Pet Insurance for Older Dogs: All You Need to Know

Filed in Dog Insurance on June 13, 2020

Text stating 'Pet Insurance for older dogs' with older dog in backgroundDo you want to learn more about pet insurance for older dogs?

Although we hope for the best, older dogs may develop certain health issues later in life.

For example, they can potentially suffer from joint problems, teeth issues, kidney problems, dementia or even cancer.

Many of these issues can be expensive to treat, including having to pay for frequent visits to the vet and for medication.

One way to protect yourself against these unexpected costs is through pet insurance.  

In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about pet insurance for older dogs, including actual quotes obtained.

I may earn a commission if you buy through my links, but I only recommend products that I support and you pay nothing extra.

Common Health Problems In Older Dogs

Collie being examined by veterinarian for health issuesJust like humans, dogs tend to suffer from more health issues as they age. Let’s look at some common health issues that older dogs face. 

Arthritis

Degenerative joint disease (aka osteoarthritis) is the most common form of arthritis that older dogs suffer from in their later years. 

The condition leads to inflamed joints and makes simple tasks such as sitting or getting up painful.  

Veterinarians typically treat arthritis with medications such as gabapentin and carprofen.

They may also suggest fish oil and glucosamine supplements.

Laser therapy is another option for dogs with severe arthritis.

The cost of laser therapy is typically higher in the beginning since your dog will require more frequent sessions.

After the first few sessions, the frequency is typically reduced to about once a month.

In extreme cases, surgery can be performed to treat dogs with osteoarthritis.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease, also called chronic renal failure, can affect older dogs.

In the condition, the kidneys slowly stop functioning properly leading to a build-up of toxins.

According to VCA Hospitals, the type of treatment your dog will receive depends on the severity of his or her condition.

Typically, veterinarians will flush out their kidneys in order to remove toxins.

If this is successful, they will provide treatments to manage the disease such as medications, a special diet, and home fluid therapy.

Cancer

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in dogs.

Just like humans, dogs can develop various types of cancers that have different symptoms.

However, the course of treatment depends on the type of cancer and its stage.

For example, cancer treatments may include such things as surgical removal of tumors, chemotherapy, radiation, or immunotherapy. 

If caught early, the survival rate of pets with cancer is high. 

Loss of Vision

Older dogs can lose their vision due to changes in the eye.

Some causes of vision loss include glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Another common cause of vision loss is cataracts where the lens of the eye becomes clouded. 

Veterinarians can surgically remove cataracts if necessary, but it is not always required if the cataract does not fully obstruct vision.

While costs vary, we found one veterinary clinic charging between $2600-$3800 to remove cataracts in either one or both eyes.

Heart Disease

Dogs become more likely to develop heart disease as they age.

The most common type of heart disease in dogs is valvular disease, which mainly affects small breeds over the age of 5.

With age, the cardiac valves of your dog’s heart become thicker resulting and causes it to leak.

If left untreated, the condition causes congestive heart failure.

Treatment for heart disease often includes medication to help improve heart function.

Diabetes

The chances of your dog developing diabetes are increased as they get older.

Dogs develop diabetes most commonly at age 5 or older, according to Dr. Allison O’Kell, DVM, MS, DACVIM.

Diabetes is a condition in which a dog’s body doesn’t produce sufficient insulin to regulate blood levels. 

Treating diabetes typically involves weight reduction and diet management, administering insulin, and oral hypoglycemics.

About Pre-Existing Conditions

Before we look at pet insurance providers for older dogs, let’s talk about pre-existing conditions because most insurers will not cover them. 

So, what is a pre-existing condition? For most companies, this is any illness or condition your dog has prior to enrolling in one of their insurance plans (or conditions that occur during their waiting period).

For instance, if your dog has arthritis before you enroll, then insurers will not reimburse you for any costs related to arthritis. Your dog’s arthritis medications won’t be covered nor will any treatments such as laser therapy.

Some companies won’t even cover certain costs if your dog has symptoms of a disease prior to your application for insurance, even if that disease is not diagnosed until after enrolling.

It’s also important to note that most companies have a waiting period before you can receive any reimbursement. This period is usually 15 or 30 days. If your dog becomes ill within this time, the illness can be considered a pre-existing condition.

