Pet Insurance has become popular over the past few years. A study done by Embrace Pet Insurance found that out of the 165 million owned pets in the U.S. slightly more than 1 million are covered by one of the leading insurance companies.
I’m bringing up this subject because I recently found out that some of the top pet insurance plans do NOT cover our dogs and cats for rehabilitation therapies or alternative care. Coverage for treatments like hydrotherapy, acupuncture and physical therapy are extremely important for the recovery and well-being of paraplegic dogs and other pets with special needs. It took a long time for these services to become mainstreamed into veterinary medicine and it’s disappointing to see them excluded or limited from some policies.
When Sophie got sick in 2008 I decided to enlist the help of a holistic veterinarian for her care. My regular veterinarian wasn’t particularly happy with that news so I went rogue and did it without her blessing. I felt like I was sneaking around during Sophie’s acupuncture, chiropractic and laser sessions. In addition, it was sad that all of veterinarians involved in Sophie’s care weren’t in communication with each other. There was little coordination of my dog’s care. So when pet parents told me their dogs and cats are routinely referred by their veterinarians to rehab and alternative care specialists, I was very happy to hear about the change in attitude. That’s why it is extremely important for pet insurance plans to include these treatments.
What are alternative therapies?
In case you aren’t up-to-date on the many kinds of services offered by holistic veterinarians, canine physical therapists and rehabilitation/integrative veterinarians, here is an idea of the treatments they offer:
- Chiropractic care
- Hydrotherapy/Underwater Treadmills
- Physical therapy/Range of motion/Balance/Flexibility
- Therapeutic laser therapy
- Chinese herbal medicine
- Assistive therapy/ carts, orthotics, prosthetics
These services can get expensive fast, because most are ongoing therapies that require a pet to have them several times a week for an extended period of time. They can become cost prohibitive for pet parents and it’s unfortunate that some dogs and cats won’t receive treatment because their insurance company doesn’t provide adequate coverage.
The American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians (AARV) put together a list of the type of alternative services the top pet insurance companies offer. The coverage varies a lot.
Pet insurance company rehab requirements
- Some require pet parents to buy an additional policy for rehab or alternative care.
- Some limit the amount policy holders can spend on rehab services
- Some pet insurance companies Do Not cover your initial evaluation.
The one part I do like is they all require the treatment to be supervised by a veterinarian that has special training and expertise in the field.
The PDF below is the complete breakdown for each of the top pet insurance companies and the type of alternative/rehab treatments they cover and the limits. I’d love to hear how your insurance company stacks up. Has your pet ever been denied rehabilitation because the insurance company said no?