Health Insurance For Dogs
Important Protection!

Health insurance for dogs may not be a topic that crosses every pet owner's mind, but is something you may be considering if you have recently paid your vet a considerable sum for a procedure your pet needed. Ouch!!

The importance of having insurance as a safety net as opposed to dipping into savings is food for thought.

Pets just like humans, are susceptible to illnesses and unexpected health issues as well as accidents at any time. Whether your dog gets injured at the dog park or suddenly comes down with a serious disease that requires ongoing treatment, the cost of veterinary care can quickly add up.

Investing in health insurance for dogs is not just smart financially, it gives pet parents peace of mind knowing they have protected the pet who is counting on them.


If you have the discipline to open up a savings account for your pet's health care and make monthly deposits, you could hedge your bets that your pet won't contract something expensive to fix anytime soon.

But for most pet parents it would take a while to build up enough cash to cover some of the catastrophic illnesses that can affect any dog - maybe your dog!

The big fear of course is cancer which would likely cost thousands in treatment. It's been reported that 47% of dogs will get cancer in their lifetime.

Did you ever think about taking out insurance before your dog got sick? Probably if you're like most of us, you didn't.

The Benefits of Health Insurance For Dogs

  • Peace of mind knowing both accidents and illnesses can be covered.
  • Managing the costs of long term treatments.
  • Insurance helps cover diagnostic testing, surgeries, hospitalization, prescriptions and the unexpected emergencies that will occur during a dog's lifetime.
  • 1 in 3 pets visit the emergency room each year according to industry statistics.
  • Health insurance for dogs is a good alternative to saving for a rainy day - would you really put the money aside? What if your pet needed expensive treatment next week, would you have enough saved?
  • Relieves you of heartbreaking decisions about cost of treatment when you pet has a life threatening condition!
  • Takes away the worry of unanticipated emergency vet visits.
  • 1000's of illnesses eligible, plus emergency treatments, depending on the plan you select.
  • And think about this one - dog and puppy insurance is cheaper than a veterinary loan.
  • It's not just for older dogs. Start while they are puppies - young pets are less coordinated and prone to accidents.
  • Consider what some of the typical health insurance for dogs covers: surgeries, cancer, genetic conditions, accidents, eye problems, ear infections, skin allergies, MRIs, CAT scans, blood work, and much more.


small tan colored dog lying down on a white bed pillow

Why "You" and "Rover" Need Insurance

It's hard to imagine that your pet will ever develop a life threatening illness when you have always taken good care of him.

When it does happen, the cost of treatment can be devastating to our budget. While the first concern is getting the help he deserves, the cost of treatment can present a difficult economic decision.

In some cases, a family may be forced to make the "unimaginable" choice of parting with their best friend. But it does happen!

Pet insurance may save you from ever having to make this choice in a crisis.

Health insurance, is a lifeline Rover doesn't want you to be without.


The Cost of Health Insurance For Dogs

For many dog parents, pet insurance is more important than the cost. That being said, some people don't think about this when they bring their first pet home.

When you have a new puppy, it's hard to imagine him or her being affected with a serious disease, that will need ongoing visits to the vet. But pet illnesses can show up at any age and the vet bills add up quickly.

Purchasing dog health insurance from a pet's very young age has its advantages. Mainly, it generally costs less the younger the pet, so start looking for a plan while your dog is still a puppy or as early as you possibly can.

While older dogs are still insurable, the issue of pre-existing conditions would probably come up and may have an affect on premiums.

This would usually not be the case with very young pups.

We all want our dogs to be vibrant and healthy - right? Having pet insurance from the beginning can make it a lot easier to keep up with your dog's preventative health care. And it will also make critical care decisions easier if finances are not a major concern.

The annual insurance premium to cover a dog for both accident and illness averages $640.04
compared with $387.01 annually for cats according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) in 2022.

Accident & Illness benefits typically mean; accident benefits plus illnesses such as cancer, infections, digestive problems, etc.

However, there are several factors that can swing this range to higher numbers. Those factors include the age, breed and health condition of your dog, where you live and what level of coverage you are seeking.

As you may realize, it's not possible to give you an absolute amount you will pay for your dog's health insurance. But you can easily get a quote from several insurers by using their online quote forms, which I recommend you do as part of your research.


