My Dog's Life-Saving Surgery Wouldn't Have Been Covered by Pet Insurance, But Here's Why I Wish I Had a Policy Anyway

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.


  • My dog needed a costly surgery four years ago.
  • I paid out of pocket and even if I'd had pet insurance, it wouldn't have covered it.
  • Having pet insurance would have saved me a fortune on other expenses, however. 

Pet insurance may not cover everything, but it can still be well worth having.

Around four years ago, my dog went into congestive heart failure due to a problem with her mitral valve. When she was given her diagnosis and a prognosis of eight to 12 months to live, I was devastated and began researching my options. I found there were (at the time) two surgeons in the world who could help her -- and they were in the U.K. and Japan. 

My dog is my baby and I had a hefty emergency fund in my savings account, so we were on a plane to London a few months later after going on a waiting list for the surgery and jumping through some hoops to be able to get Molly to the U.K. 

I did not have pet insurance at the time of this incident, so I knew my only option was to pay for the procedure myself. And even if I had coverage, it wouldn't have paid for this since it was out of the country and considered experimental by some insurers despite the fact it had greater than a 90% success rate. 

Although pet insurance wouldn't have helped me out in this particular situation, I still wished at the time -- and wish now -- that I had a policy. Here's why. 

Pet insurance would have paid for before and after testing and treatment

Although pet insurance coverage would not have paid for Molly's heart surgery, it would have paid for the care that she received leading up to her life-saving operation. 

Molly had to be on heart medications from the time of her diagnosis until after her surgeons repaired her damaged valve. The combination of medications cost more than $100 per month, but was necessary to keep her alive and out of heart failure. 

She also had to see a cardiologist several times to ensure she was stable and no adjustments were needed. And we had to go to numerous vets to complete the necessary tasks to enter into the U.K., including getting a vaccine and dewormer before our departure. 

Since her surgery four years ago, she has also visited the cardiologist twice a year to make sure the repair is holding up well and that her heart has remained stable in size. These appointments cost several hundred dollars as well, and would have been covered by pet insurance.

At a time when every dollar counted to pay for the heart surgery and the travel, it would have been nice to have an insurer picking up the tab. 

Pet insurance offers peace of mind

Molly's condition came out of nowhere as she appeared healthy one day and was in heart failure the next. And the sad reality is, no one can predict what types of medical problems will impact their companion animals.

I was lucky to be in a position where I had the funds to help her, but even in my situation, having insurance coverage would have been a welcome relief. And, unfortunately, many people aren't in a position where they can spend what is needed. Pet insurance can pay for expensive care and provide the peace of mind of knowing that a beloved family member can get the best treatment available when things go wrong. 

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow