Pet Insurance Explained

Owning a pet is a very rewarding experience but it is also a lifelong financial responsibility. Every year many pets become ill or are injured and there is no National Health Service for pets, so an emergency visit to a veterinary practice with a sick or injured pet could be quite expensive and for this reason vets and nurses recommend pet insurance.

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Pet Insurance Explained

insurance

Owning a pet is a very rewarding experience but it is also a lifelong financial responsibility. Every year many pets become ill or are injured and there is no National Health Service for pets, so an emergency visit to a veterinary practice with a sick or injured pet could be quite expensive and for this reason vets and nurses recommend pet insurance.

One of the most distressing situations pet owners and veterinary professionals find themselves in, is when a pet’s problem is curable but the cost of treatment is too expensive and owners just cannot afford to have the treatment carried out; it is truly heart breaking when we have to put a healthy animal to sleep.

Advancement of our understanding of medical conditions and expanding IT and technical developments mean that veterinary science can and does offer more care options for your pet than ever before. This however does come at a cost and veterinary practices must continue to update and enhance their equipment and facilities in line with these exacting standards and the expectations of the pet-owning public. Add to this the cost of employing highly trained professional staff and managing an organisation that is committed to providing care for your pet day and night, 365 days of the year and you begin to appreciate the expense and complexity of running your local veterinary practice. Vets will always put the patient’s’ needs first, but it is a fact of life that this care will cost money and it is not realistic to expect good standards of care for our pets to be any less costly to provide than private medical care for ourselves.

Do you need pet insurance for your pet?

Pet insurance is sometimes labelled as a waste of money by non-pet owners, but if you’ve ever had to take your pet to the vet’s for more than just a routine booster vaccination or flea treatment, you will know how expensive some treatments can be, especially if they are unplanned visits to the vet.

For some owners having pet insurance may also mean the difference between affording basic medical treatment for their pet and being able to afford tests, investigations and even referral for a specialised surgical procedure.

Ultimately the decision about whether to get your pet insured or not is up to you as a pet owner and we cannot make it for you. You need to ask yourself if you can afford to pay for veterinary treatment easily, or if you will struggle to find the money to cover emergency or ongoing treatment for your pet.buster collar

What pet insurance covers

Most pet insurance companies cover all types of illnesses, problems and injuries, unless they are present before the policy is taken out so read the small print of a policy carefully before you buy it.

You pet insurance is unlikely to cover your pet for routine or elective treatment, which may include flea treatment, worming, vaccinations (although some companies do offer vaccination vouchers),nail clipping, neutering, anal gland emptying (unless there is a specific cause), pregnancy complications or related illnesses, food (some companies may cover prescription veterinary diets). Many veterinary practices offer pet health clubs for you to spread the cost of routine and preventative health care treatments.

Types of pet insurance policies

Having the right pet insurance policy can make all the difference if the unexpected should happen. You need to pick the policy that suits you best and it is a good idea to shop around and compare several different policies before you commit to anything. You local veterinary surgery may be able to provide some pet insurance leaflets from different companies but they are usually not allowed to recommend specific companies unless they have received training by that company. Essentially there are four main types of policy available (with a few variations), so it is important that you understand what type of policy you are buying and what it will cover.

  1. Lifelong Cover Policy – This policy usually offers a fixed amount of money to cover veterinary fees for each year and then reinstates this amount when the policy is renewed each year. For example, if your pet were to develop arthritis in later life, he or she would be covered for this condition for the rest of his/her life up to the stated amount yearly. These policies are usually available in maximum claimable amounts per year from £1000 up to £12000 depending on your chosen cover level. This type of policy can be expensive but it is generally considered to be the best type because it will cover conditions for the duration of your pet’s lifetime.
  2. Monetary Limit Policy – This type of policy offers a maximum monetary limit on the amount paid out for each condition. This means that you can claim for a condition until you reach the maximum limit for that particular condition.  For example, if your pet developed arthritis and your maximum monetary limit was £4000, you can claim for as many years as it takes to reach this amount. However, once this limit has been reached, the arthritis condition would then be excluded from your insurance. This type of policy is generally less expensive than the first type, but you need to remember that once you have reached the maximum monetary limit your pet will no longer be covered for that particular condition.
  3. Maximum Monetary And Time Limit Policy – This type of policy has a maximum monetary limit per condition AND a maximum time limit that a condition can be claimed for (usually 12 months from its onset).  Once the maximum monetary OR time limit has been reached the condition will no longer be covered. This is commonly referred to as a 12 month policy. This type of policy is often inexpensive to purchase but won’t cover lifetime conditions.
  4. Accident Only Policy – This type of policy provides cover for veterinary treatment after an accident, but not for illnesses or ongoing conditions. There is usually a monetary limit per claim and some policies may also have a time limit for the treatment.