Companies That Provide Pet Insurance for Older Dogs

Person shopping for pet insurance for older dogs on computerNow, let’s get into the companies that provide health insurance for older dogs, along with some quotes on premiums.

One important thing to consider is that your premium with most companies is determined based on the following:

  • dog’s age, breed, sex, and zip code,
  • deductible (amount that you are responsible for before reimbursement begins),
  • reimbursement level (percent of your vet bill that you receive back once hitting your deductible), and
  • annual maximum payout (most you will be reimbursed after you meet your deductible).

1. Embrace Pet Insurance

Embrace Pet Insurance will cover any dog under the age of 15 under their accident and illness plan.

Dogs 15 and older can still be insured, but they are only eligible for accident-only coverage.

Embrace also offers an annual diminishing deductible. Every year that you don’t make a claim, your deductible will be reduced by $50. This applies to every pet on your plan.

There are some waiting periods for coverage to kick in. There is a 2-day wait for accidents, 14-day wait for illnesses and 6-month wait for orthopedic conditions.

If you enroll more than one dog, you will receive a 10% discount on your monthly premium.

While Embrace does not have any lifetime maximum payouts, there is an annual maximum payout.

For the annual maximum payout, you can choose $5,000, $8,000, $10,000, $15,000 or $30,000.

For your annual deductible, you can choose $200, $300, $500, $750 or $1,000.

Additionally, you choose a reimbursement rate of 70%, 80%, or 90%.

Quotes

I own two adult dogs, so decided to get quotes from Embrace Pet Insurance.

Keep in mind I live in a higher cost of living city, so the premium likely would be a lot less in an average city.

For my first dog, he is a 12-year old Toy Poodle. With my chosen $10k annual maximum, $750 annual deductible, and 80% reimbursement rate, they quoted me $90.12/month. If insuring multiple pets, this dropped down to $81.11/month.

For my second dog, she is an 11-year old Maltese. I chose the same $10k annual maximum, $750 annual deductible, and 80% reimbursement rate. They quoted me $84.42/month or $75.98/month if insuring multiple pets.

What’s covered? 

  • Accidents
  • Alternative therapies and rehabilitation (only when related to a covered surgery or illness)
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Breed-specific and genetic conditions
  • Cancer
  • Chronic conditions
  • Dental illnesses
  • Diagnostic testing
  • Emergency veterinary care
  • Exam fees (does not include exam fees for routine care)
  • Hospitalization and surgery
  • Illnesses
  • Prescription medication
  • Prosthetics and mobility devices
  • Specialist care

What isn’t covered?

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Breeding, whelping, and pregnancy
  • Cosmetic procedures (tail docking, ear cropping, dewclaw removal, etc.)
  • DNA testing or cloning
  • Breeding, whelping, and pregnancy
  • Injury or illness resulting from cruelty, neglect, and illegal fighting or racing (organized or professional racing can be covered as long as you let Embrace know about it)
  • Routine veterinary care

2. Healthy Paws

One of the best things about Healthy Paws is that there are no maximum annual or lifetime payouts. On top of that, 99% of the claims are processed within two days. 

You can enroll your dog up to his 14th birthday and there’s no cap on claims payouts. You can choose to see any licensed veterinarian, and you’ll be reimbursed.

While Healthy Paws monthly premiums starts at $20, this can vary greatly on your particular dog and chosen options on your plan.

Depending on your particular state, there may be a one-time admin fee of $25 when you enroll.

Though some pet insurance companies allow you to choose between an annual and per-condition deductible, Healthy Paws only offers an annual deductible.

Your dog will need a full physical by a vet to enroll. If your dog is over 6 years old, you can use one from the last 30 days or within 15 days of enrollment. If under 6 years old, you can use one within the last 6 months.

Quotes

For my 11-year old Maltese, I was quoted a premium of $99.81/month with a 60% reimbursement and $500 deductible. I was told I could only have a 60% reimbursement based on my dog’s age.

Interestingly, I gave them another zip code of a city with a lower cost of living, and they quoted me only $60.35/month, so my zip code is a big factor.

