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Does Pet Insurance Cover Degenerative Myelopathy?

Written by: Z


Z is a Special Project Coordinator of HomeLife Media and a writer for She has 3 dogs namely Skye, Luna, and one of them is a rescue, named Tesla.Read more
| Published on August 25, 2023

Pet ownership comes with immeasurable joy, companionship, and the responsibility of providing the best care for our furry friends. Just like humans, pets can also suffer from various health conditions, including degenerative myelopathy. This neurological disorder primarily affects dogs, especially those of certain breeds, and it can be emotionally and financially challenging for pet owners. This raises the important question: does pet insurance cover degenerative myelopathy?

Understanding Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a progressive neurological disorder that affects a dog’s spinal cord. It is often compared to multiple sclerosis in humans. DM primarily affects certain breeds, including German Shepherds, Boxers, Pembroke Welsh Corgis, and more. The disease typically manifests in older dogs, around 8 to 14 years of age.

The onset of degenerative myelopathy is gradual. Dogs initially exhibit weakness and loss of coordination in their hind limbs. As the disease progresses, these symptoms worsen, eventually leading to paralysis. While the exact cause of DM is not fully understood, it is believed to be linked to a genetic mutation that affects the spinal cord’s white matter.

Related: What’s the best pet insurance plan?

Given the progressive and debilitating nature of degenerative myelopathy, affected pets require extensive medical care, including diagnostics, medications, physical therapy, and possibly assistive devices like wheelchairs. This can place a significant financial burden on pet owners, making pet insurance an appealing option for managing the costs associated with the disease.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Degenerative Myelopathy?

The coverage of degenerative myelopathy under pet insurance policies can vary widely depending on the insurance provider, the specific policy, and the terms and conditions outlined in the policy document. It’s crucial for pet owners to thoroughly review policy details and have a clear understanding of what is covered before making a decision.

  1. Pre-existing Conditions: Most pet insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. If your dog is diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy before you purchase the insurance, it is likely that treatment related to this condition will not be covered. This is why it’s recommended to enroll your pet in insurance while they are young and healthy.
  2. Waiting Periods: Many insurance policies have waiting periods before coverage begins. This means that even if you enroll your pet when they are healthy, there may be a waiting period before degenerative myelopathy-related expenses are eligible for coverage. This waiting period can vary, so it’s important to clarify this detail with the insurance provider.
  3. Coverage Limits: Pet insurance policies often come with annual or lifetime coverage limits. This means that the insurance will cover expenses related to degenerative myelopathy up to a certain amount. Once this limit is reached, you would be responsible for any additional costs. Be sure to understand these limits and choose a policy that aligns with your financial comfort level.
  4. Add-on or Specific Coverage: Some insurance providers offer add-on packages or specific coverage options that include hereditary or genetic conditions. Degenerative myelopathy, being a genetic disorder, might fall under such coverage. However, these add-ons could come at an additional cost, so evaluate whether the extra coverage is worth the expense.
  5. Exclusions: It’s important to read the fine print and understand any exclusions listed in the policy. Certain breeds may be excluded from coverage for degenerative myelopathy, or there might be other conditions under which the disease won’t be covered.
  6. Claim Process: Familiarize yourself with the claim process of the insurance company. This includes understanding how claims are filed, what documentation is required, and the timeline for reimbursement. Keep meticulous records of your pet’s medical history and expenses to streamline the claims process.

Making an Informed Decision

When considering whether to purchase pet insurance with the intention of covering degenerative myelopathy, here are some steps to take:

  1. Research: Look into different pet insurance providers and policies. Compare coverage options, waiting periods, coverage limits, and any add-ons available for hereditary conditions.
  2. Read Reviews: Research customer reviews and experiences with the insurance companies you are considering. This can give you insights into the company’s reputation and how they handle claims.
  3. Consult Your Veterinarian: Your veterinarian can provide valuable advice about your pet’s breed-specific risks and the likelihood of developing degenerative myelopathy. They might also have insights into which insurance providers are commonly used by pet owners in your area.
  4. Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to reach out to insurance providers with specific questions about their coverage for degenerative myelopathy. Clarify any doubts you have before committing to a policy.
  5. Consider Your Pet’s Age: If you have a breed prone to degenerative myelopathy, consider enrolling them in insurance while they are young and healthy to avoid potential coverage issues due to pre-existing conditions.

Next Step: Compare the best pet insurance carriers here

The Bottom Line

Degenerative myelopathy can be emotionally distressing and financially challenging for pet owners. While some pet insurance policies may offer coverage for this condition, it’s essential to do your due diligence before selecting a policy. Thoroughly review policy details, ask questions, and consider the long-term financial implications. By making an informed decision, you can provide your beloved pet with the care they need while mitigating the financial stress that can come with treating degenerative myelopathy.

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