July 12, 2024
Best Pet Insurance for Dogs

Pet insurance for dogs overview

Pet health insurance can help cover the veterinary costs for unexpected accidents and illnesses. Pet insurance reimburses you on your veterinary bills when your dog gets sick or injured. It can help you afford the best course of treatment for your dog while protecting you against financial setbacks. The right pet insurance policy can give you peace of mind that your dog is taken care of without being a financial burden.

What does pet insurance for dogs typically cost?

Pet owners spend more than $3,000 annually on their pets, according to the pet health insurance company Lemonade. Pet insurance can help to cut back on those out-of-pocket costs.

Average premiums costs range from $20 to $55 a month. The cost for pet health insurance is based primarily on four factors:

  • Your dog’s age
  • Your dog’s breed
  • Your location
  • Your plan’s annual limit, annual deductible, and reimbursement level

The average cost of pet insurance is $45 per month for a dog for an accident and illness policy with $5,000 of annual coverage and $55 per month for an accident and illness policy with unlimited annual coverage. The monthly cost is roughly half this amount for an accident-only policy.

Wellness coverage typically costs $20-$25 per month and is rolled into comprehensive coverage policies. For most pet owners, the cost of a wellness policy is what they would pay out of pocket anyway, so it may not be worth getting a standalone wellness plan.

What is typically covered?

Different pet insurance companies offer different pet coverage options for dogs, so you may have to do some research to find the best pet health insurance for your dog. Depending on the plan, pet insurance policies can cover:


Accident coverage covers injuries and emergencies related to accidents, like torn ligaments, bite wounds, cuts, broken bones, swallowed objects, and toxic ingestions. It can also include a wide variety of services related to accidents, such as X-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds, bloodwork, sutures, medications, hospitalization, and surgery.


Illness coverage reimburses for the costs of major and minor illnesses, such as cancer, arthritis, hypothyroidism, ear infections, digestive problems, and urinary tract infections (UTIs). It can also cover expenses from diagnosing the health condition to the treatments your dog needs to get better.


Prescription medication can help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, or fight off an infection. They can also cover medication to manage chronic conditions, such as thyroid problems. Many plans also cover prescription food and supplements to help your dog with certain health conditions.

Other common coverage services

Other common services a pet insurance plan for dogs can cover are hereditary conditions, congenital conditions, chronic conditions, emergency care, specialty care, alternative treatment, surgeries, wellness policies, and much more. Each pet insurance company will offer different coverage options.

What is not covered?

Even the best pet insurance companies have exclusions, which are things not included in your dog’s coverage. It is important to understand what they are to avoid any surprises. Here are the most common pet insurance exclusions for dogs.

Pre-existing conditions

Any medical condition that a pet has before the policy starts is subject to exclusion. Some pet insurance companies review the past 24 months or a pet’s entire life to establish pre-existing conditions. This also includes hereditary disorders. Some plans do not cover certain breeds due to the fact they are predisposed to certain medical conditions.

Wellness care and preventative diseases

Most plans have a rider that offers preventative care. If not included, however, pet owners will have to pay for routine veterinary care out of pocket. If pets get sick due to pet owners not vaccinating their pets, then treatments will likely not be covered.

Elective procedures

Most policies do not cover cosmetic surgeries or expenses not directly related to veterinary care. This typically covers tail docking, ear cropping, nail trimming, and cosmetic dental restoration for teeth such as veneers and crowns.

Bilateral conditions

A bilateral condition is a condition or disease that affects both sides of the body. If pets have a problem with parts of their knees, hips, and other conditions that can impact both sides of a pet’s body, then they are not covered. Because a pet runs a higher risk of the same condition on the other side of the body, if a pet has a pre-existing instance of a bilateral condition, the other side is typically not covered. Certain policies restrict the condition to just the first year. So if the problems arise after 12 months, then they will be covered.

Pregnancy and/or birth

Pet owners typically have to pay for costs related to pregnancy, breeding, or whelping. 

Injuries that are deliberate or due to neglect

Insurance companies won’t cover deliberate injuries by a pet owner or anyone in the household. Injury and illnesses from fighting, racing, cruelty, or neglect are also not covered.

Waiting period

Most pet insurance policies have a traditional waiting period of two weeks. Some injuries, like bilateral problems, have other specific time periods.

How to choose the right insurance for your dog

There are many different companies offering different pet insurance plans for your dog. As you research them, here are some important things to keep in mind.

Types of coverage

There are three types of pet insurance coverage: accident-only, accident and illness, and wellness coverages. Each level determines the type of care your dog is covered for as well as the cost.

  • Accident-only (AO) policies offer limited coverage. It does not cover most illnesses. It is cheaper than comprehensive coverage and is typically best for emergencies:
    • Accidents such as car accidents
    • Foreign body ingestion (swallowed objects)
    • Lacerations
    • Poisoning
    • Ligament tears
  • Accident and illness (A&I) policies are also known as “comprehensive policies” since they cover accidents plus minor and major illnesses:
    • Accidents
    • Injuries
    • Chronic illnesses (such as cancer, infection, and digestive problems)
    • Infections
    • Diagnostic testing
    • Prescription drugs
    • Emergency care
  • Wellness policies cover routine and preventative care, such as annual check-ups, vaccinations, and teeth cleaning. These policies tend to be riders to A&I policies. If embedded with an A&I policy, they may include:
    • Vaccinations
    • Early screening diagnostics
    • Dental care
    • Consultations for proper nutrition

Pet insurance plan customizations

The cost of a plan will depend on a variety of factors. Different pet insurance companies will offer additional endorsements that you can add to the policy. Here are other ways you can customize your pet insurance plan for your dog.

  • Annual coverage limits Plans typically have an annual limit ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. Some plans offer even higher amounts, including unlimited coverage limits. These policies cost significantly more, however.
  • Reimbursement percentage — Pet owners can customize how much reimbursement they receive for covered veterinary costs. The most common reimbursement amounts range from 70% to 90%. Some insurers will cover up to 100% at a higher premium amount.
  • Annual deductible amounts — Pet owners can choose the annual deductible amounts. They can range from $100 to $1,000. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium amount.
  • Types of illness and accidents Many pet insurance companies allow pet owners to choose certain types of care. Common ones include:
    • Diagnostics: Blood tests, X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and lab work
    • Procedures: Outpatient, specialty and emergency care, hospitalization, and surgery
    • Medication: Injections or prescription meds

When shopping around for the best pet insurance for your dog, you should look at the different costs and coverage. You should choose an insurer that has experience and knows what it is doing when it comes to providing pet insurance. Read reviews and research how long an insurer has been in business. Also research the insurer’s claims process to ensure it is easy to submit a claim. The goal is to find an insurer that offers affordable options that provide the best level of coverage to fit your needs.