Man’s best friend can be expensive: not only the food but the insurance too. I’m not usually a fan of having non-compulsory insurance cover (and I don’t have pet insurance for my non-pedigree cats) but if I had a dog there is no way I wouldn’t have it insured. Dogs are just more prone to injury. Cats frankly spend much of their time asleep and unless they are unneutered toms, they don’t often injure each other in fights.
And treating dogs can be pricey. The other week I met a woman who had a young pedigree Labrador. The poor thing had undergone multiple operations for an inherited condition (undisclosed or unknown by the breeder) and was now fine – and spayed, so she won’t have similarly affected puppies. The woman said she was relieved she had cover for the dog otherwise she could easily have faced total costs reaching five figures. I have known a few people who have had pedigree dogs with inherited problems which have meant frequent, pricey trips to the vets.
Recently, Moneysupermarket compared the cost of insuring two of the UK’s most popular breeds, Labradors and French Bulldogs. Insuring a four year old Labrador in London would cost typically £585 a year compared with £198 in Dumfries, Scotland thanks to higher veterinary costs in the capital. For French Bulldogs the cost is even higher: £1,093 in London to just £496 in Dumfries. Last year the Royal Veterinary College warned that anyone buying a French Bulldog should expect a lifetime of veterinary bills as they are vulnerable to a range of health conditions including ear infections and conjunctivitis.
According to the most recent figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) £1.8 million was paid out in pet insurance claims every day in 2016 with the average claim £750. The vast majority of claims were for dogs. The ABI points out veterinary costs can be very high: it cites one example where to treat an English springer spaniel who swallowed a grass seed cost £3,400.
Shopping around for pet insurance is essential – try the comparison sites uSwitch*, Moneysupermarket*, Confused.com and comparethemarket* or go via a cashback site such as TopCashback* or Quidco*. But cost must not be the main deciding factor with pet insurance. If you’ve got a pedigree pooch then the amount of cover you’ll get is essential.
Pet insurance is complicated, however. You’ll find it hard to insure an old dog if you haven’t already got cover. Ideally, take out a lifetime policy – it will need renewing every year so you’ll continue to be covered for existing conditions. Costs will probably rise every year, but then again, you’re more likely to claim as your dog ages. I suppose you could self-insure – putting aside what you would have spent on insurance into an emergency account which you can use to pay for treatment. But if I had a pedigree dog I wouldn’t take the risk. And as pedigree dogs already cost a huge amount to buy – easily four figures for a French Bulldog – it’s already a big financial commitment.
Please see our guide to pet insurance for more help.