How to Not Break the Bank with Pet Wellness Plans

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Dog with barbell in mouth: Pet Wellness PlansHave you been looking for comprehensive pet insurance but are frustrated because most policies don’t include general pet wellness visits? You’re not alone! Many of us pet parents don’t realize that pet insurance differs from human health insurance in that most veterinary pet insurance plans don’t cover routine wellness visits and other services. They are designed to help you manage your budget for unplanned emergencies or illnesses that could break the bank. But, if you are looking for a plan to cover routine visits instead, there are still options to get coverage for pet wellness visits. Here we’ll tell you which services offer pet wellness plans, including insurance services that offer wellness plans as an add-on option.

Pet Wellness Plans Vs Pet Insurance: What’s the Difference?

Pet insurance plans typically cover accident and illness services but not routine wellness veterinary visits and other services. Here’s a general list of what pet wellness plans vs pet insurance offers.

Dog Wellness Plan Coverage

  • Annual exams
  • Spay/Neuter
  • Routine blood panels
  • Heartworm testing
  • Fecal testing
  • Urinalyses
  • Routine vaccinations (Rabies, DHLP, Bordetella, Parvo, Lyme, Giardia)
  • Teeth cleanings
  • Flea, tick and heartworm treatments

Pet Insurance Coverage

  • Accidents
  • Illnesses
  • Emergency care
  • Hereditary and congenital conditions
  • Orthopedic conditions
  • Prescription medications

Click Here to Learn More About Pet Insurance

Who Offers Pet Wellness Plans?

In most cases, you must sign up for pet insurance, and the insurance company’s dog wellness plan is offered as an optional add-on. Not all insurance companies, however, offer this add-on option.

Best Stand-Alone Plan: Banfield Wellness Plan

Banfield Pet Hospital logoVisit Website

Banfield stands apart from other veterinary wellness plans in that you don’t have to purchase insurance in addition. With Banfield, you’re required to visit a Banfield Pet Hospital, which you can find at your local PetSmart store—there are more than 800 across the country. Their plans offer preventive care, including bi-annual wellness exams, vaccinations, dental cleaning, parasite control, nutrition and behavioral services. They charge a one-time sign-up fee, with monthly payments starting at $12.95. Prices vary by age, species, location and other factors, but they do offer puppy wellness plans and those for adult dogs and other pets. See our in-depth Banfield Wellness Plan Reviews for more detailed information.

Best Pet Insurance With Wellness Coverage

Your other options to purchase a wellness plan for dogs include several insurance companies that offer wellness plans as an add-on. As we mentioned above, you’re required to purchase pet insurance before you can tack on a wellness plan. See our Pet Insurance Reviews comparison article for more information about each company. Below are some of our top picks for pet insurance that covers wellness

Pets Best: Best Wellness for Dogs

Pets Best Pet Health Insurance logoVisit Website

Pets Best, our #2 choice for best pet insurance, has a few choices for more typical add-on wellness or routine care plan, EssentialWellness and BestWellness. These wellness plans cover a number of different services and treatments, but there’s a per item limit (unlike Embrace, where you only have an annual cap for all services). With Pets Best, you pay $14-30 per month (price depends on which plan your choose and state you live in), but it’s based on a per item basis (i.e. annual exam is covered for $50, vaccinations are $80, etc.). Pets Best requires a 14-day waiting period before coverage kicks in, and you can only add the wellness plan within 30 days of enrolling in their pet veterinary insurance program or at their annual renewal.

Embrace Pet Insurance: Wellness Rewards

Embrace logo

Visit Website

Embrace, our #5 pick for best pet insurance, offers one of the most flexible wellness plans that you can add-on to any policy. You pay a monthly fee on top of your insurance —$18 per month covers up to $250 annual wellness expenses, $32.50 per month for a $450 annual cap and $46.95 per month for $650 annual expenses. Unlike their pet insurance, Embrace’s Wellness Rewards plan has no deductible, no co-pay and no waiting period. And it covers a ton of treatments and services, everything from annual exams and preventative services to grooming, microchipping, anal gland expression and much more.

Other Dog Insurance Companies That Offer Wellness Plans

Should You Consider a Wellness Plan, Pet Insurance, Or Both?

Check out the following news coverage by a CBS affiliate in California that explores pet wellness plans and pet insurance.

How Can a Pet Wellness Plan Help Your Finances?

Even if your dog is healthy, preventative and routine care can add up quickly. Just consider how much you can save with a puppy wellness plan—the American Kennel Club reports that routine puppy care averages $1,000 during his first year alone! Considering the affordable monthly costs of pet wellness plans, it makes sense if you want to raise a healthy dog without breaking the bank.

What experiences have you had with pet wellness plans?

