Vet Blog

Can Vets Treat Their Own Pets & File Pet Insurance Claims?

Kari Steere
Licensed Insurance Producer - Pawlicy Advisor
vet treating dog in home

As many as 91% of veterinarians own a pet, and these four-legged friends can suffer from injuries and illnesses just like any other pet might.1 When this happens, vets may be inclined to apply their professional expertise to their companions like any other patient. But just because you may work in a vet office or animal hospital doesn’t mean the cost of care is “on the house”; bills can still be costly, especially when managing ongoing conditions like cancer or glaucoma.

Many veterinary professionals enroll their pets in health insurance because they know the valuable financial support and peace of mind a plan can provide. However, if you’re a vet (or a family member of one) enrolled in a policy, note that not all providers allow vets to treat their own pets then file an insurance claim for reimbursement.

Read on to learn more stipulations about vets treating their personal pets, how it may affect insurance claims, and more.

Table of Contents:

Can a vet treat their own pet and file a pet insurance claim?

It depends; some of the most popular pet insurance providers — including Embrace, ASPCA, and MetLife — do not allow vets to treat their own pets and/or their family members' pets.

One of the main reasons why this is not allowed is because it introduces the possibility of insurance fraud (concealment of pre-existing conditions, cost markup for higher reimbursement, treatment may not actually be a medical necessity, etc). In addition, these providers believe that unbiased care may be in the animal's best interest.

Other insurers like Prudent Pet and Pets Best have no restrictions in place, whereas Figo only allows vets to treat family members’ pets but not their own. However, according to these companies’ policies, treatment must occur at the veterinary practice (i.e. not at the vet’s home kitchen or living room). They also require the vet to keep the same files and paperwork as any other patient.

However, some pet insurance providers have regulations against claims by veteraniarians for their own animals.

Pet Insurance Policies on Vets Treating Their Own Pets

Provider Can vets treat their own pets? Can vets treat relatives' pets?
Embrace NO NO
ASPCA/Hartville NO NO
Prudent Pet Yes Yes
Pets Best Yes Yes
Figo NO Yes
Metlife NO NO

View More Details

Can a vet treat their own pet if they’re not filing an insurance claim?

Yes, a vet can treat their own pet if they’re not filing an insurance claim. In fact, it is often considered one of the perks of the job.

In human medicine, there are restrictions related to providing care to family members because “professional objectivity may be compromised when an immediate family member or the a physician is the patient.”2 According to the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, such restrictions don’t exist when it comes to veterinary care.3

Although AVMA does not specify that veterinarians cannot treat their own pets, it does offer some general guidelines.

What the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics Say

2.1. A veterinarian should first consider the needs of the patient to prevent and relieve disease, suffering, or disability while minimizing pain or fear.
2.2. Regardless of practice ownership, the interests of the patient, client, and public require that all decisions that affect diagnosis and treatment of patients are made by veterinarians in the context of a VCPR.
2.3. Attending veterinarians are responsible for choosing the treatment regimen for their patients. It is the attending veterinarian's responsibility to inform the client of the expected results and costs, and the related risks of each treatment regimen.
3.2. Local or state veterinary associations have a responsibility to monitor and guide the professional conduct of their members. Members of local and state committees are familiar with local customs and circumstances, and those committees are in the best position to confer with all parties involved. Local and state veterinary associations should consider adopting the Principles or a similar code as a guide for their activities and include discussions of ethical issues in their continuing education programs. The AVMA Board of Governors may address complaints prior to, concurrent with, or subsequent to review at the state or local level, as it deems appropriate.
3.10. Veterinarians shall disclose to clients potential conflicts of interest.
4.1. A veterinarian should obey all laws of the jurisdictions in which they reside and practice veterinary medicine.

Can a vet diagnose their own pet?

Yes, a vet can diagnose their pet as a patient if they're qualified to do so (and if they are not filing an insurance claim).

Here’s what the veterinary community says:4

“I have often treated my own pets, even performed surgery on them, but I also seek input from colleagues when I want to be sure I have not missed any symptoms and made a correct diagnosis.” - Sif Traustadottir, Veterinarian
“Many do of course, but within the limits of what they have ready access to for diagnostic and treatment equipment. Some I have worked with refuse to let another vet weigh in on their pet’s health and others do not trust themselves because they know they are too attached to have an objective perspective on things.” - Lesley Evans, Veterinary Technician
“Yes definitely! I am a vet. Do you think I would take my pet to another vet when I know what the problem is and how to treat it?” - Namratha Poonacha, Veterinary Surgeon



Can a vet perform surgery on their own pets?

Yes, a vet can perform surgery on their own pet if they have the right experience, qualifications, proper medical tools and facilities.

For this reason many vets prefer to work in conjunction with their colleagues. As Dr. Patrick Mahaney5 says, “I always seek guidance from other practitioners who are more experienced and educated than myself.”

Can a vet write prescriptions for their own pet?

The regulations governing whether a veterinarian can write a prescription for their own pet vary by state. For example, it is illegal in the state of Illinois6 for veterinarians to issue prescriptions to animals they own. According to the law, the vet’s pets are not considered patients to the veterinary.

When to seek help from other veterinarians

As with any other patient, you should enlist the guidance of a veterinary specialist who may be more experienced or educated about a certain health condition.

Be sure to take your pet to another veterinary practice if your subjective opinion could affect their treatment plan and health outcome.

The great thing about pet insurance is that it works with all licensed veterinarians. Unlike human health insurance, there are no restrictions on approved veterinary networks, so pets can be seen by any licensed provider in the U.S.

