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8 Things to Consider when Choosing Your Dog’s Insurance

Lisa Belluck  — July 3, 2019

We all love our furry companions, and we want to provide them with the best healthcare possible. However, medical necessities for one dog might be inessential for another dog, and the needs of a specific dog will change over that dog’s lifetime. When researching different insurance plans, it’s a good idea to know exactly what your dog needs covered (and when) in order to avoid paying for unnecessary add-ons. Similarly, it’s important to know which plans include which conditions in order to ensure your pet’s needs are being covered.  

Here are several things to consider when choosing the best insurance for your dog:

Your Dog’s Breed

Different breeds are prone to different medical ailments, and it’s important to ensure your pet insurance covers their future conditions. For instance, German Shepherds are at an increased risk for hip dysplasia, with nearly 20% suffering from the condition during their lifetime. Similarly, Boxers are at an increased risk for cancer, especially lymphoma. Not all plans cover breed-specific conditions, so it’s always important to know your dog’s potential health risks and to check your insurance plan’s fine print. 

Your Dog’s Age

Illness is more common in older dogs, which means they’ll require more medical care. However, some insurance plans have an age cutoff and won’t cover a senior dog, so it’s always worth asking about such restrictions. A geriatric dog, defined as one over 7 or 8 years old, should see a veterinarian twice a year; a puppy requires even more care and needs to see a veterinarian once a month in order to keep up with their vaccinations. Many plans will cover these puppy visits, which can save hundreds or thousands on necessary medical procedures alone. 

Adult dogs also need routine care, including annual visits to ensure their vaccinations are up to date. These visits can also help catch illnesses early, prevent them entirely, or provide treatment plans to help with pain management and longevity. 

Pre-existing Conditions

Most health insurance plans won’t cover pre-existing conditions, or they’ll do so only for an exorbitant fee. Many of these plans also have a waiting period before they’ll provide coverage, and if your pet develops a condition during that time, they won’t pay for it. For this reason, it’s always worthwhile to research plans extensively and buy your insurance early, especially when your dog is young and healthy.

Your Current Vet

If you’ve had your dog for a while, you probably already have a favorite veterinarian who you trust to look out for their health. Establishing such a connection can be beneficial, since your vet will have a more in-depth history of your dog’s personality and health conditions. Unfortunately, not all plans are accepted by all veterinarians; if you want to keep taking Fido to your preferred veterinarian, it’s important to ensure they’re covered by your plan. 

Location

Different locations require different preventative care for your dog. For instance, dogs in hotter conditions may require extensive grooming, which several insurance providers and veterinarians will cover for an added price. Other locations have especially high numbers of mosquitos, which makes heartworm prevention even more important (though it’s always recommended!). And of course, certain vaccination laws vary state by state, as do requirements for specific boarding facilities. 

Price

Insurance prices vary greatly, both in terms of premiums and deductibles. Higher costs are more likely to cover a variety of conditions and situations, but sometimes, this added coverage won’t benefit your dog. Fortunately, you can reduce the overall price of your dog’s insurance plan by turning down unnecessary add-ons and customizing your plan to fit your dog’s needs, specifically. Some plans also offer discounts if you cover multiple dogs, and many veterinarians will offer payment plans. 

What Do All Dogs Need?

Even if your dog is especially healthy, they’ll still require certain medical procedures. For instance, several vaccinations are mandatory or important for all dogs, including rabies and distemper. All dogs also benefit from heartworm preventatives, as well as preventative treatments against fleas and other parasites. Without these preventative treatments, your pet is at an increased risk for developing several costly, potentially fatal conditions. 

Many dogs will benefit from routine grooming and dental care as well, especially if their breed is prone to tooth issues. It’s easy to take care of a dog’s teeth through healthy meals, brushing, and certain chew toys, but an annual cleaning by a veterinarian can prevent periodontal disease, which tends to affect dogs by the time they’re five. 

What Can You do at Home?

Although many procedures provided by veterinarians are necessary, a dog’s care starts at home, and there are several ways you can help prevent more expensive or serious health conditions down the line. Always keep an eye out for odd behaviors in your dog, and keep them away from any poisonous or hazardous chemicals. Brush their teeth regularly, comb their fur, and make sure to feed them high-quality food. If you find an odd lump or strange new behavior, make sure to inform your veterinarian right away, and always follow your veterinarian’s instructions for continued care and medication.

No one wants their dog to be sick or in pain, and it’s important to feel financially secure when providing for your pet’s medical needs. There’s a plan out there for every dog, and by considering your dog’s breed, age, and everything else on this list, you can determine which plan is right for your own dog. Different plans provide different coverage at different prices, and knowing your dog’s health history, risks, and requirements will help you choose the best plan possible.