Insurance excess fees

An excess is the part of a claim that you have to pay yourself for each different condition. Different companies will apply differing amounts of excess so you will need to check this with them.

  • Annual Excess – If a single, ongoing condition spans two or three policy years, the excess will be taken yearly.
  • Fixed Excess – Companies deduct a fixed amount of money regardless of how much your claim is for. For example, if your excess is £50 per condition you would only have to pay that amount regardless of whether you claim for £100 or £3000 for example.
  • Percentage Excess – This is where your excess is based on a percentage of your claim (usually after a fixed excess minimum has been applied), so the more you claim the higher your excess will be. These are usually fixed somewhere between 10% and 35% depending on your policy. It is not unusual for an insurance company to add a percentage excess into a policy when an animal reaches what they class as a senior age.

An excess fee can vary depending your pets age, where you live or if you have opted to pay a bigger excess to reduce the annual insurance cost. Most insurance companies will charge you an excess for each condition you claim for, so if you are claiming for two different conditions you will have to pay two excesses. Talk to the insurance adviser and try to get an idea of how much your excess will be and if it may increase as your pet ages.

sylas in hospital 2

What to look out for when buying insurance

  • Read the small print! I cannot stress this enough – You need to do this in order to know exactly what you are buying into and exactly what it will cover. If you are unsure about what anything means, then please speak to the insurance company or give us a call at the practice and we will try to help you.
  • As with most types of insurance you get what you pay for, so it pays to shop around and get the best policy you can afford.
  • Pet insurance costs can vary from as little as £5.00 up to £50.00 per month, depending on what species, breed and age of pet you are insuring and what type of policy you are taking out. Be aware that some breeds of pet are likely to cost more than others to insure, for example breeds with known inherited conditions (e.g. heart disease, skin problems, hip dysplasia or respiratory problems) and ‘large breeds’ of dog cost much more to insure.
  • Be wary of insurance companies that offer a ‘lifetime policy’ but cap the yearly amount you can claim for at a ridiculously low amount –  A claimable limit of £6000 per year sounds great, but when you read the small print and it says only £500 per condition per year, you could be stuck with a huge bill if your pet needs expensive specialist surgery or ongoing medications.
  • Some insurance companies may exclude or place a monetary limit on things like dentistry, MRI scans, referrals, malignant cancers, benign cancers, cruciate injury repairs and even laboratory and hospitalisation fees, so make sure you check out these things too.
  • Some insurance companies now have a ‘preferred referral network’ which means that if your vet needs to refer your pet for specialist treatment and it is not to one of the referral vets on your insurance company’s preferred list, you may be charged £200 extra (which will normally be deducted from your claim). This has annoyed many vets because they would often prefer to refer a sick pet to a more local referral centre or one that they feel has a vet more equipped to deal with the pet’s specific problem.
  • Try to find out how much your excess is likely to go up by on a yearly basis and if your insurance company will also add a percentage excess once your pet reaches a certain age. It is a good idea to make sure you always have enough money put aside to cover an excess fee. Remember that if there is a percentage excess on your policy the amount you have to pay can be quite high, for example 15% of a £500 vet bill is only £75, but 15% of a £2000 vet bill can mean you have to pay £300 yourself.
  • Ask your friends about their experiences with insurance companies and what happened when they made a claim – Was it dealt with quickly?, Did they pay out the expected amount?, Were there any complications?. It is also a good idea to look at reviews online.
  • Check whether your veterinary practice do direct claims with the insurance company you are interested in (where the insurance company pays the vet directly, rather than you paying the vet and then claiming back from the insurance company). If they don’t, it may mean that they have had bad experiences with that particular insurance company in the past.
  • Remember that once you have made a claim for a specific condition, if you decide to change your insurance company that condition will usually be excluded by the new company, so you are going to be tied in for a while.

