The ABCs of medical insurance for cats and dogs
Veterinary medicine has seen amazing advancements over the past two decades. Unfortunately, finances often stand between a pet and the care they need to ease their pain or even save their life. Medical insurance for cats and dogs helps you get your pet the best veterinary care possible when they're sick or hurt.
This simple guide outlines key factors to consider when deciding whether medical insurance for cats and dogs is the right for you and your pet.
This medical insurance for pets term glossary provides a general overview and description of some of the terms commonly used by pet breeders, veterinarians, and insurers operating in the pet health insurance industry. Each insurer defines certain things quite differently, so we highly recommend that when evaluating different products, you review the exact definition used in the insurance policy itself.
An event that causes an unexpected and unintended injury to a pet.
Actual cost of treatment
The standard fees/costs that your treating veterinarian charges to care for your pet, regardless of whether or not you have pet insurance.
A person who compiles and analyzes data to evaluate the likelihood of your pet getting sick or injured, and how much those conditions usually cost to treat. Actuaries use this information to accurately price premiums.
A popular alternative therapy that can help relieve pain, treat and prevent certain diseases, prevent or ease nausea, and promote overall health. The provider precisely and tactically inserts small needles into your pet’s skin in order to achieve the desired healing effect. The treatment should be provided by, or under the supervision of a registered and certified member of the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society and/or the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture.
Adjuster (or claims adjuster)
A person who evaluates claims submitted by policyholders and determines whether to approve or deny the claim. Adjusters take into consideration as much information as they can in order to make the most accurate decision.
Look for a provider that not only offers comprehensive coverage for illnesses and injuries, but also allows you to pick a deductible that works for you. Raising and lowering your deductible will change the premium accordingly, so you can control how much you pay monthly.
Many times, the age of your pet will influence the cost to insure them. Insuring your pet as a puppy or kitten does have benefits — it is often less expensive and less likely that they have pre-existing conditions. But don’t think that if your pet is middle-aged or older that they can’t be insured; some plans accept new enrollments for dogs and cats as old as 13 years.
Sometimes traditional veterinary medicine doesn’t offer the best option to treat an illness or injury, and a veterinarian will suggest an alternative therapy. These can include procedures like acupuncture, chiropractic, hydrotherapy, naturopathy, and homeopathy.
When a policyholder and their veterinarian disagree with a claim decision, they can appeal the claim. Providers often use a third-party when a denied claim is appealed to make sure they ultimately make an accurate claim decision.
A systematic approach to change your pet’s behavior (including a pet’s reaction to a situation, a person, a thing, an animal, etc.). Behavioral modification should be provided by, or under the supervision of a registered and credentialed Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist.
Offering an attractive benefits package is one of the most effective ways to recruit and retain talented employees, and pet medical insurance is quickly becoming one of the most requested voluntary benefits. Veterinary care is expensive and can be a financial burden for many families. With pet medical insurance, employers can show their employees they care about the health and happiness of their entire family, including their pets.
Some providers set a guideline that outlines the amount they will pay for certain conditions. Companies who use benefit schedules place payout caps for the diagnostic testing and treatment of a predetermined list of eligible conditions.
A condition that can affect both sides of the body (e.g., hip dysplasia and cataracts).
Kennels and catteries are licensed to board and take care of your pet if you travel and can’t take them with you, or are otherwise unable to take care of them for a short period of time. Some pet insurance providers cover boarding costs in case you become hospitalized and unable to care for your pet.
Bone marrow transplant
An aggressive treatment for blood cell cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia. Veterinary oncologists use this treatment to replace damaged bone marrow with healthy stem cells.
Certain breeds are predisposed to costly conditions like luxating patella in Yorkshire Terriers, chronic lower airway disease in Siamese cats, and cancer in Golden Retrievers. The right medical insurance coverage will protect your animal even if they are prone to hereditary or congenital conditions.
