Should You Sign Up For Dog Insurance?

Like humans, dogs have to see the veterinarian (or should we say dog-tor?) on a regular basis for annual checkups, if they get sick, vaccines, etc. These visits are typically affordable, and many people are aware of the routine costs associated with regular visits prior to bringing a pet into the family. However, for those not sure of the day-to-day costs of owning a dog, check out this article breaking out annual dog ownership costs. 

Unfortunately, what many people overlook when getting a pet is the cost of emergency care, which can add up quickly. 

Taking Dogs To The Emergency Veterinary Clinic 

Even the healthiest dog may get into a situation where they need to see a veterinarian after-hours, whether because they ate a sock, were bitten at the dog park, or have been experiencing diarrhea and it seems to be getting worse over the weekend. In fact, 1 in 3 pets will need emergency treatment in a given year!

Whatever the reason you have to go to the emergency clinic, expenses can quickly add up. While costs vary based on your pet’s need, typically there is an exam fee, followed by whatever tests, pain medications, etc. need to be done to keep your dog healthy — all of which can run upwards of $1,000. 

For example, when PPFC’s very own office dog Mikey had to visit the emergency veterinarian in 2017 after being hit by a car, his bill racked up to nearly $2,000 — which included an exam fee, pain medication, an x-ray, and blood work. Thankfully, Mikey recovered quickly and has yet to need another visit to the emergency room since! However, his owner, Hannah, has always considered how much pet insurance may have helped in that scenario. 

What Is Pet Insurance? 

Pet insurance is very similar to human health insurance in that you pick a plan, pay a monthly amount to keep your coverage active, are responsible for “co-pays” during veterinary visits, and certain activities are fully covered once you’ve met your deductible. 

How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost? 

Prices vary based on your pet’s age, breed, location, etc., as well as what type of plan you choose. Typically, there are three levels of coverage: 

  1. Basic/Accident Only: Covers accidents or if your dog gets sick. 
  2. Comprehensive: Covers tests, X-rays, lab fees, prescriptions, etc. 
  3. Wellness: Covers preventative care, general office visits, etc. 

On average, the monthly premium for a dog is $47 and the average for a cat is $29. However, note that the lower the premiums, the higher your out-of-pocket costs may be. We’d recommend doing a quick Google search for pet insurance plans in your geographic area to get a clear idea of costs. Here’s what we see after searching “Cost of pet insurance in Portland, Oregon.”

Considerations When Debating Pet Insurance 

If you’re wondering whether pet insurance is worth it for your dog or cat, ask yourself the following questions:

Does my pet have any pre-existing conditions? 

Many pet insurance providers will not cover conditions (both specific and broad) that existed prior to signing up for insurance, such as cancer, a previously torn ACL (indicates they may tear the other one), if your dog has ever been given anxiety medicine, etc. Therefore, if the main reason that you’re getting insurance is to help cover the costs of your dog’s expensive condition, do some research to ensure you’re finding a company that will cover the costs. Otherwise, insurance may not be what you’re looking for. 

Do I have enough savings for if something happens to my pet? 

Emergencies happen and can be expensive, so it’s important that you have enough money stored away to cover the costs of helping your pet when needed. If you don’t have enough savings ready to cover a night at the pet emergency clinic, pet insurance may be a good option for you, as you will likely end up paying less in the event of an accident.

Am I willing to accept the alternatives if I cannot cover my dog’s medical expenses? 

Unfortunately for many, pet owners who cannot afford their pet’s care end up having to put their furry loved one up for adoption, borrow from friends/family, or worse, have to euthanize the pet. 

What are the common risks associated with my specific breed? 

Many dogs and cats have conditions associated with their breed— for example, dachshunds are known to develop skeletal issues as they get older, and bengal cats are often diagnosed with cataracts. If you know that your pet is likely to be diagnosed with a condition down the line, it might be smart to sign up for an insurance plan that will cover the costs of that specific condition. Be sure to do research before making any commitments, though, as some insurance companies do not cover breed-specific medical problems that are considered costly to treat.

Am I signing up for insurance in hopes it covers a surgery scheduled in two weeks? 

Note that many pet insurance companies have a period of time before it goes into effect and can range from a few weeks to a month. 

Pet insurance popularity has boomed in recent years, largely due to its ability to save on costs in the long-run for pet owners. In the end, the decision to sign up for pet insurance is totally up to you and should be based on your pet, finances, and comfortability level with emergency costs. We’d recommend connecting with your vet on your pet's health, potential concerns that may happen, and what they’d recommend budgeting for your specific animal's care (both regular and emergency), as your veterinarian knows them best! 

At Portland Pet Food Company, we want the best for your dog’s health — which is why we started our company in the first place. Our meals are perfect for senior dogs who have lost their ability to eat kibble, for dogs with medical conditions that need to be enticed to eat, or for dogs of all ages whose owners want to boost their pet’s overall health. Try our human-grade dog meal variety pack today, and if you like it, subscribe for our dog food toppings and treats. Your pet’s health will thank you!