Advice on purchasing senior pet insurance or not

Dr. Marty Becker

Pet health insurance doesn't cover preexisting conditions, but covering seniors before chronic conditions develop can save you big bucks over time.

When I bought Harper as a puppy 15 years ago, there were fewer pet health insurance options than there are today, and often coverage didn’t include common problems in cavalier King Charles spaniels, such as heart disease. I decided against purchasing it, recognizing that heart issues that cropped up wouldn’t be covered and that cancer wasn’t common in the breed.

That’s generally true, but cancer is common in older dogs of any breed, and Harper was diagnosed with it when she was about 13 years old. Veterinary treatment for cancer has significantly improved since the last time I had a dog with treatable cancer, in 1996, and costs have increased accordingly. Insurance would have saved me thousands of dollars for Harper’s care over the two years she lived following the diagnosis.