A person who intentionally and selectively mates dogs or cats to reproduce puppies and kittens with particular qualities or characteristics. Breeding pets are more prone to conditions related to breeding, whelping, and queening than non-breeding pets. Therefore, these pets require additional medical coverage. If you are a breeder, make sure that your pet medical insurance provider offers comprehensive coverage specific to your needs as a breeder for your studs and queens.
Breeding cats and dogs
Dogs and cats (often purebreds) that intentionally reproduce puppies or kittens for pet owners to adopt. Studs and queens, as well as their offspring, are often recorded in a breed registry that documents their pedigree. Breeding pets can reproduce purebreds like Doberman Pinchers, Poodles, Siamese, and Maine Coons, or crossbreds like Ragdolls, Savannahs, Labradoodles, and Cockapoos. Breeding pets are more prone to certain health conditions associated with reproduction.
Pet medical insurance is quickly becoming one of the most requested voluntary benefits in the workplace, and providing an attractive benefits package is one of the most effective ways to recruit and retain talented employees. Veterinary care is expensive and can be a financial burden for many families. With pet medical insurance, employers can show their employees they care about the health and happiness of their entire family, including their pets.
Often called pet wheelchairs, carts provide hind leg support and easy maneuverability for an immobile pet. Dogs and cats need normal leg strength on their working limbs in order to use a cart.
Many pet insurance providers offer pet owners the ability to test drive their policies without financial obligation. Providers might call their option a certificate program, a free trial, a free look, or free coverage.
An alternative form of therapy that uses spinal manipulation and/or manual therapy to treat spinal problems. Some providers extend coverage for chiropractic treatment as long as it is recommended and performed by a licensed veterinarian who is also a credentialed member of the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association.
A claim is a request from a policyholder for reimbursement for an expense that is eligible for coverage. Each claim should include documentation of the cost of any diagnostic testing and treatment for the claimed condition.
Co-insurance is the amount of a veterinary bill (typically a percentage), aside from any applicable deductible, taxes, or other policy exclusions, that a policyholder is responsible for.
Cold laser therapy
A medical procedure that uses a low-level laser to treat superficial wounds or manage pain.
Colloidal silver treatment
Use of silver atoms suspended in distilled ion-less water intended to kill pathogens of all types, including bacteria, fungal spores, parasites and viruses.
Disease, disorder, sickness, illness, and/or syndrome that is characterized by a loss of normalcy and manifests clinical signs or symptoms.
A disease or physical abnormality present in your pet since birth. Some pet insurance providers consider congenital conditions pre-existing, and therefore will not extend coverage for them.
Each company will offer varying degrees of coverage, and some have coverage schedules and limits. Look for a company that covers the largest portion of your veterinary bill, offers coverage for congenital and hereditary conditions, and has no limits to the amount they will pay out.
Any and all activities that are designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction. More specifically, customer service is the team of people who answer all incoming sales and service calls. The Customer Service team is the heart of any pet insurance provider. They make sure all policyholders have an exceptional customer experience.
A summary of all of the basic information of your policy. This document includes specific information about you and your pet, and your co-insurance, deductible, and enrollment date.
A deductible is the specified amount of money that you pay before your insurance provider will pay a claim. Choose a deductible that fits your budget and pay attention to how they are applied. Deductibles can help you control your premiums while still making sure that you receive coverage before you hit your budget limit. Some deductibles need to be met yearly and some only apply once per condition. Some companies offer adjustable deductibles that allow you to adjust the premium cost that best fits your budget.
Healthy teeth are important for a healthy body. Most pet insurance providers cover endodontic treatment for dental disease or trauma of canine and carnassial teeth. Some cover the annual exams and prophylaxis (even though they are preventive treatments). Pet owners are responsible for following their veterinarian’s dental care suggestions including prophylaxis (scaling, cleaning, and polishing teeth), if recommended.
An intentional crossbred between two different purebreds. Designer dog breeds such as Labradoodles and Puggles are more common than designer cat breeds. Some designer breeds are so popular and that they’re considered a new breed (but are not recognized by the AKC).