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Direct Insurance Claims

This is the term used for when you ask your pet insurance company to pay your vet directly, rather than you paying your vet and waiting for the insurance company to pay you.

Veterinary practices do not have to offer a direct claim service but most do as it is easier for their clients, however many practices will set a minimum amount at which you are able to start a direct insurance claim. You will have to sign a claim form to authorise direct payment to your vet, produce a copy of your insurance policy documents and you may need to sign a document saying that you agree to pay for any costs (or the full cost) that your insurance company does not cover.

You will have to pay your insurance excess fee (plus any percentage of costs that are part of your excess), to your veterinary practice and, of course, any costs that your insurance company decides not to cover. Most practices will also charge an administration fee for this service, but it does mean that you don’t have to come up with the full amount yourself and wait for your insurance company to settle to you.

Rabbit vet

Rabbits may be cheap to buy as pets, but veterinary treatment can be costly

Other useful information

  1. The cost of your pet’s treatment should be exactly the same as the cost of an uninsured pet’s treatment. Your veterinary practice must never charge more than they usually would just because a pet is insured.
  2. Your veterinary practice cannot recommend pet insurers to you unless they have had training from a particular insurance company.
  3. Your insurance company has the right to ask for your pets medical history from your vet and that your vet must provide it when asked. You must make sure that you tell your insurance company about any pre-existing conditions when you take out your policy. Your veterinary practice must declare any pre existing or related conditions when they complete the claim form or if asked by an insurance company.
  4. Your vet may charge you an administration fee for processing a direct claim and your insurance company is unlikely to cover this cost.
  5. Some insurance companies allow the veterinary practice to send claim forms electronically for a faster service, so it is worth asking your practice if they can do this.
  6. It is your responsibility as the owner of the animal to pay for any treatment not covered by your pet insurance policy.
  7. When the insurance administrator at your veterinary practice (this will a usually be a nurse and not a your vet!) completes an insurance claim form it is unfortunately not just as simple as signing the bottom of the form and each claim takes time. Large practices will have a very high volume of claims to deal with and these will often be done as and when someone gets time away from nursing and treating sick patients, so it may take a few weeks for an insurance claim to be processed.

 

Pet Insurance – What it covers and why it is worth considering

lots of pets

Owning a pet is a very rewarding experience but it is also a lifelong financial responsibility. Every year many dogs or cats become ill or are injured and unfortunately there is no National Health Service for pets, so an emergency visit to a veterinary practice with a sick or injured pet could be quite expensive and for this reason vets recommend pet insurance.

One of the most distressing situations pet owners and veterinary professionals find themselves in, is when a pet’s problem is curable but the cost of treatment is too expensive and owners just cannot afford to have the treatment carried out. It is truly heart breaking when we have to put a healthy animal to sleep.

Research from Petplan pet insurance, found that you are more likely to have to claim on a pet insurance policy than you are on your home or car insurance, yet only a third of the country’s pet owners take out pet insurance.

Do I Need Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is sometimes labeled as a waste of money by non-pet owners, but if you’ve ever had to take your pet to the vet’s for more than just a routine booster vaccination or flea treatment, you’ll know how expensive some treatments can be.

Ultimately the pet insurance decision is up to you as a pet owner and we cannot make it for you. You need to ask yourself if you can afford to pay for veterinary treatment easily, or if you will struggle to find the money to cover emergency or ongoing treatment for your pet.

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Most pet insurance companies cover everything except routine or elective treatment, these routine things would include;

  • Flea Treatment
  • Worming
  • Vaccinations (some companies offer vaccination vouchers)
  • Nail Clipping
  • Neutering
  • Anal gland emptying (unless there is a specific cause)
  • Pregnancy complications or related illnesses
  • Food ( although some companies may cover prescription veterinary diets)
  • Any problems, illnesses or conditions that your pet suffered from before taking out the pet insurance.

Read the small print of a policy carefully before taking it out. some insurance companies will exclude or place a monetary limit on things like Dentistry, MRI scans, Referrals, Cruciate injury repairs and even laboratory and hospitalisation fees!

 How Do I Choose The Right Policy For My Pet?

