Pet Insurance

What Does Pet Insurance Cover? A Look At Spaying & Neutering, Dental, Vaccines, Pre-Existing Conditions, Surgeries & More


Last Updated: April 30, 2024 | 8 min read | 5 Comments

This content was reviewed by our licensed insurance agent, Michelle Schenker.

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Pet insurance is designed to financially assist families with unpredictable, expensive vet care. It is not intended to cover preventive care, like vaccines, flea and heartworm control, annual checkups, etc. Instead, pet insurance shields against significant costs related to illnesses, accidents, surgeries, and emergencies. Read below to get exact answers regarding what pet insurance covers for issues you’re concerned about for your pet.

Important Note: You will read a lot of “pet insurance may cover” x, y, z. This is because every situation has a different set of circumstances, and coverage depends on your pet, policy details, pre-existing conditions, waiting periods, etc. So, while we are able to provide general information about pet insurance for different conditions and medical needs, there is no guarantee that your plan will cover your need. This is why it is crucial to read the fine print and fully understand your plan before you sign up.

Finally, as a reader courtesy, here’s an overview of our top recommended pet insurance providers, allowing you to begin the search right away for your best pet insurance policy.

Pet Insurance Ranking Best
Best For Young Pets Best No-Cap Payouts Best
Company pets best pet insurance logo 250 png healthy paws pet insurance logo 250 png embrace pet insurance logo 250 png figo pet insurance logo 250 png lemonade pet insurance logo 250 png
Average Policy Price Variable Variable Variable Higher Lower Average
Policy Coverage Extensive Extensive Limited Extensive Extensive Limited
Customer Service & Reputation Good Good Excellent, Stable Excellent, Stable Excellent, Stable Uncertain, New
Average Claim Processing 18-30 Days 5-6 Days 2 Days 5 Days 3 Days 2 Days
Vet Direct Pay Option      
Plan Customization Options Many Many Restricted Many Many Many
  Get A Quote Get A Quote Get A Quote Get A Quote Get A Quote Get A Quote
  Read Review Read Review Read Review Read Review Read Review Read Review

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Here’s a comprehensive list of conditions that pet insurance may or may not cover. Click on a condition for more detail.

Coverage Comparison Chart

Want to know if pet insurance covers what you need and which company is best suited for your unique needs? The table below helps you see which company will best protect your pet and your wallet during the darkest times.

Dog sad with cone on head (caption: What Does Pet Insurance Cover?)

Please know that none of the pet insurance providers in our reviews cover pre-existing conditions, cremation and burial costs, pregnancy and breeding, or unnecessary cosmetic procedures.

All of them cover the following items when deemed medically necessary: emergency care, surgery and hospitalization, specialized exams and specialty care, X-rays, blood tests, ultrasounds, CAT scans, MRIs, rehabilitation, cancer, chronic conditions, euthanasia, hereditary conditions, congenital conditions, non-routine dental treatment, and prescription medications. However, this coverage may have limitations, so please check your policy.

If any of the terms we mention in this article are confusing to you, we recommend reading our pet insurance terminology cheat sheet.

CompanyBehavioral TherapiesAlternative/ Holistic TherapiesC-SectionsExam FeesGum (Periodontal) DiseaseTooth ExtractionAvg Claim ProcessingCurable Pre-Existing Conditions*
pets best logo 250 transparentCheckmarkExtra FeeCheckmarkCheckmark18-30 DaysCheckmark
fetch logo 250 transparentCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark5-6 DaysCheckmark
healthy paws logo 250 transparentDue To Accident2 Days
embrace logo transparent 200 pngCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark5 DaysCheckmark
figo logo 250 transparentCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkExtra FeeDue To Accident3 DaysCheckmark
lemonade logo 250 transparentExtra FeeExtra FeeExtra FeeExtra FeeDue To Accident2 DaysCheckmark
trupanion logo 250 transparentCheckmarkExtra FeeCheckmarkCanines & Carnassials OnlyCheckmark2 DaysCheckmark
aspca logo 250 transparentCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark15-30 DaysCheckmark
spot logo 250 transparentCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark10-14 DaysCheckmark
nationwide logo 250 transparentCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark4 Days
*Coverage for curable pre-existing conditions varies by provider. To learn more, read each company’s individual review, including details about this coverage.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Allergies?