Diagnostic tests are used to determine the overall health of a pet. These tests can help detect certain abnormalities, validate the current health of a pet, or evaluate an older pet before health problems arise.
Direct pay to veterinarian
Most often the claims process requires pet owners to pay all veterinary expenses at the time of treatment, file a claim, and then receive a reimbursement check within a few days to a few weeks. However, some pet medical insurance providers work with veterinarians to allow you to pay just your portion — taxes, co-insurance, exam fees, and deductible, if applicable — and will reimburse the veterinarian for the remaining cost of the invoice.
A surgery that is not medically required to treat an illness or injury. Elective procedures include tail docking, ear cropping, declawing, and dew claw removal, which usually aren’t covered by any pet insurance providers.
When your pet needs immediate medical care, take them to a veterinarian immediately. There are emergency animal hospitals open 24/7 in case your normal veterinary hospital is closed. We recommend keeping a list of these emergency animal hospitals handy just in case.
Endodontic treatment is a root canal therapy that veterinarians perform for pets with broken or fractured teeth.
An examination is the preliminary check of your pet’s health, which may be performed routinely or for an illness or injury. Examinations are sometimes referred to as a physical, physical consultation, health cert, consultation, office visit, office call, referral, or recheck. Examination fees are not usually covered by insurance.
The cost your veterinary hospital charges for every type of visit (wellness, injury, and illness). Examination fees are not usually covered by insurance.
Costs that a policy does not provide coverage for (e.g., pre-existing conditions, elective surgeries, taxes, and in some cases, wellness coverage).
No pet medical insurance company currently covers pre-existing conditions, but each company identifies pre-existing conditions differently. Make sure you understand how each company identifies pre-existing conditions, and how they decide if they relate to a future claim. Even if your pet has a pre-existing condition like allergies or chronic ear infections, they still may be a good candidate for insurance if they develop an unrelated condition down the road.
Female dogs and male cats require more expensive veterinary treatment over their lifetime than male dogs and female cats (which is why gender is one of the main factors providers use to price your pet’s premium). Female pets that are intact (not spayed) are more prone to mammary gland tumors, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and complications related to pregnancy. Some breeds, such as Bulldogs, can only give birth with a cesarean section.
Look for a policy that does not lock you into a long-term contract and gives you the freedom to adjust your deductible or premium payments to fit your changing financial needs. You also want a policy that gives you the freedom to go to any veterinarian or specialist you choose.
Just like age and breed, the gender of your pet affects the cost of medical insurance. Female dogs and male cats generally require more veterinary treatment over their lifetime than male dogs and female cats. Pet insurance helps you prepare for unexpected cost of treatment for your pet of either gender.
A pet’s genetics can play a major role in what illnesses they’re prone to. Conditions related to your pet's genes are known as hereditary or congenital conditions. These conditions can be expensive to treat, and some pet insurance providers will not cover them because they consider them pre-existing. When considering a provider, ask if their policy covers hereditary and congenital conditions.
Where you live is a major factor in pricing your premium. The cost of veterinary care varies from place to place, just like the standard cost of living does.
Go to any veterinarian
Your pet is a part of your family and you want them to get the very best veterinary care. That care will come from a veterinarian that you know and trust. Be sure that your pet insurance provider’s policy allows you to visit any veterinarian that you want, not one from a network chosen by the provider. Your ability to choose your own veterinarian allows you to build a relationship with a veterinarian that cares for your pet as much as you do.
Gold seed therapy (gamma knife)
The treatment of cancerous tumors by administering high-intensity cobalt radiation therapy focused on a tumor by targeting gold seeds (small pieces of gold) that have been implanted into the tumor. This allows for highly specific and concentrated radiation at the tumor site.
Guard dogs are used to guard people or places from intruders. Also known as watch or attack dogs, guard dogs are trained to bark loudly upon sensing an intruder to alert their owners of the intruder’s presence and/or scaring away the intruder. They may also be trained to attack and restrain the intruder. Common guard dog breeds include Chow Chows, Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers. There is the risk that guard dogs will become injured during their altercations with intruders. Examples of injuries include toxin ingestion (illegal substances), lacerations, musculoskeletal injuries, and gunshot wounds.
