Each week, we receive dozens of questions about Bulldogs, their health, and about Bulldog health insurance.
Here are some of the questions we receive the most often...
• Does my Bulldog need pet insurance?
• What is the best pet insurance for Bulldogs?
• Is pet insurance worth it for Bulldogs?
First, let us say that this Bulldog Blog is not providing financial and/or insurance advice. We are simply the sharing our experiences. What works for us, may not work for you, and visa versa. Please do your own research.
However, we are asked these questions so frequently, we definitely wanted to respond to our community.
As we all know, Bulldogs are not inexpensive. They can cost several thousand dollars to bring into your home and much more than that over the years. Nothing can drive up these expenses faster than a sick or injured Bulldog. And, Bulldogs do have a track record of having to make more trips to the veterinarian than some other breeds.
With all this factored in, we always do get pet insurance for our Bulldogs. We looked at it as "forced savings". Instead of paying the monthly premium, we could put that money into a savings account so it would be there when needed. But, we are human and know this would be very hard to be consistent with. Life happens, excuses will pop up, etc. So, we choose the insurance policy.
Pet Insurance Policy Details
If you are not familiar with the various policies that are available out there, they are very similar to human health insurance policies. You can choose a higher or lower deductible, different levels of coverage, lifetime coverage limits, health maintenance plans, etc. The more options you choose, and the lower your deductible is, the higher your monthly premium will be. Also, the younger your Bulldog is when you take out the policy, the lower your monthly premium will be.
Here is a typical policy for a young English Bulldog...
• $5,000 Annual Coverage
• $200 Deductible
• 90% Reimbursement
• Core Benefits: Accidents, Illnesses, Cancer, Hereditary Conditions, Surgeries, Emergency Care, Take-Home Prescriptions, Accident & Illness Exam Fees, Rehabilitation, Acupuncture & Chiropractic
• Monthly Premium: $55 - $65 month
Premiums can and probably will rise after large claims and as your Bulldog ages into advanced years. But, ours have remained pretty steady for the first 5-6 years.
Please make sure you read the coverage details to make sure you fully understand what is covered. For instance, certain injuries/conditions may only be covered after your Bulldog has been insured for at least 1-full calendar year. If there is something specific that you are concerned about, a quick call to the insurance company can often provide the some clarity.
Our Experiences With Pet Insurance
Let me tell you a little about Blue the Bulldog. Blue is incredibly athletic for a Bulldog. She is also very smart, extremely stubborn, and totally marches to the beat of her own drum. She weighs about 65 lbs, can be incredibly sweet one minute, and then a total pain in the ass the next. She absolutely knows right from wrong, but could often care less about being wrong, just as long as she can get her way.
Sound familiar?!? We love Blue, as she is such a unique and amazing Bulldog!
Blue plays hard on the beach. She will run with the other big dogs, and was as fast as just about all of them. She did this almost every day for the first 2 years of her life. We started to think...wow, this is an incredibly healthy and strong Bulldog...we should talk about dropping her insurance. Thank goodness we didn't do it.
One March evening, after Blue had just turned two-years-old, she walked down the stairs to the yard to do her nightly business. This was her routine, every night. However, after about five minutes, she did not come back up the stairs like she normally did. I called her name several times, all with no response. So, I walked down the stairs to find her, as we have a secure fenced in yard. When I got to the yard, Blue was just sitting down in the grass with a beleaguered look on her face. She did not look like she was in pain, but would not get up to walk.
I walked over to her, picked her up and gently placed her down on all 4 legs. She tried to take a couple steps, had a severe limp in her hind legs, and immediately sat back down. She had not been playing or running since much earlier in the day, she was walking around our house normally and got down the stairs just fine, so I was very confused as to what could have happened. I picked her up, carried her up the stairs, and put her in her bed so I could monitor her. Again, she did not seem to be in pain unless she tried to walk, so it did not seem like an emergency situation. But, of course I was very worried. She slept soundly that evening. I did not.
