Pet Insurance for Dogs: Everything You Need to Know

Find the Cheapest Pet Insurance Quotes in Your Area

Dog insurance can help lower the cost if your dog is sick or injured.

But it doesn't cover everything. Preexisting conditions, preventive treatments and routine care are usually not covered.

A typical plan costs between $30 and $200 per month. Older dogs and larger breeds are more expensive to insure, while puppies and small dogs have cheaper rates.

How does dog insurance work?

Dog insurance policies are typically paid monthly. When you visit the vet, you'll pay the bill up front. Then, you'll request a refund from the insurance company. Depending on the policy, you may also pay a deductible and a percentage of the bill.

There are some common terms you should understand when comparing dog insurance policies.

  • Monthly cost: This is the amount you pay your insurance company each month. It typically ranges from $30 to $200. Your rate will vary based on the insurance company, type of coverage, dog breed, dog's age and other factors.
  • Annual or incident deductible: This is the amount you'll pay before coverage kicks in. It typically ranges from $0 to $1,000. Higher deductibles will get you a lower monthly rate, and vice versa.
  • Reimbursement level: This is the percentage your insurance company will pay toward a vet bill after you pay your deductible. Companies typically cover 50% to 100% of the cost.
  • Annual max: This is the maximum amount your insurance company will pay toward your pet's medical bills each year. It usually ranges from $5,000 to $15,000. Plans with no incident or lifetime maximums are available, but they tend to be very expensive.

Dog insurance costs by coverage limit

Deductible
Reimbursement
Annual max
Monthly rate
$10090%Unlimited$144
$10080%Unlimited$130
$10070%Unlimited$115
$25090%$15,000$79
$25080%$15,000$71
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Find the Cheapest Pet Insurance Quotes in Your Area

When choosing your deductible, reimbursement level and annual max, consider the cost of coverage and the amount you would be able to pay in an emergency.

Lower monthly rates typically mean lower payouts when you make a claim. You'll be responsible for any bills not covered by insurance. But if you have a lot of coverage, your rates might be too expensive. This is especially true if you have an older or larger dog.

Example

Your dog needs a $7,000 operation. Your insurance policy covers 80% of the cost and has a $500 deductible. You'd pay the deductible first and then 20% of the remainder, which is $1,300.

That makes your total cost $1,800, assuming you haven't hit your annual max.

Dog insurance refund for a $7,000 treatment

Deductible
Reimbursement
Annual max
Refund
$10090%Unlimited$6,210
$10080%Unlimited$5,520
$10070%Unlimited$4,830
$25090%$15,000$6,075
$25080%$15,000$5,400
$25070%$15,000$4,725
$50090%$5,000$5,000
$50080%$5,000$5,000
$50070%$5,000$4,550

How much does dog insurance cost?

The cost of dog insurance usually ranges from $30 to $200 per month.

But how much you pay will depend on your dog's breed and age.

All insurance companies charge higher rates for larger breeds and older dogs. This is because large breeds tend to have more issues with their joints, ligaments and bones because of their weight. Older dogs also tend to have medical complications that arise with age.

Dog insurance costs by breed

Dog insurance rates can vary by up to $66 per month depending on breed.

Smaller dogs, like a Yorkshire terrier or shih tzu, are the least expensive to insure. Larger dogs, such as a rottweiler or Great Dane, are the most expensive. Breeds that are prone to health problems, like bulldogs, typically cost more to insure as well.

Breed
Monthly rate
Yorkshire terrier$32
Miniature schnauzer$39
Shih tzu$39
Siberian husky$41
Australian shepherd$46
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Dog insurance costs by age

Older dogs are more expensive to insure because they are more likely to get sick or injured.

Dog insurance for a 14-year-old lab costs nearly four times as much as coverage for a puppy.

How dog insurance rates change as a dog ages
Age
Monthly rate
1$51
2$51
3$52
4$56
5$60
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What does dog insurance cover?

A pet insurance policy will cover many, but not all, medical issues. Policies typically don't cover:

  • Behavior issues
  • Dental disease
  • Genetic conditions
  • Grooming
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Preexisting conditions
  • Preventive care
  • Routine checkups

Pet owners are often surprised when some preexisting conditions aren't covered. This is because of the way some companies define "preexisting."

For example, some plans count "bilateral conditions" as preexisting. So if your dog tears his left ACL before you buy coverage, then you won't be reimbursed if he tears his right ACL.

However, many common conditions are eligible for coverage. That includes some of the most commonly treated illnesses, like allergies, ear infections, cancer and arthritis.

Puppy insurance vs. senior dog insurance

Older dogs typically have more health problems. For that reason, some insurance companies won't let you sign up for coverage after your dog hits a certain age. Insurance is typically much more expensive for older dogs since they're more likely to get sick or hurt. Plus, the most common exclusions tend to be the ones that affect senior dogs, like hip dysplasia and dental disease.

If you're looking to get insurance for an older pet, you should find a company that has a plan specifically for older dogs with few limitations and reasonable rates.

Pet insurance companies will generally begin covering puppies when they reach 8 months old. You'll have to pay for any accident and illness treatments for younger puppies. Once they reach the minimum age for insurance, you can buy a plan at a cheap rate.

Your rates will typically go up as your dog gets older. The good news is that some companies, like Healthy Paws, will cover issues like hip dysplasia if you sign up when your dog is still young.


Is dog insurance worth it?

If your dog is young and healthy with no preexisting conditions, then it's a good idea to get dog insurance.

Rates are much cheaper for younger dogs, and there's a lower risk that an injury or illness will be considered preexisting. That means it's more likely that an expensive procedure or treatment will be covered by insurance.

For older dogs or for those with a history of illness and injury, the rate will likely be $70 per month or more. On top of that, insurance companies may offer less coverage because of those previous illnesses and injuries. However, if your dog does need an expensive, lifesaving treatment that's covered by insurance, then your policy may pay for itself.

The decision about whether to purchase dog insurance is both emotional and financial. Dog owners without insurance will face a tough decision if a dog needs treatment that comes with a large vet bill. If you don't have enough money to pay for a major treatment, then you should get a dog insurance plan.


Methodology

To find the average cost of dog insurance, we collected quotes from 11 top pet insurance companies for a 4-year-old male dog. Rates are based on a $500 deductible, $5,000 annual max and 80% reimbursement level.

To compare rates by coverage limit, breed and age, we gathered quotes from a leading insurance company. The quotes are for a 4-year-old male Labrador retriever covered by a plan with a $250 deductible, 80% reimbursement level and $5,000 annual maximum.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author's opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.