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What Are Pet Wellness Plans?

We all want our pets to live long, healthy lives, and routine veterinary care can play a vital role in pet health and longevity. And while standard pet insurance helps cover the unexpected, many pet owners are also looking for ways to save on their pet’s routine healthcare. This is where wellness plans can be helpful. Let’s explore what pet wellness plans are and some of the different types of coverage and benefits offered.

What are pet wellness plans?

Pet wellness plans are designed to help cover your pet’s preventative care. Preventative pet care encompasses annual veterinary exams, vaccines, parasite prevention, and other services considered preventative. Wellness plans do not cover treatment for pets that are ill or injured. While there are many different pet wellness plans with varying levels of coverage, they typically fall into one of two categories: veterinary wellness plans or pet insurance wellness plans.

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Veterinary wellness plans vs. pet wellness insurance

Veterinary wellness plans are a membership or subscription-type service through your vet clinic. You’ll choose a plan or package of services based on age or needs (puppy/kitten packages, senior packages, etc.) and pay a monthly or annual fee to maintain your membership. Specific services will be covered at future visits. While wellness plans are offered at various vet clinics, you’ll most often find them at national chains like VCA and Banfield, and services are only redeemable at one of their locations.

Pet insurance wellness plans operate similarly to other types of pet health insurance. You’ll enroll in a plan through a pet insurance provider, pay a monthly or annual fee to maintain coverage and submit claims for reimbursement for veterinary services. Pet insurance wellness plans do not restrict what clinics you can visit. As long as the services are included in the plan and provided by a licensed veterinarian, they can be reimbursed. Pet insurance wellness plans are often offered as add-ons to accident and illness policies, but a few providers provide stand-alone plans for pet wellness care.

Unlike other types of pet insurance, wellness plans typically do not have waiting periods, deductibles, age limits, or any exclusions based on breed or health. Once coverage is activated, your pet is covered for the services listed in your plan, regardless of age, breed, or pre-existing conditions.

Overall, both wellness plans can help pet owners save on their pet’s preventative care; the main differences lie in where veterinary services can be obtained (specific clinic vs. any clinic) and how the services are covered (upfront vs. reimbursement).

What does a pet wellness plan cover?

Coverage can vary based on the provider and the individual plan, but most wellness plans offer coverage options for the following pet wellness care services:

  • Wellness exams. This might include annual pet exams or biannual pet exams for puppies, kittens, or senior pets.
  • Vaccines. Coverage for vaccines can vary; some plans cover all vaccines, some cover specific vaccines, and some assign an amount that can be spent on pet vaccinations yearly.
  • Parasite treatment and prevention. Some plans cover prescription parasite prevention for pets, such as heartworm, flea, tick medications, and anthelmintic drugs to treat and control intestinal worms.
  • Routine lab tests. This might include annual health screenings through blood work, urinalysis, heartworm tests, and intestinal parasite screenings (fecal tests).
  • Dental care. Some plans cover an annual dental cleaning, dental X-rays, or other forms of pet dental care and oral health screenings.
  • Preventative procedures. Some plans offer coverage for preventative surgeries such as sterilization (spaying/neutering pets) and/or gastropexy procedures to prevent bloat in high-risk breeds like Great Danes. Some plans also cover microchipping for lost pet prevention.
Important
While these are examples of commonly covered items in pet wellness plans, not every plan will cover every service on this list, and some plans offer additional services not listed. Check your plan for complete coverage details.

Benefits of pet wellness plans

Pet wellness plans can have many benefits — from helping pet owners plan for and save on preventative care to additional perks that some plans offer, like vet telehealth and discounts on other pet services and products.

For some pet owners, a wellness plan can help make preventative care visits more accessible and affordable. Preventative care visits ensure pets are healthy and protected from infectious diseases and parasites. They can help detect ailments early when they may be easier and less costly.

How to choose a pet wellness plan

Choosing a pet wellness plan can come down to several factors, including what plans are available in your area, what services are covered, and how the plans fit into your budget. It’s always a good idea to compare several plans to find the best fit. Consider the following when comparing plans:

  1. Your pet’s needs. Consider your pet's preventative care needs and what plans best align with those needs. For example, puppies and kittens might benefit from packages that cover more visits and vaccines; senior pets might benefit from plans that include two yearly exams, and small dog breeds prone to dental disease might benefit from dental cleanings.
  2. Costs vs. savings. Compare the cost of a wellness plan vs. preventative care services you typically pay yearly for your pet. Some plans might save you more than others or cover higher-priced services like dental cleanings not offered in other plans.
  3. Plan perks. Some plans offer perks like vet telehealth and discounts on pet products and services like supplements, toys, treats, training, grooming, nail trims, and more. If you have a long-haired dog or cat that requires frequent grooming or a new puppy that you’re looking into training classes for, these types of perks can add significant savings.

Wading through wellness plans: final considerations

Wellness plans can be an excellent resource for pet owners looking to plan and save on their pet’s preventative care, but reviewing all options is essential to finding the best fit. It’s also a good idea to consult your veterinarian. Your vet can advise on your pet’s vaccine schedule, how many exams are needed yearly, what health screenings are recommended, and more. This can help you determine what plan might save you money and, most importantly — ensure your pet stays happy and healthy.

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