Pet Insurance

At What Age Can Your Pet Get Pet Insurance?

By Odie Blog Editors on March 1, 2021

Pets of any age get into things they shouldn’t and sometimes injure themselves while playing. With veterinary medical costs being so high, it can be difficult to pay for all the routine wellness exams and emergency visits out of pocket. Pet insurance is available to help you manage these healthcare costs for your cats and dogs.

No matter how old your pet is, there are benefits to enrolling him in a pet insurance policy. Preventative care for young pets can detect any health issues early on, and supportive care can help pets age gracefully. In this blog post, we’ll discuss when you should enroll your pet in pet insurance.

How Old is Your Pet?

Knowing how old your pet is can help you care for him to the best of your abilities. It can help you choose the proper food and help you decide what kind of preventative care may be best. If your pet’s age seems like a mystery because you adopted him, the good news is that there are a few different ways you can estimate the age of your furry friend. To determine your pet’s age, look closely at these areas:

Teeth

The stage of growth and cleanliness of your pet’s teeth could help you determine the age. Puppies between four and eight weeks old have thin, sharp teeth. Permanent teeth come in around three or four months old. Plaque and stains show up after one year, and dogs around three years old will have slightly yellow teeth. At the age of five years, dogs’ teeth are often worn down and contain lots of tartar. Dogs older than 10 may experience loose, cracked, or broken teeth. According to PetMD, a kitten’s teeth come in around two weeks old and finish coming in at eight weeks old. A cat’s adult teeth come in when they’re around four months and stop around seven months old. Just like with a dog, older cats will have more tartar buildup and may have inflammation of the gums.

Coat

Both dogs and cats experience changes in their coats. Just like humans, as a dog or cat ages, his furry coat begins to turn gray. Of course, when exactly this change in color happens depends on the dog or cat’s breed as well as his environmental conditions. Cats will also have a change in grooming habits as they age. They’ll care for their coats less than when they were younger due to dental issues, weight gain, or arthritis. While a change in your dog’s or cat’s coat won’t determine an exact birth date, it may help you know if you own a mature pet.

Eyes

One way to determine if your pet is middle aged or a senior is by looking at his eyes. Around 6-8 years old for dogs and 6-7 years old for cats, most pets develop a cloudiness in their lenses. Cats may also experience iris atrophy (which is when the pupil doesn’t get as small as it used to) when they reach their senior years.

Ears

Have you ever opened a bag of popcorn while your dog was in the other room but within a few short seconds he was suddenly right at your side? Younger pets have sharp hearing and often pick up on the crinkle of their favorite treat bag, even when they’re in the other room. Older pets, on the other hand, begin to lose their hearing. If you notice that your furry friend takes longer to respond to you or doesn’t hear you open the front door, this could be a sign that he’s lived a good, long life. (If your pet is showing signs of hearing loss, please take him to the vet and have everything checked out. While it’s a common indicator of age, it could also be a sign of some other problem.)

Muscles

While puppies and kittens are adorable fur balls with very little muscle tone, middle-aged pets have visible muscles and older pets have decreased muscle tone. You may also notice in an older dog that he is less likely to want to jump, climb stairs, or run.

At What Age Are Pets Considered Senior?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, small dogs are generally considered “senior” at 7 years old while large dog breeds are given this label when they are 5 or 6 years of age. Similarly, the qualification for a “senior cat” depends on the breed. PetMD states that a cat is typically classified as a senior between the ages of 7 and 10. Knowing if your pet is a senior can help you determine the care he needs and the insurance coverage he’s eligible for.

When Should You Get Pet Insurance?

While there are several factors that go into deciding the best pet insurance for your furbaby, there is only one time that’s the best time to purchase insurance: as soon as possible.

Get Insurance as Soon as You Get Your Pet

As soon as you bring home your new pet (after cuddling him and enjoying his first moments in a new home, of course), you should enroll in pet insurance. This insurance is a necessity for pet owners. It protects your bank account and ensures you’ll be able to get the medical treatment your pet needs when an injury or illness arises. You don’t want to wait until an accident happens to start considering how you can afford a vet bill. If something happens, you want to be able to make a quick decision without worrying about your bank account.

Insurance Works Better for Younger Pets

Younger pets are more likely to get into accidents or become sick from such things as eating socks or vermin or getting bit by bugs. This means owners of young pets are more likely to make an insurance claim. Because of the number of individual vet bills you may experience during your furry friend’s life, it’s a good idea to have pet insurance while your dog or cat is still young. Additionally, pet insurance providers often don’t cover pre-existing conditions, so it’s best to enroll your pet in an insurance plan before they develop health issues.

Cost of coverage is another factor to consider when deciding the best time to enroll in pet insurance. Senior pets are usually more expensive to insure because they get sick or injured more often than a younger pet. The monthly premiums could cost more than double for senior pets. Younger dogs and cats require lower monthly premiums and often don’t have pre-existing conditions that won’t be covered when you enroll for insurance. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to purchase insurance for your pet while he’s still young.

