6 min read

Insuring Your Puppy: Everything You Need to Know


Save on pet insurance for your pet

You don't have to choose between your pet and your wallet when it comes to expensive vet visits. Prepare ahead of time for unexpected vet bills by finding the pawfect pet insurance.


Puppies seem indestructible when you first bring them home. Whether they're play-fighting with other pups or bouncing off your furniture, puppies keep on truckin' regardless of what life throws at them. That said, accidents happen, and it's always better safe than sorry when it comes to your fur-baby's health. 

Despite the importance of insuring a puppy, very few pet parents bother getting insurance, even for adult dogs. According to industry statistics, just 3% of all pet dogs in the US are insured.

It's likely many pet parents don't bother getting insurance for their woofers when they're puppies and then forget about getting them insured as they get older. So, while insuring your puppy may seem pointless, it sets them up for lifelong protection. Plus, many pet insurers will help pay for those pesky first-year vet bills.

Why should you insure a puppy? And how much does pet insurance usually cost for a puppy? Let's take a look.

person sitting on a couch talking on the phone while holding a paper with a black and white dog in the background

Is it worth insuring a puppy? What real pet parents have to say

If you're on a tight budget, you might be wondering whether it's worth insuring your puppy. For most pet parents, the answer is yes. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Puppies, especially purebreds, could inherit serious illnesses that are often expensive to treat.

  • Puppies can be clumsy and easily injure themselves while roughhousing with their canine compadres.

  • Since pet insurance companies don't cover pre-existing conditions, getting your puppy insured ASAP will ensure any conditions they develop in the future will be eligible for coverage.

  • Monthly premiums are typically cheaper for puppies than adult and senior dogs.

Waiting to insure your puppy until disaster strikes could mean thousands of dollars out of your pocket. Just take Ferris, for example. Ferris is a 3-year-old Pomeranian and the fur-baby of Wag!'s Growth Marketing Specialist, Megan Crowley.

Megan waited a year to insure Ferris. Just 2 days before the waiting period ended, Ferris was diagnosed with encephalitis. As a result, Megan's paid $15,000+ for Ferris' encephalitis treatment completely out of pocket. However, Ferris' dental and hip surgeries were covered by her plan, saving Megan an additional $11,000. Her advice for puppy parents? Don't hesitate to get insured!

Related: 5 Real Stories That Prove Pet Insurance is Worth Every Penny

How old does a puppy have to be to qualify for insurance?

Answer: Between 6 and 8 weeks old on average

Every insurance company is different, but most offer coverage for puppies that are 6 to 8 weeks old. This means most pet parents can start searching for insurance as soon as they bring their puppy home. Getting insured immediately gives you the best chance of avoiding expensive bills to treat hereditary conditions or accidents.

Be aware that most insurance companies prevent fraud by enforcing a waiting period, which is the amount of time between signing up for a plan and when coverage goes into effect. The average waiting period is between 14 and 30 days for illnesses. For some plans, accident coverage starts the same day you sign up. Special waiting periods may apply for certain conditions, like cruciate ligament rupture.

Examples of accidents and their costs

Pups are curious critters, and as a result, accidents can happen. Unfortunately, many of these accidents are expensive to treat without insurance. 

One example, posted on Healthy Paws' website, perfectly illustrates the need for puppies to get pet insurance. The graphic shows a puppy chewing and swallowing part of their favorite teddy bear. The cost of removing a foreign object, according to Healthy Paws, is approximately $3,250 without insurance. However, with a Healthy Paws insurance plan, $2,757 of that cost will be covered, putting thousands of dollars back in your pocket.

yorkshire terrier being held by woman signing a clipboard held by a vet

Examples of common hereditary conditions and their costs

What other conditions and injuries can affect your puppy's health? And how much can you expect to pay to treat them? We've broken down some of the costs of common illnesses in puppies below.

Mitral valve disease

Average treatment cost: $1,000–$30,000

Purebred puppies are prone to a range of hereditary conditions that can develop during puppyhood. For example, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Boston Terriers, and other toy breeds sometimes suffer from mitral valve disease. Mitral valve disease is a form of heart disease that causes heart failure by the age of 6 on average.

