Does Pet Insurance Cover Giardia?

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In the past, pet owners seldom purchased pet insurance. However, today pets are becoming an important part of the family unit, and pet owners are more diligent about providing their pets with the best possible medical care. Pet insurance covers most illness and accident-related services. There are certain illnesses that may or may not be covered by pet insurance because they are somewhat new or unfamiliar.

One of these is Giardiasis, a disease caused by the parasite Giardia. Does pet insurance cover Giardia? This is one of several questions asked by pet owners who have pet insurance or are contemplating purchasing a pet insurance policy.

What is Giardiasis?

Giardiasis is a disease caused by the various parasitic protozoan organisms of the genus, Giardia. This disease is very common with dogs, cats, and even humans. It generally affects the animal’s intestinal tract. It’s a very complex and complicated disease. Testing an animal for giardiasis is often difficult because different strains of the disease can affect different dogs or cats differently.

Therefore, it’s not unusual for a giardiasis test to come up negative or positive when it’s the opposite. Often the dog doesn’t need treatment until the dog’s body has already rid itself of the disease. This disease is transmitted only by actually ingesting the organism. This most often happens when the animal lives in a watery environment or comes in direct contact with a contaminated object.

Another way the disease can be transmitted directly is by eating the feces of an infected animal. Dogs who like chewing on things outdoors are at fairly high risk of developing the Giardia infection. Unlike other diseases that come with many symptoms, giardiasis typically has diarrhea as its main symptom. Diarrhea is often the result of small intestinal inflammation.

Other symptoms they might develop include vomiting, bloody stools, and difficulty with defecating. In most cases, the symptoms are not fatal. Veterinarians generally use a fecal examination to help with the diagnosis. If the fecal examination is unsuccessful in providing a diagnosis, vets may opt to use more complex methods such as abdominal radiographs, blood counts, biochemical profiles, and a therapeutic trial.

However, these methods aren’t generally used unless the symptoms become life-threatening. Once the Giardia parasite gets to the dog’s intestines, it can spread to other places of the body. This can be problematic to multiple-dog homes. All breeds of dogs can get this disease, but puppies and elderly dogs are most at risk as well as those with compromised immune systems. The disease can also be transmitted to humans, which is why it’s so important to wash your hands and clothing if you’re touching the animal’s feces.

How Much Does it Cost to Treat Giardia?

Although giardia treatment is not very expensive, certain factors can affect the treatment cost. The largest factor is the lack of a diagnosis. The most common symptom, diarrhea, is often overlooked or ignored because pet owners think it’s common for dogs, and especially puppies, to develop diarrheas periodically. Letting diarrhea continue for a length of time can lead to dehydration, excessive weight loss, and more serious health issues.

These are other things that can affect the treatment cost. For instance, hospitalization may be required if the dog is very sick and has had diarrhea for a long time. With this type of treatment, there will be a large bill that may include medication, veterinary examinations, prescription drugs, and follow-up treatment. In a situation like this, you might expect to pay over $1,000 depending on the vet or the clinic.

The bill can be even higher if there are severe symptoms and other health issues going on inside of the animal. However, if the treatment is early and uncomplicated, the bill can range from $25 to $100.

In most of these cases, the cost will be covered under pet insurance if the dog develops the disease after being on the policy and fulfilling its waiting period. The pew owner will have to pay the deductible and the co-insurance.

Is Giardia a Pre-Existing Condition?

Giardia may or may not be considered a pre-existing condition. A pre-existing condition is a health condition or symptom that the animal had before the policy went into effect. For instance, you bring your dog to the vet for giardia treatment and have no pet insurance. The vet will treat your dog, and you pay the bill.

At this time, you realize it may have been helpful to have pet insurance, so you buy a pet insurance plan. Two months later, you bring your dog in for severe diarrhea, which is the main symptom of giardia. If the vet determines that the diarrhea is caused by giardia, pet insurance will not cover any of the bills.

However, if the vet examines your dog and determines that the diarrhea is the symptom of a new disease, it will be covered by the pet insurance if the new illness is a covered illness under the pet insurance plan. Every pet insurance has different rules regarding what they’ll cover, but most pet insurance companies will not cover pre-existing conditions.

Is Diarrhea Covered by Pet Insurance?

When a dog or cat is brought in for diarrhea, it’s usually after the animal has had it for several days. Before the vet can make an accurate diagnosis, the vet must run various tests to see if there are underlying conditions causing diarrhea. These tests might include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Stool culture
  • Fecal examination
  • Abdominal x-rays
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Serum biochemistry analysis
  • Colonoscopy or endoscopy
  • Intestinal biopsy
  • Specific tests for bacteria, viruses, and diarrhea-inciting illnesses

The vet may need to do all of these tests or just a few, and these are all exams that are covered by pet insurance as long as it’s not an accident-only policy. The only way these services would not be covered by pet insurance was if the dog had giardia before you had the pet insurance policy on the dog because the vet visit would be considered part of a pre-existing condition.

Because of how common Giardia is in animals, many pet owners ask, “Does pet insurance cover Giardia?” when they purchase a pet insurance policy. This is especially true for pet owners who have more than one dog, and they’re kept outdoors.

Our recommendation is to get pet insurance coverage on your pet early, so you can avoid any additional costs due to something being deemed a pre-existing condition.