You need to pick the policy that suits you best and it is a good idea to shop around and compare several different policies before you commit to anything. You local veterinary surgery may be able to provide some pet insurance leaflets from different companies but they are usually not allowed to recommend specific companies unless they have received training by that company. Essentially there are four main types of policy available (with a few variations), so it is important that you understand what type of policy you are buying and what it will cover.

  1. Lifelong Cover Policy – This policy usually offers a fixed amount of money to cover veterinary fees for each year and then reinstates this amount when the policy is renewed each year. For example, if your pet were to develop arthritis in his later life he would be covered for this condition for the rest of his lifetime up to the stated amount yearly. These policies are usually available in maximum claimable amounts per year from £3000 up to £12000 depending on your chosen cover level. This type of policy can be expensive but it is generally considered to be the best type because it can cover conditions for the duration of the pet’s lifetime.
  2. Monetary Limit Policy – This type of policy offers a maximum monetary limit on the amount paid out for each condition. This means that you can claim for a condition until you reach the maximum limit for that particular condition.  For example, if your pet developed arthritis and your maximum monetary limit was £4000, you can claim for as many years as it takes to reach this amount. However, once this limit has been reached, the arthritis condition would then be excluded from your insurance. This type of policy is generally less expensive than the first type, but you need to remember that once you have reached the maximum monetary limit your pet will no longer be covered for a long term condition.
  3. Maximum Monetary And Time Limit Policy – This type of policy has a maximum monetary limit per condition and a maximum time limit that a condition can be claimed for (usually 12 months from its onset).  Once the maximum monetary or time limit has been reached the condition will no longer be covered. This is commonly referred to as a 12 month policy. This type of policy is often inexpensive to purchase but wont cover lifetime conditions.
  4. Accident Only Policy – This type of policy provides cover for veterinary treatment after an accident, but not for illnesses or ongoing conditions. There is usually a monetary limit per claim and some policies may also have a time limit for the treatment.
What Are Insurance Excess Fees?

An excess is the part of a claim that you have to pay yourself for each different condition. Different companies will apply differing amounts of excess so you need to check this with them.

  • Annual Excess – If a single, ongoing condition spans two or three policy years, the excess will be taken yearly.
  • Fixed Excess – Companies deduct a fixed amount of money regardless of how much your claim is for. For example, if your excess is £50 per condition you would only have to pay that amount regardless of whether you claim for £100 or £3000. This is usually only applied to 12 month policies.
  • Percentage Excess – This is where your excess is based on a percentage of your claim (usually after a fixed minimum has been applied), so the more you claim the higher your excess will be. These are usually fixed somewhere between 10% and 30% depending on your policy.

An excess fee can vary depending your pets age. Most insurance companies will charge you an excess for each condition you claim for, so if you are claiming for two different conditions you will have to pay two excesses.

What Should I Look Out For When Buying Pet Insurance?
  • As with most types of insurance you get what you pay for, so it pays to shop around and get the best policy you can afford.
  • Pet insurance costs can vary from as little as £5.00 up to £40.00 per month, depending on what species and breed of pet you are insuring. Be aware that some breeds of pet are likely to cost more than others to insure, for example a breeds with known inherited conditions such as heart disease, skin problems, hip dysplasia or respiratory problems.
  • Be wary of insurance companies that offer a ‘lifetime policy’ but cap the yearly amount you can claim for at a ridiculously low amount –  A claimable limit of £6000 per year sounds great, but when you read the small print and it says only £500 per condition per year, you could be stuck with a huge bill if your pet needs expensive specialist surgery or ongoing medications.
  • Try to find out how much your excess is likely to go up by on a yearly basis and if your insurance company will also add a percentage excess once your pet reaches a certain age. It is a good idea to make sure you always have enough money put aside to cover an excess fee.
  • Ask your friends about their experiences with insurance companies and what happened when they made a claim – Was it dealt with quickly?, Did they pay out the expected amount?, Were there any complications?. It is also a good idea to look at reviews online.
  • Check with your veterinary practice if they do direct claims with the insurance company you are interested in. This is where the insurance company pay the veterinary practice directly, rather than you having to settle the bill and wait for the insurers to pay you, meaning that you only have to pay the excess to your veterinary practice.
  • Remember that once you have made a claim for a specific condition, if you decide to change your insurance company that condition will usually be excluded by the new company, so make sure you do your research.
What Else Do I Need To Know about Pet Insurance?
  • Your insurance company has the right to ask for your pets medical history from your vet and that your vet must provide it when asked. You must make sure that you tell your insurance company about any pre-existing conditions when you take out your policy.
  • Your vet may charge you an administration fee for processing a direct claim and your insurance company is unlikely to cover this cost.
  • Some insurance companies allow the veterinary practice to send claim forms electronically for a faster service, so it is worth asking your practice if they can do this.
  • It is your responsibility as the owner of the animal to pay for any treatment not covered by your pet insurance policy.