The next morning things were no better. She was in good spirits, but could not walk. I immediately called the vet and got an early appointment. After a thorough exam and some X-rays, Blue was diagnosed with two torn ACLs. We still are not sure exactly what caused the injuries. Our doctor said they may have just been ready to go, and a simply hop off the stairs could be the thing that trigger it.
He highly recommended surgery, since she was such a young and active dog. Oh boy...
We live on a small island off the Georgia coast and our vet does perform the tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) procedure, but recommended a specialist about 45 minutes away. He sent the X-rays to the surgeon and said I would receive a call. The next day, the surgeon called and confirmed that we were dealing with two torn ACLs, and then asked me to bring her in as soon as I could.
We got an appointment the next day, and after he examined her, we discussed the details of the surgeries needed to help fix Blue's legs.
The surgeon also explained why doing two legs during the same session was too much to ask a Bulldog to go through, and that we needed to do two surgeries about six weeks apart. The cost for each surgery was going to be about $3,500, which included all the follow-up visits, and any care that she needed due to the surgery and recovery. So, $3,500 X 2 legs = $7,000 total. Ouch!
I told the staff that I had insurance and provided them with Blue's insurance card. The team immediately looked relieved, smiled, and said "this is great news! We will call your insurance company and work out the details."
The Insurance Details
Surprisingly, this process was very simple and easy. Our insurance company was amazingly professional, offered some nice emotional support, and said they would 100% work with us on this. They did not try to duck and hide, they did not try to assign blame or administer some "small print disclaimer". They stepped up and did exactly what you pay your insurance company to do.
The process was simple. The doctors would perform the surgery, the staff would submit the paperwork, I would pay the bill, and then insurance company would reimburse me 90% (minus the $200 deductible.)
So, the first bill was $3,500. It was recommended that I use a credit card with good rewards, as the insurance company would reimburse me within the current billing cycle. So, I whipped out an American Express and charged the full amount.
Within 14 days, I receive the insurance check for $2,970, deposited it, and paid American Express off.
After the several follow-up visits it was time for the second surgery. The process worked exactly the same...I paid the $3,500, got the insurance check for 14 days later, paid off American Express. This time I received $3,150 since the deductible has already been satisfied.
So, the insurance saved me about $6,000. Her premium did not go up until she turned 6, then there was a natural increase.
The insurance has helped pay a few other things along the way, including some routine care, and an ear infection. The total benefits received so far amount to about $6,500. To date, we have paid about $4,320 in monthly premiums over 6+ years. So, we are at a net positive of over $2,000.
Even if we end up at a net negative when we no longer need the policy, I can tell you it's been 100% worth it. It has provided us with peace of mind, confidence, and help us manage cash flow.
Summing it Up
Let's recap the questions we receive the most...
• Does my Bulldog need pet insurance? Only you can make this decision, based on your Bulldog's age and health, where you live, and what policies are available to you
• What is the best pet insurance for Bulldogs? A policy that you can afford, that covers the things that are most concerned about for your Bulldogs, with an insurance company that is highly rated and one you trust.
• Is pet insurance worth it for Bulldogs? In our experience, yes...both financially and emotionally.
Again, please do your own research and see what is best for your Bulldog. Each injury/sickness may have different results, each insurance company may have different procedures and guidelines. But, these are our results with our insurance company.
Back To Blue
Blue was an AMAZING patient. She had no complications or issues during either surgery, and healed up very nicely after each. Her left leg was the first leg that was repaired and healed up first. The right leg soon followed. Surprisingly, she did not need the "cone of shame" as she had zero interest in licking on her incisions. She did not try to jump or play during the critical healing times, almost like she knew she was hurt. Total healing time was about 12 weeks.
During this time she did gain some weight, due to the inactivity. However, once she was active again, she quickly shed it and became active again. Honestly, she's not as active as she used to be, but some of that may be that she is six years old, now. However, she can still get after it and still loves the beach!
We hope you might of picked up some new and useful information today.