Dog Health Insurance: A Closer Look

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As pet parents, we want to provide our pets with the best possible care. When you buy a new dog, you must take into account the cost of veterinary care during your dog’s lifetime. During the average lifespan of a pet, a pet parent spends between $9,106 and $13,391 for veterinary care and medicines.¹ According to the American Kennel Club, routine vet visits cost between $700 and $1,500 per year, and that figure doesn’t include emergency care or prescription medications.² Treatment for each problem can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars, so you must ask yourself, “What would I do if my dog needed veterinary care and I couldn’t afford it?”

To find out more about your dog’s specific costs, see our Breed Calculator.

In many cases, this would result in economic euthanasia where you would have to put the dog down because you cannot afford to pay for medical care. Nobody wants this to happen, and dog insurance is a good way to make sure that it never does.

What Is Dog Insurance?

Dog insurance is an insurance policy for your dog that will help reduce the cost of regular care as well as unexpected expensive veterinary bills. It is similar to health insurance for humans, and like human health insurance plans, all dog insurance plans are different. You will likely incur a deductible, which must be paid before the dog insurance plan will pay its percentage of the covered veterinary procedures. And because every dog insurance plan is different, the cost of the insurance and the specific coverage will vary based on the particular plan.

Dog insurance is a great way to help with your dog’s veterinary bills and unexpected veterinary emergencies. It can give you peace of mind knowing you can always give your dog the best possible care.

How Does Dog Insurance Work?

With dog insurance, you pay a monthly cost for coverage known as a "premium," just like you do with a human health care policy. The cost of your dog’s premium will depend on a number of factors including your dog’s breed, age, your geographic location, and other variables.

Dog insurance will not cover the full cost of any medical treatment. Instead, it pays a percentage of the cost. All policies are different. The average coverage is 80%, but in North America you can find policies that will cover up to 90% or more. The higher the coverage, the more you will pay for the premium.

With any dog insurance plan, you must pay for the costs up front and the dog insurance company will reimburse you for their percentage of the covered costs. Pet insurance is very simple: go to the vet, submit the invoice for the services to your insurance company, and receive your reimbursement according to your plan of coverage.

What Does Dog Insurance Cover and What’s Not Covered?

Most providers will cover necessary veterinary surgeries, medication, diagnostic tests, dental care, prescription foods and supplements, and hospitalizations. Some dog insurance policies will cover wellness exams and vaccinations – others will not. That’s why it’s so important to understand the coverage terms and conditions of a dog insurance plan before you purchase it.

According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), there are three main types of dog insurance coverage:

  1. Accident & Illness (sometimes with embedded Wellness coverage) – This is more comprehensive coverage for veterinary treatment for unexpected injuries, sickness, disease and any changes to your dog’s normal healthy state.

  2. Accident Only – This is coverage for accident-related medical care.

  3. Wellness – This coverage is often offered as an endorsement add-on to your accident & illness or accident only plan. Some providers offer this coverage as a non-insurance subscription package. Wellness generally provides coverage for vaccinations, tests and dental cleanings. This type of protection is also sometimes called “Routine” or “Preventative” care. Some Accident & Illness plans may incorporate some form of Wellness coverage, such as dental benefits.

Many plans will not cover pre-existing conditions. So if your dog develops a medical condition during a time when he is uninsured, the treatment costs for that condition would not be covered under a new pet insurance policy.

To see a sample dog insurance policy, click here.

When Should I Get Insurance for My Dog?

Since pre-existing conditions are not covered in so many plans, it is best to purchase dog insurance while your dog is young and healthy. As your dog gets older, the cost of your premiums will go up, but your dog’s coverage will remain intact. Some dog insurance companies will not offer new coverage after your dog reaches a certain age.

You never know when an emergency or a new medical problem will arise, so it’s best to be prepared and to get dog insurance early on.

Is Dog Insurance Worth It?

Dog insurance provides plenty of peace of mind for dog lovers. During your dog’s first year of life, costs may add up to about $1,000.4 Those costs are for a healthy dog, so imagine if your dog had a veterinary emergency or developed a chronic medical condition.

On average, routine annual veterinary care for dogs might cost between $700 to $1,500,2 but unplanned events such as accidents, injuries or unanticipated ailments can cost much more.

It makes good financial sense to purchase a dog insurance policy, and you can’t put a price tag on the peace of mind that comes from knowing you can give your dog the veterinary care he needs.

You may think that your dog is healthy and that a dog insurance policy is not really worth it. But if your dog develops a medical condition or needs emergency care, it will be too late to get dog insurance – and those veterinary costs can add up fast.

The Average Initial and Lifetime Cost of Dog Care

The chart below shows the average initial and lifetime costs of owning a dog.3 This information will give you a better understanding of the financial commitments of dog ownership, and it will help demonstrate how pet insurance can be of value over the course of your dog’s lifetime.

This is a summary of the average cost of dog ownership, based on the average lifespan of a dog at 12 years.




$0 - $500


Veterinary Care

$45 - $200

$540 - $2,400


$60 - $150

$720 - $1,800


$35 - $200


Dental Care

$0 - $500

$0 - $7,500


$24 - $500

$288 - $7,500


$0 - $1,200

$0 - $14,400

Why Should I Choose Toto Dog Insurance?

Toto dog insurance is a plan that makes sense for your dog and you. Most dog insurance plans require you to add on examination coverage at an additional cost, but Toto plans offer nose-to-tail coverage for a complete price that covers routine exams as well as non-routine care (accidents and illnesses). We also cover hereditary conditions and even alternative therapies, which means you’ll receive some reimbursement for the majority of vet bills. This isn’t the case with many other dog insurance companies.

Toto dog insurance lets you find the plan that is right for you and your budget. We offer three simple plan options that provide nose-to-tail coverage no matter your budget. Our plan’s annual limits are based on real-world claims not insurance standards, so you can pick the best plan option for your pet and your wallet. Plans start at just $1 a day.

Thinking about dog insurance? See how affordable it can be.


1. AHI Animal Health Industry Report February 2018, retrieved from The Economic and Social Contributions of the Animal Health Industry, 2018 (

2. American Kennel Club. Retrieved from How Much Will You Spend On Your Dog In His Lifetime? (

3. The Simple Dollar. Retrieved from Pet Ownership Cost Guide 2020 (

4. Retrieved from The True Cost of Owning A Pet (