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Pet Insurance for Older Dogs

Written By
7 min read

Updated - Jul 28th, 2022

From the moment a dog enters your life, they become your best friend and another member of your family. As their pet parent, you would do anything to ensure they’re happy and healthy.

Enrolling your pooch in a pet insurance plan is a great way to help you do just that. And no – it’s not just for puppies!

Just like us humans, dogs face more health issues as they age. This means more vet visits, daily prescriptions, specialty foods, and inevitable worries for pet parents about their health and comfort. By paying you back for eligible vet bills for accidents & illnesses, a good pet insurance plan can help you make crucial decisions about your dog’s health based on the care they need, not what it will cost you. 

While it’s best to enroll your dog in a pet insurance policy while they’re young, it’s still possible to get pet insurance for an older or senior dog. Let’s discuss what to keep in mind when shopping for a pet insurance plan for your older dog, and how to make the best decision for your furry friend.

Is pet insurance more expensive for older dogs?

Pet insurance plan costs vary, but the annual or monthly costs for pet insurance premiums are generally more expensive for older dogs – why?

Older dogs are more prone to health issues than younger dogs, so their vet bills are typically more frequent and expensive. This increases the likelihood that you will file a claim, so your premium would likely be higher.

It’s not unusual for pet parents, especially first-timers, to underestimate the cost of vet bills in their dog’s golden years. To treat more serious health issues, we’re talking possibly hundreds (if not thousands!) of dollars – so, even though a more expensive dog insurance plan may feel frustrating at face value, it’s the extensive coverage that comes with it that ultimately helps many pet parents say “yes” to the life-saving accident and illness care their pet needs.

Do all pet insurance plans cover older dogs?

It’s important to keep in mind that not all dog insurance plans will cover older dogs. Some pet insurance plans either limit or reduce coverage for senior dogs, impose an age limit, or don’t offer coverage at all. For example, pets ages 9 and up are not eligible to enroll in AKC Pet insurance plans for accidents & illnesses. They can only enroll in an accident-only plan. Pumpkin plans don’t have upper age limits for enrollment, or limited coverage options for older pets.

Take the time to look for pet insurance plans with a higher age limit or ideally no upper age limits, like Pumpkin plans.

Some pet insurance plans will cover older dogs but have some caveats to the coverage they offer. Be on the lookout for pet insurance plans that only allow dogs to enroll in their accident-only plans. Some pet insurance plans also limit coverage options based on age, for example excluding coverage for hereditary conditions such as diabetes and hip dysplasia, and breed-specific health conditions like mast cell tumors. 

It’s 100% possible to find affordable pet insurance plans for your older dog to help ensure they receive the best care possible. At Pumpkin, we recognize how crucial veterinary care for accidents & illnesses is for aging pets and seniors, which is why Pumpkin plans don’t have upper age limits for enrollment or limited coverage options for older pets.

If you have more than one senior dog at home, some plans may offer a multi-pet discount. Pumpkin plans offer a 10% multi-pet discount for each additional pet enrolled.

When are dogs considered “senior” or “geriatric”?

“Senior” dogs are generally healthy but are beginning to show signs of aging, whereas “geriatric” dogs are in their golden years towards the end of their lifespan, and may be experiencing multiple health issues. It can be hard to define exactly when our canine family members become senior, because your nine-year-old German Shepherd may have the same amount of energy as a one-year-old Yorkie. The aging process varies for dogs based on different factors, including their size, breed, and environment.

Generally, large dog breeds have shorter lifespans and are considered “senior” much earlier than small or toy breeds. Typical senior dog ages by size are:

  • 6-7 years old for large breeds
  • 8-9 years old for medium breeds
  • 10-12 years old for small breeds

What pet insurance plans are available for older dogs?

It’s important to understand that each pet insurance plan has a unique set of guidelines to determine a pet’s coverage eligibility. The cost and coverage of your pet insurance plan will often depend on your dog’s age, breed, size, and location. It will also depend on your plan type and coverage, including options like the annual deductible, reimbursement rate, and annual limit that you select when you create your plan.

The number one thing you want to understand is: what can pet insurance cover for your dog? Be sure to delve deeper into the plan policies you are considering and get to know your pet insurance coverage for:

  • Accident and illness coverage
  • Vet visit exam fees (important as your vet visits will likely increase for an older dog)
  • Hereditary conditions, like hip dysplasia
  • Chronic conditions, like diabetes or arthritis
  • Breed-specific conditions, like brachycephalic syndrome
  • Diagnostic testing
  • Rx medication, food, and supplements
  • Alternative therapies like physical therapy and hydrotherapy
  • Dental disease
  • End-of-life services like cremation and euthanasia
  • Exclusions for your dog

Unfortunately, if your dog is in the geriatric phase of their life and doesn’t have a pet insurance plan, you will likely be hard-pressed to find a pet insurance plan with sufficient coverage due to the exclusion of pre-existing conditions. Pre-existing conditions are often defined as illnesses or injuries that occur before your pet insurance plan coverage starts or during a waiting period. Chances are that if you have a very old pet, they already have many conditions that will be considered pre-existing.

Do dog insurance plans cover end-of-life services for senior pets?

Losing your dog, or having to face the impossible decision of putting them down, is absolutely heartbreaking. During such a sad time, there are so many things on your mind, and taking care of your dog’s end-of-life services is a very emotional and difficult thing to face. While nothing can fully ease this pain, some pet insurance plans, like Pumpkin plans, do offer coverage for services such as cremation, burial, and euthanasia. It’s one small way your plan can be there for you in those final moments.

Is pet insurance worth it for older dogs?

Though you may run into hurdles with upper age limits and pre-existing conditions, we recommend persevering! Enrolling your adult or older dog in a pet insurance plan can absolutely be worth it. 

While no one wants to think about their older dog getting critically ill, you never want to be put in the impossible position of deciding between life-saving vet care or accepting a stressful financial burden. Pet insurance can help give you peace of mind as you experience the joys and bittersweet moments of their senior years.

How to care for a senior dog

When your senior dog is provided with excellent care, their quality of life improves. Here are some ways you can be proactive and avoid preventable issues as your pet ages:

  • Keep your senior dog active. As dogs age, it’s important that they continue to get plenty of exercise. Dogs that lose their muscle mass develop frailty syndrome that accelerates the aging process. 
  • Maintain their diet. Nutritional needs change as pets get older, so be sure to ask your veterinarian for help determining the healthiest diet for your senior dog. 
  • Make small changes to their environment. A little change can go a long way, like putting down more carpet in your home so your pup is less likely to slip. Orthopedic beds can be easier on their aging joints.

How do I choose the right pet insurance plan for my older dog?

Older dogs bring many joys but also many challenges to our lives. Ultimately, a good pet insurance plan can help alleviate some of the heartache that comes with their health challenges – you don’t have to face them alone. 

When you provide your pup with the best care possible, you can help them live a longer and healthier life – so be sure to choose a plan that is able to cover your older pooch’s unique needs.

Not sure which is the best pet insurance plan for you? Pumpkin plans can provide exceptional coverage for your dog from 8 weeks old until their final years. Compare plans to see for yourself, and ensure your furry friend is protected for many years to come. 


DISCLOSURE

Pumpkin Pet Insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For full terms, visit pumpkin.care/insurancepolicy. Products, discounts, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. (Pumpkin) (NPN#19084749) is a licensed insurance agency, not an insurer. Insurance is underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company (NAIC #21113. Morristown, NJ), a Crum & Forster Company and produced by Pumpkin. Pumpkin receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells. For more details visit pumpkin.care/underwriting-information and pumpkin.care/insurance-licenses.


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