Does Pet Insurance Cover Bloat?

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Regardless of how well we take care of our pets, they can still get sick or injured and need medical care from a veterinarian. While some vet visits may be for minor issues, others can be for larger issues, which can run into a large vet bill. Pet insurance can be a big help for these large bills. Pet owners typically want to know what pet insurance will or will not cover. For instance, bloat is quite common in dogs, and it can be serious.

Does pet insurance cover bloat? That’s a serious question for dog owners, particularly those who own larger dogs. We will go over what bloat is, how to avoid it, and most importantly, if pet insurance covers bloat.

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What is Bloat?

At some point in our lives, all of us have overeaten and felt like we were bloated. In most cases, a little rest and relaxation have us feeling like new again. Unfortunately, dogs are not always that fortunate when they develop gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV), commonly known as bloat. Bloat is a life-threatening condition that, while it can affect all dogs, most commonly affects large dogs.

Bloat develops when the animal’s stomach fills up with food, fluid, or gas, which can put pressure on the diaphragm and cause respiratory difficulties. The dog’s stomach begins to expand, and when this happens, the stomach often twists, retaining the stomach contents and cutting off the blood supply to the main organ.

This pressure can cause the spleen to twist or the stomach to rupture. A swollen stomach can also obstruct the normal blood flow to the heart, and this can cause shock and low blood pressure. Bloat is a very serious condition that can cause your dog’s health to rapidly deteriorate. The earlier a vet sees the dog, the better his or her chances of survival.

Causes and Symptoms of Bloat

Although there may be many causes of bloat, professionals have determined that bloat is most often caused by either stress or the dog’s eating habits. If a dog is anxious or nervous, he may often swallow air. Things that might cause stress for a dog include changes in his routine, introduction to a new dog in the family, sudden kenneling, or separation anxiety.

A dog can also develop bloat if he’s exercising too soon after eating or is eating and drinking too fast. Both things cause a large amount of gas, which can lead to bloat. Symptoms your dog may have bloat include:

  • Swollen stomach
  • Restless behavior
  • Vomiting
  • Shallow breathing
  • Drooling
  • Weakened pulse
  • Pale appearance (nose, mouth, and gums)
  • Rapid heart rate

If the dog reaches the rapid heart rate and weakened pulse stage, it’s very important that the dog be taken to the vet immediately.

Treatment for Bloat

The treatment the dog will get for bloat depends on how serious the condition has gotten. The first thing the vet will typically do is take an x-ray to see if the stomach is twisted or for any other indicators that the symptoms have gotten extreme. The vet may also insert a tube down the dog’s throat and into its stomach to release some of the gas.

If the vet is unable to get the tube through the stomach opening, this is usually an indication that the stomach is twisted. In this situation, the vet will insert a large hollow needle into the dog’s stomach to release some pressure. This usually allows the dog to breathe better and the blood to flow normally.

When the dog is breathing better and feeling more like his old self, the vet typically performs surgery to put the stomach back into its normal position. In serious cases, removal of the stomach tissue or spleen may be required.

The vet may also stitch the stomach to the abdominal wall to prevent the stomach from twisting in the future. Sometimes this can be done as a preventive measure, but this would be elective and typically not covered by pet insurance. This is known as a gastropexy. The dog is given pain medication or plenty of rest. In successful cases, the dog is back to normal in several weeks.

Which Dogs Are Susceptible to Bloat?

Bloat is often hereditary. Certain characteristics can put a dog at risk. One example is senior male dogs with deep and very narrow chests. Despite it being hereditary, bloat can hit dogs of various ages and breeds. However, the following dogs tend to be more prone to develop bloat.

  • Saint Bernard
  • Great Dane
  • German shepherd
  • Boxer
  • Irish Setter
  • Doberman
  • Gordon Setter
  • Newfoundland
  • Weimaraner

Although there is really no way to completely prevent your dog from getting bloat, there are various ways you can decrease the chance of it occurring.

  • Make sure the dog always has access to water.
  • Avoid feeding dry kibble dog food to your dog.
  • Feed the dog at floor level rather than from an elevated food dish.
  • Feed the dog a couple of small meals per day rather than one big meal.
  • Do not exercise your dog until at least two hours after he has eaten.
  • Avoiding feeding dogs together to reduce their stress.
  • Limit the water the dog gets after eating.
  • If you’re changing the dog’s food, do it a little at a time over several days.

Average Cost of Bloat

The cost to treat bloat can vary by a couple of different factors. The main factor is where you take the dog. Vet clinics tend to be less expensive than veterinary hospitals. Even with vet clinics, the price can vary from one to another. Another factor is the severity of the disease when the dog is brought in for treatment.

The earlier the dog is brought to the vet, the least expensive it will be. However, regardless of when the dog is brought in, it’s going to be expensive to treat the dog. As unfortunate as this may be, pet owners who can’t afford the cost of surgery and bloat treatment, particularly if they don’t have pet insurance, often choose euthanasia.

Treatment for bloat typically includes examinations, x-rays, anesthesia, surgery, post-operative care supportive care, and hospitalization in some situations. The cost can range from $1,500 to $7,500.

Plans that Cover Bloat

Pet insurance can be a huge help with a serious health condition like bloat. It can make the difference in saving or not saving your dog. Here are some top pet insurance companies and what if anything they cover for bloat.

Embrace Pet Insurance

Embrace covers bloat under their accident/illness policy if it is not part of a pre-existing condition unless the pet has been symptom-free and treatment-free for 12 months. Pets who are 15 years or older can only be insured under the accident-only policy, but this also covers bloat. Embrace offers a variety of annual reimbursement limits, and $5,000 is the smallest. If the vet bill exceeds that amount, the pet owner will have to pay the balance.

Pets Best Pet Insurance

Pets Best covers bloat under their BestBenefit Accident and Illness policy. Their lowest annual reimbursement limit is $2,500, and their highest is an unlimited amount, so the amount paid for bloat will depend on what limit the pet owner has chosen.

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

Healthy Paws covers bloat under their accident/illness policy. They do not have an annual limit, so pet owners will only have to pay the deductible can copay.

SPOT Pet Insurance

SPOT covers the cost of bloat treatment. Their lowest annual reimbursement is $2,500, and their highest is $5,000. Pet owners may be responsible for some of the bill if it’s higher than their annual limit.

Figo Pet Insurance

Figo covers the cost of bloat with their accident/illness plan. They offer three levels of coverage. The lowest has an annual limit of $5,000, and the highest plan has an unlimited annual limit.

With all the pet insurance companies that cover bloat, pet owners must pay the cost of the deductible and the co-pay, and these will vary from one company to the next. If your dog has been seen for bloat in the past, this could be a pre-existing condition, and may not be covered in the future. Because of this, you will want to ensure your pets, particularly large dogs, early in life, before any issues arise.