does pet insurance cover soft palate surgery?

does pet insurance cover soft palate surgery?
Posted by Aliya McCullough, DVM, MS on Feb 26 2020

It’s hard to resist the sweet face of a Bulldog or a Himalayan, but their iconic, squishy appearance may also result in a hereditary condition called elongated soft palate. Surgery may be required to help these pets breathe normally, and thankfully, pet insurance can help make the procedure affordable.

Before we explore just how much pet insurance can save pet owners, let’s take a closer look at the medical condition itself.

What is an elongated soft palate?

The soft palate is located at the back of the roof of the mouth. An elongated soft palate occurs when this tissue is too long and blocks airflow to the windpipe (trachea). This condition is often part of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome which includes other respiratory abnormalities. It only takes one of these medical issues to make every breath a struggle and make them more susceptible to injury and illness.

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Brachycephalic dog breeds commonly affected include:

Brachycephalic cat breeds commonly affected include:

What is soft palate surgery?

During soft palate surgery the elongated portion is removed to clear the airway during inhalation. This is crucial to alleviate the following clinical symptoms:

  • Noisy or difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Retching and gagging
  • Regurgitation
  • Vomiting
  • Cyanosis (when the gums and tongue turn blue due to a lack of oxygen)
  • Collapse

These conditions are typically intensified in times of stress, excitement or under hot and humid conditions. If your pet has more than one symptom of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome, your vet may recommend multiple corrective surgeries to be performed at the same time. This can result in a very expensive bill!

Common soft palate surgery requirements

Your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic testing to confirm an elongated soft palate. The chart below lists common diagnostics and treatments associated with the surgery.

  • Sick Visit → the exam fee
  • Pre-Surgery Diagnostics → blood work, radiographs, sedated pharyngeal exam
  • Surgical Procedure → the time, expertise and equipment needed to perform the surgery by the veterinarian
  • Anesthesia → the medications and equipment used, as well as monitoring by veterinary nursing staff
  • After Surgery Care → hospitalization, pain medication, antibiotics, anti-nausea medications, follow-up care, care for surgical complications

How much does soft palate surgery cost?

You may be wondering the average cost of soft palate surgery. According to Petplan claims data, medical expenses relating to soft palate surgery averaged around $2,375. To treat Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome, one Boston Terrier’s claim totaled $7,851! Fortunately, his pet parents were reimbursed $6,716 by Petplan, leaving them with only a fraction of the bill to pay.

Early enrollment is the first step in allowing you and your pet to breathe easy. No pet insurance provider will cover pre-existing conditions, so the sooner you protect your pet, the better. If you are thinking about adding a dog or cat to your family who may be at risk of certain hereditary conditions, be sure to do your research. You’ll want to choose a policy that offers coverage for hereditary and breed-related conditions alike.

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