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Medical conditions affect one in eight cats and dogs under the age of three

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catBe aware of the danger of medical conditions becoming ” pre-existing”

Cat and dog owners are putting their finances at risk by not insuring their pets as soon as they acquire them, according to Sainsbury’s Finance. Every year, one in eight (12%) cats and dogs under the age of three suffers from some form of medical condition(1) which may recur later in life, or be linked to other conditions. The bank is warning that if pet owners don’t take out a pet insurance policy as soon as they buy a pet, any illnesses occurring during this time could be regarded as pre-existing medical conditions when they do come to take out insurance. These conditions and sometimes those that are linked in some way, can therefore be excluded from the cover.

If a pet insurance claim is discovered to be for a pre-existing condition and thus excluded from the cover, the insurer will refuse the claim, and with 38% of all refused claims occurring because of pet owners’ failure to declare illnesses prior to taking out cover, this is the most common reason for claims having to be turned down(1).

Medical conditions in the first three years are more common amongst dogs, an estimated 22% of which suffer from a condition in their first three years. Sainsbury’s Finance estimates that more than 140,000 dogs under the age of three suffer from dermatitis every year for example, and over 170,000 suffer from lameness, 73,000 of which are under the age of one. The average medical cost for treating lameness in a dog during the first three years of its life is more than £322(1).

A smaller percentage (4%) of cats suffer from such conditions in their first three years, but there are still estimated to be more than 28,000 cats under the age of three who suffer from cystitis every year, and nearly 18,000 who suffer from lameness(1).

Joanne Mallon, Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance Manager, explains: “Pet owners often buy a puppy or a kitten and assume they will be healthy while they are young, so they don’t bother to take out pet insurance immediately. However our figures show that many cats and dogs develop conditions early on in life, conditions that will often persist. Unfortunately, like with private medical care in humans, owners will struggle to get cover for an existing, condition which may mean paying for veterinary treatment and medication for this condition for the rest of the pet’s life.

“Pet owners should make sure that they take out good quality pet insurance as soon as they buy a pet, to save them from potentially ongoing and costly veterinary expenditure.”

Good quality pet insurance does not need to be expensive, good cover at a competitive price can be found by shopping around.