Some pet parents may feel pet insurance is unnecessary, as it may seem like just another monthly bill. However, we never know when our dogs may become sick or have an accident.
I know the last thing any pet parent wants to think about is their dog needing emergency veterinary treatment. Still, emergencies happen, especially when our dogs are outside and exposed to more health risks.
While I can’t say for sure if and when your pet will need emergency care, it’s fair to say that many pet parents will face emergency vet bills at some point during their dog’s life. Unfortunately, one unexpected veterinary bill costs between $800 and $1,500 on average, which would catch many Americans off guard.1
Many treatments, such as emergency surgery or cancer treatments, can cost thousands of dollars. When surveyed, only 19.44% of pet parents said they would be able to cover a $5,000 vet bill out-of-pocket, which would leave many pet parents struggling to pay for their dog’s necessary veterinary care.
I never want that to be any pet parent’s reality.
Here's what I say when asked if outdoor dogs need pet insurance:
- Do outdoor dogs really need pet insurance?
- Extreme temperatures and inclement weather are dangerous
- Risk of exposure to parasites
- Usually more prone to injury
- Often require more grooming
- May be more prone to developing behavioral issues
- Key Takeaways
Do outdoor dogs really need pet insurance?
While no dog should ever live and sleep outside every day and night, we know that there are many hardworking pups and high-energy breeds that love spending most of their time outside running around. However, being outside more can increase your dog’s health risk factors, so having a pet insurance plan in place can be especially valuable for outdoor dogs.
Vets agree that dog insurance is worth it for many pet parents, but outdoor dogs can benefit from pet insurance even more due to their increased risk factors. Let’s take a look at some of these risk factors now.
Extreme temperatures and inclement weather are dangerous
Dogs that spend significant amounts of time outside are at an increased risk of conditions like heat stroke, hypothermia, and more.
When it’s too hot outside for dogs, they are at significant risk of heatstroke and dehydration, which are both potentially deadly conditions. The mortality rate for heatstroke in dogs is almost 50%, making this a very real and serious concern.2 Since dogs have higher internal temperatures than humans, heatstroke in dogs is more common too.
On the other hand, keeping dogs warm in the winter can be challenging, especially with sudden temperature drops presenting the life-threatening risk of frostbite and hypothermia. Preventing the risk of frostbite is just one of the reasons why my outdoor dogs have heated doghouses. Certain factors, like being a puppy, elderly, or diabetic, can also increase your dog’s risk of these life-threatening conditions.
Heatstroke, frostbite, and hypothermia usually require emergency treatment and hospitalization. The diagnostic procedures alone can easily cost between $1,000 to $2,000.3 Pet insurance is one way I protect myself from large emergency vet bills like these.
Risk of exposure to parasites
Outdoor dogs are much more likely to be exposed to parasites and worms, and they can expose other animals on the farm, animals in your home, and even humans. Unfortunately, a dog that has a worm inside them can pass the worm’s eggs through their feces, exposing all animals and humans in the area to the worm eggs. A single worm can produce more than 100,000 eggs per day, which is a significant health hazard to everyone.4
The cost of treatment and preventatives for worms and parasites can be substantial. However, the alternative, risking transmission to others and the veterinary costs for treating your dog, can be far more expensive. For example, treating worms can cost up to $90 for a round of treatment (many dogs, especially puppies, need multiple rounds of treatment). This amount doesn’t include the physical exam costs, which are typically around $40 to $100 per visit depending on the location.5 If you have multiple infected dogs, this can quickly add up.
In contrast, a flea and worm preventative that you give your pup will typically cost around $65 for three months of protection.6 With a pet wellness plan, you can receive coverage for vaccines and preventatives. Some pet parents may pay as little as $10 per month for a wellness plan, resulting in dramatic savings. Many wellness plans will also cover the cost of deworming, as well as exam fees if your dog still requires treatment.
Typically more prone to injuries
Living on a farm with my dogs has given me a new perspective on the huge number of injuries that our dogs can have. Over the last 20 years, we have spent well over $100,000 between regular checkups, dental cleanings, vaccines, and injuries.
Unfortunately, injuries are far more common in outdoor dogs. My own dogs have been injured from porcupine attacks, kicks from elk or cows, and just getting too excited and tearing an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament condition). Our closest 24-hour vet is two hours away and charges $500 just to get in the door, making even the exam for an injury very expensive.
Other common outdoor injuries include:
- Accidental poisonings
- Attacks from predators
- Puncture wounds from sharp rocks
- Lacerations from a fence
- Accidents involving farm equipment and cars.
