Your loyal pup has stayed by your side for years – maybe more than a decade! Even though you’d rather not think about it, the likelihood of illness or age-related infirmity increases as your dog enters their senior years. You’ll do anything for your steadfast companion – but are you prepared for the cost? 

Consider pet health insurance for your older dog. A pet insurance policy can help you pay for expert medical treatment. One important benefit pet insurance can provide is peace of mind without draining your bank account.

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What insurance do I need for an older dog?

Pet insurance is similar to the health insurance you carry for yourself. With pet health insurance, your senior pet can get the important care they need and you’ll be reimbursed for covered veterinary services. With increased age, your dog is more likely to need some type of medical care, which can be expensive. 

You pay a monthly premium for pet health insurance. After paying the veterinary bills up front, you submit an itemized receipt to the pet insurance company. Once your deductible is met, the pet insurance covers a portion of the remaining cost. When faced with surgeries or ongoing care for a chronic medical condition, pet insurance can help you give your furry friend essential health care without the need to tap into your savings.  Check out our full guide on how pet insurance works.

Does the age of a dog matter for getting insurance?

Your dog’s age is an important factor for determining the cost of your pet insurance. Some insurers will not cover dogs past a certain age limit (often around eight years old). If the insurer does cover older dogs, the monthly premiums will be higher than what you’d pay for a younger dog. That’s because senior pets are more likely to need some type of costly medical care in their later years. Therefore, it may be best to purchase your pet insurance policy when your pet is young. As long as you continue to pay your monthly premiums, your cover will continue even as your senior dog passes the age limit. 

Pre-existing condition coverage

Most pet insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. For this reason, experts often recommend purchasing pet insurance when your dog is young, when they are likely to have no medical conditions which are subject to exclusion. Your pet will then be covered if chronic medical issues surface later throughout their lifetime.

Coverage limits and exclusions for senior-specific conditions

Aging dogs experience physical and behavioral changes. Arthritis, lethargy, hearing loss, diabetes, dental issues, or life-threatening conditions like cancer or liver failure are common conditions in older dogs. Some pet insurance policies do not cover all of these conditions. Make sure you understand what type of medical conditions are excluded if you are purchasing insurance for your senior dog. Some policies place limits on the amount of money they will pay out for certain treatments. 

If your dog is a purebred, be aware of common medical conditions that are associated with that breed. Your pet insurance may not cover these breed-specific conditions, no matter the age of your dog. Read your policy carefully, including the fine print, so you won’t be surprised when you submit a claim.

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Access to specialized senior dog veterinary care

As a responsible pet owner, you have faithfully taken your dog for annual veterinary exams. Over the years, you have probably developed a relationship with your veterinarian and they know your pet well. You can rely on your veterinarian to watch for age-related changes in your pup, and to offer preventative treatment to stave off illness and maintain your dog’s quality of life. 

Most pet insurance companies do not cover annual exams or vaccinations, but these are highly important to your pet’s health, especially as they age. 

What types of insurance are available for senior dogs?

It’s definitely more challenging to find affordable pet insurance for your older dog or older cat. If you didn’t buy pet insurance when your pet was young, you have fewer choices as your furry friend ages. Dog insurance and cat insurance for our older animal friends may be more expensive. Senior pet insurance can include an age limit. Cover levels may vary, but you do have a few options: 

Lifetime pet insurance

Lifetime pet insurance is best purchased when your pet is young, as it pays for both illnesses and injuries for as long as you continue to pay the annual premiums. Lifetime cover is the most expensive type of pet insurance cover, but it can be a bargain over your pet’s lifetime. 

For senior dogs and cats, a lifetime policy with an annual limit per condition may make sense. This sets a cap on the amount of money paid out for a certain condition each year, such as diabetes treatment. Pet insurance companies have different criteria, so review the policy documents to understand how treatment costs are covered.

Time-limited pet insurance

Time-limited pet insurance can work well for younger animals, but may not be the best option for older pets. If your dog is injured in an accident, you’ll have only 12 months of coverage. If your dog has not recovered after 12 months, you’ll need to pick up the cost of treatment if you have time limited insurance.

Maximum benefit pet insurance

Maximum benefit pet cover can be a happy medium for your older dog. Each illness or injury has a lifetime cover, but has a monetary cap on the amount that the policy will pay out. 

Accident-only pet insurance

Accident-only pet insurance cover is the least expensive pet insurance. It covers only treatment costs related to accidents such as broken bones, lacerations, and other traumatic injuries. Even though it is the cheapest option, it may not be suitable for an older dog, because the chronic health conditions common in senior pets are not covered by accident-only policies. 

Check your insurance policy documents to see if your cover includes third-party liability cover. This covers the costs if your dog injures a person or destroys property. Remember, each pet insurance company is different, so understand the benefits your policy includes before signing up.

Tips for maximizing senior dog insurance

Your older dog’s health is a top priority. Pet insurance is important, but regular veterinary care and daily home care provided by you can make a huge difference in your pup’s quality of life.

Regular senior-specific check-ups and screenings

Pet owners should schedule their dog or cat’s visit to the veterinarian at least once a year for health screenings and vaccinations. Senior animal friends should visit the vet twice a year.

Tip: If your older dog or cat has trouble travelling to the vet, ask if your vet can conduct video calls to answer your questions about your senior pet. 

Exercise and nutrition for optimal health

A healthy diet keeps your dog on track and gives them energy to join in daily activities. Take your older dog for short walks a few times a day. Even if they walk slower and cover less distance than they used to, the exercise and mental stimulation of touring the park can keep your pup alert. Plus, it’s good for you too! Check out our full guide on how much exercise a dog needs.

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Make sure your dog gets enough daily exercise with Tractive GPS Dog Tracker & Activity Monitor

Dental care and oral hygiene practices

Many infections begin in the mouth, so practicing good dental hygiene is essential. Your vet will recommend regular teeth cleanings. Add crunchy snacks like celery to your pup’s diet to freshen your dog’s breath.

Management of chronic conditions and medications

If your senior dog has been diagnosed with a chronic condition such as diabetes, joint problems, or dental disease, frequent vet visits can help keep the condition under control. If medication is prescribed, be sure to administer it on the proper schedule. These chronic conditions and medications could be covered by older dog insurance, depending on the type of policy you purchase.

Pet insurance can help you manage the health of your senior dog

Only you can decide if pet insurance is worth it. But as your pet grows old and experiences age-related health problems, pet insurance can give you peace of mind knowing you can take care of your beloved dog, no matter what.