When bringing home a new dog, especially a puppy, they can seem to be the picture of health and energy, with unexpected accidents, short term illnesses or long term health issues being the last thing on most owners’ minds.
However, health problems can be extremely common, just as they are in human counterparts, with figures from the Association of British Insurers showing that the average pet insurance claim value in 2020 across all pets was £817, up 2 per cent from 2019.
Despite this increase, and with searches for pet insurance rising by over 40% in the last year alone, it is perhaps surprising that out of 12 million dogs in the UK, only 3.4 million have pet insurance.
Money.co.uk one of the UK’s leading comparison websites for financial services, conducted a survey to find out the most common causes of vet trips, and how much they could end up costing owners.
The most common reason that dogs visit the vets is due to skin conditions such as yeast infections, mange or allergic reactions which accounts for over 20 per cent of all complaints, with treatment often requiring ongoing prescriptions.
The average cost of treatment can reach up to £800 depending on the size of the dog, and whether it is a one-time problem or a recurring issue.
Stomach complaints ranked second, with ailments including vomiting, diarrhea, gastroenteritis, parasite infections, and pancreatitis, followed by eye and ear infections, which although generally easy to clear up, can lead to higher bills if the problem persists, and can cost owners up to £400 a year.
Chis Morris, owner of English Bulldog Boris, discovered just how costly vets bills could become, after what initially seemed like relatively mild health problems.
“Bulldogs are prone to a series of health problems, as we found out early on,” he said.
“In the first six months, we’d taken numerous trips to the vets with Boris suffering from a cold, puppy acne, and cherry eye – a common condition for this breed.
“Boris’ cherry eye continued to be a problem and resulted in surgery, painkillers and several check ups.
“When your pet is unwell, you don’t ask questions and will do anything to make them better no matter the cost. Boris’ treatment in the first six months was nearly £1,500 but thankfully we’d taken the advice of a fellow bulldog owner and insured Boris from the day we got him.”
The most expensive causes for vets visits can be to do with musculoskeletal issues, which covers ligament, joint, or tendon injuries as well as other sprain and strains.
Tears or ruptures to ligaments can often involve surgery and post-operative care which can send bills rocketing to £1,349 .
Senior dogs, especially in some breeds such as Labradors and bulldogs, are more likely to develop arthritis or other joint problems, which also can be costly later on in life.
When looking for an insurance policy, it’s important to shop around, read the small print and consider all aspects of your pet’s lifestyle, habits and breed to ensure the policy is suitable for them and their potential needs.
Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at leading pet insurance comparison site, money.co.uk , explains: “It can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, to manage unexpected vets bills. The type of illness and injury will affect the fees, with chronic conditions tending to cost more than a simple infection.
“Other factors such as age, background and previous conditions can also impact costs, which is why it’s so important to include pet insurance in your budget when deciding to bring a dog or any pet into your home.
“Comparing the best pet insurance for you, ensures you can cover the cost of potentially expensive issues, as well as provide much-needed peace of mind, so owners can concentrate on enjoying their dogs, from pup to senior.”