How Much Money Should You Save for Pet Emergency Care?

pet ambulance

Just as you might have a “Rainy Day Fund” to help pay for personal unexpected bills beyond your normal living expenses, setting aside funds for your pet’s emergency care is also critical for the responsible pet parent. You’ll gain peace of mind knowing that you can afford an unexpected emergency pet visit without taking out a loan or overcharging your credit card, both of which can carry high interest rates.

The right amount of money to save for pet emergency care or to authorize in a Limited Pet Power of Attorney as part of your Pet Estate Plan is dependent on your and your pet’s situation. $1,000 is a good start, and based on the cost of an emergency pet care visit, you may wish to reserve in excess of that amount.

How much does an emergency pet care visit cost?

Ideally, your pet emergency care savings covers the highest amount you can expect to pay for an unexpected pet emergency care visit. Similar to pet insurance, this cost will vary depending on the type and size of pet you have, the area in which you live, and the number of veterinarians or emergency care veterinarians available.

The table below provides some general guidelines that you may use as reference. The cost to provide these services at your local pet emergency care center may differ, and therefore you may wish to contact your local pet emergency care center for information on their rates. If your pet has pet insurance covering emergency care, your insurance policy may cover some or all of this amount.

Procedure Cats Small Dogs Large Dogs
Exam / consultation $50-100 $50-100 $50-100
General bloodwork $75 - $250 $75 - $250 $75 - $250
X-Rays $150 - $250 $150 - $250 $150 - $250
Ultrasound $300 - $600 $300 - $600 $300 - $600
Hospitalization $600 - $750 per day $600 - $750 per day $800 - $850 per day
Wound Treatment and Repair $150 - $1500 $150 - $2000 $150 - $2500
Emergency Surgery $1500 - $3000 $1800 - $3000 $2000 - $5000

In addition to the above costs, you may wish to also include an allocation for follow-up appointments, treatments, medications, and other fees that may be necessary after the initial pet emergency care visit.

If you have more than one pet, be sure that your emergency care savings or authorization in the Pet Protection Plan covers all your pets.

Illustrative Example for Calculating an Emergency Pet Care Savings Amount

Morgan lives in Massachusetts and is pet parent to two Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs, Donner and Vixen, neither of which has a pet insurance policy. Both are large dogs who enjoy vigorous exercise and defending their home from the clear and ever-present danger of squirrels. On a few occasions, Donner and Vixen’s enthusiasm has led them to escape Morgan’s fenced-in yard and traverse the neighborhood unsupervised. How much money should Morgan reserve for dog emergency fund?

Since Donner and Vixen are large dogs, Morgan uses the rightmost column ‘Large Dogs’ for forming the basis of her estimates. She plans to cover emergency surgery as the highest amount she expects to pay for an unexpected emergency pet visit. Since veterinary care in Massachusetts tends to be higher than the national average, she targets an emergency surgery allocation of $5,000 with a $500 miscellaneous allocation per dog. Since Morgan does not have pet insurance and will therefore pay out-of-pocket, Morgan plans to save $11,000 in total and authorizes the Pet Guardian in her Limited Pet Power of Attorney to spend up to $5,500 per dog.

How much does treating prolonged pet sickness cost?

The cost of diagnosing and treating a prolonged pet sickness such as cancer would not be considered part of an emergency pet care savings reserve, since such care is not a one-time emergency but rather a permanent or semi-permanent need. Therefore, you would not include an allocation for this amount in your Limited Pet Power of Attorney.

If you want to plan for a prolonged pet sickness outside of your Limited Pet Power of Attorney, you can do so by saving money or purchasing pet insurance that covers the cost of providing this care. If you don’t have pet insurance, plan to spend up to $1,000 for the diagnostics and $2,000 to $10,000 for treatments, which may be surgery, chemotherapy, targeted radiation, or some combination of the three.

Getting Started on Your Pet Emergency Fund

Once you've determined how much you want to save for your pet emergency fund, the only things left are to start saving and to make those funds available.

How to Save For Your Pet Emergency Fund

Separating your pet emergency fund from your day-to-day account activity is a great way to monitor and protect your savings. You don't necessarily need to open a brand new bank account to do this.

You might consider using a personal finance tool like YNAB, Simplifi, CoPilot, or Monarch Money to create a virtual budget for your pet emergency fund directly within your 'master' bank account. Some national and regional banks even have this functionality directly built into their websites. As a third option, there's nothing to say you can't track your savings budgets "low tech" in Microsoft Excel or with good old fashioned pen and paper. As with many things, the best tool is simply the one you are most likely to use consistently.

Making Your Pet Emergency Funds Available for Use

If you're saving your pet emergency fund in a bank, you will personally have access to it whereever you go. But what happens if your pet has an emergency during which you are out of town or otherwise unavailable?

That's where a Limited Pet Power of Attorney comes in handy. A Limited Pet Power of Attorney is a type of Durable Financial Power of Attorney designed specifically for your pet in which you grant a trusted agent limited access to your finances to use exclusively for the care of your pets.

Rather than relying on someone to pay out-of-pocket to get your pet the right care, your agent can draw on the funds you've pre-allocated to get your pet the right care straight away.

You can create a Limited Pet Power of Attorney by modifying your state's short form power of attorney template, or for free through JIC Estates' Pet Estate Plan.

If you're ready to get started, simply click the button below (it really is free).


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