Insuring your Spaniel from a young age means you're covered from the high cost of drugs of treatment for mitral valve disease later in life. The only curative treatment for mitral valve disease is surgery, which can cost a staggering $30,000 for small dogs. Surgery isn't always required, and the condition can be managed with medication, which can cost anywhere from a few hundred to over $1,000

If your dog is uninsured and develops something serious like mitral valve disease, the ailment won't be covered on a new insurance plan, as it's considered a pre-existing condition.

Hip dysplasia

Average treatment cost: $2,500

One of the most common hereditary problems dogs face is hip dysplasia, with an incidence rate as high as 70% for some breeds. Hip dysplasia affects German Shepherds and Labradors, as well as mixed breeds. Hip dysplasia costs $2,500 to treat on average.

Hip dysplasia occurs while a dog is growing and results in a malformed hip. It's most commonly diagnosed before 2 years old, with preliminary screenings starting at 4 months old. So, by getting your dog insured from puppyhood, you can protect your bank account from unexpected bills due to your dog developing hip dysplasia. 

Insuring your puppy means you can get coverage before a hereditary condition crops up. Almost all pet insurers don't cover pre-existing conditions, and your insurance premium will be sky-high as a result.

Many companies won’t cover common conditions like hip dysplasia, regardless of whether it’s pre-existing or not. Luckily, some insurers, such as Healthy Paws, help cover the cost of hip dysplasia if your dog is under 6 years old at the time of enrollment and the condition isn’t pre-existing.

Hereditary conditions in dogs can be expensive to treat.

Dogs can experience symptoms of hereditary conditions from an early age. Insuring your puppy as soon as “pawssible” is essential for preventing high vet care costs. Start comparing insurance plans from leading insurers like Healthy Paws and Embrace and save over $270 a year.

How much does it cost to insure a puppy?

Answer: $10–$100 a month on average

The cost of insuring a puppy depends on your location and the plan you choose, as well as your puppy's size, breed, and health history. It's a good idea to compare pet insurance plans and read through sample policies of any plans you're considering to ensure you fully understand the terms and what's covered.

Read on to discover affordable pet insurance providers, how your coverage options determine your monthly premium, and ways to save on pet insurance.

Affordable insurance providers

Luckily, insuring a puppy doesn't have to be a financial burden — you'll find several affordable pet insurance providers operating across the US. Here are 3 of our picks, along with the average monthly premium for each:

How your insurance plan determines your monthly premium amount

Factors like deductibles, copay rates, and maximum annual payouts will also affect the cost of your monthly premium. (Check out our guide to pet insurance terms to learn more about what's in the fine print of your policy.)

  • Coverage: There are 2 main types of pet insurance plans: accident-only, and accident and illness. Accident-only plans are typically cheaper, but they also don't include coverage for health conditions like diabetes and cancer.

  • Deductible: This is the amount you pay toward your pup's vet bills before coverage kicks in. Choosing a high deductible will reduce your monthly premium, but it also means you'll pay more out of pocket before your pup is eligible for coverage.

  • Copay: This is the percentage you're required to pay out of pocket toward each vet bill. Most insurance providers offer copay rates between 10% and 30%. Choosing a higher copay rate will reduce your monthly premium, but it also means you'll need to cover more of your pet's vet bills out of pocket.

  • Maximum annual payout: This is the maximum amount of expenses your pet insurance provider will reimburse you during a 12-month period. Choosing a lower maximum annual payout will reduce your monthly premium.

Ways to save money on pet insurance

If budget is a key concern for insuring your puppy, there are a few things you can do to reduce the cost of your monthly premium:

  • Have a mixed-breed dog. Generally, a mixed breed puppy will be the least expensive to insure, as they're less likely than purebreds to develop hereditary conditions.

  • Insure multiple pets. Most plans include discounts for insuring multiple pets.

  • Check for any discounts. Many providers offer discounts for veterinary staff, animal shelter workers and volunteers, and active military personnel.

  • Choose an accident-only policy. These plans only cover injuries and don't cover any other sort of illness. As a result, these plans tend to be at least half as expensive as complete coverage plans and can cost as little as $5 per month.

Related: 5 Ways to Save Money on Pet Insurance

Searching for the "pawfect" plan? Check out Wag!'s pet insurance comparison tool to see how plans from the best pet insurance companies stack up.

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© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.