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Dog Health Insurance (Do I need Insurance for My Dog?)

dog health insurance

Summary: We receive many questions about if a dog owner should consider dog health insurance. In the past, this has always seemed like a luxury purchase that you shouldn’t worry about. However, with escalating veterinary costs, the times appear to be changing and dog owners really should consider dog health insurance. We review why you really need to consider buying a pet insurance policy for your dog.

Why Consider Dog Health Insurance?

It’s amazing how a dog owner is quick to say they do not need any type of policy to cover their ‘Fido’. And yet, these same owners when faced with a serious medical issue on their same dog, will be quick to tell the Vet, ‘Save my Fido. Whatever it takes.’ It is interesting to note that according to a recent survey more than 75% of pet owners consider their family pets to be a real part of their family and a large percentage of those even involve their pets in family photos, blogs, Facebook sites, and more. A Survey done in May of 1999 by the American Animal Hospital Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges showed though that dog owners do have a limit when it comes to how much they’ll spend on their dog’s health care costs.

The survey found the following fascinating facts about dog owners and dog health insurance:

  • 68% of pet owners agree vet costs are low relative to the pet’s value to them.
  • 43% of pet owners feel vet fees are too high.
  • When their dog’s odds drop to 10% chance of living, they will only pay out $356 for the procedure.
  • If the Vet’s Treatment has a 75% chance of success, dog owner’s are willing to shell out up to $688 (in 1999 dollars) to save their dog.

Changing Times in Dog Health Insurance Needs

Clearly, dog owners don’t anticipate the emotional bond to their dog until the dog’s health is threatened. A noticeable trend in society, is the trend of younger couples delaying children until their 30’s. However, there is an intrinsic need to mother something, so many couples will turn to a dog for companionship. These couples are often dual wage, career-driven workers who have little time for a family, but a dog satisfies this situation perfectly.

Or even the recently retired couple who is adopting a dog for companionship as they have been used to being so busy in their working years, they yearn for something to attach to. In our society, this has become Man’s Best Friend. But a recent twist on this has been the incredible advancement in medical services being offered to extend the life of your pet or minimize its discomforts. With this advancement in veterinarian services has led to an explosion in veterinarian health care costs and growth in companies offering Pet Health Insurance. This is why many individuals are delicately weighing the decision to buy a dog health insurance policy for their dog.

How Much Do Cheap Dog Health Insurance Policies Cost?

Average dog health insurance policies cost anywhere from $2,000-$6,000 over the life of your dog. If you shop diligently, you can find cheap pet insurance policies to very elaborate policies ranging from $30-800/year. Such a large swing in costs, but each policy is designed differently so you must understand what the policy does and does not cover. Many exclude hereditary conditions like hip dysplasia, so be careful when shopping for your dog health insurance policy. If you are the type of individual that would tell your vet, ‘Whatever it takes’ then you should probably look deeper into a pet insurance policy for your dog.

Advancements in medical procedures for dogs include the following now:

  • Kidney Transplants
  • MRI’s
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Hip Replacement
  • Glaucoma Treatments
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Lung Cancer Surgery
  • Prostate Cancer Surgery
  • And many more…

A simple ingestion of a foreign body like a sock into a dog, can run from $1400-1700 depending on if the item is in the dog’s stomach or small intestine. Of overall spending this year by dog owners, 27% of all the costs they will incur will be related to veterinary medicine. Many companies will offer pet care insurance as an additional benefit to their employees. So check with your Human Resource Office before buying your own dog insurance policy.

Where is the Real Benefit of Dog Health Insurance?

Typically, pet insurance for dogs does not save you much in routine medical care and low-cost procedures. The best policies are designed for catastrophic situations. In other words, pet insurance is best designed for unforeseen, high-cost procedures. Making premium payments over the course of your dog’s life can be somewhat comforting, knowing when faced with the living vs. put to sleep option, you’ll be able to do all you can without incurring a massive debt.

When Faced with the Life or Death Pet Decision, What Will You Do?

Some people think that if the cost to save their dog is too high, they will simple decide to put them down. However, what they fail to see is the emotional tug of the moment. The kids are crying and the vet tells you there is a good chance he can save your dog – will you be able to say no and simply have him/her put to sleep? Or will you say that it is only money, so ‘whatever it takes’. And suddenly you are the hero to your children. Again, proper precautions through diligent pet insurance shopping, could pay off in these types of situations.

Before you commit to any pet insurance policy, we’d recommend you consider the following tips in your shopping for pet insurance for your dog:

  • Focus on Catastrophic Type Dog Health Insurance Plans.
  • Check with State Regulators for a list of Licensed Pet Insurers in your State.
  • Evaluate the policy exclusions and coverages closely.
  • Understand the vulnerabilities of your particular dog breed and focus on these elements.
  • Check with your vet to identify possible policies which he/she works with.

Ultimately, you have some control over your dog’s health via proper preventative care, diet/nutrition, and proper medication when necessary. Also, before you consider a major surgery or treatment recommendation from a veterinarian, we always suggest getting a second opinion. Feel free to comment on this article if you’ve had an experience with Pet Insurance for your Dog.