Where can vets sign up for pet insurance?

If you are a veterinarian looking to buy pet insurance, Pawlicy Advisor is your best bet. Pawlicy Advisor is a pet insurance marketplace endorsed by veterinarians. The search tool provides objective recommendations for insurance plans based on proprietary algorithms in just a few clicks, which makes it perfect for vets who are too busy to research fine print details themselves.

Now, pet insurance for vets from a source you can trust, unlike other platforms that suggest providers based on their advertising spend. Get a quote and compare plans from top companies by clicking the button below.

Compare Plans

Key Takeaways

  • In general, vets can usually treat their own pets if they are not filing a pet insurance claim.
  • Some insurance providers, such as Embrace, ASPCA, and Harville, do not allow veterinarians to file pet insurance claims for services rendered on their own family members.
  • AVMA principles state that local authorities supersede the board's guidelines, so always check what laws are in the place where you live
  • Know how to recognize when your pet's treatment may be in better hands from colleagues at another practice.

References:

  1. HABRI, “International Survey of Pet Owners & Veterinarians”, Accessed on October 12, 2022
  2. AMA, “Treating Self or Family”, Accessed on October 12, 2022
  3. AVMA, “Principles of veterinary medical ethics of the AVMA”, Accessed on October 12, 2022
  4. Quora, “Do vets treat their own pets?”, Accessed on October 12, 2022
  5. PetMD, “Can a Veterinarian Treat His Own Pet?”, Accessed on October 12, 2022
  6. 1818, “A Warning to Vets and Their Pets: Don’t Self-Medicate!”, Accessed on October 12, 2022

Do you want to find the best pet insurance?

Let's analyze your pet's breed, age, and location to find the right coverage and the best savings. Ready?

Analyze My Pet

About Pawlicy Advisor

The pet insurance marketplace endorsed by veterinarians, at Pawlicy Advisor we make buying the best pet insurance easier. By comparing personalized coverage and pricing differences we can save you a ton of money, up to 83% in some instances!

Pawlicy Advisor helping a pet parent and their dog find a great deal on insurance

Instantly Compare Pet Insurance Plans

Get Quotes

Guides

How Pet Insurance Works

How To Compare Plans

Determine If Pet Insurance Is Worth It

Determine If Wellness Plans Are Worth It

Vet Visit Costs

New Puppy Checklist

Comparison Charts

ASPCA vs. Embrace

Embrace vs. Fetch

Fetch vs. Figo

Figo vs. Hartville

More Comparison Charts

Find Your State

New Jersey

California

Florida

Oregon

Texas

New York

Colorado

Pennsylvania

More States

Dog Insurance

German Shepherd

Rottweiler

Akita

Boxer

English Bulldog

French Bulldog

Great Dane

Pug

Corgi

Chihuahua

Poodle

More Breeds

Kari Steer, Licensed P&C Insurance Agent at Pawlicy Advisor

Kari Steere
Licensed Insurance Producer - Pawlicy Advisor

Kari Steere is a licensed P&C insurance agent in all 50 states and has focused entirely on pet insurance since 2019. As an animal lover with a rescued Terrier named Barry, when she's not helping pet owners find the perfect plan on Pawlicy Advisor, she runs a ranch in Oregon and rehabilitates any animals that come across her path.

More you might like

Payment Peace of Mind badge overlaying a vet clinic waiting room
2 minute read

Payment Peace of Mind with Pawlicy Advisor

world veterinary day
21 minute read

Vets We Love To Follow: World Veterinary Day Shout-Out

Vet on tablet in office
5 minute read

3 State-of-the-Art Technological Innovations That Veterinarians Should Integrate with Their Practice Right Now

veterinary clients waiting with pets
6 minute read

6 Tools That Improve Client Compliance In 2022

conversation between veterinarian and pet owner
6 minute read

3 Tips For Successful Conversations that Save Lives

canine scent detection training at penn vet
5 minute read

VetReview: Penn Vet Is Training Dogs to Smell COVID-19, And Other Updates

cat getting blood tests
6 minute read

VetReview: Animal Disease Lab Shifts to Human COVID Testing, And Other Updates

kitten with money and bills to pay
1 minute read

A Veterinary CPA Provides Steps to Keep Your Practice Alive Through COVID-19

veterinary curbside pickup with PPE
5 minute read

How Veterinary Practices Are Managing COVID-19

cat with PPE and laptop
4 minute read

How COVID-19 is Affecting Veterinary Professionals and Their Patients

Happy, empty animal shelter in Florida
4 minute read

VetReview: Veterinarians Help Human Hospitals Fight Pandemic, And Other Updates

digital veterinary resources
6 minute read

Why Veterinary Partner Is A Critical Client Resource for Practices In 2022

colorado state research innovation center
3 minute read

VetReview: New Coronavirus Studies, Pet Adoptions Soar, And Other Updates

veterinary telemedicine example
8 minute read

Veterinary Telemedicine: Everything Vets Need To Know About Remote Clinical Services In 2023

Back to Blog
A family with pets that are insured by Pawlicy Advisor
Pawlicy Advisor is the leading independent marketplace for finding the best coverage for your pet at the lowest rate.
Join 2,438,795+ insured dogs and cats across the US.
Get a Quote
Our pet insurance partners
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance Logo
Embrace Pet Insurance Logo
Fetch Pet Insurance Logo
Figo Pet Insurance Logo
Hartville Pet Insurance Logo
MetLife Pet Insurance Logo