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Does Pet Insurance Cover Vaccines?

Veterinary background provided by Dr. Jennifer Coates DVM 

vaccines for pets

Updated September 2022 

If you’re a pet parent to a cat or dog, you know how important it is to make good decisions for your pet’s well-being. Your friend’s diet, exercise and grooming can all impact the quality of their life. While some choices you make for your pet—such as what games you play with them or the color of their collar—are a matter of personal preference, others are serious decisions that can have long-term consequences for their health.  

One of the best steps you can take to protect your pet is making sure they are always up to date on vaccinations, but regular visits to the veterinarian can add up. 

For pet parents on a budget, pet insurance can significantly reduce veterinary expenses over time. However, pet insurance can’t cover every health need your pet may have.  

You know that your pet deserves the protection from illnesses and diseases—some of them potentially fatal—that vaccination provides, but you want to live responsibly within your budget, too. You may be wondering, “Does pet insurance cover vaccines?” Although we’d love to answer this question quickly, a little explanation is required. Whether you already have a pet insurance plan or are doing research before enrolling in one, keep reading to find out what can affect pet insurance coverage when it comes to vaccines. 

Does pet insurance cover vaccinations?

It depends on the insurance plan you choose. Traditional pet insurance does not typically cover vaccinations, but there are plans you can choose that do cover vaccines for your pet.  

If pet insurance that covers vaccines is important to you, choose a wellness plan. Wellness plans cover various forms of preventive care and routine veterinary services, including vaccinations. However, the services offered in a wellness plan are not automatically included in a traditional pet insurance plan.  

The services covered in traditional pet insurance policies generally include treatments and procedures for illness and injury, rather than preventive services. For instance, if your dog breaks their leg or needs medication for a parasitic infection, a traditional pet insurance policy will cover at least some of your expenses. If your dog needs a dental cleaning, a blood test or a vaccination, however, you’ll need a wellness plan, the type of pet insurance that covers vaccines and other preventive care. 

Although “Does pet insurance cover vaccines?” is an important question to ask when deciding which insurance plan best suits your budget, it’s also important to keep in mind the cost of not vaccinating your pet. Your unvaccinated pet could be at risk of developing a condition much more expensive than the initial cost of a vaccine would have been—but more importantly, they could develop an illness that would worsen or even shorten their life.  

Vaccines strengthen your pet’s immune system by introducing antigens that mimic an infection and preparing your pet’s body to fight the real disease. Without the protection provided by vaccinations, your pet could be vulnerable to serious illness, and you could be faced with difficult choices about your finances and your pet’s future. Finding pet insurance that covers vaccines could be well worth the extra monthly cost if you feel uncertain about your ability to pay for your pet’s future health treatments.

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Types of Vaccines

Vaccines are available to help prevent a variety of common cat and dog diseases. While wellness plans and other forms of pet insurance that covers vaccines may cover some common and important vaccinations, you may find that even these plans have limitations. Some plans only cover core vaccines—those considered to be the most commonly needed—and some cover only a certain number of vaccines per year.  

When you’re asking, “Does pet insurance cover vaccines?” it’s important to also find information about which specific vaccines are covered by your preferred pet insurance plan. Doing research and comparing providers is a crucial step in finding the best insurance plan for your pet and for your budget.  

Core vaccines differ for dogs and cats. Below, we’ll explain some of the core vaccinations that may be covered under your pet’s wellness plan, depending on whether you have a dog or a cat. 

Core Vaccines for Dogs

To protect your dog’s wellbeing, the following are considered core vaccines for dogs and are likely to be covered if you have pet insurance that covers vaccines: 

  • This extremely contagious virus causes an infection in dogs you may sometimes hear referred to as “parvo.”  
  • It primarily affects dogs’ gastrointestinal functions.  
  • Dogs affected with parvovirus may present symptoms that include loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea which may contain blood.  
  • Parvovirus infections in unvaccinated dogs are common and can be fatal, which is why the parvovirus vaccine is considered a core vaccine. 
Canine distemper  
  • Another very contagious viral infection, canine distemper is a systemic disease that is related to the measles virus.  
  • It can cause fever, reduction of infection-fighting white blood cells, increased mucus production and a variety of neurological symptoms ranging from twitching to paralysis. 
  • A dog can become infected by rabies if they’re bitten by an animal who has the disease—for instance, if they get into a tussle with a woodland creature or a stray dog that carries it.  
  • If untreated, rabies is always fatal. 
Canine hepatitis (adenovirus)  
  • This disease can cause many different symptoms in dogs, from eye inflammation to depression and loss of appetite to blood coagulation problems.  
  • Dogs who become infected may experience anything from a mild fever to death. 


In addition to these core vaccines, there are several additional vaccines that your veterinarian might recommend for individual dogs. These include leptospirosis, canine parainfluenza, canine influenza, Lyme disease and kennel cough. Talk to your veterinarian about which vaccines they recommend for your dog’s specific circumstances and find out whether you have pet insurance that covers vaccines such as these. 

Core Vaccines for Cats

Does pet insurance cover vaccines for common cat illnesses? If you have a wellness plan, the core vaccines that are covered for your cat probably include: 

Feline distemper (panleukopenia)  
  • This disease is very contagious and frequently fatal.  
  • Most outdoor cats are exposed to the feline panleukopenia virus within their life, so vaccination is crucial.  
  • Infected cats may present no symptoms or may experience fever, gastrointestinal symptoms or even death. 
Feline calicivirus  
  • This virus usually affects the lining of a cat’s mouth and lungs, leading to respiratory issues that may include mouth sores, pneumonia and fluid buildup in the lungs.  
  • It can also cause joint pain, fever and secondary bacterial infections. 
Feline herpesvirus type 1  
  • Also known as feline viral rhinotracheitis, this respiratory disease can cause fever, sneezing, eye and nose inflammation, depression and appetite loss.  
  • It’s also common for affected cats to develop secondary bacterial infections. 
  • Instead of getting three separate shots for the three core vaccines mentioned above, your cat will probably be able to receive them in one dose known as the FVRCP shot. 
  • A rabies vaccine is usually considered a core vaccine for cats.  
  • As in dogs, rabies is always fatal in cats once symptoms appear, and the best way to prevent your cat from developing this disease is to make sure they’re vaccinated against it. 


If you have pet insurance that covers vaccines, it may not cover the vaccine for feline leukemia virus—but talk to your veterinarian about whether your pet should be vaccinated against this disease anyway. It’s not necessary for all cats, but it’s the most common non-core vaccine for cats.

Pet Insurance Quotes

Even if you have pet insurance that covers vaccines, your pet’s exact vaccination schedule will be decided by your veterinarian. They will assess your pet’s risk factors—including their age, habits, environment and overall health—to decide which vaccines your pet should receive. Get a quote to help you find the right coverage for vaccinations and other important types of healthcare for your pet. 

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