Does Pet Insurance Cover Kidney Failure?

By | 2018-06-10T12:26:05-04:00 June 10th, 2018|Pet Insurance|0 Comments

Is Treatment for Kidney Failure Covered by Pet Insurance?

Different pet insurance companies will have different policies regarding kidney failure-related treatments, but many companies do cover such treatments. For instance:

  • Trupanion covers kidney disease along with all other illnesses and injuries.
  • PetFirst does cover renal failure.
  • Nationwide Pet Insurance has several plans, and its Whole Pet and Major Medical plans cover chronic kidney disease.

In an article on chronic renal failure, Petplan states that it “covers even . . . more sophisticated treatments” such as kidney transplants and dialysis.

Keep in mind that if the kidney disease is classified as a chronic condition, it may not be covered. All in all, it’s important to do plenty of research into potential pet insurance companies before choosing a policy for your pet.

How much does it cost to treat kidney failure?

This varies widely depending on the course of treatment you and your veterinarian choose. The estimated median annual cost of chronic kidney disease is $1,823 for dogs and $1,065 for cats. Injection of subcutaneous fluids at the vet’s office can cost $15-25 each time, adding up to $180-$300 per month (it’s much less costly and more convenient if done at home). Dialysis is extremely costly: it typically costs $2,500 to $3,000 in the first week, then $500 per treatment after that (with, typically, around three treatments per week). Kidney transplants are also expensive, at around $4,500 to $8,000.

What does “kidney failure” mean?

The kidneys work to filter waste from the bo­­dy into the urine, while maintaining healthy concentration of various substances in the blood. Kidneys are key to control of blood pressure, metabolism of calcium, production of red blood cells, balancing concentrations of water and salt in the body, and more essential processes. Kidney (or “renal”) failure occurs when the kidneys stop working properly.

Kidney Failure in Dogs

In dogs, acute kidney failure can happen in days. It often begins after dogs consume toxins, suffer from infections, or experience urinary obstruction. Chronic kidney disease comes on more gradually, and tends to occur in older dogs (frequently due to other illnesses).

Kidney Failure in Cats

Kidney failure is very common in cats. Out of every 1,000 cats examined, sixteen have chronic kidney disease. Typically cats’ kidneys fail with age, although younger cats can have this problem too. Although there is no cure for chronic kidney failure, there are ways to improve your cat’s quality of life. As in dogs, cats can experience acute kidney failure in a matter of days, as a result of consuming poisons, urinary blockages, shock from dehydration, or other factors.

How is kidney failure treated?

There are numerous treatments for kidney failure, which depend on the nature of the problem (especially whether it’s acute or chronic). These include:

  • Fluid therapy
  • Vomiting control
  • Dialysis
  • Managing high blood pressure
  • Treatment of anemia
  • Dietary adjustments
  • IV fluids
  • Kidney transplants (which tend to be more successful in cats than in dogs)

Cats and dogs may also need different treatments--some of the treatments listed above may not apply to both kinds of pets. Without treatment, your pet is likely to experience rapid decline and worsening of symptoms. End-stage kidney failure will result, and will lead to death.

There are some risks with treatment--too many to discuss in detail here. For instance, in cats, fluid therapy can lead to vein damage during injection, air embolism (if there is air in the syringe/bag), blood clots, fluid overload, or electrolyte imbalances. It is also especially risky for cats with heart disease. And in the case of kidney transplants, all surgeries come with risk, so it’s important to ask your vet about any risks this might involve for your pet.  

About the Author:

Nina Gunther-Segal is as avid an animal lover as she is a writer. Her fascination with the animal kingdom was sparked by a childhood spent around all kinds of creatures, from the usual suspects--dogs and cats--to hamsters, rats, snails, fish, horses, and all kinds of farm animals. Today, Nina enjoys taking her Lab-Akita mix, Henry, on walks in the woods and to local swimming holes.

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