The use of herbs for medicinal purposes. This therapy should be recommended, prescribed, and dispensed under the supervision of a licensed and credentialed veterinarian with training and experience in herbal medicine.
A medical condition that a specific breed of cat or dog is especially prone to, and can be passed down from parent to child. Some pet insurance providers consider hereditary conditions pre-existing and therefore will not cover them.
A congenital condition that results from an improperly formed hip joint. The condition can be very painful, so if you notice your dog limping, hesitating to go up or down stairs, or acting stiff and sore in the hips when they get up, take them to your veterinarian. Hip dysplasia is more common in larger breeds of dogs like Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, and German Shepherds.
When traditional veterinary medicine isn’t the best option to treat an illness or injury, a veterinarian may suggest an alternative therapy such as acupuncture, chiropractic, hydrotherapy, naturopathy, and homeopathy.
A system of healthcare that concentrates on care of the whole animal by methods that are specific, gentle and sympathetic to their needs. Homeopathy uses specially prepared, refined dilutions of natural substances for healing purposes. Homeopathic care must be provided by, or under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian who is a registered and certified member of the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy.
A term intended to include all facility types and/or means that your pet can receive veterinary care from. There are many different terms for veterinary hospital, including, veterinary teaching hospital; veterinary clinic; mobile and/or house call veterinary practice; specialty veterinary hospital; referral veterinary hospital; veterinary care center; and veterinary specialty center.
Hydrotherapy uses water to aid in the healing and/or conditioning of a patient. Hydrotherapy involves a pet swimming or walking on an underwater treadmill for prescribed periods of time in either a pool or tank. Hydrotherapy is used to treat osteoarthritis, orthopedic conditions, neurological conditions, and muscle, ligament, and other soft tissue injuries. Hydrotherapy should be recommended by your veterinarian and provided by, or under the supervision of a qualified professional (e.g., a registered and credentialed member of the Canine Rehabilitation Institute or the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians).
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
A treatment that involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room or chamber.
Sickness, disease, and any changes to a pet’s normal healthy state not caused by an accident (e.g., cancer, ear infection, hyperthyroidism).
Damage or physical harm to a pet’s body as a result of an accident (e.g., wound, abrasion, broken bone).
Protection from the unexpected — coverage, compensation, or payment to offset the damage of an unforeseen loss.
The government department that deals with the rules and regulations concerning insurance. Canada, Puerto Rico, and each individual state in the United States have their own insurance departments.
Insurance fraud unfairly raises costs for all policyholders. Providing false information or submitting claims to your insurance provider that involves false, misleading, and/or dishonest information can be a criminal offense. Most likely, your insurance provider will deny the claim and may void your policy.
The combination of two or more veterinary therapies to treat your pet.
The documentation of services rendered and their associated costs.
Different pet insurance providers apply deductibles differently (per year, per month, per lifetime, per incident). At Trupanion, we have a per incident deductible. Once you meet the deductible for an injury or illness, you won’t have to pay a deductible for any more costs associated with that condition for as long as your pet is insured with us.
Insurance policies can be hard to understand, full of jargon and phrases particular to the insurance trade. When looking at your policy, be sure that you understand everything that is covered, excluded, and expected of you. If you aren’t sure what something means, hopefully this glossary can help, but be sure to reach out to your provider’s Customer Care team to get answers.
Also known as law enforcement dogs, these dogs help police with general patrol, security and protection, and narcotics and explosives detection. Bomb and drug detection teams work to keep our schools, businesses, transit terminals, and other public places safe. These dogs are selectively bred, individually tested, and rigorously trained. German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and Labrador Retrievers are common breeds used for law enforcement. K-9 cops are susceptible to work-related injuries like toxin ingestion (illegal substances), lacerations, musculoskeletal injuries, and gunshot wounds.
A procedure to restore renal function by removing a kidney from a donor pet and transplanting it into the pet with a failing kidney.
