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Pet insurance for older dogs and cats

Finding pet insurance for older dogs and cats can be tricky, so we've put together some suggestions to help.

Pet insurance can help offset the cost of caring for your older pet in their twilight years and give you the peace of mind that your mate can have a comfortable retirement. This guide outlines how various insurers cover senior pets, what to look for in a policy and how you can help your buddy feel comfortable in their older years.

What types of insurance are available for older dogs and cats?

Pet insurance for younger dogs and cats is easy enough to find. And while it may initially seem difficult, finding a fund that covers your older pet isn’t as hard as it seems.

Due to the high likelihood of illness, you’ll find that some funds may not cover older pets in their comprehensive plans. However, funds may protect senior pets under their more “basic” levels of cover.

Policies that only cover accidents are generally the cheapest and the most basic, and often the annual claim limits are comparable to the more premium policies on offer.

Why won’t insurers cover my older pet for illnesses?

It’s doubtful that you can get comprehensive insurance for a pet over the age of 9. Pets at this age are far more likely to have pre-existing conditions and be more susceptible to illness, so insuring them for these things is unfortunately almost impossible.

If you can, get your pet insured before their 9th birthday, as this ensures they are covered well into their senior years, provided their cover doesn’t lapse.

What additional extras are available?

Many pet owners want more than just basic cover for the furriest member of their family. Consider these additional extras for your insurance policy:

  • Illness. This extra covers issues such as infections, coughs and colds.
  • Cancer treatment. Covers surgery and treatment for your pet in association with cancer.
  • Tick paralysis. This covers treatment for pets that have been bitten and affected by a paralysis tick.
  • Pre-existing and hereditary conditions. This extra is not covered by basic policies, but if you insure your pet later in life, it’s essential.

3 things to look out for when insuring your senior pet

What factors should you consider when insuring your dog or cat?

  1. If your pet is over 8 years old, you probably can’t get cover for illnesses. Most insurers won’t cover your pet for illnesses once they’re over the age of 9. If you can, take out cover before your pet turns 8, as your insurer will usually cover them past the age of 9, provided your cover doesn’t lapse.
  2. Pre-existing conditions aren’t covered. If you can take out illness cover, note that you can’t get cover for pre-existing conditions, which sometimes means that you aren’t covered for all conditions related to those illnesses and injuries. For example, if your pet shows signs of a skin condition when you take out a policy, all skin conditions are excluded.
  3. Accidents can still happen. It doesn’t matter how old your pet is – accidents may happen. Even if you can only get accident cover, it’s still a nice thing to have for your pet. If your pet was hit by a car, you might have to pay for the surgery from your pocket. Worse still, you might need to euthanise them. After all the love that they’ve given you, it’s only fair that you give them the best twilight years possible.

I can’t get insurance for my pet. What other options do I have?

If you search everywhere and discover that you can’t get insurance for your older pet or the cost of the premium is far outside of your means, what can you do for the older furry gentleman or lady in your life?

Keep them active

Don’t let your pets lay about in front of the fire; get them up and active. Slow walks are better than no walks at all, and swimming can also ease old joints. Take them along to the park and get them moving.

Don’t let them get fat

Just like people, overweight pets can face some serious health issues, especially later in life. The strain on their heart, breathing difficulties and being too heavy to exercise are some conditions that can affect an overweight animal. Feed your furry friend quality pet food in measured portions. Don’t be tempted by Missy’s big brown eyes, don’t give her another treat!


The dietary needs of an older pet are different to a youngster. Being slower means that food takes longer to digest, so it has a higher chance of being stored as fat. Plus, older animals need more nutrition from their diet. Ask your vet what the best food is for your ageing pet.

Monitor their environment

In the human world, we have ramps for those who have trouble walking upstairs. Older pets have similar needs, and arthritis or lack of energy can impact an old dog’s quality of life. Install ramps or even change the social environment of your home to include your pet.

More vet visits

With age comes more visits to the vet; this is inevitable as age-related health issues arise. Use these visits as an opportunity to ask questions and get advice to make your pet’s twilight years just as fulfilling as their younger days.

Science has shown that owning a pet has some incredible health benefits, and the unconditional love of a dog or a cat can make your life so much happier. However, it is easier to insure a younger animal. If you visit a shelter and an older cat or dog that pulls at your heartstrings, you need to understand that the love you provide may come at a higher-than-normal cost. However, who can put a price tag on puppy love?

Other questions you might have about seniors pet insurance

Picture: GettyImages

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