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Paying for Pet Care: How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

One of the many purposes of pet insurance is to ease some of the financial anxiety that can come from keeping a beloved pet happy and healthy.

July 9, 2021

When your best friend has four legs, furry paws and a level of loyalty like no other, they deserve nothing but the best in life. But owning a pet usually requires extra-special levels of care. Whether you’re spending quality time with your adopted pandemic pup, or curiosity keeps getting the best of your indoor/outdoor cat, covering the costs of pet care – from routine procedures to major medical expenses and emergencies – is an important part of responsible pet ownership. 

Pet insurance can be a solid way to save money on preventative treatment, unexpected illnesses or accidents, and other costly pet circumstances. Here’s a breakdown of how much pet insurance costs, what it covers and doesn’t cover and specific factors that can affect the cost of pet insurance. 

Common Pet Expenses

With the annual cost of owning a cat ringing in at around $809, and the cost of owning a medium-sized dog being about $894 per year, it’s fair to say that pet expenses can add up pretty fast. Is it worth it? Duh! But here are some common costs you could incur if you own a dog or cat: 

  • $35 to $200 for spaying or neutering. 
  • $45 to $55 for a routine vet checkup. 
  • $70 to $130 for microchipping. 
  • $70 to $400 for teeth cleaning.
  • $285 for dental extractions.
  • Up to $3,700 to repair a fractured or broken bone. 
  • $900 to $3,000 for the ingestion of a foreign body. 
  • Up to $8,000 to treat hip dysplasia, which is especially common in larger breeds of dogs like Labrador retrievers, German shepherds and Saint Bernards.
  • Around $8300 to treat pneumonia or a fever of an unknown origin.
  • Around $10,500 to treat long-term diabetes with medications and bloodwork. 

Types of Pet Insurance Plans

There are several different types of pet insurance plans to choose from, and each one comes with a wide range of coverage options, policies and perks. Your exact coverage will depend on the pet insurance provider you decide to work with, but here are a few of the more common types of pet insurance plans: 

  • Comprehensive pet plans typically cover a wide spectrum of expenses both preventive and emergency-related, from medical fees to vaccinations, accidents, diagnostic testing, surgeries and other special treatments.  
  • Accident and illness plans cover unexpected accidents like a broken bone or bout of poisoning, and common illnesses like kennel cough or canine influenza. These plans might also cover lab tests, surgeries, hospitalization and emergency care if they’re associated with the accident or illness.
  • Accident-only plans tend to be the lowest cost pet insurance plans, only covering accident-related medical expenses, like x-rays, prescription medications, surgeries or emergency care. 
  • Pet wellness plans cover the costs associated with wellness exams and testing, like flea and heartworm prevention. They are often sold as supplemental plans in addition to one of the plans above.  

What’s Covered by Pet Insurance?

One of the many purposes of pet insurance is to ease some of the financial anxiety that can come from keeping a beloved pet happy and healthy. Depending on the type of plan you choose, you should be able to acquire coverage for the following:  

Accidents

Getting your pet the best level of emergency care possible is crucial to their health and quality of life. Pet insurance can cover injuries or accidents like cuts, sprains, broken bones, bite wounds, toxic ingestions, or swallowed objects and the associated cost of special services like MRIs, bloodwork, stitches, hospitalizations, and surgeries. 

Illnesses 

Illness coverage reimburses expenses associated with diagnosing and treating both major and minor illnesses from digestive issues and ear infections to UTIs, hypothyroidism and arthritis.  

Chronic conditions

Diabetes, cancer and other ongoing or chronic conditions can be covered across multiple plan periods, so you don’t have to worry about becoming ineligible for coverage down the line. 

Behavioral issues

When a pet is in distress, certain behavioral issues can become harmful to their day-to-day health (and possibly your home). Pet insurance can cover the costs associated with behavioral issues like fur pulling, destructive chewing or excessive licking. 

Microchipping

If your pet has a tendency to go rogue, finding a pet insurance plan that covers microchipping can help ensure they’re brought back safe and sound. 

Congenital conditions

Some plans cover costs associated with inherited conditions or birth defects like hip dysplasia, heart disease or eye disorders. Others only offer it as an optional add-on. 

Prescription medicines, foods and supplements

From pain relievers to anti-inflammatories and antibiotics, sometimes your pet will require prescription medicines or special dietary supplements to manage acute and chronic conditions. Depending on whether they’re being used to treat a covered condition, pet insurance could take care of the costs. 

Wellness therapies

When your pet’s on the mend, some pet insurance plans cover alternative therapies that help them recoup like rehabilitative therapy, hydrotherapy, laser therapy, chiropractic care and even acupuncture. 

Note: Some homeowners insurance plans might cover liability-related pet claims like inflicting bodily injury on a person outside your household, or property damage your pet inflicts on someone else’s property. It doesn’t, however, cover the cost of keeping your pet healthy. 

What’s NOT Covered by Pet Insurance?

For all the things that are covered by pet health insurance, there are still some policy exclusions that either won’t be covered or require special supplemental coverage: 

  • Cosmetic procedures like ear cropping, claw removal and tail docking. 
  • Preventative care such as vaccinations or flea and tick treatment. 
  • Breeding costs associated with pet pregnancies or breeding. 

How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

Pet insurance typically reimburses a portion of your vet bills based on which coinsurance percentage you choose, and there’s usually an annual cap on how much you can receive, e.g., $10,000 or $15,000. The cost to insure your pet can vary based on your pet’s breed, overall health and other factors (more below), but the average cost of pet insurance breaks down as follows: 

  • Pet insurance cost for a dog
    • $585.40 per year for accident and illness coverage.
    • $194.09 per year for accident-only coverage. 
  • Pet insurance cost for a cat
    • $349.93 per year for accident and illness coverage. 
    • $126.08 for accident-only coverage. 

Other Factors That Affect the Cost of Pet Insurance

Sometimes, despite all the different types of pet insurance plans out there, there are factors that can affect how much your pet insurance costs and what the providers are willing to cover. These considerations include: 

Your pet’s breed

Your pet’s breed plays a significant role in determining how much your pet insurance will cost. Certain dog breeds are prone to inherent illnesses like hip issues or heart conditions that require more vet visits, so the cost to insure them is higher. Cats, on the other hand, are generally cheaper to insure than dogs, as are less-commonly owned creatures like birds, ferrets, rabbits, and reptiles. 

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Your pet’s age

As your good boy or girl gets older, the cost of keeping them healthy could result in higher pet insurance premiums. As their chances of illness increase, so does the cost of covering them with pet insurance. In some cases, pet insurance providers may even decline to cover an animal that’s older than a specific age (like 13 or 14). 

Whether your pet has a chronic or pre-existing health condition

Pet health insurance costs can escalate if your pet has a chronic or pre-existing condition, particularly one that can’t be cured. In some cases, pet insurance companies might decline coverage entirely. 

Where you live

Your pet insurance rates can also depend on how much veterinary care costs in the city or town where you live. 

Making Your Furry Friends a Priority

Remember: Your four-legged friend didn’t get to choose you, it’s you who hand-picked them above all the rest. When you did so (and who can blame you!), you silently agreed to take full responsibility for their happiness, health and full-time care. 

By selecting a pet insurance option that works for both of you, you can keep them at their tail-wagging best without worrying as much about the financial costs. 

For those times when you throw down your credit card to cover the vet tab, Tally can help you get out of debt faster. 

Pet care costs adding to your debt load? Learn how Tally can help you successfully take hold of that debt.