Consider purchasing pet insurance for your cat while they are still a young, healthy kitten to avoid developing any pre-existing conditions which would be excluded from your insurance plan. Because of their curious and rambunctious nature, younger pets have the highest frequency of claims. You’ll likely pay a lower monthly premium if you enroll your kitten between the ages of 8 weeks and 1 year.
Law enforcement dog
Also known as k-9 cops, these dogs help police with general patrol, security and protection, and narcotics and explosives detection. Bomb and drug detection teams work to keep our schools, businesses, transit terminals, and other public places safe. These dogs are selectively bred, individually tested, and rigorously trained. German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and Labrador Retrievers are common breeds used for law enforcement. K-9 cops are susceptible to work-related injuries like toxin ingestion (illegal substances), lacerations, musculoskeletal injuries, and gunshot wounds.
Pets can get sick or injured at any time throughout their life, from young puppies and kittens, to older senior pets. As they age, senior dogs and cats can develop more health issues. When choosing a pet medical insurance provider, make sure they provide coverage for the lifetime of your pet. That way you know that no matter what happens, and no matter when it happens, your furry friend is covered.
A limit is the maximum amount an insurance provider will pay on a claim. Limits are used to decrease the financial impact of large claims on insurance providers. Different pet insurance providers have different payout limits. Some offer set limits that they’ll pay per year, which means you will have to cover any costs beyond that limit. This can result in thousands of dollars out of your pocket. Other providers have no limits, which means they will never stop paying for your pet’s care.
Love your pet
You know all dogs and cats deserve lots of love: daily belly rubs, snuggles, and of course, great health care. If your pet gets sick or injured, you want to be able to choose the best veterinary treatment for your pet. This is where medical insurance for your dog or cat comes in. Pet insurance helps you focus your love and attention on your pets and choose the best veterinary treatment options, regardless of cost.
An insurance industry term used to calculate the percentage of premium dollars used to pay policyholder claims.
Male cats often require more expensive veterinary treatment than female cats, which affects premium pricing. Also, male dogs and cats that are not neutered are more prone to develop testicular cancer and prostate diseases.
Long used to treat humans, medical marijuana can be used to treat pets suffering from a number of illnesses, including anxiety and arthritis, without the undesired side effects of other pharmaceutical drugs. The medications are completely legal because they’re made of hemp, so they do not contain enough THC (the principal psychoactive portion of the cannabis plant) to give pets the high that recreational users are after. If this is something that your veterinarian recommends, ask your provider if they will cover marijuana therapy as an herbal therapy.
All pet insurance providers require your pet’s complete medical history/records to process any claim. You normally do not have to supply the records when you first enroll, only when you file your first claim. The provider often request the name of all veterinary hospitals that your pet has ever visited in order to obtain all available medical records for your pet.
Any veterinarian-recommended pharmaceutical drug prescribed by your veterinarian and approved for veterinary use.
There are a lot of important factors to consider when choosing a pet insurance provider like their coverage and price. However a factor that may not be as apparent is the provider’s mission. You want a company that loves animals, is pet-passionate, and cares for the health of your pet as much as you do — a company that wants to help all pets get the best veterinary care possible.
Pet owners are always looking for ways to provide the best quality of care and quality of life for their pets. Mobility devices are a phenomenal option to keep a disabled pet living a happy, healthy life. The cost of these devices can sometimes exceed a family’s budget, so it’s good to ensure that your pet insurance provider offers coverage for these devices. Examples of mobility devices are orthotics, prosthetics, and carts. These devices aid in the wellbeing of your pet by correcting or accommodating your pet’s leg, including stabilizing a neurologically deficient limb, providing support for a weak joint, or preventing the shortening of muscles. A pet can become disabled due to trauma, illness, or old age. Mobility devices can sometimes replace a more traumatic treatment, such as amputation, so it’s important to have all the options available to make the best decision for your dog or cat.
The method of application of a specific therapeutic treatment.
