Wellness

Do You Need a Pet Wellness Plan? (Vet Answers)

pet wellness plan

Adding a pet to your family can be a wonderful experience. Kitten kisses, puppy snuggles, and everything in between makes having a pet so worth it. But when all is said and done, you want to make sure that you have a plan for covering basic medical care, which typically includes wellness visits with a Veterinarian, vaccinations, spay/neuter, dental care, and parasite control.

Many veterinary practices, private and corporate, offer basic plans for wellness care at affordable monthly rates. What exactly is a wellness plan, you ask? In this post, I will break it all down for you, so that you will know if a wellness plan is right for you and your pet.

What Is A Pet Wellness Plan?

Pet wellness plans offer preventative care and routine tests to make sure that your pet is healthy or on its way to optimum health. Every pet needs basic veterinary care, and wellness plans are designed to spread out the cost of one over an entire year, rather than paying large chunks of money at every visit.

The cost of an annual wellness plan can be almost equal to the amount you would pay at individual visits, but many clinics offer certain discounts on products (like flea and tick control) and goods (like pet food) if you are a wellness plan member.

How Does A Pet Wellness Plan Work?

Once you have decided to purchase a wellness plan, a team member with your veterinary hospital can help you sign up. Many places handle plans a bit differently, so I will explain how the clinic I work for does it.

First, you pay an initial membership fee which covers the plan setup, paperwork, and billing for the plan. Next, you can choose between different plans depending on whether you have a puppy or kitten that you want to be covered by the plan versus an adult dog or cat.

A puppy or kitten plan will usually include unlimited office visits, booster shots, parasite screening, microchip, and a spay or neuter if you elect that procedure for your pet (when they reach the appropriate age).

For an adult pet, a plan will include unlimited office visits, required vaccinations for a year, parasite screening and/or viral tests, with upgrades that you can choose like spay/neuter, labwork, x-rays, and a microchip. 

The cost of the plan is broken up into 12 affordable monthly payments, and you may receive discounts on food and other goods, depending on the clinic.

Be aware that there can be a few caveats, which include:

  1. The pet must be healthy at the time of enrollment.
  2. The wellness plan is nontransferable – meaning that if you decide that your pet does not need it, you cannot transfer it to another pet.
  3. If your pet passes away, there are no refunds. (No one really discusses this part, so as uncomfortable as it may feel, make sure to ask about this when you are signing up.)

All the clinic will need is your information (name, address, phone number, and email, your pet’s information (age, breed, markings), and a form of payment that can be billed monthly.

Below is a sample list of what a wellness plan offers:

Annual physical exams

Vaccinations

Intestinal parasite screening

Dewormer

Microchip

Spay or neuter

Dental care

Grooming like nail trims and baths

*Please note that services offered vary by hospital.

What Is Not Covered with a Wellness Plan?

Wellness plans cover routine and preventative care. These plans do not cover illnesses or injuries with your pet. 

Wellness plans are not Insurance Plans.

One more time:

WELLNESS PLANS ARE NOT INSURANCE PLANS.

This is a common misconception that I hear all the time. Some companies offer pet insurance. For illnesses. And for emergencies. But they are not the same.

Please understand that. 

When Does Coverage for a Wellness Plan Start?

Usually, coverage goes into effect as soon as the first payment is made. There is no waiting period for new plan members before services can be used. Hospitals want you to start using your plan right away! Getting your pet vaccinated and dewormed or whatever else they need should not wait.

Do I Need a Pet Wellness Plan?

That depends on you. If you can pay larger sums of money for routine care a few times a year (depending on if you have a puppy or kitten or an adult pet), then you may not need one. If it helps your wallet to make smaller, affordable payments every month for preventative care that your pet needs, then a wellness plan is right for you. 

Your pet needs routine care either way. It is my sincere belief that getting your pet preventative care like vaccines, parasite control, and exams by a Veterinarian will help your pet stay healthy. So you will have to decide what works best for your budget and go from there.

Let’s look at it this way

Say you have an appointment next week for your kitten to get her shots and to be spayed, which costs around $375 without the wellness plan. But your car breaks down and now you have to use that money for car repairs. You postpone Kitty’s procedure for a few months, and then something else comes up and it is again delayed. 

Nine months later you finally have the money, but now your kitten (now a cat) is in heat and also has a respiratory infection that she would not have if she were vaccinated. 

You pay for a sick visit and medications and have to wait 3 weeks until she is healthy before getting spayed and her vaccinations. 

Two separate visits in one month are now costing you $800.

Whereas if you had a car emergency and were on the wellness plan, you could still have gotten Kitty spayed and vaccinated because you already are paying the monthly fee. Nothing is delayed. Kitty is up to date on her shots, spayed, and purring on your couch. 

Obviously, this scenario won’t apply to everyone, but if you think it could happen to you, I would say strongly consider purchasing a wellness plan.

What is the Difference Between a Pet Wellness Plan and Pet Insurance?

Wellness plans cover preventative care like exams, vaccines, dewormer, etc while pet insurance covers illnesses and emergencies.

What is the Cost of a Wellness Plan?

Cost varies by hospital. But I can give you some idea by telling you what you would pay in my area. I live in an affluent suburb of Tampa, Florida that has several private and corporate veterinary clinics. 

Below is a breakdown of the costs for a basic puppy wellness plan:

  1. Initial Membership Fee – $90
  2. Monthly payment (for 12 months) – $45
  3. Additional discounts (on goods and services) – 5%

This plan would include:

  • Unlimited physical exams
  • Rabies vaccine (1)
  • Distemper/parvo vaccines (4)
  • Lepto vaccines (2)
  • Corona vaccines (2)
  • Bordetella vaccines (2)
  • Lyme vaccines (2)
  • Canine Influenza vaccines (2)
  • Heartworm test
  • Intestinal parasite screen (3)
  • Deworming (2)
  • Spay or neuter surgery < 6 months of age
  • Microchip

Wrapping It Up

Just to recap above, pet wellness plans can help you budget for routine visits. What is offered through different plans varies from clinic to clinic, but they generally cover very basic care that pets need like exams, vaccines, and parasite control. Wellness plans are not equivalent to pet insurance so be sure to think about having a plan in place when and if your pet has an emergency.

If you are still on the fence about this, contact your Vet’s office to see if they offer a wellness plan that works for you. I’m sure you want your pet to live a long and healthy life. This can only be accomplished by routine care and regular wellness exams.

For the love of pets,

Dr. Gina

Related articles:

Check out my blog post on pet health insurance!

Dr. Georgina Ushi is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Doctorate from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. She currently works in the Tampa Bay area, providing compassionate care to dogs and cats. Alongside her clinical work, Dr. Ushi consults for pet well-being brands and writes health articles for her blog, Pet Health Love. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge to educate and inspire fellow pet owners. Dr. Ushi’s professional interests include emergency and critical care, wildlife medicine, nutrition, and hospice and palliative care.

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