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Diagnosis: Torn retina, cataracts
Cost: $13,337 | Healthy Paws reimbursed: $9,853
Coverage options:  80 percent reimbursement | $250 deductible

Ryder, a typical English shepherd, is a herder who loves to be outside checking out all the animals that have crossed through the yard and scaring away hawks and buzzards from the sky, said his pet parent Debra. 

“He loves to sit on top of our hill and overlook ‘his domain’ which includes cows, chickens and ducks next door,” she said. “He is a bit serious, he likes to have order to things and doesn’t like new routines, although he’s very friendly with people.” 

Cataracts lead to blindness, surgery 

In 2021, when Ryder was only three years old, he started to develop cataracts, and within six months, he was entirely blind. Debra scheduled him for cataract surgery, but she learned he had one detached retina, and the other eye was also starting to tear.

There was only one veterinarian on the west coast who could do the retinal and cataract surgery, and she was in Pasadena, Calif. Debra and her husband Dan drove from their home near Eugene, Ore. to California for the surgery.

The surgery was intensive, Debra said. The vet and her team spent over four hours repairing both retinas and removing his cataracts. Afterward, he had stitches in his lower eyelids.

The next day, he was re-checked, and the vets adjusted his medication as the pressure in his eyes had built up. Then Debra, Dan and Ryder had to make the two-day journey back to Oregon.

A tough recovery

While the surgery was successful and Ryder regained his sight, the recovery was not easy, especially for an active dog like Ryder.

“They sent us home with about five eye drops that had to go in his eyes at different times of the day, requiring a checklist. He was also on steroids, antibiotics and drugs to keep him quiet as he had to be extremely still. He could not run for eight weeks, so the retinas could heal. He had to wear a cone for five months,” Debra said.

Then there were repeat visits to a local ophthalmic vet for eye pressure checks and medication adjustments. 

How Ryder is doing today

While Ryder’s vision returned quickly, during the long recovery, the eye with the worst damage lost its sight altogether because the optic nerve was too damaged. 

Debra and Dan knew there was a chance he could lose sight in one eye, despite the surgery, but they still considered it a success. She said they put eye drops in the bad eye regularly, and it doesn’t seem to bother him.

Nearly six months after the surgery, Ryder could run and play like before. 

“The difference in his life is amazing – we have eight acres that he runs on, and being able to see is critical. He was also a dog that was not adjusting well to being blind – you could tell he was depressed and then almost overnight was himself and happy again,” Debra said.

How pet insurance helped

Debra purchased a Healthy Paws insurance plan when Ryder was only ten weeks old. She previously had a cattle dog who was getting injured frequently. After the third incident, they decided to get pet insurance. She researched the various companies and settled on Healthy Paws because it has no caps on how much it will pay for covered services.

“I knew I could afford the preventative visits. I wanted major medical that didn’t have upwards limits. The other plans capped out at about $5,000 a year and I knew that anything serious would cost more than that,” she said.

It was a wise decision as just the eye surgery alone was more than $10,000.

“This was not a cheap surgery, and the reimbursement was fast and no hassle. It’s been a journey that we likely could not have taken if we didn’t have Healthy Paws insurance,” she said.

The claim scenarios described here are intended to show the types of situations that may result in claims. These scenarios should not be compared to any other claim. Whether or to what extent a particular loss is covered depends on the facts and circumstances of the loss, the terms and conditions of the policy as issued and applicable law.

Insured persons providing testimonials in this report have not received compensation for their statements.