costs for. I also put in the information for my parent’s perpetually plagued Shih-Tzu, and while a list of very expensive potential procedures came up, not one matched the many, many issues she’s been treated for. Guessing that might be a breed with many potential issues? Interesting to play around with though, and to change the zip code to see how rates fluctuate from one part of the country to another.

  • I think the calculator is a great tool for one to see the cost of things that can come up. So always try to keep your pet healthy.

  • Karen B.

    I did it for my Standard Poodle, Finn, and Miniature Poodle, Theo. They both came up with the same problems, with one difference: #10 on Finn’s list was Corticosteroid Hormone Deficiency, which I’m assuming is Addison’s disease – that part was accurate. I was surprised that bloat didn’t show up on Finn’s, nor knee problems on Theo’s. One nitpick: in the breeds they listed Poodle – Teacup. There is no “teacup” variety, it’s just a cute marketing term.

  • Michelle Spayde

    I put in my 6 year old Pomeranian, and was rather surprised NOT to see some really common conditions like luxating patella, collapsing trachea, etc. #1 was Tooth Infection/Extraction for $390. I find that high because I’ve had blood work, multiple extractions, cleaning, fatty tumor removal (unrelated, of course), and x-rays done on another Pom for right around $400.

  • Pamela J.

    I was amazed at how many little things there were. When in actuality, nothing is LITTLE in price. The ear infections, the worms, all of it adds up. I think VPI will be a great thing to have for Zippy.

  • Oralia

    Wow…I have a Golden Retriever and those numbers are rather scary. I guess I never thought about the possibility of a slipped spinal disc surgery ($3750!) and other major problems…Thankfully, I have dealt only with ear infections for now…it really makes you think.

  • Do I have to do the calculator?? I think I could figure it out.

    No insurance = $50k+ out of pocket as follows:

    Addison’s, with monthly Percorten and daily pred
    plasmacytomas (3 x), radiated 2x, surgically excised w/clean margins 1x
    ehrlichiosis (2x),
    RMSF with thrombocytopenia,
    pancreatitis, several times,
    CCL repair,
    ARF/CRF, with DAILY sub-q fluids for a long time
    ear hematomas (2x), req’g that nasty surgery (well, once, but sx had to be redone unfortunately),
    G.I. issues until we figured out his many food allergies,
    hmm, can’t remember the other at least 5 or so sig things at the moment.

    = approx $50k or more

    There was no insurance in his day. It had just come out but was only up to age 5 when he was 6, changed up to age 8 when he was 9 and then we thought it didn’t make sense to get it at that point, when he was 12 and there was no longer an age limit. That was before his CCL tear and sx, and his ARF/CRF!

    Adopted on a Sunday
    Had to wait an entire day until Monday to:
    1) Get VPI insurance
    2) Start transitioning her to a raw diet

    Knock wood:

    Me = much smarter/more knowledgable

    Starr = healthy to date!

    VPI insurance = approx $40 monthly for the full enchilada (including cancer care rider)

  • Tiffany

    Well I typed in my 14 year-old DSH cat, and the Cost of Care calculator doesn’t go up to 14, but for a cat up to 9, 2 of the highest items were Tooth Extraction from Infection and Upset Stomach/Vomiting, and those are both things my cat can relate to. He hasn’t had the tooth extracted yet, but he was just at the vet last week for vomiting, and I pretty much spent exactly what they quoted. I definitely had pet insurance on my mind when paying the bill!

  • I wish the examples explained what the treatment was paying for…

    Bone cancer at $630?
    Thyroid deficiencies at $130?

    Those seem….low. Thyroid is chronic, so is that a yearly rate? Or just for diagnosis? Actually, it almost has to be the later, I can’t imagine an office fee and blood tests coming in much under $150.

    I’m not entirely sure what the changing conditions with the dog’s age means either, these are the most likely to occur this specific year? Wouldn’t it be more useful to see most likely over the course of the dog’s entire life? Hopefully, even if you have a puppy now, they’ll be at risk for arthritis eventually. Also, bloat showed up for 5 year old Great Danes, but not 2 year olds or 8 year olds. Huh?

    Seeing the actual percentages of how many animals get x would be nice too.

    I was hoping this would be at least interesting, but instead it was just confusing. It doesn’t make me want to trust the company.