Pet insurance companies may cover allergies as long as the allergy wasn’t known prior to enrollment.

Allergy Shots

Allergy shots may be covered if prescribed by a veterinarian. However, allergy shots aren’t covered if it’s required for pre-existing allergies; allergy shots are only covered for newly diagnosed allergies.

Allergy Testing

Allergy testing is not covered unless prescribed by a veterinarian.

If you choose to purchase an at-home allergy test for your dog and then decide to sign-up for pet insurance at a later date, any known allergies would need to be declared upon sign-up and would be considered pre-existing. Therefore, those allergies would not be covered by pet insurance.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Blood Tests?

Your vet may require blood work to investigate your pet’s illness or injury. Fortunately, pet insurance providers cover most blood tests unless they’re requested for pre-existing conditions or routine care.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Cancer?

Pet insurance companies typically cover cancer and cancer-related treatments at no additional cost. This can include surgery, follow-up visits, and more. However, if your pet has cancer when you sign up, it will be classified as a pre-existing condition and will not be covered.

When pet insurance was first rolling out, some companies charged an extra fee to have cancer coverage. But now, it is included with most basic accident and illness plans.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Cryptorchidism?

Cryptorchidism, a condition where one or both of a dog’s testes doesn’t drop to the scrotum, is typically covered by pet insurance if the vet did not notice the condition’s signs and symptoms until after enrollment and waiting periods.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Death?

Euthanasia is covered, but cremation and burial costs are typically excluded in most accident and illness pet insurance policies. 

Does Pet Insurance Cover Declawing?

Pet insurance doesn’t cover declawing for cats because it is typically considered an elective procedure, which is excluded in most policies.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Dental?

Accident and illness pet insurance policies generally cover non-routine dental work and issues, such as gum disease. However, it doesn’t include coverage for care to maintain your pet’s dental health, such as tooth brushing and cleaning.

If you want coverage for professional teeth cleaning, consider purchasing a pet wellness plan as an add-on to pet insurance.

We’ve reviewed the best pet dental insurance policies for those of you with concerns about your dog’s dental coverage.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Dog Attacks?

If the dog attack was an accident and unrelated to dogfighting, pet insurance may cover it. Injuries related to organized fighting are not covered.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Diabetes?

As long as it isn’t a pre-existing condition, diabetes is an eligible condition for coverage.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Ear Infections?

Ear infections are one of the most common claims that pet insurance companies pay out. Unless there is a pre-existing condition, your pet insurance policy most likely covers ear infections.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart that is used to evaluate the heart’s pumping action. Most pet insurance policies should cover echocardiograms to help diagnose heart disorders in your pet.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Genetic Conditions?

Genetic (or hereditary) conditions can be covered by pet insurance, but it’s important to enroll your pet in coverage as soon as possible. As soon as a genetic condition shows any signs or symptoms, the condition won’t be eligible for coverage, and will be considered pre-existing.

If you have a cat in your family, you can learn about rare genetic cat conditions to be aware of.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Hip Dysplasia?

Pet insurance policies typically include coverage for hip dysplasia; however, there may be restrictions on it. Some companies have waiting periods or age restrictions associated with hip dysplasia coverage.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Medicine?

Pet insurance has many restrictions on medication coverage. For example, vet-prescribed drugs are generally covered through pet insurance; however, you may have to purchase a higher-tier pet insurance policy or an add-on for prescription coverage. Additionally, prescription drugs aren’t covered for pre-existing conditions.

Two commonly prescribed drugs for dogs are Apoquel (anti-itch) and anxiety medication. Apoquel can be covered through pet insurance as long as it isn’t prescribed for pre-existing conditions. As for anxiety medication, this may or may not be covered through pet insurance. It depends if the company covers behavioral conditions, which is how anxiety is generally classified.

Did you know you could purchase RX drugs (medical prescriptions) online for your pet? Know how to keep your pet safe when you buy meds online.

As for preventative medication (such as heartworm or flea preventative), most pet insurance policies don’t cover this unless you purchase a wellness plan that includes it.

Does Pet Insurance Cover MRI Scans?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is typically covered by pet insurance to treat an eligible accident or illness. But, the company may not be cover an MRI for pre-existing conditions that require diagnostic testing.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Older Dogs?

