Does pet insurance cover surgery?

Nervous about your pet needing surgery? We’ll help you find the right policy to get the surgical cover they need.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 15 June 2023  | 2 mins read
Reviewed by Jasmine Hembury

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As pet parents, we worry about our animals all the time. But no more so than if they need surgery.

Besides stressing about if they’re going to be okay, there’s the added anxiety of vet bills, which can reach incredible heights even without surgery. Having the right pet insurance in place will help reduce the financial burden so you can focus on what really matters: taking care of your pet post-op.

But while most pet insurers cover surgery, some do so more extensively than others. Does pet insurance cover surgery on your policy? Know what to look for with our guide.

Types of pet surgery

Your pet could need surgery for any number of reasons, including:

  • Wound care - after an injury, abscess or mass removal
  • Dental problems - such as if teeth are abnormal, diseased or damaged
  • Eye surgery - including correction of eyelid defects and ulcer treatment
  • Orthopaedic surgery - including ligament rupture and fracture repair
  • Soft tissue damage - including ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgery, plus routine abdominal procedures like removing bladder stones
  • Tumour and growth removal - from skin or internal organs

Pets may also need emergency surgery for any of the following:

  • Caesarians
  • Removal of bleeding internal tumours
  • Traumatic injuries - from wounds or penetrating objects like sticks
  • Gastrointestinal complications - including blockages by foreign objects and twisted stomach
  • Not being able to urinate
  • Exploratory procedures - to diagnose infections and/or possible tumours
  • Serious fractures or breaks

If you think your pet needs urgent surgery, make an emergency vet appointment or request immediate veterinary assistance.

Sometimes the type of animal you own can indicate the possible surgeries they might need. Common household pets in the UK are dogs, cats and rabbits, so be sure to research the conditions they’re susceptible to thoroughly - as well as which ones need surgery to correct.

What types of surgery does pet insurance cover?

In most cases, pet insurance only covers surgery deemed necessary or life-saving by a qualified vet.

This includes surgery to remove internal blockages, tumour excision, and repairing an accidental injury - like a broken bone.

Unfortunately, most pet insurers tend to exclude elective or preventative surgery from their cover. You’ll need a separate wellness plan to cover these eventualities.

What types of surgery aren’t covered by pet insurance?

As well as those mentioned above, pet insurance policies don’t usually cover surgery for pre-existing medical conditions.

Other types of surgery often excluded are:

  • Dental work (you will need to get specialist pet dental insurance for this)
  • Tail docking or ear cropping
  • Declawing or dewclaw removal
  • Spaying and neutering
  • Bilateral injuries (these are any injuries that affect one side of your pet’s body, such as hip dysplasia, ligament issues, bone breaks, or cataracts)
  • Procedures necessitated by other conditions, e.g., diabetes or cancer

How does pet insurance cover surgery?

Your policy entitles you to a specific percentage of your pet’s overall care costs - based on terms agreed with the provider.

If you’re worried about the level of surgery cover in your existing pet insurance policy, review it thoroughly to make sure you’re covered for the care your pet needs.

Does pet insurance cover surgery complications?

For medically necessary and/or life-saving procedures, pet insurance should cover surgery complications.

However, as with most pet insurers, complications from elective surgery will most likely not be covered.

Can I get pet insurance after finding out my animal needs surgery?

You can take out pet insurance at any time. But if your pet already needs surgery when you do, this could class as a pre-existing condition - which won’t be covered.

Also, you will probably need to go through a review waiting period before any pet insurance becomes active. Reviews can take days or months depending on the pet being insured, and you shouldn’t put off your pet’s surgery in the meantime.

Get an idea of the policies available to you, when you compare pet insurance with us.