Some people will do anything for their four-legged family members. But when it comes to vet bills, a study by the Associated Press and Petside shows that a majority of owners tap out after spending $500 on their pet’s healthcare. Which begs the question— how much are you willing to pay in order to keep your pet healthy? Beyond this, are you willing to spend money now in order to ensure that your pet’s health is taken care of if problems occur later?Pet Insurance— do you need it? And is it worth your hard-earned money? Doing the legwork for us, Consumers Reports recently analyzed the coverage and premiums from four major pet health insurers: VPI, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, 24PetWatch QuickCare, and Trupanion. According to their results, Trupanion seemed the simplest and most affordable option, with VPI in second place. To read the full results click HERE. In my opinion, the decision is similar to choosing human health insurance— meaning it’s difficult, complex, and varies largely due to your economic and physical situation. My advice?Start a pet savings account…Pet owners with generally healthy animals might consider an alternative to pet insurance, which is simply adding a couple hundred dollars each year to an emergency savings account for pet care.Be a smart shopper…If you’re considering buying pet insurance, go online and download a sample policy from the insurer’s website— read through it keeping an eye out for any limitations, exceptions, and co-payments. Consumer Reports recommends “policies with simple, percentage-based payouts, with no reliance on judgments of what’s ‘reasonable.’ Also, avoid riders for wellness care. If you plan to use the insurance for catastrophic coverage—say, $1,000 and up—go for the highest deductible you can comfortably afford.”Don’t wait until the bottom falls out… With the current state of the economy and many pet owners out of work, the biggest benefit to having pet insurance is that it helps financially strapped pet owners avoid having to choose "economic euthanasia"— letting a beloved animal die because they can’t afford the vet costs. Keep in mind…Consumer Reports says, “Overall, we found that the pet policies we analyzed were not worth the cost for a generally healthy animal.” Also, remember that although it’s impossible to predict your pet’s odds of developing a costly illness, you can do small things to keep them healthy and minimize veterinary costs.Don’t sweat the small stuff…Paying to have your pets spayed or neutered will reduce their risk for a number of costly afflictions, like breast cancer and make them less likely to fight, thereby incurring battle wounds from other animals. In addition, paying for regular check-ups and keeping your pets’ vaccinations current will also diminish your need for insurance.Does your pet have insurance or a savings account?