A natural approach to disease treatment that avoids drugs and surgery, and instead uses natural agents (air, water, herbs) and physical means (tissue manipulation, electrotherapy). Naturopathy is a holistic approach founded on the belief that diet, mental state, exercise, breathing, and other natural factors are central to the origin and treatment of disease. Most naturopathic doctors use a variety of therapies and techniques such as nutrition, behavior modification, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and acupuncture.
Sterilization of male pets by the surgical removal of the testicles. Some pet insurance providers do not cover the neuter surgery as it is considered preventive care. Male dogs and cats that are intact (not neutered) are more prone testicular cancer and prostate disease. If you are a breeder, make sure that your pet insurance provider offers comprehensive coverage specific to your needs as a breeder for your studs.
Common signs of aging include lightened or white hair and whiskers, impaired vision and hearing, increased sleeping, and changes in eating habits. These changes are usually normal, but can be the result of something else going on too. When you first notice signs of aging, it’s a good idea to schedule an exam with your veterinarian to help prevent or control any serious diseases or conditions.
These devices are external support structures for your pet’s leg to help reduce pain and maintain comfort. They can be used long-term or for support while an injury heals.
The veterinary care costs for which you are responsible. These costs may include taxes, deductible, co-insurance, and exam fees.
The maximum amount an insurance provider will pay on a claim. Limits are used to decrease the financial impact of large claims on insurance providers. Different pet insurance providers have different payout limits. Some offer set limits that they’ll pay per year, which means you will have to cover any costs beyond that limit. This can result in thousands of dollars out of your pocket. Other providers have no limits, which means they will never stop paying for your pet’s care.
A domestic cat or dog owned for companionship or as a service dog.
Pet owner responsibility
Most pet insurance providers expect you to provide proper care for your pet. It is your responsibility to protect your pet from aggravating an illness or injury. It is also your responsibility to provide proper preventive care, such as scheduling annual exams, getting all veterinarian-recommended vaccinations, following veterinarian dental care recommendations, and administering medication as prescribed by your veterinarian.
Platelet rich plasma injection
Better known as PRP, this non-surgical therapy involves injecting a concentrated mixture of the patient’s own blood to stimulate the healing of bone and soft tissue. Platelet-rich plasma is blood plasma enriched with platelets. As a concentrated source of autologous platelets, PRP contains (and releases through degranulation) several different growth factors and other cytokines that stimulate healing of bone and soft tissue.
The written contract between you (the policyholder) and your insurance provider.
Polyethylene glycol (medication)
More commonly known as PEG, this intravenous medication is used to treat dogs with acute weakness or paralyzed limbs. PEG seals the ruptures in damaged nerve cells and prevents nerve cells from dying. If nerve cell death occurs, more permanent mobility issues or paralysis can follow. Pets treated appropriately with PEG showed significant mobility improvement within a few days to two weeks.
A process done during critical situations when a pet owner is not sure if they can afford the treatment that needs to be performed by the veterinarian. Prior to treatment, you can get a preapproval to determine if diagnostic testing, medical treatment, surgery, or medication is covered by your policy.
No pet insurance company currently covers pre-existing conditions, but each company defines pre-existing conditions differently. Make sure you understand how each company identifies a pre-existing condition and how they may decide if it relates to a future claim. Even if your pet has a pre-existing condition like allergies or chronic ear infections, they still may be a good candidate for insurance if they develop an unrelated condition down the road.
Your premium is the monthly cost you pay every month for pet insurance. Companies price your premium based on factors like your pet’s age at enrollment, where you live, and the breed of your pet.
Routine medical care, also known as wellness, that you and your veterinarian can expect throughout the lifetime of their pet. Preventive care includes spaying/neutering, annual exams, vaccinations, deworming, routine testing, and dental checkups.
A diet formulated to help treat a medical condition. The diet must be prescribed and dispensed by your veterinarian. Therapeutic diets do not include general maintenance diets, puppy or kitten diets, homemade diets, or raw food diets (even if prescribed and dispensed by a veterinarian). Also referred to as a therapeutic diet.
The scaling, cleaning, and polishing of your pet’s teeth.
