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Do we really need dog insurance?


Many dog owners want to find out more about pet insurance, particularly when introducing a new pet into the home, and who better to ask than those people who have owned dogs over many decades and have made more insurance blunders than thought possible! Most of the staff at London Dog Forum can own to that, and I certainly can!

 “Is it really worth getting my pet insured?” is the first question on most people’s lips, and the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.  Speaking personally, I didn’t realise how it was necessary until 2001.  

At the time, I was working in a veterinary practice where I got a substantial reduction in veterinary fees as a member of staff.  I had three dogs, two German shepherds and a greyhound and they were all fit and reasonably young.  As far as I was concerned, there was no need to insure them.  Imagine my horror, when at the end of the year, I found myself on the ‘top 10 best clients list’!  

Over 12 months, my ‘fit and healthy’, 7 year-old, male German shepherd was diagnosed with spondylolysis, had suffered repetitive anal gland infections to the point where he needed surgery and then he developed cancer of the spleen. He had a splenectomy (removal of the spleen) and was kept in the clinic for two days while being given blood transfusions.  He lived a good quality life for another six months but then developed secondary tumours and finally had to be euthanized.

Naturally I was willing to spend whatever money it would take to get him better, but it was an horrendous cost that I could have done without.  Had I taken out insurance, I would have been thousands of pounds better off, and I mean thousands! It was a steep learning curve but I learned my lesson, or thought I had!  

My next grave mistake was not too long ago, when I had an elderly greyhound.  She had been diagnosed with kidney disease and suffered a few other age related problems.  Luckily she was covered by a very good insurance plan and while it appeared expensive, I received regular payments to help with her treatment over four years until the time of her death. Without an excellent insurance scheme, I would have had a real financial struggle over those last few years.

So what went wrong?

I was on a budgeting spree at the time and while I saw the sense in keeping the greyhound on the same insurance plan, I decided that as my German shepherd was only four years old and she had no health problems, I could save money by shopping around to find cheaper insurance for her, which I did!  Of course, it was ‘Murphy’s Law’ that she should suddenly develop a series of mystery illnesses including a swollen spleen.  Having had every test one could imagine, it turned out that there was nothing too seriously wrong with her and ‘touch wood’ she has been fine ever since.  BUT...I found to my dismay that, due to this unfortunate spell of ill health at a time when I had changed her insurance provider, I have now only have a third of my dog covered by insurance and the other two thirds are excluded.  The lesson I learned was – cheaper insurance does not pay off in the end!

What does pet insurance cover?

Veterinary treatment

Health is the obvious reason for a pet insurance and with the vast improvement in diagnostic aids, surgical techniques, safer anaesthetic procedures and better pain management, veterinary treatment can come at quite a cost,but there are other unexpected costs that should be considered too.

Complementary therapy

These days, vets recognise the benefits of complementary therapies such as physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and acupuncture and will make referrals.  Complementary therapy can play a vital part in restoring an animal’s health and enhancing its quality of life.

Pet theft

Pet theft is on the increase and pets do go missing for various reasons.  You could be faced with advertising costs, travel costs, veterinary treatment, kennelling and possibly a reward for whoever helps to find the dog.

Accidental injury to a third party

A dog does not have to be aggressive to injure someone.  He could run into the road causing an accident and the owner would be liable

Behaviour problems

The responsible dog owner takes care to train and socialise their pet, but sometimes, through no fault of the current owner, a dog might need the extra help of a behaviourist.  

Pet sitting and kennelling

Even if you do not intend to leave your dog with someone else on a regular basis there could always be a time when an emergency dog carer is needed.  

Pet travel on the pet passport scheme

Pet travel is so easy now that many owners prefer to take their dogs on holiday with them but should the unthinkable happen, vet treatment abroad is just as expensive as in the UK.  


Finally, and one hates to even think of it, but should your dog die unexpectedly, could you afford to replace your companion?

Many owners think of their dogs as their most valuable possession so it is only right for us to ensure their health and safety throughout their lifetime.  

To find out more about dog insurance visit the Petplan website

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