Sally grew up in a feline-only home, but cat allergies in her early 20’s made it an easy transition to dog ownership. And she couldn’t be happier with her canine shadow, who’s been at her side (literally) for years. No longer a cat person for obvious reasons, Sally is now a true bone-ified dog lover.

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21 Comments on "How to Not Break the Bank with Pet Wellness Plans"

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Maybe I’m missing something here. I’m looking into Embrace and for the $650 annual max, it will cost (based on quote i received) $49.42 a month (just the wellness portion). Over twelve months, I am paying Embrace $593.04 to receive reimbursement of up to $650.00. Essentially, I pay $593.04 to get a $56.96 benefit. Why would would i do this and not just save the $49.42 in an account each month and use that on the routine maintenance and forgo all the paperwork?
Kimberly Alt
Great question, Jen. The main reason you would opt for this wellness plan is if you knew you were going to take advantage of those features covered. Items include annual exams, grooming, anal gland expression, etc. If you have a dog who needs regular grooming, a wellness plan that covers grooming could save you money in the end. For instance, the groomer I take my dog to costs $50 to $125 depending on the dog’s size. If you have a dog with shaggy hair that needs cut regularly you could save a little bit by purchasing a wellness plan.

As you pointed out for your quote specifically, you’d be paying $593.04 for the year to receive up to $650 in wellness related reimbursements, saving you roughly $57 if you took full advantage of the plan. Like you said, you could just save that money monthly and pay out of pocket for it all, it’s up to you. However, you’re also getting pet insurance when you sign up for Embrace’s Wellness Rewards, which covers accidents and illnesses your dog may experience unexpectedly.

The big thing to remember before signing up for a wellness plan is researching what the maximum coverages are for various items. For example, some companies will only cover a certain dollar amount for teeth cleanings, grooming, annual exams, etc.

Let me know if that makes sense or if you have any questions. I want to make sure you’re fully informed before making a decision either way! 🙂

Interesting article, but in your reviews, you mentioned $250, $450, and $600. caps on wellness expenses. My comment is, at my vet (and all my previous vets) , I have easily spent over $400-600. each time we go! -for the visit, tests, medications, etc..What good is a plan if it has caps like these?
thanks, but these reviews are confusing and not realistic.
Kimberly Alt
Hi Rich, it sounds like a wellness plan may be the most beneficial for someone in your case because you would be reaching your annual limit depending on the plan’s cap. If the cap is $600 annually and you spend $400 to $600 per year on wellness expenses you would be able to take full advantage of the plan’s benefits. However, on the opposite spectrum, when I take my dog to the vet it costs about $120, but she is in very good health. That $120 includes the appointment fee, vaccinations, flea/tick/heartworm medications, etc. So it would cost me more (or about the same) to pay for our dog’s wellness expenses on our own as it would if we purchased a wellness plan for her. However, the monthly fees vary based on the company you choose for a wellness plan and the caps included as well, so this may not be the case every time.

What in our reviews was confusing and not realistic? I’d love to be able to explain them further to you.

hello-thanks for the reply. I don’t know what vet you use or where you live…but the vets here charge over $65. just for the visit, so a visit with what you said (appt, vaccin., medications,) costs us way over $120.
And we spend often spend $400-600 A VISIT , not a year for check ups, medications, blood work, heartworm etc.
If the cap is 600$, how does that help us?
Kimberly Alt
Hi Rich, how many visits does your dog have per year? How much would you say you spend per year on vet expenses and what is that categorized ($X for wellness, $X for illnesses, $X for injuries, etc.)? It’s hard to say what is best for your dog unless I get a better idea of what your dog’s vet history is like. Hope that makes sense and these questions aren’t too personal. I understand if you’d rather not share this information though. 🙂
hello Kimberly, Well, I have 2 older dogs-a 12 yr old golden and a9 yr old Akita. so, for example, I took my golden to the vet yesterday and it cost me $286 for the exam,some blood work ,and a weeks worth of Rimadyl, including a $14.00 dispensing charge. I like my vet, they’re very thorough-but that’s the prices around here, I’ve checked out other vets and they charge about the same.
Most of the time the dogs just go to the vet for yearly check ups or heartworm medication but most of those plans don’t cover medication. The Banfield plan sounds good but one thing I don’t like is that you have to finish paying for the whole year even if your dog passes away, god forbid.
I would really like to get a wellness plan or an insurance plan but I just don’t see that it’s going to work out with those caps and/or monthly payments. thanks again!
Kimberly Alt
Thanks for the in-depth details, this will help me analyze your situation further.