Think About Pre-Existing Conditions

As we mentioned earlier, your pet’s pre-existing conditions are often not covered by insurance providers. It’s important to consider how these conditions will affect the insurance you can get.

What is a Pre-Existing Condition?

A pre-existing condition is any illness or injury that your pet has before the policy waiting period is over. Even if the health problem was never diagnosed by a vet, insurance providers will not cover the condition. As soon as your pet begins to show symptoms of an illness or injury or appears unwell, your insurer will mark this as pre-existing and will not offer reimbursement for treatment after coverage begins.

How to Avoid Issues with Pre-Existing Conditions

The best way to ensure your pet doesn’t have pre-existing conditions that prevent you from getting affordable care for him is by enrolling in pet insurance early. Signing up for an insurance plan while your pet is young and healthy could mean you’ll be able to receive financial help when your pet becomes unwell.

Should You Still Enroll in Pet Insurance When Your Pet Has a Pre-Existing Condition?

Yes! You should still enroll your pet in an insurance policy even if they have what would be considered a pre-existing condition by the insurer. Your furry friend may experience new illnesses or injuries during his life. Middle-aged and senior pets are more likely to develop health problems, and pet insurance could potentially cover some of these new issues. Be sure to discuss with your insurance provider how your pet’s pre-existing condition will affect coverage.

Get the Pet Insurance You Need

Pet insurance can lift the financial burden that may rest on your shoulders as you care for your pet. When deciding on the best pet insurance for your furbaby, consider what will be covered under the policy. With a policy like Odie Pet Insurance’s Routine Pet Care Coverage, you could receive reimbursement for your pet’s preventative care, such as a rabies vaccination, flea and tick prevention, heartworm prevention, and a wellness exam. You should also think about any supplemental benefits you may want for your dog or cat. These additional benefits could include vet visits outside of annual exams, prescription medications, and physical therapy and rehab. These options are especially helpful for older pets.

Other important factors to consider when selecting the pet insurance that is right for you and your pet’s needs include:

The Benefits of Pet Insurance

While most pet owners will just pay out of pocket for any medical expense, that can represent a financial challenge unless you’re stocking away a small fortune each year. If you’re wondering when you should get pet insurance, there’s no time like the present. After all, one in three pets will need emergency treatment within a given year, and unless you have a working crystal ball, you won’t know when something might pop up and try to lay claim to your entire bank account.

Furthermore, if your pet does get sick and requires veterinary attention, it’s hard to tell how much it’ll cost until it happens. If you haven’t saved enough, you could end up on the hook for hundreds or thousands of dollars that you might have to throw on a credit card — and that could take years to pay off. 

The Cost of Pet Care

Is pet insurance worth it? Let’s take a look at the finances. According to the ASPCA, the average cost for a routine checkup can run anywhere from $50 to over $250, while vaccines might cost about $100. But the real cost of pet care is when you don’t have pet insurance and your pet gets sick. A fracture, object ingestion or a dog bite could cost thousands to treat, including X-rays, anesthesia and follow-up care. For our feline friends, some obstructions can require lab testing, antibiotics and possibly surgery — each with their substantial price tags.

That means just bringing your pet into the vet can run you several hundred to possibly a thousand or more, which is more than what most Americans have saved away for a rainy day. If your pet emergency is bad enough, that could create a bonafide financial emergency on top of the peril to your furry friend. Worse yet, if your pet develops a chronic illness, they may need regular medications and treatments for a prolonged period of time, and it might even make it more difficult or expensive to get pet insurance in the first place.

How Is Pet Insurance Cheaper?

A monthly pet insurance premium is about $30 to $50. Sure, you may pay that when your pet doesn’t need any care, but even an entire year of pet insurance premiums is a far cry from what you could be on the hook for if an illness or injury should stricken your pet and you have to head in for just one visit. By paying into pet insurance, you’re protecting your pet from illness and other issues while you guard your wallet against those big ticket outlays that could take years to pay off. 

Let’s say your pet has an injured leg. At the vet, that could cost you $100 for an exam fee, radiographs for another couple hundred, and oral and injected pain meds that could cost $50 apiece. For some kind of allergic reaction, that could be another $100 for the exam, $50 to $100 for meds and blood work for an extra $30. In just these two instances, you could be spending up to $500 just for a quick visit, some meds and a test or two. 

Making matters even more confusing, it also depends on where you live and what your local vet charges. Some vets may charge $1,000 for treating parvo in puppies while others may run you $5,000+ for the same procedure. Many procedures and treatments can run into the thousands, and that can really add up over time if you don’t have insurance to help mitigate the total cost of your bill.

Odie Pet Insurance offers these benefits and more for your pet. Let us help you ensure your furry best friend lives a healthy, happy life.

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