Used to replace a missing leg or portion of a leg. This device helps your dog or cat to maintain the same level of activity as a pet with all four legs.
Puppies are curious creatures and you might be surprised at how many visits to the veterinarian you make with a young dog. Consider purchasing insurance for your dog while they are still a young, healthy puppy to avoid developing any pre-existing conditions excluded from your insurance plan. Because of their curious and rambunctious nature, younger pets have the highest frequency of claims. You’ll likely pay a lower monthly premium if you enroll your puppy between the ages of 8 weeks and 1 year.
The term that describes a female cat giving birth.
Many pet insurance companies offer free quotes of what your monthly premium would be. Most companies will ask for your pet’s age, breed, gender, and where you live.
Your premium can change, either due to adjustments made by you (e.g., changing your deductible or adding additional coverage riders), or it may change based on outside circumstances, which is usually the changing overall cost of veterinary care. It is always a good idea to check with providers to ensure that they will not raise your rates due to your pet’s aging or on your pet’s individual claims experience.
The use of therapeutic exercises to help pets recover from acute and chronic health conditions resulting from illness, trauma, or surgery. It must be recommended by your veterinarian and provided by or under the supervision of a qualified professional (e.g., a registered and credentialed member of the Canine Rehabilitation Institute and/or the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians). Also known as physical therapy.
The monetary compensation, usually a check, that you receive for covered out-of-pocket costs of approved claims.
Responsible pet ownership
Most pet insurance providers expect you to provide proper care for your pet. It is your responsibility to protect your pet from aggravating an illness or injury and provide proper preventive care, such as scheduling annual exams, getting all veterinarian-recommended vaccinations, following veterinarian dental care recommendations, and administering medication as prescribed by your veterinarian.
A supplement to the coverage offered in the base policy offered for an additional cost.
Look for sample policies on pet insurance providers’ websites to see the terms and conditions of their coverage.
Search and rescue dog
These dogs require extensive training by dedicated handlers to learn how to help with wilderness tracking, natural disasters, mass casualty events, and location of missing people or objects. Typically these dogs work in small teams and can be trained specifically for rubble, water, and avalanche searches. Shepherds, Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers, and Bloodhounds are the most common search and rescue breeds. These dogs are susceptible to work-related injuries like eye irritants, musculoskeletal injuries, and lacerations.
A dog that helps those with disabilities or medical conditions with their day-to-day activities. These dogs provide a valuable and highly-regarded service, and go through rigorous training and evaluation to become certified to help the sight and hearing impaired, as well as people with conditions like epilepsy or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Just like age and breed, the sex of your pet affects the cost of pet insurance. Female dogs and male cats require more veterinary treatment over their lifetime than male dogs and female cats. Medical insurance helps you prepare for unexpected cost of treatment for your pet of either gender.
A place that provides housing for dogs, cats, and other animals in need of a permanent and loving home. They’re often supported completely by charitable donations.
A non-surgical treatment of soft tissue, bone, and joint pain wherein the practitioner sends high-energy mechanical pulses to stimulate healing in the treatment area. Also known as extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT).
A dog trained to pull sleds or sleighs over snow or ice. These sleds are used for hunting, travel, and law enforcement. Sled dogs must have plenty of endurance, strength, and speed, which is why Alaskan Malamutes, Samoyeds, and Siberian Huskies are commonly used as sled dogs. These dogs are susceptible to musculoskeletal injuries due to the nature of their work.
Often an efficient way to provide your pet with nutrients that their diet lacks. Supplements, including nutraceuticals and vitamins, recommended by your veterinarian, may be covered by your insurance policy; be sure to check with your provider.
Sterilization of a female animal by surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus. Pet insurance usually does not cover the spaying procedure. Female dogs and cats that are not spayed (intact) are more prone to mammary gland tumors, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and complications related to pregnancy. Some breeds, such as Bulldogs, can only give birth with a cesarean section.