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If you would like more information you can contact Castle Vets on 0118 9574488 for an appointment with one of our veterinary nurses.

We have pet insurance information leaflets available from several different pet insurance companies but we are only able to discuss Petplan policies in any detail, because our staff have received special training and are appointed representatives.

Castle Vets Guide To Getting A New Pet

lots of pets

New year, new pet?  It’s great if you are  considering a new addition to your family, but there are a few things to think about before your commit to and bring home your new bundle of fun and cuteness.

Cost

piggy bank

Can you afford the costs necessary to give your chosen pet the correct care? The average annual costs of owning a pet can be quite high and have been estimated at £1000 – £1500 for a dog, £1000 for a cat, £400 – £500 for a ferret, £500 for a rabbit and £400 for a guinea pig. (For cats and dogs that amounts to approximately £12000 – £18000 over a lifetime!) You will need to think about the costs of providing food, bedding, Housing for small animals, a bed, routine vet bills and pet insurance for accidents and illnesses.

Size of the petsize of pet

Do you have enough space at home and in the garden for your chosen pet? Even small pets like hamsters and rats require fairly big cages. Where will your pet eat, drink and sleep? The size of the pet will also effect how expensive it will be  for vet bills, insurance, food, housing and equipment.

 

Breed of pet

Different breeds of animals often have very different personality traits so you should consider what your pet has been bred to do in the past before making your decision; for example everyone loves the look of the sweet-natured Dalmatian or the handsome Siberian Husky, but forget that these dogs were originally bred to run for miles and have huge amounts of stamina so, therefore, require lots and lots of exercise. Terriers have been bred for their ability to dispatch rodent pests quickly so don’t be surprised at their feisty and bold behaviour. In the cat world the Siamese can be very vocal, Maine Coons are known for being very affectionate and Bengals can be very destructive when they get bored. With rabbits the Dwarf-Lop is generally friendly and outgoing where as Netherland Dwarfs can be very skittish and are generally unsuitable for children.

breeds copy

Coat types and grooming

Most pets will require grooming of some sort and you will need to check their coats, mouths, ears, eyes and bottoms every day to make sure they are clean and healthy.
Pets with long coats will require daily grooming to prevent matting and you will need to consider if you will have the time to do this. Some animals shed lots of fur which may not be good for allergy sufferers.

long haired pets

Time

Do you have enough time to keep your chosen pet properly exercised and mentally stimulated? Exercise is really important for the health, fitness and well-being of your pet and you will also need to spend time with your pet so you can play with it and provide any training it might need.
All dogs need at least 2 20 minute walks a day (most breeds need much more than this) and the opportunity to run about off the lead in a safe area and meet other dogs if they are socially inclined. Depending on the breed of dog you choose, you may need to provide activities such as agility and training classes to keep it fit and stimulated.
In an ideal world a cat should be able to get outside, but if you have decided to keep your cat indoors then you must provide adequate mental stimulation for it and it will need much more of your time than an outside cat would to prevent boredom.
Rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets need an outside enclosed run or they can be exercised on harnesses in safe areas.

Exercise

Genetic problems

cat ok

Some breeds of animals have inherited genetic problems and this should be researched before you get a pet as these problems can cost a lot of money to treat. For  example hip dysplasia, heart disease, respiratory problems, eye problems and dental problems. If you are buying from a breeder you should always ask if the parents have been tested for disease and problems associated with the breed.

Once you have decided on a type and breed of pet you need to start looking for places to get one from and there are several options.

Pedigree Breeders

These are ideal if you are looking for a specific breed of pet. A good breeder will normally do a home check and ask lots of questions to make sure you can provide a suitable home for your new pet. Do your research regarding the average cost of the breed you are interested in and expect to pay quite a lot for rarer breeds. The Kennel Club has a list of breed clubs and breeders for puppies (http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/2101) and is a good place to start looking.

