Can Pet Health Insurance Help You Become a More Financially Responsible Dog Owner?

Cool Dog and Young Man Having Fun in a ParkDid you know that September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month? Neither did we, but apparently that’s the case. Seems like there’s a cause for everything these days, but we at Powell Veterinary Service can certainly get behind this one. Dogs are a big responsibility. Not only are you responsible for their care, feeding and heaps of love, you have a financial responsibility as well.


Before You Fall in Love

Face it. When you gaze into those liquid brown cocker spaniel eyes, it’s too late. You’re committed. You’re a new dog owner. So the time to think things through is before you go looking for a new addition. Consider this: According to the ASPCA, in the first year of ownership a small dog will add $1300 in care, feeding, and veterinary services to your annual expenses and a large dog can add as much as $1800. Most of us can absorb that expense in exchange for a loving companion. It’s the unexpected things (e.g., injury, debilitating illness, cancer) that can create a heavy financial burden or even leave you with the impossible decision of having to choose euthanasia for your furry friend because you can’t afford the treatment. That’s when you wish you’d looked into pet health insurance.


Pet Health Insurance Basics

Pet insurance comes in many different shapes, sizes—and prices. It’s not a one-size-fits-all type of package, but rather one you can customize to fit your needs and budget. For example, the most basic (and inexpensive) insurance plans usually just cover injuries. Unfortunately, illnesses are more common and usually more expensive to treat. The most popular health plans include coverage for injury and illness. These policies account for more than 98% of pet health insurance coverage in the U.S. You can also add coverage for advanced care, such as for genetic conditions or alternative therapies. If you want complete nose to tail coverage, you can add in wellness care, which includes office exams, vaccinations, dental care, spay and neuter surgery, parasite prevention and a significant increase in cost.

According to the average American will spend $41 per month for pet insurance in 2016. Premiums will vary according to reimbursement structure, deductibles, co-pays, and incident and yearly caps. They can also vary according to where you live, the age of your dog and what breed. That’s why it’s important to research insurance companies. Read reviews, get quotes and determine the most economical plan for your circumstances.

If you’re considering purchasing pet insurance, here’s a few things to consider:

  • If you add wellness exams to your plan, do so before your first veterinary visit to get the most value.
  • Most dogs will have some type of health problem after age 7.
  • Insurance premiums for dogs over the age of 7 will be higher, or in some cases, unavailable.
  • If you do not spay or neuter your dog before he or she turns 1, some insurance companies won’t reimburse you for conditions relating to hormones and reproductive organs.
  • Purebred dogs may be somewhat more expensive to insure than mixed breeds because purebreds are more susceptible to hereditary conditions, such as hip dysplasia, heart problems or cancer.

The most important consideration is that pre-existing conditions are never covered. Therefore, if you want insurance coverage for your dog, the earlier you get it, the better.

Americans spend more than $15 billion in veterinary care every year. You can gamble that you won’t contribute significantly to that annual expense, or you can hedge your bets with pet insurance. Only you can decide whether the peace of mind that comes with protecting your finances from a catastrophic veterinary bill (or heartbreaking decision) is worth the price.


Although nothing can fully protect your furry friend from accidental injury or health emergency, maintaining a wellness plan for your pup that includes annual exams, vaccinations, parasite prevention, spaying and neutering and dental care can proactively reduce the likelihood of a devastating illness later in life. Call Powell Veterinary Service at at 970-352-9164 to check your dog’s health records and schedule an appointment to stay on track for a healthy pet.