Yes, many pet insurance providers cover older dogs. However, some insurers have maximum age enrollments that may exclude older ages.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy (PT) is often considered a form of rehabilitation, which pet insurance providers commonly cover.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Pre-Existing Conditions?

Most pet insurance doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions. However, some companies cover “curable” pre-existing conditions. Companies that offer this type of coverage determine “curable” differently, so it varies for each policy.

The one exclusion to this answer is AKC Pet Insurance. AKC Pet Insurance offers coverage for pre-existing conditions after 365 days of continuous pet insurance coverage. This is the only company to offer this type of coverage.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Pregnancy?

Pet insurance typically doesn’t cover pregnancy or conditions related to pregnancy or breeding. However, if your pregnant pet experiences unexpected complications while birthing and requires a Cesarean section (C-section), the pet insurance company may cover the medical cost as long as the pregnancy took place after the waiting period for the effective date of your pet’s policy.

Pyometra, an infection in the uterus resulting from hormonal changes in the reproductive tract, may be covered by your pet insurance company. Pyometra is more common in pets who haven’t been spayed.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Routine Care (Vaccines, Medications, Etc.)?

Pet insurance plans don’t cover routine care; only pet wellness plans cover eligible routine care items. If you want a portion of your dog’s flea or heartworm prevention medication, vaccines, and other wellness items reimbursed, purchasing a wellness plan is your best option.

This is something that many policyholders expect their pet insurance policies to cover because their human health insurance may cover 100% of their annual wellness visit.

Most pet insurance companies don’t cover diseases that are preventable through vaccines or prophylactic medicine. So if your dog were to be diagnosed with heartworm, pet insurance most likely wouldn’t cover any heartworm treatment because there is preventative medication that is recommended as standard pet owner care.

Food, collars, leashes, treats, etc., aren’t covered by pet insurance or wellness plans, but prescription food and grooming sometimes are.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Spaying And Neutering?

Spaying and neutering (desexing) aren’t covered through accident and illness pet insurance policies. However, if you opt to purchase a pet wellness plan, there may be an allotted amount that can be used toward desexing your pet.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Surgery?

Pet insurance covers surgery for procedures of eligible accidents and illnesses.

Soft palate surgery is a common inquiry by owners of brachycephalic, or flat-faced, breeds like Bulldogs. Your vet may recommend soft palate surgery for your dog to help her breathe normally or if your dog has an elongated soft palate. This condition is part of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). This is classified as a hereditary condition or breed-related condition, so you’ll want to make sure the policy you buy doesn’t restrict coverage for these items.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Training?

Dog training isn’t covered by pet insurance.

Looking for dog training guidance? Our experts to the rescue in our dog training guide, which helps you decide if you should get a trainer, considers various training tools and equipment, and covers house and potty training, specialty training (obedience, agility), and more.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Ultrasounds?

Ultrasounds for eligible accidents and illnesses are covered by pet insurance as long as they aren’t for pre-existing conditions. If the ultrasound is required due to pregnancy, it’s most likely excluded since pet insurance doesn’t cover pregnancy.

Does Pet Insurance Cover UTI?

A Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) is eligible for pet insurance coverage as long as it wasn’t pre-existing.

Learn more about how to treat a UTI in dogs.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Vet Visits?

Pet insurance doesn’t cover office visit fees for routine checkups unless you have a pet wellness plan that includes it in its coverage. Some pet insurance companies cover exam fees and consultations related to an eligible accident or illness claims.

If a company doesn’t cover exam fees and consultations and your dog is diagnosed with a chronic condition, it could result in you paying a larger portion of your vet bill over time as opposed to a company that covers exam fees and consultations.

Does Pet Insurance Cover X-Rays?

X-Rays are covered by pet insurance for eligible accidents and illnesses as long as the condition isn’t pre-existing.

More Questions Or Ready To Buy?

Do you have more questions about pet insurance coverage? Leave us a comment below, and we’ll answer it as soon as we can. If you’re ready to purchase pet insurance, check out our pet insurance reviews to discover which companies made our top picks and why.

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The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

Disclaimer: Information regarding insurance company offerings, pricing, availability, and other contract details are subject to change by the insurance company at any time and are not under the control of this website. Information published on this website is intended for reference use only. Please review your policy carefully before signing up for a new insurance contract or any other contract as your unique circumstances will differ from those of others who may be used for example purposes in this article.

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