Companies Offering Health Insurance for Dogs

While I can't provide real-time data, the following is a list of some major pet insurance companies along with brief descriptions of their offerings. Keep in mind that the policy coverage and options may vary depending on factors such as health and age of pet, breed, location, pre-existing conditions, and customer reviews. Here's a list of ten pet insurance companies:

  • Healthy Paws: Offers comprehensive coverage for accidents, illnesses, hereditary conditions, and alternative therapies. Fast claims processing and high customer satisfaction ratings.
  • Trupanion: Provides coverage for accidents, illnesses, surgeries, medications, and diagnostic tests. Offers a lifetime, per-condition deductible structure. A unique feature is that they will cover pets from birth.
  • Embrace Pet Insurance: Offers customizable plans with coverage for accidents, illnesses, genetic conditions, and optional wellness care. Wide variety of options for coverage, reimbursement and deductible. Provides a diminishing deductible feature for every year without a claim.
  • Petplan: Provides coverage for accidents, illnesses, dental care, prescription medications, and chronic conditions. Offers customizable plans with options for deductibles and coverage limits.
  • Spot Pet Insurance: Offers comprehensive plans covering accidents, illnesses, wellness care, and hereditary conditions. Gives you annual coverage choices and lots of ways to adjust your benefits levels so that you can fit pet insurance into your budget.
  • ASPCA Pet Health Insurance: Offers customizable plans with coverage for accidents, illnesses, hereditary conditions, and behavioral issues. Provides a 10% discount for multiple pets.
  • Odie Pet Insurance: Offers customizable plans to suit your pet's health goals and budget. They offers an annual deductible and pricing considered to be very competitive when compared to other companies. Also, there are no age limits, with coverage available at early as seven weeks old. Odie has Televets available, included in their plans, to answer questions that may save you a trip to your vet's office
  • Pets Best: Provides coverage for accidents, illnesses, surgeries, prescription medications, and alternative therapies. Wide range of deductible choices. Strict about pre-existing conditions. Offers a 24/7 Pet Helpline for veterinary advice.
  • Figo Pet Insurance: Offers three customizable plans with coverage for accidents, illnesses, vet exam fees, and emergency care. Provides a 24/7 virtual vet option for consultations.
  • PetFirst Pet Insurance: Offers comprehensive plans with coverage for accidents, illnesses, hereditary conditions, and behavioral therapy. Provides a quick claim process with direct deposit reimbursement.

Remember to thoroughly research each company, compare their offerings, read customer reviews, and consider your pet's specific needs before choosing a pet insurance provider.

Additionally, consult with your veterinarian, who knows your pet's health very well, to get his/her opinion about the best coverage options for your furry friend.


Health Insurance Variables

Age of your dog:

Something to keep in mind as you look for a policy, is that some companies have age limits, but most will insure pets starting at eight weeks on up to thirteen years. However, if your pet is already considered a senior, check out this to make sure your pet can get coverage.

The best time to look into health insurance for dogs is while they are under a year old because the premiums will be lower.  Also, a younger dog probably hasn't yet developed any health issues. Something to bear in mind, is that everything goes up including insurance premiums, so  starting with a lower premium should save you money over a lifetime.

That's not to say that you shouldn't insure an older pet. especially if he is in relatively good health.

Breed of your dog:

Most dogs have one or more health issues related to their breed. Before you start looking for the best dog insurance policy, look into the hereditary and congenital health issues that are associated with your dog's breed.  You'll want to make sure these conditions are not excluded by the companies you preview. 

You can check the health profile of your dog breed on this website, or you can ask your vet. If you have a mixed breed dog, you can find out about their potential health concerns through the Embark Breed and Health Kit.

Waiting Periods:

All policies have waiting periods before insurance coverage takes effect, but the wait times can differ depending on the health issues.  For example, accidents may be 2-5 days, whereas an illness or disease could be 14 to 15 days.  Some joint problems may not be covered the first year.

All pet insurance companies use these waiting periods to identify pre-existing conditions.

Reimbursement:

The average co-pay of a vet's bill is 20%, but it could be in the range of 10%-30%, with the pet insurance company reimbursing you for the remainder. However, you’ll still need to have to pay the entire bill in the meantime - which could be a considerable amount.