For my 12-year old Toy Poodle, they quoted me a premium of $133.54/month with a 60% reimbursement and $500 deductible.

When switching to the lower cost of living zip code, they quoted me only $79.47/month.

What’s covered? 

  • Accidents
  • Alternative treatment
  • Cancer
  • Diagnostic treatment
  • Emergency care and hospitalization
  • Hereditary, chronic, and congenital conditions
  • Illnesses
  • Prescription medication
  • Specialty care
  • Surgeries
  • X-rays, blood tests, and ultrasounds
  • Dental (only if due to accident or injury)

What isn’t covered?

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Examination fees
  • Grooming
  • Non-FDA approved treatments
  • Pet diets
  • Daycare and boarding
  • Preventative care (dental cleanings, vaccines, parasite treatments and preventatives, spaying and neutering, anal gland expression, etc.)

3. Pets Best

Founded in 2005, Pets Best offers wide coverage, excellent customer service, and quick claim processing. The company doesn’t have an upper age limit for dogs. 

You can manage your dog’s policy and file for claims right from the comfort of your own home via their easy-to-use website.  Annual coverage is from $500 to $10,000. 

The monthly cost of Pets Best insurance will vary depending on your dog’s age and breed, your location, and your plan’s annual deductible, limit, and reimbursement level.

However, Pets Best reports that on average, customers spend $35 to $58 per month on comprehensive accident and illness coverage; meanwhile, accident-only coverage starts at $9 per month.

It’s important to note that rates may increase as your dog ages because older dogs are more prone to health issues.

What’s covered? (All BestBenefit Accident and Illness Plans)

  • Accidents
  • Behavioral conditions
  • Cancer treatment
  • Dental coverage
  • Diagnostics
  • Emergency care, hospitalization, and surgery
  • Euthanasia
  • Hereditary and congenital conditions
  • Illnesses
  • Ongoing and chronic conditions
  • Prescription medications
  • Prosthetic devices and wheelchairs

Coverage included in most accident and illness plans: 

  • Chiropractic and acupuncture treatments
  • Exam fees
  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Prescription medications

What isn’t covered? 

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Elective procedures (tail docking, ear clipping, etc.)
  • Holistic, herbal, and experimental therapies and medications
  • Non-veterinary expenses such as food, special diets, grooming, bathing, and vitamins and supplements
  • Parasites
  • Preventative care (Pets Best offers add-on coverage options for preventative care costs)

4. PetFirst

PetFirst doesn’t discriminate due to age and offers coverage for a variety of situations to help ensure you can afford the best care for your older dog. 

The deductible is $250 for all plans while the annual coverage is from $2000 to $10,000.  PetFirst does not offer any information on the average monthly cost of their insurance, but know that this cost will gradually increase as your dog ages.

With PetFirst, you can go to any veterinarian of your choice. You can insure up to three dogs under the age of 10 under one plan, which is cheaper than insuring them individually.

What’s covered?

  • Accidents, emergency care, and hospitalization
  • Euthanasia
  • Exam fees
  • Holistic care and alternative therapies
  • Illnesses (including chronic and hereditary conditions)
  • Medications
  • Surgeries
  • X-rays, ultrasounds, and diagnostic tests

Covered after six months:

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligaments
  • Cranial Cruciate Ligaments
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
  • Medial Cruciate
  • Posterior Cruciate Ligaments

What isn’t covered?

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Breeding or conditions related to breeding
  • Elective procedures
  • Expression or removal of anal glands; anal sacculitis (inflammation of anal glands)
  • Grooming costs (including medicated bathing)
  • Illness or injury caused by coursing, racing, commercial guarding, or organized pet fighting
  • Organ transplants
  • Parasite treatment and prevention
  • Pet food, supplements, vitamins, and special diets
  • Routine wellness and preventative care (vaccines, microchipping, nail trims, teeth cleaning, spaying and neutering, etc.)
    • However, PetsFirst does offer an add-on plan for this type of care

5. Petplan

Petplan doesn’t deny insurance to older dogs. However, they may offer limited reimbursement for dogs enrolled at the age of 10 or older.

They offer deductibles between $250 to $1000. The monthly cost of Petplan insurance will depend on your dog’s age and breed, your location, and how much coverage you’re looking for. 