  • Kristyn

    Its time I sign up for VPI. I have been fortunate with my pups so far, a few ear infections that the calculator accurately lists at about $180 a piece and a few upset stomachs listed at $340, although I think I’ve never paid that much. They are getting older though, things will start getting more expensive.

  • Devri Owens

    I put in both my dog’s info, and I was VERY surprised at how low the cost of insurance was. I have been thinking about insurance for my dogs for quite some time now, and I think it’s the time! And, when I called my vet, guess which company she recommended highly?! VPI! The first aid kit would be amazing to have – we live in Kansas and with the weather, you just never know when you will need it! Thank you!

  • Jeanne

    I checked it out, but I have a Belgian Tervuren and they aren’t one of the breeds listed. I used GSD instead, and got a lot of hip and back problems you would normally associate with the breed, but that aren’t as common in Tervs. I agree with $340 for an upset stomach being a bit much. When i took my dog in for vomiting and dehydration and wht ended up being a liver enzyme imbalance, it was less than that for the visit, bloodwork and a bag of the special diet food. Even with the follow up bloodwork it came in less than that.

  • Kathleen Weaver

    Very interesting. Though is the cost per incident, per year, or per lifetime. I’m guessing incident, as several of the beagle things are chronic (allergy, etc.)

    Also very user friendly

  • The labrador doesn’t show with Addison’s or the acl rupture, both of which we have had in different labs. Ear infections, fatty tumors, mast cell and soft tissue cancer we got as well.
    We are so far doing ok as we self insure. But if I was retired I would have pet insurance for any new pets.

  • I ran my 4 month old mini-schnauzer through the calculator and got back a list of normal doggie health concerns like ear infections, allergies, and stomach issues. However there were two items that got my attention: bladder infection and soft tissue injuries. It seems like Liberty is contantly peeing. Good thing I have a appointment at the vet tomorrow for boosters. I might be paranoid, but better to have it checked.

    I purchased VPI for Liberty last week. I truly believe it’s the best investment I can make. I never want to chose been my finances and my puppy.

  • Michelle Brosnan

    I have used VPI before. The calculator is a great tool to get an idea of cost. Lola would love an emergency kit……her momma is an emergency people doctor so she knows the importance of being prepared and staying safe!!! Pick Lola Girl ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Lauren

    This is an interesting tool, and insightful, but I did encounter a few issues for my dog. Tucker is a Boston Terrier/French Bulldog mix (aka Frenchton), and mixes like his (Cockapoo, Labradoodle, Puggle, etc) weren’t options. The closest thing was “Mixed Breed,” but to me, that means a dog that you don’t know what breed(s) it is.
    So I punched in both Boston Terrier and then French Bulldog and I didn’t see some of the major issues with these two breeds, Bostons – luxating patellas and brachycephalic syndrome & Frenchies – hip and knee issues, breathing problems, palate surgery and heat related issues.
    I did see some issues that I have already encountered, skin infections and ear infections, but I would think these problems are not breed specific.
    – Lauren

  • Kellee

    While they didnt have costs for dogs over 10, they offered me a cost ratio for a Pembroke Corgi age 9 so I could see, it was very interesting. It all adds up. When I put in my Beagle, age 7, the slipped Spinal Disc-no surgery was $480 which curprised me. She has had problems in the past and that IVDD is common to Beagles so I can only imagine what surgery costs. Time for VIP I think!

  • Summer T

    I did this for my 2 yr old Cattle Dog. I work at a Vet and wasn’t surprised at all by the results.

  • Kristen

    As we are in the midst of paying of thousands of dollars in bills for our dog (who had cancer) and our cat (who had a mysterious bowel obstruction), I was hesitant to look to see what we might be in store for with our new ‘free’ Beagle puppy. Both our cat and dog died last year before we could even put a dent in their bills. I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of Copper’s predicted ailments were fairly manageable financially. We’ve already dealt with two — kennel cough and vomiting. I’m surprised there wasn’t a line item for ingestion of a foreign object. Copper chews up everything in sight! But maybe that makes sense because I don’t think he swallows anything. He just tears stuff up and leaves a path of torn-up bits of destruction throughout the house.
    We’ve been considering insuring him because of our experience with our dog and cat last year. So this was very interesting to me!
    I did not put in our older mix breed dog and our older cat because I did not want to know what could happen to them and we can’t insure them anyway.

  • Kelly Ann T.

    Milele’s is an 11 yr old Alaskan Malamute. The date wouldn’t go to 1999 so I used 2001. It said Arthritis is the #1 concern. She is on medication now for it and doing very well.

  • Chris

    Thank you for making the Cost of Care Calculator available! I entered the requested information for our precious Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I was already familiar with some of the more common Diseases/Conditions but certainly not the cost estimates. Very enlightening! You’ve got me thinking about obtaining pet insurance again.

  • Stacy

    Allergies and ear infections – let’s hope she never gets those! My coworker’s dog has allergies and all of the meds and treatments are sooo expensive month over month.

  • Jessica Korves

    This is a really cool tool and I think surprisingly accurate as far as the common problems by breed. Thankfully, we haven’t had any major problems with our dogs, but the minor items seemed to be priced a little low…our ear infections for example…include a office visit/exam, lab work to test debris, and medication/ear wash. Something like that at our vet rarely comes in under $200. What I really wanted to look up was my late japanese chin who had a whole host of problems that cost us a small fortune!! My husband used to call her our million dollar baby. Unfortunately, or fortunately, her breed was not listed.

  • Dogdaes

    I plugged in both my almost 3 year old mixed breed (GSD/Elkhound/something else) and my 6 1/2-7 year old Boxer. The common Boxer problems was pretty on the mark–benign growths, mast cell tumor, allergies. I thought the mixed breed one was fairly generic stuff. Ear infections and allergies are the most common problems vets see in their practice. It would be nice if VPI calculator gave an option of putting what kind of mix your dog was which might be more accurate possibly.

    • Quinn

      I agree on the mix idea– Ruby is an AmStaff/Boxer mix, so I just ran her through the calculator twice. They are pretty similar ailment wise though, so there wasn’t too much of a change for me.

  • Abby’s Mom

    I gave it a shot for Abby. It was not quite as scary as I thought it might be. I did play a little game with it and made her five years older and that list started getting expensive. I’ve been going back and forth on getting insurance for her, especially after a couple of friends have had unexpected costly medical conditions come up in their pets lately. I didn’t realize that you had to enroll your pet before they were ten years old. I may want to get on it soon if I decide to.

  • Quinn

    WOW! I was actually sort of freaked out by how accurate the calculator was! First off, Am Staff was a choice, which I was pleasantly surprised by. I entered Ruby’s approximate date of birth (we have no idea) and allergies, benign skin tumors, and a few other things came up. I put in Boss (don’t know his dob either), and Mast Cell Tumor came up, along with a few toher things that he’s suffered from. Luckily, our vet tends to be on the lower end in terms of cost (positive of living out in the boonies).
    Boss and Ruby would surely appreciate those bowls and the first aid kit, since they like to eat rocks and roll in mulch whenever they can. Also, we’ve been taking them up north with us, so the bowls would be a welcome replacement to the tupperware containers that we normally bring on hikes!

  • Hope

    Hmm…My concern is that the listed problems vary based on age. While generally this is an accurate representation, wouldn’t you want to know what your two-year old pup would face when he is ten?

    It was very interesting to see what they had to say for Gus the aussie mix. Pretty spot on.

  • One other thing… The cost of actually bringing the dog home whether it is free or you pay for it at a rescue or breeder is the least expensive part..

  • Nubia

    A few of the higher cost problems were a little scary to see, but not unexpected, even when we adopted our cocker spaniel mix the guy wanted to make sure we knew they tended toward some costly upkeep as the years went on. The cost for our amstaff mix were also pretty accurate. I would love a first aid kit since summer is here we’re doing a lot more hiking and exploring ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Cathey

    Most of the prices and problems I saw listed for our dogs were pretty accurate. I’d love to have the first aid kit – on vacation we usually pack up some basics along with our people first aid stuff, but a kit devoted to animals with stuff you KNOW you can use on a dog would be VERY GOOD! Thanks, Dr. V!

  • We got insurance for our dogs before they even came home from the breeder and the same day he came from the rescue. With one allergic reaction bee sting, an emergency surgery and a chronic kennel cough infection, it has surely paid off. I couldn’t use the calculator, as it won’t accept my Canadian postal code, but I’m definitely on board with insurance!