You should always follow these check lists if you are buying a puppy, kitten or rabbit from a breeder.

Dogs, Cats and Rabbits

  • Always visit the breeders home to meet the litter.
  • See the mother with her litter
  • Handle the litter (as long as they are over 4 weeks old)
  • Are the litter and mother looking healthy and happy
  • Ask about any genetic/hereditary problems in the breed and what tests have been done to ensure that the parents don’t have these. A good breeder will have no problems discussing these issues with you and will have had the appropriate tests done on the parents.
  • Expect lots of questions from a breeder that cares about where the pets are going to and how you will look after them.
  • Ask about the type of food they will be weaned on to
  • Ask whether the parents have been routinely vaccinated, flea treated and wormed
  • You will need to obtain a pedigree certificate and a contract of sale when you take your new pet home with you
  • Don’t be overwhelmed by the cuteness of the animals in the first litter you visit! If things don’t feel 100% right to you walk away, the right pet is worth waiting for.

Cats Only

  • Ask if the parents tested for Feline immunodeficiency virus and Feline Leukaemia before mating

Dogs only

  • Handle the mother so you can get an idea of her temperament (it is not always possible but if you get the opportunity, meet the father too)
  • Ask about how the puppies will be socialised and what experiences they will have had before they come home to you (will they have seen lots of people, travelled in a car, experienced household noises such as the washing machine and vacuum cleaner).
  • A good breeder will ask you to spend time with adult dogs of the same breed and chat to other owners so that you know exactly what you are letting yourself in for! This is particularly important if you have chosen one of the less common breeds.

mums and babies

Hobby and ‘Accidental’ Breeders

These may be owners who have decided to breed a one-off litter from their pet or their pet has had an accidental mating. All of the same guidelines above should apply when you are visiting and asking questions of the owner. If the pets are crossbreeds you should also try and find out what the breeds are so you will have an idea about how big your new pet may grow.

Rescue Centers

These places have lots of pets in need of new homes and are a good place to start if you don’t want a pedigree animal. They may visit your home and ask lots of questions to make sure you can provide a suitable home for your new pet and that you understand how to care for it correctly.
Some places to try are
http://www.woodgreen.org.uk/
http://www.battersea.org.uk/
http://rspca-reading.org.uk/
http://www.bluecross.org.uk/1710/adopt-an-animal.html
http://www.dbarc.org.uk/
http://www.cats.org.uk/adopt-a-cat

NEVER Buy From Puppy  ‘Farms’

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These are commercial dog breeding facilities that are operated with an emphasis on profits above animal welfare and are often in substandard conditions regarding the well-being of animals in their care. The animals from these places are not looked after properly and will not have been bred for good temperaments and health. Some times puppies are then sold on to middle parties or pet shops before being sold on to new owners. 


To avoid falling into the puppy ‘farm’ trap

  • Don’t buy from any breeder that has more than two breeds of dogs with puppies
  • Always buy puppies that have been raised in a household environment rather than a shed or barn (these puppies will not have been used to human contact or common household noises and events, which can make them fearful and nervous and can lead to behavioural problems)
  • Always see the mother with the puppies – if you cant see the mother with the pups how do you know she is the mother? Don’t accept excuses about the mother being out for a walk or sick – if you don’t see the mother how do you know that she has a good temperament?
  • Never let the breeder bring the puppy to you – if they offer this how will you know anything about the environment they have grown up in or the temperament of the parents?
  • Don’t buy puppies from pet shops or garden centres – these puppies are usually from puppy farms and you will have no idea about their history, temperament or if their parents suffered from any genetic disease or conditions.

If you find yourself at what you suspect is a puppy farm, please do not buy a puppy out of sympathy because any purchase will only encourage these people to continue. If you feel that the adult dogs or puppies are being neglected in any way contact the RSPCA.

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Castle Vets Reading hope this guide is useful to anyone considering getting a new pet. For further advice you can telephone the surgery and speak to, or make an appointment with, one of our veterinary nurses who will be happy to discuss breed types and personality traits of pets with you before you buy. You can contact us by telephone: 0118 9574488  or by email:  castlenurse2012@gmail.com

Christmas Tips For Your Pets

christmas dog and cat

We really hope that you and your pets will enjoy the festive season. Here are some tips to help keep your pets safe and happy during the holidays.

