Those pesky health problems plaguing Poochie represent a rapidly growing market for insurance.
Veterinary Pet Insurance Group, an Anaheim insurer, covers 75,000 dogs and cats--twice the number of two years ago--in 39 states. And there's surely more to come, with the company expecting to get approval to market its policies across the rest of the nation this year.
"As the awareness is building that pet insurance is available, more and more pet owners are taking advantage of it," says Rebecca F. Lewis, vice president of marketing.
The company, founded in 1980 to reduce the number of pets being unnecessarily put to sleep for financial reasons, provides coverage for conditions ranging from ear infections and skin rashes to cancer and heart disease.
Treatment for serious ailments can be costly, with cancer care running $1,000 to $4,000, says Lewis.
The company only covers dogs and cats for now, though it may eventually consider adding birds.
Barbara Marsh covers health care for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-7762 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.