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As you are undoubtedly aware, responsible pet ownership involves not only caring for your pets, but also taking care of yourself. In 2011, Americans spent more than $13 billion on veterinary care and almost the same amount in pet supplies and over-the-counter medications. Keeping your pet healthy ensures she or he is happy, which can help prevent situations that can damage your pet's health and even yours. Unfortunately, there are medical issues that can occur due to having a pet in the home, from allergies to injuries resulting from playing too roughly. Investing in health insurance is a great way to protect yourself from possible risks associated with pet ownership.

Proven to be beneficial to human health in many ways, pet ownership can sometimes have negative effects as well. Minor injuries, such as a scratch from a startled cat, or more serious wounds like dog bites can result from interactions with your pets and other animals in your neighborhood. Obtaining health insurance for your whole household protects you against unexpected financial consequences if your pet accidentally injures you. Injuries like a scratch or ankle that gets sprained during a run around the neighborhood are often treatable at home, but a bite from a dog or other pet may require a trip to the emergency room.

Photo credit: mbfdogsupplies.com
It's always wise to keep in mind that you own an animal, no matter how domesticated she or he may be. When you first bring a pet home, she may be afraid of her new surroundings and bite as a defense mechanism. The same can happen when your pet meets another animal in your home or during a walk. Pet ownership isn't usually dangerous, but taking precautions is smart. As summer temperatures spike, the chance of dehydration, a bad sunburn or heatstroke after an afternoon at the dog park is possible. Have fun with your pet but always keep your health needs in mind. Regardless of your financial situation, you can find an individual or family health insurance policy with the right balance of low premiums and out-of-pocket costs to take care of your needs.

Avoiding liability for pet-related injuries

Photo credit: safaar.com
Although your health insurance will cover you if your pet injures you, it will not cover any claims for people who are not listed on your household's policy. For protection against liability claims if your pet injures someone else, you'll need to include your pet on your homeowner's insurance policy. Therefore, discuss your pet with your insurance agent early in establishing your policy to ensure you get adequate coverage. Be sure as well to amend your policy when a new pet joins your family.

Having the right health insurance can help ensure proper medical care so your whole household remains healthy and happy. Chances are you won't have any issues with your pet, aside from being plagued by stray hair on your clothes and furniture, but it's always a good idea to be prepared for misadventure just in case. Choose an insurance plan that fits into your household budget and enables you to look out for the well-being of your whole household – including your pets.

Cameron Tyler is an animal lover who takes great pride in his pets and protects himself with great health insurance.

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