If this presents a problem, some pet insurance companies will also pay your vet directly which can be important if finances are tight. You may have to dig deep in the claim payment terms to find a company with this option, but if you do, be sure check that your vet agrees with waiting to be paid.

Policies have pay out limits - either annual, per incident, unlimited or lifetime. This is one area to look at closely, along with selecting deductibles, as they have a significant impact on the premium you'll pay.

Health Insurance Coverage:

Most pet health insurance companies will provide online quotes with no obligation, so it's a good idea to get a number of them so you can compare pricing and coverage.  Before you start, evaluate your dog's needs for the present and future so you'll know what to coverage look for.

You'll also want to decide how much you can spend on monthly premiums. This is important because it involves thinking about the deductibles, co-pays and payout limits that vary a lot between policies.

That said, comprehensive pet insurance plans with higher monthly premiums will cost more but generally have better coverage overall.

After some research, Spot, Trupanion, and Embrace seem to have some of the most comprehensive insurance policies.


Thinking About Self-Insuring Your Pet?

Some pet parents like to pay-as-they-go or hedge their bets and put money aside each month for their veterinary expenses instead of taking out health insurance for dogs. Some banks and credit unions even offer pet accounts with a few added benefits such as better interest rates or other perks.

You may even be considering this approach and I think there's a lot to be said for it to cover out-of-pocket expenses typically not covered by insurance, but there are some downsides that could use up savings pretty quickly. 

So before you go down that road, following is a list of common canine health issues and the veterinary charges associated with their treatment - bearing in mind that these could be on going costs as opposed to a one-off. 

After reviewing these vet bills, you may decide on a hybrid solution: an insurance policy, plus a savings account!  Good choice.

COMMON TREATMENTS

For example, consider some of these common treatments and their related costs, which will help you calculate a starting point for funding a savings account:

  • Spay/neutering $160-$2203
  • Teeth Cleaning $707
  • Cancer Treatment $4,000
  • Diabetes $1,600-$2,900
  • Vision Care $220-$320
  • Heart Murmur $1,140
  • Bladder/Urinary Tract Infection $1,053
  • $1,053 Kidney Disease $1,318
  • Dental Disease/Periodontitis $768
  • Hernia Surgery $700-$2,500
  • Tumor Removal $300-$1,600
  • Femoral Head Ostectomy Surgery (FHO) $1,200-$2,500
  • Stomach Foreign Object $2,900-$3,265

(Data by CareCredit.com)

Bear in mind, that some of these are chronic conditions requiring ongoing treatment such as cancer, which could easily escalate to $10,000 or more.  Or, your pet might have a tragic accident requiring expensive emergency surgery.


 

    CHRONIC CONDITIONS 

    Here are some of the chronic conditions, that typically require frequent trips to the vet for  monitoring and updating tests:

  • Arthritis/degenerative joint disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Allergic skin disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Cushings disease
  • Periodontal disease
  • Obesity
  • Orthopedic injuries
  • Skin masses
  • Seizures

Here are some more estimates from carecredit.com for cancer treatments:

  • Chemotherapy... $6,000 - $10,000
  • Radiation... $5,000 - $7,000
  • Surgery... $2,500 - $6,000
  • Bone marrow transplants... $15,000

From personal experience, I recently paid around $1,600 to have five foxtails removed from my dog's paw. It did include taking out a couple of teeth while he was still under the anesthetic.

It can be shocking how minor symptoms can cost a lot to even diagnose an issue. That's before treatment begins!


No matter how much spoiling you give your dog in the form of toys, treats, fancy beds, apparel etc., nothing will be more important than giving your pet the gift of good health. When the family's best friend is out of sorts, whether it is a problem related to his ears, stomach, bladder, or even his eyes, everyone is worried.

At times like these, we don't want to have to think about the cost of going to the vet to find out what is wrong with Rover.  We just want to make him better quickly!

Sometimes we may find a home remedy we can try, but many other times the vet's professional advice is needed save your dog's life.

Our pets give us unconditional loyalty and love... and we owe them the same!  It is almost impossible to think that we would have to decline a life-saving treatment for our beloved dog, because of cost!

Your pet is worth whatever time it takes to scope out the best health insurance for dogs that will meet his needs.


small dog with vet taking notes

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