Food

  • Be careful what you feed your pets over Christmas because lots of festive treats can be highly toxic to pets. Some examples of toxic foods are chocolate, sweets, Christmas pudding, nuts, fruit cakes, onions and alcohol.
  • Watch out for visitors giving extra tit-bits to your pets, not only does this cause pets to gain weight it can give them stomach upsets or worse if the food is toxic.
  • Be careful that your pets don’t get hold of meat bones as they could splinter after being eaten and which can cause intestinal blockages or worse.
Some Christmas foods and drinks are highly toxic to pets

Some Christmas foods and drinks are highly toxic to pets

Decorations

  • Shiny ornaments and decorations can be very attractive to curious pets. Pets can suffer serious injuries from chewing and ingesting these decorations. Tinsel’s shininess is attractive. When eaten, it can cause blockages, which often require surgery to remove.
  • Ribbons and string can cause intestinal obstructions if swallowed and are a choking hazard to pets if they get caught around the neck.
  • Potpourri contains oils that can be toxic to pets if eaten.
  • Never leave lighted candles unattended or within reach of your pet. If knocked over they can cause burns or lead to a fire.
  • Tree needles can be toxic and cause mouth and stomach irritation. Even needles and the wire of artificial trees could pose a problem.
  • Chewing on electrical cords of lights can cause problems ranging from burned mouths, to electrical shock to death by electrocution.
  • Place Christmas trees in a stable stand. Even though you take precautions, make sure your pet is always supervised when in a room with a tree.
  • If you have a real tree make sure your pet cannot drink the water in the bucket/stand. Many people use preservatives that are highly toxic to pets.
Always supervise pets around Christmas decorations

Always supervise pets around Christmas decorations

Gifts Under The Tree

  • Rawhide or other edible items left under the tree can be very tempting. Companies often package rawhide or other pet gifts wrapped in ribbon, so make sure to remove these before you present gifts to your dog.
  • Perfumes and after-shaves usually contain ethanol and essential oils which can be very toxic.
  • Batteries for toys or other gifts can be toxic and cause intestinal obstruction. Keep them in a safe place until they are ready to be inserted into the gift.
christmas-tree

Gifts under the tree

 Visitors

  • Sometimes lots of visiting people can be very stressful for our pets. Make sure they have somewhere to retreat to if it all gets a bit too much. A quiet room, away from the commotion with water and food available will help nervous pets be more comfortable. Don’t force your pets to be petted by visitors.
  • Brushing up on obedience training before the holidays may help a dog who has become a little rusty. Be sure to inform your visitors of any household ‘rules’ or problem behaviors concerning your pets, for example, jumping up on the sofa, sneaking out the door or stealing food from the table.
  • If your pet gets distressed when you have visitors you can use Feliway (for cats) or Adaptil (for dogs), these give off pheromones which help calm cats and dogs during stressful periods.
  • For dogs who may not behave or could be aggressive, placing them in a separate room, using pet gates, or having them stay at a friend’s house during a party, may be necessary and sometimes, boarding a dog in a kennel may be the safest alternative.
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Visitors can be a source of great stress for pets

 Routine

  • Remember that most pets are creatures of habit. Try to keep your pets routine the same as normal if possible – with lots of excitement and visitors it is often easy to forget to walk the dog or let the cat outside. A dog that is tired after a good run will be happier to sit or lie quietly and get into less trouble than a bored one.
  • Try to keep your pets feeding times the same and don’t be tempted to add too many rich Christmas extras to the bowl, as this may cause a tummy upset and could result in a trip to the vet.
Keep to your pets usual routine

Keep to your pets usual daily routines

 Travel

  • If you are traveling around to visit relatives make sure that suitable provisions have been made for your pets. A bed or a travel crate is a good idea so that your pet has their own area to rest.
  • Remember to take your pet’s food with you and a couple of bowls.
  • Find the number of a vet local to the place you are visiting and take a copy of your pet insurance policy, in case of illness or accidents.
  • Make sure your pet is micro-chipped or is at least wearing a collar with a suitable id tag, just in case he or she runs off.
  • Remember to allow your pets time alone and a place to retreat to. This is especially important with dogs if there is another dog in the house that you are visiting (or if other dogs are visiting you).
Castle Vets Reading0118 9574488

Castle Vets Reading 0118 9574488

Pet Insurance

Each year 1 in 3 dogs or cats fall ill or are injured. There is no animal National Health Service and an emergency visit to a veterinary practice with a sick or injured pet can be quite expensive. One of the most distressing situations vets and owners find themselves in is when a pet’s problem is curable but the cost of treatment is too expensive and owners just can’t afford to have the treatment carried out.