Plans range from as low as $10 to over $100 per month. Payout limits will depend on the plan you choose.

Further, you can choose to have an annual deductible or a per-condition deductible.

Lastly, there are no enrollment fees, but there is a 15-day waiting period before Petplan will cover the costs of non-routine vet visits.

What’s covered?

  • Accidents, illnesses, and injuries (including hereditary and chronic conditions)
  • Cancer treatments
  • Diagnostic treatments
  • Holistic therapies
  • Imaging – MRI, CAT scan, ultrasound
  • Non-routine dental treatments
  • Prescription medications
  • Referral and specialist treatment
  • Surgery and rehabilitation
  • Veterinary exam fees

What isn’t covered?

  • Routine and wellness care
  • Preventative care
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Cosmetic procedures
  • Liability coverage

6. Trupanion

Trupanion offers 90% reimbursement and doesn’t turn away older pets below the age of 14.

Their claims process is simple and stress-free and they also offer vet direct pay services. 

The deductibles are between $0 to $1000 on a per-condition basis and there are no annual limits on reimbursement amounts that you receive.

Once you have met the deductible for a condition, you will receive 90% coverage for that condition until your dog passes away or you quit your plan with Trupanion.

You will never have to pay a deductible for that condition ever again. 

Your monthly premium can change, but Trupanion states that they will not raise your rates just because your dog gets older.

Instead, prices fluctuate depending on the cost of veterinary care in your area.

Additionally, Trupanion may also raise or lower rates depending on how frequently advanced veterinary care is used by certain breeds or certain regions.

What’s covered? 

  • Congenital conditions (cataracts, heart disease, liver disease, nervous system issues, etc.)
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Herbal therapy
  • Hereditary conditions (diabetes, elbow and hip dysplasia, thyroid disease, upper respiratory infections, etc.)
  • Hospital stays
  • Medication
  • Prosthetic devices
  • Surgeries
  • Unexpected illnesses and injuries
  • Unidentified issues (vomiting, diarrhea, cough, weight change, etc.)
  • Veterinary supplements (must be prescribed by a vet)

Additional coverage options: 

  • Acupuncture
  • Behavioral modification
  • Boarding fees
  • Chiropractic
  • Cremation or burial (for accidental deaths)
  • Homeopathy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Liability coverage (in case your dog damages someone else’s property)
  • Naturopathy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Reward and advertisement for lost pets

What isn’t covered: 

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Exam fees
  • Sales tax
  • Wellness and preventative care

What To Consider When Shopping for Pet Insurance

Man choosing pet insuranceAs you can see, there are a number of pet insurance providers for older dogs. So, how do you choose the right one for you and your pet? These are the things you should consider:

1. How much coverage do you need annually? 

You may have noticed that some of the companies listed above offer a limited amount of annual coverage, while others were unlimited.

Which would you prefer? While unlimited sounds better, it may not always be budget-friendly.

Unfortunately, we cannot compare prices between each company because monthly premiums are based on your individual situation.

As a result, in order to make these comparisons, you’ll have to get quotes.

Still, the amount of coverage you can receive per year is important to consider.

2. Annual or per-condition deductible? 

Would you prefer an annual or per-condition deductible?

Some companies only offer one or the other, whereas some offer both.

3. Do you want behavioral therapy coverage? 

Some pet insurance companies are willing to reimburse you for the cost of behavioral training.

This type of training addresses serious issues such as aggression or separation anxiety.

Remember, companies will normally not cover these issues if pre-existing.

4. Are you interested in holistic or alternative veterinary care? 

Services like acupuncture or chiropractic are usually considered part of holistic or alternative care.

If you’re interested in this type of care for your dog, then you’ll definitely want to choose an insurance provider that covers alternative medicine.

In Summary

It can be difficult to find pet health insurance for older dogs since they face more medical issues as they age.

Luckily, a few pet insurance providers do offer coverage regardless of your dog’s age, although the premiums may be higher.

We hope that after reading this blog post, you have a better idea of which insurance providers may be able to meet your needs.

We believe that pet health insurance is worth it especially when it comes to older dogs.

Have questions? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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