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Pet Insurance for Older Pets: Why To Consider It

Older dog with white snout standing in front of sun and blue sky

Our pets aging and experiencing health changes can be a difficult time for everyone but the aging process is normal evolution of cats' and dogs' physical and mental changes. How and when individual cats and dogs age depends on a huge number of factors - there is no single age when these physical and mental shifts may start to occur. Cats can start slowing from 7 - 11 years old and dogs anywhere from 5 - 8 years old, somewhat depending on their size (but there's still lots of other factors at play). As a pet ages their health needs can evolve unexpectedly and pet insurance can be a powerful tool in caring for an older pet.

Caring for older dogs:

Dogs can develop many diseases that can impact their behaviour. If you have an older dog, they may become more nervous, fearful, or anxious and feel more vulnerable. They may not have as much energy and will require more sleep before being feeling fully rested. This does not mean that you don't need to exercise them, and they can still expend energy and have fun with you. 

  • Weight. Older dogs can be more prone to weight issues so moderating their food intake is worthwhile - especially as older dogs that carry more weight also have greater pressure on their joints.
  • Temperature change. As well as some weight issues, older dogs are more sensitive to extreme temperature changes so being mindful of the transition between indoor and outdoor activity can help them. 
  • Stability. Be cautious with slippery floors. Older dogs can have more challenges maintaining grip so utilizing rugs and carpets can help them stay balanced. 
  • Potty breaks. Your dog can have a harder time maintaining control of their potty routine. Giving them plenty of opportunities to head to the bathroom will benefit them and giving them a short distance from where they rest to the potty area can also help them. 

Your dog is likely to experience more health issues as they age and being ready for these situations emotionally and financially can be beneficial - to them and to you. 

Caring for older cats:

Older cats tend to be less active and playful, they may sleep more, gain or lose weight, and have trouble reaching their favourite places. Don't always chalk up behaviour changes to old age, however. Such changes can be signs of common diseases or dental problems. If you have concerns always consult with your veterinarian.

  • Hydration. Older cats need access to plenty of water which can help reduce the risk of constipation and kidney disease. Keeping access to water at ground level (and not in high-places like counter tops) will also help them as they age.
  • Grooming. Some cats will find self-grooming more difficult as their flexibility decreases. Gentle grooming help them and provide wonderful shared moments together. 
  • Getting around. Your cat may have a favorite spot in the house or apartment that becomes more difficult to reach as they age. Installing ramps or cat-stairs can help them get to their favorite places and be doubly useful in ensuring they can get to important spots like a litter box.
  • Potty access. When your cat was younger, you may have had one litter box or a single access point for your cat to head outdoors. Increasing access to these areas can help them as their ability to move freely reduces. For example, having a litter box in each room that your cat spends lots of time in will help them in making it without any mishaps. 

Similarly to dogs, cats will likely experience more health conditions in old age. Common things like dental issues, joint pain, hairballs, and diabetes, can all pose risks, so planning ahead for your senior cats health needs can be hugely valuable.

How Pet Insurance Can Help Older Pets

The financial uncertainty of taking care of our older pets can be reduced with pet insurance. With a quality pet insurance policy, the risks of large and unexpected veterinary bills is reduced and as your pet's health needs increase so does the average annual cost for treatments. 

Owners of older pets may already be grappling with a need for additional equipment to help their older pet have great quality of life. Costs for things like specialist food, medications, small modifications to your home (ramps, baby-gates), can add up and pet insurance can remove some financial risk at a time when you probably want to be saving on pet costs

Older pets can still get insurance, but your insurance premium may be higher compared to what you'd pay with a younger pet. Note that most pet insurance policies won't cover your pet's pre-existing conditions.

Ultimately, the cost of your premium takes into consideration the breed, age, size and health of your pet, plus the personal information like where you and your pet live, which you provide when getting a quote.

Common Conditions For Older Pets in Canada

We’ve searched through claims data to assess the most common conditions likely to affect aging cats and dogs. Treating conditions like these can be costly and they can occur with greater frequency in a senior pet.

Dogs 5 years old Cats 5 years old 
Allergy Urinary Tract Infection
Otitis Constipation
Lameness and Limping Anemia
Seizures Heart Murmur
Cruciate Rupture (ACL, CCL) Kidney Disease
Dogs 7 years old Cats 7 years old
Allergy Urinary Tract Infectious Disease
Lameness and Limping Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Otitis Heart Murmur
Mass Allergy
Vomiting and Diarrhea Loss of Appetite
Dogs 10 years old Cats 10 years old
Lameness and Limping Diabetes
Allergy Mass
Arthritis Constipation
Mass Vomiting and Diarrhea
Cruciate Rupture (ACL,CCL) Urinary Tract Infectious Disease


It’s never possible to guess how your pet’s health will change as they age, but if you know which ailments commonly affect their breed type, seeking advice from your veterinarian about the treatment costs attached to these common conditions can be weighed up with the benefits of pet insurance for your pet.

Insuring Senior Pets. Final Thoughts:

At PHI Direct we’re very strong advocates for pet insurance generally. PHI Direct’s pet insurance is designed to be affordable so more Canadian cats and dogs than ever before can be protected – and this includes older pets. Our time-limited coverage means that costs stay manageable as pets age because PHI Direct only covers new accidents and illnesses that may arise.

Insuring an older pet with PHI Direct is generally more expensive than with a younger pet – but our prices for insuring an older pet should stay lower than many of our competitors. Many other providers increase the cost of premiums significantly in a pet’s later life meaning that insurance protection is less affordable right at the moment when it's often needed most.

Insuring an older pet can reduce risk for the larger health conditions (both in quantity and severity) that an older pet may experience. Pet insurance is a great tool for planning ahead for your pet’s health needs - whatever their stage of life and helps with caring for a happier and healthier senior dog or cat.

*Source: 2021 North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) Industry Data Report, Section 3: Average Premiums (Canada) / PHI Direct’s average premium for cats is $19.17/month compared to the industry average of $30.76. PHI Direct’s average premium for dogs is $37.64/month compared to the industry average of $63.95.

Featured Image by Derek Sears on Unsplash