Looking at our rankings, Pets Best is the highest ranked pet insurance company that offers a wellness plan. The top plan is BestWellness and costs $26/month. It covers various things including $65 flea/tick prevention, $30 heartworm prevention, $40 vaccination/titer, $50 wellness exam, $30 heartworm test or FELV screen and more for each dog you purchase the policy for. Since you spend $500 alone on heartworm medications per dog per year, this plan wouldn’t be the best option for you since it only covers $30.

Embrace is the next company in our rankings that offers wellness rewards. It reimburses 100% of routine care costs up to the selected annual maximum you choose. This can be as high as $650 or as low as $250. It’s unclear as to whether or not this annual maximum goes toward any reimbursable item, or if it’s maxed out per category (like Pets Best’s is). I recommend reaching out to Embrace to see if the $650 would go toward any wellness related items your pet needs during the year or if only a certain amount can go toward heartworm, etc.

As for the Rimadyl prescription, that can be covered through any pet insurance company that covers prescription medications. Take a look at this comparison table and you’ll see that all of the pet insurance companies included in the table cover prescriptions, however, Embrace charges extra for it to be covered.

You mentioned Banfield and I wanted to share this link with you. I encourage you to read the comments section as well because we’ve gotten some feedback from customers of Banfield sharing their experience with the plan. So if you choose to go with them, I want you to be informed on what others have experienced.

The thing that’s tricky about your situation is that you spend $500/dog/year on heartworm medications. I don’t believe that would fall under prescription medications for most pet insurance providers because heartworm medication is considered preventative healthcare, so it is typically only covered through some type of wellness plan/rewards. If Embrace handles its maximum similar to Pets Best, then it doesn’t make sense for you to get either of those wellness plans/rewards because you’d be paying $30+ per month but only getting $30 for heartworm prevention, which is what you are really spending the majority of your money on.

I have a meeting later today with some of my coworkers and am going to mention your situation to them and see if they know of anything that I am overlooking. I’ll let you know if they have any suggestions for you to consider. Thanks for your patience and allowing me to help you through your decision making process.

Kimberly Alt
Hi Rich, I just spoke with the team and we think in your situation it would be better to try to budget/save for these expenses because a wellness plan won’t cover $500 in heartworm medication for each dog. Sorry we couldn’t find a pet insurance plan for you. Let me know if you have any further questions and best of luck!
hello Kimberly, thanks for the reply. Well, I have 2 older dogs so there’s that. And, for example, I took my golden to the vet on Saturday, and it was $286.00…($65-exam, $195 for Senior comprehensive screening & $24 for 14 Rimadyl. We’ll need more, if it helps…that’ll be @$60 a month. ) prob go to the vet about 4 times a year, including stuff like heartworm check, etc…and (heartworm medication is like $500. a dog) so…mostly check ups and things like that.It’s thousands of dollars. Each dog.

I’d like a plan for sure. I know of Banfields plan-only you have to keep paying monthly even if your pet passes away. And it doesn’t include medications either, I think.
thanks again!

Buy all your medications online. Much much cheaper. Sometimes half or less as much. (Check out the prices for Heartguard for example.) It saved me with sick cats and a dog.
I’d like to buy them online, but you need the vet to give you the script, or OK it, and they won’t do that!
How do you get your vet to do this?
Writer needs to do some proper research, have some experience with dogs and cats. This person has no idea. Its not about damn finances, its about the animals welfare, sheesh
Kimberly Alt
Hi Angel, I can assure you that our writer has experience with pets. I’m not sure what about this article makes you think that our writer/website thinks finances are more important than an animal’s welfare, but I can assure you this is not the case. Everyone who works on Canine Journal is an animal lover. We try to teach people that having a pet is a financial commitment as well and there are wellness and pet insurance plans that can relieve some of that burden. This article is an informational piece to help teach pet parents about various wellness plans.

In the past, we have received comments from our readers who have been unable to provide their pet with the medical care they need because of financial restrictions. It breaks our hearts to read these stories and we hope that more and more people are aware of their financial options when adding a pet to their family. To reiterate, we think the pet’s health should be the most important factor, above finances.

Claudia K
Definitely invest in a wellness plan if you get a new dog, well worth every penny! My new pup has had all her shots and spaying covered which has saved us from having to pay out of pocket for everything at once. I love the comfort of knowing my girl Charlie is in good hands with all her check ups just like her parents!
Hi Claudia! We are getting two puppies and I have been researching the wellness option but it’s so overwhelming. Do you mind sharing which one you use? Thank you.
Did you ever find a good wellness plan? I’m doing my research as well
Hi there. We opted out of wellness and are only doing regular insurance for emergencies for illness or accident. We went through USAA insurance and they are partnered with Embrace. Good luck.
Kimberly Alt
Let me know if you have any questions! 🙂
Another sucker with a dog thats doomed to die an early age
Why are you so rude? What’s the point in this comment????

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