Your older dog or cat holds a special place in your heart. Over the years, the two of you have formed a deep bond, and it's hard to imagine life without your beloved best friend by your side.
The good news is that our cats and dogs are living longer, healthier lives, thanks in equal parts to major advances in veterinary medicine and to the loving and dedicated care of pet parents.
The bad news is that the cost of that veterinary care has increased significantly. In fact, one report revealed that the cost of routine and surgical visits rose 73% for felines and 47% for canines between 2001 and 2011. These costs have continued to increase each year, which is probably why pet insurance has been growing in popularity.
As the owner of a more mature dog or cat, you're probably wondering if getting pet insurance makes sense. Your pet is long past the rambunctious youngster stage where it seemed as though they were constantly in danger of injuring themselves. Plus, you're not even sure if pet insurance companies offer coverage for your older pets, especially for a senior dog or cat that you've recently adopted.
Here's what you should know.
Why older pets need insurance
The truth is that insurance is very important for older dogs and cats. As your pets age, they are more likely to develop major medical issues. In fact, approximately 50% of dogs who are 10 years of age and older will develop some form of cancer. As for cats, the number is equally frightening. Approximately one in five cats will develop cancer, with senior felines at a higher risk of getting some form of this disease.
It's not just cancer. The following are some of the other common health issues of older dogs and cats:
The good news is that veterinarians today can use many of the state-of-the-art treatments that were once only available for humans to treat your pet. For example, a veterinarian oncologist might use chemotherapy or stereotactic radiation therapy to fight your pet's cancer.
The bad news is that these treatments can be expensive. For example, it can cost up to $15,000 or more to treat a pet for cancer. It can cost approximately $3,500 or more to treat kidney disease in a cat. Fortunately, if you have older pet insurance, it can help pay for a substantial portion of those bills.
How pet insurance works
Health insurance policies for pets differ slightly from plans for humans. Most, for example, don't cover preventative care, such as annual exams. Instead, they focus on covering your medical bills for any unexpected injuries or illnesses that may befall your pet. If coverage for preventative care is important for you, look for an insurance company that also offers wellness plans for pets.
Shopping for pet insurance for older pets can be a little trickier than looking for a plan for a younger dog or cat. For example, while some companies offer coverage for more mature pets, others have age limit restrictions on their policies.
Because older dogs and cats are more likely to suffer medical issues that are costly to treat — such as diabetes or cancer — insurance policy premiums for older pets will typically be higher than ones for younger animals.
This is why it's important not to be shortsighted. Yes, your monthly premium may be on the high side, but your pet insurance could also save you thousands of dollars one day if your elderly pet should require life-saving medical treatment.
When shopping for insurance, you should compare the annual deductibles of each plan, as well as the percentage of your pet's vet bill that will be reimbursed to you for each claim.
Is pet insurance worth it? You bet.
Our time with them is short - so our pets deserve the best medical treatment possible. That is why pet insurance for old dogs and cats is so important. It gives you the ability to pay for your dog or cat's often staggering health care costs, while also allowing you to choose the best treatment for your pet, rather than just the most affordable option.
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.