Does Pet Insurance Cover Arthritis?

by | 02/27/2023

Humans are not the only ones to develop arthritis. Arthritis affects cats and dogs as well. For years, we have known that osteoarthritis is common in dogs, and now we know it is common in cats as well. Our pets suffer many of the same painful moments as we do when we have arthritis.

An increasing number of pet owners are purchasing pet insurance so they can provide their pets with the care they need without having to worry about finances. They want to know – does pet insurance cover arthritis? If so, are there any conditions or limitations?

What is Arthritis in a Pet?

Arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis, is a condition that can become very painful for a dog. It’s also a condition that is quite common in dogs and cats. The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation reports that one in every five dogs have or will have some form of canine arthritis at some point in their life. Canine arthritis can affect the dog’s back, hips, legs, and more. The joints become swollen and inflamed.

Since these are the parts of the body that are the most active, arthritis can cause the dog a lot of pain and discomfort. Although canine arthritis is most common in older dogs, it can also affect younger dogs as well. Signs and symptoms of canine arthritis can include the following.

  • Difficulty jumping on the couch or bed
  • Difficulty going up stairs
  • Reluctance to or difficulty standing from a lying position
  • Deterioration of the rear limb muscles

A dog may be in pain from an accident or its many adventures outdoors, and the pet owner may think it’s arthritis. This is why it’s very important for pet owners to take their dogs to the vet. The earlier the arthritis is detected and diagnosed, the earlier treatment can begin. It’s also important so your dog can get the right treatment for the ailment.

The diagnosis will only be made after the vet discusses the dog’s symptoms with you and performs a complete examination, which might include x-rays, blood tests, and joint taps. Once the diagnosis is made, the vet will discuss a management plan, which is based on the severity of the arthritis, the dog’s age, and its metabolic condition.

What Does Pet Arthritis Cost?

Many pet owners are unaware that dogs can develop arthritis. Yet, arthritis is the seventh-most common disease to affect our canine friends. It’s also a disease that can be very expensive to treat. One of the best ways to keep the costs down is by trying to prevent the dog from getting arthritis or treating the dog when it’s still in its early stages.

If the dog has a mild case of arthritis, it may only need regular medication and an occasional x-ray. If the dog has a more severe case of arthritis, it may require not just more costly medication to help slow down the disease and minimize the pain but surgery as well.

Most dogs with arthritis are treated with anti-inflammatory drugs. All of these factors can determine the cost of treating canine arthritis. On average, pet owners can expect to pay at least $325 per year for basic arthritis treatment for their pet, and more if your dog or cat needs additional therapy and rehabilitation.

Is Pet Arthritis a Pre-existing Condition?

Most pet insurance companies will not cover pre-existing conditions. A pre-existing condition is a medical condition that the pet had already been diagnosed with or shown signs of when the pet is enrolled in the new insurance policy. For instance, a vet treats your dog for pain in the hips. Down the road, you enroll your pet in an insurance policy and then try to submit claims for arthritis. What happens? Your claim is denied due to pre-existing conditions exclusions in the policy. Now, you are on your own for any bills related to arthritis treatment.

Arthritis is generally considered as a pre-existing condition if the dog had the symptoms when you purchased the policy. However, some pet insurance companies offer more comprehensive plans that cover more, and this includes arthritis treatment. Even a few companies will pay for arthritis treatment even if you do list it as a pre-existing condition, especially if there are no symptoms for a period of six months or more.

Even if you do find a pet insurance company that does cover arthritis, but you have already had a pet diagnosed with this condition, they will most likely exclude all related claims due to their pre-existing conditions clauses. There are some cases of employer-sponsored pet insurance where your employer offers pet insurance coverage as a benefit of employment. In these rare instances, you may be able to switch your pet insurance policy over to the new company and still get coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Plans That Cover Pet Arthritis

The good news for pet owners is that many pet insurance companies will cover arthritis conditions and treatment. If you’re just choosing pet insurance, this is something you may want to check out before you commit to anything.

An insurance company may pay something towards any arthritis-related bills, but you may not be getting all the coverage you need for your pet. You may want to research not only if they’ll cover arthritis but to what degree. Here are some top pet insurance companies with information on what they will cover for arthritis.

Top Pet Insurance Companies that Cover Arthritis


Embrace offers coverage for arthritis treatments as part of their chronic conditions coverage. They also offer a preventive plan that will cover vet services recommended to help prevent arthritis. The preventive policy must be purchased as an add-on to the regular health insurance plan.


Petplan offers coverage for arthritis under its chronic conditions section. It will not be covered if it’s a pre-existing condition of which the dog was already treated prior to enrollment.

Pets Best

Pets Best offers a BestBenefit Accident and Illness plan that covers many things, including arthritis. Like most insurance companies, it does not cover pre-existing conditions.


SPOT does cover arthritis under their accident/illness policy. They don’t have an annual or lifetime maximum payment amount, which means that they will cover it for the dog or cat’s lifetime. If the arthritis is considered a pre-existing condition and not covered for that reason, it will still be treated if the dog goes 180 days without treatment or symptoms.


Pumpkin offers coverage for arthritis through its regular illness plan. It also covers a package that includes alternative treatments used for arthritis if the dog developed arthritis after it was on the policy. The alternative therapy does not have to be purchased separately.


Lemonade covers the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis if the dog develops arthritis after the policy was purchased. Lemonade will also pitch in for the cost of herbal treatments used for arthritis.

As you can see, most pet insurance companies will cover the cost of arthritis testing, diagnosing, and treatment if it’s not a pre-existing condition. This is one reason why it can be important for pet owners to purchase a good pet insurance policy while the animal is still young.