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The Pitbull, which is really a name given to a group of dog breeds that include the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Bull Terrier and the Pitbull itself, is a greed that often gets an unwarranted bad reputation. Humans who made use of them for dog fighting earned the pups themselves a reputation as violent and bad tempered, but the vast majority are nothing of the sort. In fact Pit Bulls were once known as 'Nanny Dogs' because they were so good with children.
Bad reputation aside, Pit Bulls remain a popular breed among pet parents and with the right care and training they make wonderful family members and are a joy to be around. However, as is the case for most pure breeds, they can be susceptible to developing certain health problems common to their breed, and treating these problems can become rather expensive for pet parents, unless they have the foresight to purchase pet health insurance that is.
On the whole, the average Pit bull is a strong, healthy dog when given the right diet and the appropriate amount of exercise. Like many other breeds however there are illnesses they are more likely to develop simply because of their genetic and physical makeup, including all the following:
Of all the illnesses a Pitbull can be prone to Gastric Dilatation Volvulus - more commonly known as bloat - is usually the most serious and the one that is the most frightening and disturbing for both pup and pet parent. In order for it to be treated successfully emergency veterinary treatment is a must.
Bloat is a twisting of the stomach that occurs when it fills with an excessive amount of gas that becomes trapped. As the stomach twists, the blood vessels are constricted which can lead to 'stomach death' and to the release of toxins that can quickly be fatal.
Prompt emergency treatment may be able to save the pup but such treatment can run to as much as $7,000 initially and the cost of preventing the problem from reoccurring can add to that total significantly.
Although it may be a little odd to imagine dogs having elbows, they do. In a dog it is made up of the longer bone of the upper forelimb - known as the humerus - and the joint with the ulna and radius below. Elbow Dysplasia occurs when this joint does not fit correctly and the result can be foreleg lameness and even, over time, arthritis. The condition is most often the result of a genetic disposition rather than any injury or other trauma, but it may be some time before a Pitbull pup ever displays obvious symptoms.
Thanks to great advances in veterinary medicine, this condition can be treated, often with surgery, but such procedures can be very costly, ranging in price from an average of $1,500 to $4,000, depending on the severity of the problem and the scope of the surgery.
Myotonia is a rare disease in dogs, but one which a pit bull is statistically more likely to develop than many other breeds. This illness, one that is not yet fully understood even by experts, involves muscle fibers that continually contract, leading to a stiff gait, muscle weakness and often also to a difficulty in swallowing.
As it is believed that the condition results from a rare abnormality in the pup's chloride channel a few drugs have been shown to be effective in managing milder symptoms, and while those drugs themselves are relatively inexpensive, the cost of diagnosing the problem - which involves extensive radiology and testing - can run into the several thousands.
Deafness, whether it is present at birth or develops later in life, is something that is rarely effectively treatable in any pup, and given that American Bull Terriers especially are prone to it is something Pittie parents should be aware of as a possibility, but pups can lead a relatively normal life if they - and their pet parents - are given specialist training. The costs of this training can be expensive, however some pet health plans may provide some reimbursement for it.
The conditions we have mentioned above are all things that a Pit Bull may be more prone to developing than other breeds, but there is nothing to say they will. However, like any human child your fur kid can become sick or injured in many other ways and a trip to the vet can be an unexpected, and expensive, wrinkle in their monthly budget that can take a pet parent by (nasty) surprise.
It's for this reason - among others - that an increasing number of pet parents are investing in pet health insurance. A small monthly premium is paid to one of the growing number of pet health insurance companies offering Pit Bull health insurance and then when and if the pup needs medical treatment, many of those unexpected costs are covered.
The obvious question that most pit bull pet parents will have at this point is how much is this likely to cost and what will be covered? Is it worth considering purchasing pet health insurance for my Pitbull? And it is those issues we are going to take a closer look at next.
Health insurance premiums to provide coverage for your precious Pit Bull will vary according to their age, weight, and which company you work with. To give you an idea of the costs however, we ran estimates for several furry friends we know as examples.
This quote was offered for Zoro, a 1-year-old male American Pitbull terrier. For Zoro, a neutered male with no pre-existing health conditions the cost options broke down like this (the deductible, by the way, is the amount the pet parent must pay for healthcare for their pup before the insurance will begin to cover vet bills).
The quote changed significantly when we requested a quote for an older pup, 7-year-old female American Pitbull Terrier Kadie. The options offered for her broke down as follows:
These are very simple examples and from a single Pitbull health insurance company. As is the case for any insurance purchase, we would suggest shopping around and obtaining several quotes from different companies before making a final purchase decision and, as we'll address next, it is also crucial that you fully understand what coverage options you have and what exclusions and extras any pet health insurance policy you consider comes along with.
Just what a pet health insurance policy will cover will vary from company to company and according to the individual level of coverage you choose. There are insurance options available - usually the more expensive ones that come without a deductible - that are primarily designed to provide emergency coverage.
While a pet parent hopes that they never have to make use of such things, given that emergency healthcare for a Pitbull, as we mentioned earlier, can run into the several thousands this type of coverage could prove invaluable, both in terms of keeping the monetary out-of-pocket costs you face to a minimum and in allowing you to confidently obtain the emergency treatment your pup needs.
Other options cover routine care - checkups, part of the costs of vaccinations, some general wellness visits - and may be best suited for an older pup like Kadie. As we age we are more prone to health issues and the same is true of dogs. The vet bills associated with ensuring that a senior dog is happy and healthy can mount up, so by taking out such an insurance policy you may save yourself a significant amount of cash.
The one thing that most healthcare plans for pups will not cover are pre-existing conditions, and the same is true of conditions that are considered genetic. That means that conditions like elbow dysplasia, which is a genetic condition, would usually not be covered, and this is something to keep in mind when you are deciding whether purchasing coverage makes sense for you and your dog.
It should also be noted that most healthcare policies reimburse your costs after the fact, meaning that you will have to pay the bill initially and then submit it for reimbursement. Some health insurance policies for pets are now offering direct pay, but you can expect that the monthly premium you pay is likely to be higher to reflect this convenience.
As you shop for coverage you will even discover that many companies offer additional coverage options (for an additional premium) that you may consider beneficial for your furkid. For example, for an additional $19.95 per month added to the mid-range coverage for Zoro his pet parent can make use of acupuncture, behavioral modification, chiropractic and other alternative medicine services that some dog owners have found to be very effective for improving their companion's day-to-day life.
Every pet parent wants to do the best they can to take care of the pup who puts so much trust in them to do so. And for many purchasing pet health insurance is a good way to help do that. But it is not right for everyone, and may not be right for your Pitbull at the moment, but is something to consider later, as they get a little older.
In the end the best thing to do, if you are considering purchasing a health insurance plan for your Pitbull is to do your homework. Most companies provide instant quotes online or over the phone, and list clearly what is and is not covered. It is up to you to then take that information and after factoring in what is and is not covered, your dog's current health and your own finances and make an informed decision that is right for you both.