Stem cell therapy
A medical procedure that helps the body repair, replace, restore and regenerate damaged or diseased tissues. It is used to treat traumatic and degenerative diseases like bowed tendons, ligament injuries, osteoarthritis, and cartilage or boney defects.
Diagnostic tests are used to detect certain abnormalities, validate the current health of a pet, or evaluate an older pet before problems surface.
A diet formulated to help treat a medical condition. The diet must be prescribed and dispensed by your veterinarian. Therapeutic diets do not include general maintenance diets, puppy or kitten diets, homemade diets, or raw food diets (even if prescribed and dispensed by a veterinarian). Also referred to as a prescription diet.
Therapy dog or cat
Dogs and cats trained to provide affection and comfort to people outside their home, such as in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, and areas affected by natural disasters. They are different from service animals because they don’t typically help their owners with day-to-day activities. Any breed can become a therapy dog or cat. The most important characteristic of a therapy pet is its temperament: friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and calm.
While some companies have payout limits, others have unlimited payouts. Limits are used to decrease the financial impact of large claims on insurance providers. Different pet insurance providers have different payout limits. Some offer set limits that they’ll pay per year, which means you will have to cover any costs beyond that limit. This can result in thousands of dollars out of your pocket. Other providers have no limits, which means they will never stop paying for your pet’s care.
A vaccine is a biological preparation that when administered to your pet, can improve their immunity to a particular disease (e.g. rabies, bordatella, distemper).
The administration of an approved commercial vaccine to prevent diseases such as rabies and bordatella in your pet. Follow your veterinarian’s vaccination recommendations to keep your pet healthy and free of preventable diseases.
A person who is formally trained and licensed to give medical care and treatment to your pet.
The physical location or place of business in which a group of veterinarians and support staff provide comprehensive healthcare to animals. Hospitals differentiate themselves from clinics by providing more comprehensive and advanced care, expanded hours, and hosting a variety of animal healthcare specialists and laboratory capabilities.
The specific business of a veterinarian. The practice includes partners, staff, management, technicians, and all other people who contribute to operations in a specific animal clinic or hospital.
Methods used to promote healing in pets that are proven and accepted forms of treatment (e.g., diagnostic tests, surgeries, medications, supplements, therapeutic pet foods, orthotic devices, prosthetic devices, carts, nursing).
A waiting period is the set period of time after you first enroll with a pet insurance provider before your policy coverage is in full effect. Any injuries or illnesses that occur during the waiting period will not be covered by your policy. Waiting periods vary by provider.
Routine medical care, also known as preventive care, that you and your veterinarian can expect throughout the lifetime of your pet. Preventive care includes spaying/neutering, annual exams, vaccinations, routine testing, and dental checkups.
The term to describe a female dog giving birth.
Working pets often provide a great service to their owners and these owners want to protect them as best they can. Unfortunately, some pet insurance providers exclude treatment for injuries and illnesses related to activities performed by some working pets from coverage because of the increased risk working pets have for these conditions. Make sure your provider will cover your working pet if they get sick or injured from working. Working pets include service and therapy dogs and cats; law enforcement dogs; search and rescue dogs; herding, hunting, and sled dogs; guard dogs; and breeding cats and dogs.
Images that can show internal organs, bone, and soft tissue. Veterinarians often use x-rays to examine organs for irregularities, detect diseased teeth, diagnose muscular-skeletal issues such as hip dysplasia or bone fractures, and locate foreign bodies in the digestive system.
Sometimes referred to as a physical, physical consultation, health cert, consultation, office visit, office call, referral, or recheck. Examination fees are not usually covered by insurance.
The written contract between you (the policyholder) and your insurance provider.
Where you live is a major factor in pricing your premium. The cost of veterinary care changes from place to place, just like the standard cost of living does.
A contagious disease caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses, or fungi that can spread from animals to humans. Examples of zoonotic diseases include Lyme disease, rabies, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and West Nile virus. These diseases are particularly dangerous, so make sure your pet has regular veterinary examinations, proper internal and external parasite control treatment, and receives all veterinarian-recommended vaccinations.