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The term “pet wellness plan” can be confusing. After all, why would your pet need a wellness plan if it’s already feeling well?

Perhaps a better phrase is “preventive care plan.” The whole point is to be proactive and to prevent health problems from happening to your pet in the first place. This approach protects your pet’s quality of life and is usually much less expensive than a reactive approach, where health problems are treated after they occur.

Pet wellness plan vs. pet health insurance

Although these two concepts are easily confused, they are essentially different. Pet health insurance is designed to protect your bank account from unexpected medical expenses, like your pet being hit by a car, or if other unanticipated medical events take place. It generally provides peace of mind that, in the event of a major health problem, you can do what’s best for your pet, and not be constrained by financial limitations.

Pet wellness plans, on the other hand, are typically bundled preventive products and services that your veterinarian may offer for your pet’s particular life stage or, in some cases, for certain chronic diseases. Making matters even more confusing, some pet health insurance companies also offer wellness plans that reimburse you for preventive care expenses.

What’s best for your pet?

While wellness plans can vary by veterinary clinic and insurance company, a typical preventive plan for a puppy or kitten might include all the preventive care that might be expected in the first year, such as regular physical exams, vaccinations, deworming, flea and tick preventives and possibly neuter or spay surgery. In some cases, plans may include unlimited preventive office visits or discounts on emergency or illness visits.

You can also find preventive care plans for adult pets and senior pets that may include screening x-rays and dental cleanings. Some clinics also offer packages for chronic conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease that include regular preventive care that may be needed throughout the year.

Veterinarians typically bundle these products and services at a discount, in exchange for your loyalty to that clinic (the plans are typically exclusive to a specific practice). With wellness plans offered through pet insurance companies, you are usually reimbursed no matter which clinic you go to, but you may pay a premium for this flexibility.

It’s a win/win situation

In either case, wellness plans allow you to spread veterinary expenses into predictable monthly payments so good preventive care is easier to fit into your budget.

Wellness plans usually include regular exams, blood work or other diagnostics that will help your veterinarian detect diseases early, when treatment is often more effective and more affordable. Wellness care helps protect other members of your family too: Preventing internal and external parasites in your pet helps protect family members from zoonotic diseases, those that can be spread from animals to humans.

Of course, true pet wellness goes beyond medical care. As a pet owner, you should also make a plan to give your pet regular exercise, mental stimulation, proper training, and daily human interaction, including those ever-popular belly rubs.

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The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.