Outdoor dogs typically have less supervision, so injuries and accidental poisoning are more likely to happen, especially given the large number of poisonous plants, rodenticides, weed killers, animals, fences, debris, and more that are often outside our homes.
Treatments for accidents and injuries can cost thousands of dollars. For example, antifreeze poisoning typically costs between $2,000 to $6,000, and rodenticide poisoning can cost up to $4,000 to treat.6 Needless to say, our outdoor dogs are more prone to accidents and injuries because it is harder to control what they may come across, whether this is another animal or a toxic substance. Personally, pet insurance gives me peace of mind knowing that my dogs are covered if they are injured or accidentally consume something harmful.
Often require more grooming
Outdoor dogs typically need more grooming than their indoor counterparts due to the weather, wind, and situations, like herding or running through bushes that may tangle their fur. If left untreated, matted fur can cause dermatitis in dogs. Dogs can also have flea infestations in their fur. Fleas leave our pets itchy and can even transmit dangerous diseases or worms, such as murine typhus and tapeworms, to them.7
Fleas can quickly become a danger to your other pets and even humans around a flea-infested dog because fleas don’t discriminate when choosing a host or biting whoever they come in contact with. Per Banfield Pet Hospital, only 5% of the flea infestation is actually on your dog. The rest is likely in your home or yard, making fleas a serious danger.7
Fortunately, wellness plans can help your outdoor dog avoid skin issues like itchy skin, matted fur, and parasites. Many pet wellness plans provide coverage for flea preventatives, and some even reimburse you for grooming costs. As someone who has spent a lot of money over the years on wellness checkups, vaccines, and other preventative care measures, a wellness plan is something I definitely recommend to other outdoor dog parents. It’s worth it between the money saved and helping your dog avoid serious health risks, like fleas and tapeworms.
May be more prone to developing behavioral problems
It’s hard to imagine, but even the friendliest and most well-trained dog can lash out at another human, especially if they are trained to be protective of you and your property.
I’ve personally raised my dogs to be protectors rather than herders. So, my dogs are outdoors frequently and are in charge of watching and alerting us when there are other animals or possible threats in the area. This is the case for many outdoor dogs.
However, this can lead to potential problems if your dog identifies another human as a threat. Unless you’re covered by a homeowner’s policy or renter’s pet insurance, you could potentially face thousands of dollars in lawsuits if your dog bites someone. Certain pet insurance policies include pet liability coverage, which will protect you financially if your dog bites someone or damages another person’s property. In 2019, the average claim for a dog bite case was $44,760, so protecting yourself financially is definitely a wise investment.8
Why is pet insurance so important for outdoor dogs?
For many families, pet insurance is a matter of protecting their investment. Outdoor dogs are typically working dogs, whether they are herders or protectors. As a result of increased health risks and their work, outdoor dogs tend to live shorter lives than dogs that spend most of their time indoors. So, to maximize the value of your working dog, you must preserve their health so that they can live as long as possible.
Pet insurance allows you to be reimbursed for up to 100% of the money you spend on out-of-pocket, covered veterinary expenses once your deductible is met. Having pet insurance makes it easier to call your vet at the first sign of red flags and take your dog in for annual checkups so that they can be screened for disease.
On top of this, pet medical emergencies are far more expensive to treat without pet insurance. Pet insurance allows you to focus on getting your dog the best care possible without worrying about which treatments you can afford.
Invest in your dog’s health and future with a pet insurance plan today. Get your free quote here.
- Outdoor dogs are an investment and, unfortunately, they typically live shorter lives due to increased health risks.
- We can help our outdoor dogs live longer, healthier lives with regular preventative veterinary care.
- Pet insurance gives you a financial safety net for medical emergencies, such as accidents, toxin ingestions, exposure risks, parasites, and much more.
- CNBC, “Are You Prepared for a Per Emergency? Most Americans are not,” Accessed Feb. 1, 2022.
- Bellevue Animal Hospital, “How Hot is Too Hot? Heatstroke and Your Pets,” Accessed Feb. 1, 2022.
- AARP, “How Much Should You Spend to Save a Pet?” Accessed Feb. 1, 2022.
- Pets and Parasites, “Pets, Parasites, and People,” Accessed Feb. 1, 2022.
- How Much Is It, “How Much Does Deworming a Dog Cost?” Accessed Feb. 1, 2022.
- Preventive Vet, “Pet Emergency Statistics,” Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
- The Mercury News, “The Cost of Treating for Fleas, Ticks, and Heartworms,” Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
- The Keating Firm, “How Much Can I Sue for a Dog Bite?” Accessed Feb. 1, 2022.