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Most pet insurance companies cover everything except routine or elective treatment, these routine things could include;

  • Flea Treatment
  • Worming
  • Vaccinations 
  • Nail Clipping
  • Neutering
  • Pregnancy complications or related illnesses
  • Food ( although some companies may cover prescription veterinary diets)
  • Any problems, illnesses or conditions that your pet suffered from before taking out the pet insurance.

 How Do I Choose The Right Policy For My Pet?

You need to pick the policy that suits you best and it is a good idea to shop around and compare several different policies before you commit to anything. You local veterinary surgery may be able to provide some pet insurance leaflets from different companies but they are usually not allowed to recommend specific companies. Essentially there are three different types of policy available, so it is important that you understand what type of policy you are buying and what it will cover.

1. Lifelong Cover Policy – This policy usually offers a fixed amount of money to cover veterinary fees for each year and then reinstates this amount each year when the policy is renewed. For example, if your pet were to develop arthritis in his later life he would be covered for this condition for the rest of his lifetime up to the stated amount yearly. This type of policy can be expensive but it is the most suitable for long term conditions. 

2. Monetary Limit Policy – This type of policy offers a maximum monetary limit on the amount paid out for each condition. This means that you can claim for a condition until you reach the maximum limit for that particular condition.  For example, if your pet developed arthritis and your maximum monetary limit was £4000, you can claim for as many years as it takes to reach this amount. However, once this limit has been reached, the arthritis condition would then be excluded from your insurance. This type of policy is generally less expensive than the first type, but you need to remember that once you have reached the maximum monetary limit your pet will no longer be covered for a long term condition.

3. Maximum Monetary And Time Limit Policy – This type of policy has a maximum monetary limit per condition and a maximum time limit that a condition can be claimed for (usually 12 months from its onset).  Once the maximum monetary or time limit has been reached the condition will no longer be covered. This is commonly referred to as a 12 month policy. This type of policy is often inexpensive to purchase but it will be unsuitable if your pet develops a long term condition.

What Is An Excess Fee?

An excess is the part of a claim that you have to pay yourself for each different condition. Different companies will apply differing amounts of excess so you need to check this with them.

Annual Excess – If a single, ongoing condition spans two or three policy years, the excess will be taken yearly.

Fixed Excess – Companies deduct a fixed amount of money regardless of how much your claim is for. For example, if your excess is £50 per condition you would only have to pay that amount regardless of whether you claim for £100 or £3000. This is usually only applied to 12 month policies.

Percentage Excess – This is where your excess is based on a percentage of your claim (usually after a fixed minimum has been applied), so the more you claim the higher your excess will be. These are usually fixed somewhere between 10% and 30% depending on your policy.

An excess fee can vary according to the area in which you live and/or your pets age. Most insurance companies will charge you an excess for each condition you claim for, so if you are claiming for two different conditions you will have to pay two excesses.

 What you should look out for when buying pet insurance

  • As with most insurances you get what you pay for so it pays to shop around and get the best policy you can afford.
  •  Be wary of some insurance companies that offer a ‘lifetime policy’ but cap the yearly amount you can claim for at a ridiculously low amount – it looks good to have a cover limit of £6000 per year but when you read the small print and it says only £500 per condition per year you could be stuck if your pet needs expensive specialist surgery or ongoing medications.
  • Try to find out how much your excess is likely to go up by on a yearly basis and if your insurance company will also add a percentage excess once your pet reaches a certain age
  • Ask your friends about their experiences with insurance companies. It is also a good idea to look at reviews on line.
  • Remember that once you have made a claim for a specific condition if you decide to change your insurance company that condition will usually be excluded by the new company, so make sure you do your research.  
  •  Your insurance company has the right to ask for your pets medical history from your vet and that your vet must provide it when asked. You must make sure that you tell your insurance company about any pre-existing conditions when you take out your policy.