  • I was surprised that hip dysplasia wasn’t mentioned (Frank doesn’t have it)they as it is very common in Border Collies. It did mention the allergies and digestive problems that Frank has. Poor guy has anaphylactic reactions to vaccines (lots of meds before and after shots to ensure his safety). He also has a very sensitive tummy.

  • Julie

    I checked this for my dog, but since I have a mutt, I’m not sure how tailored it is. I would recommend to VPI to give more options for mixed breed, either to enter partial info, like Retriever mix or Chihuahua mix or to have something for size (S/M/L or pounds), as small dogs and big dogs are going to have very different issues.
    It is a good reminder that I do need to get insurance for Gilbert – I am not excited about another monthly bill, but that monthly bill is much smaller than those big numbers on the calculator!

  • Wow – did NOT expect to see “Slipped Spinal Disc Surgery”… I didn’t even know dogs could have that happen, but at $4236, I’m very glad to have had Xena under pet insurance from the time we rescued her! I CAN guarantee the $320 for “arthritis” is well under the price we have already shelled out for her glucosamine supplements for mild hip dysplasia (diagnosed at age 1.5!)… surprised that wasn’t even listed for her.

  • P.S. – After looking at the other two breeds Xena is bred with (she’s a rescue, so a mixed breed), at least Husky & Border Collie are “cheaper” with NO severe problems listed like German Shepherd!

  • The results for my three year old Boston Terrier, Hamlet, seemed pretty accurate. We’ve already had some allergy/skin issues and upset stomach/vomiting but now I see I might look forward to abscesses, a whole body allergic reaction, inflamed colon, etc. Great tool to get some idea of what these things cost.

  • I’m on my 4th Golden Retriever & when i typed in my new 9wk old GR’s info.. the results seemed kinda standard rather than more breed specific. (At least to me based on all my dogs health issues over the yrs & of the golden friends I’ve known)
    Hip Dysplasia didnt make the list???
    I lost a golden to Myasthenia Gravis – a disease I NEVER heard of before but after getting a crash course found that goldens are more prone to it than many other breeds. I spent close to 5k trying to save her & it still wasnt enough – Pet insurance prob would have saved my Visa! Def something to look into with my new puppy…

  • Heather (DVM ’12)

    I’m happy with my pet insurance so far (yes, I’m a soon-to-be-veterinarian and I have insurance on my dog), but it’s worth it to look around before you buy…. is my favorite pet insurance comparison website, very easy to understand with extensive reviews of all the major companies.

    Sorry, none of the prices surprised me ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve worked in emergency/specialty animal hospitals for too long… that’s exactly why I got insurance! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shadowsrider

    Looks very useful, except my breed isn’t there. No Irish Wolfhounds or Scottish Deerhounds…

  • Maria S

    Feline Urinary Tract Disease $440
    Upset Stomach/Vomiting $330
    Allergy-Related Skin Problems $180
    Upper Respiratory Infection $160
    Abscess $280
    Ear Infection $150
    Eye Infection $110
    Laceration or Bite Wound $240
    Inflamed Colon/Diarrhea $220
    Tooth Extraction from Infection $420

  • I’m a believer in insurance, all my cats are insured. I suggest getting the insurance first thing, before anything bad happens because once something gets established as a pre-existing condition it won’t be covered! So don’t delay, it will cost you long term.

  • Kit

    It’s an interesting tool. Too bad it can’t calculate costs for pets older than 10 years of age — or without a US zip code. The costs that I saw when I plugged in information for cats seem pretty inline with reality. And the most common ailments listed seem pretty inline with what you’d expect for the combination of breed and age. I never had insurance for my cat (who passed on recently) and I regret that now.

  • Kristin

    I tried to calculate the costs for my 15 year old mini schnauzer but it didn’t go past 9. That said, the conditions listed for a mini at 9yrs old were pretty spot on (fatty tumors, skin growths, etc). The actual costs estimates seemed a bit high (compared to what I’ve actually paid) but still a very good tool.

  • Interesting; seeing the numbers like that made a good case for insurance. It would be great for all the people out there with mixed-breed dogs to be able to select at least two breeds and get a summary based on both.