Anyone planning on picking up toys and treats for their furry friends this Christmas should think about buying pet insurance instead, according to Pete ‘The Vet’ Wedderburn.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, the well-known animal expert said taking out a policy for your pet “makes really good sense” considering the high cost of the vet these days.
He said just 15% of pet owners in Ireland are insured – an extremely low figure compared to places like Sweden where the figure is closer to 90%.
“It’s very much a part of the culture there [in Sweden]; it’s what everybody does, and it just makes really good sense,” said Mr Wedderburn.
The veterinary doctor said pet insurance was first introduced to Ireland in the 90s and is well established now.
“Despite it being around for 30 years it hasn’t become a part of our culture in the same way it has in Sweden,” he said.
“People, I think, worry about paying out lots and lots without getting anything back.”
Mr Wedderburn said you are more likely to make a claim on your pet insurance policy than you would be on a home or vehicle policy.
“You’re much more likely to use it. For example, only around 15% of home insurance policies pay out every year," he said.
“With car insurance, that figure is about 22% - but over 30% of pet policies pay out every year. You use it every three years on average.”
Mr Wedderburn believes much less dogs would be ‘put down’ in Ireland if people decided to insure their pets.
“One of the problems is [medical treatment for pets] becomes unaffordable,” he said.
“If your vet tells you it’s going to cost three grand to do this, people just don’t have this spare cash sitting around.
“They then have to face the prospect of either doing things on a shoestring [budget] or, worst of all, economic euthanasia.
“That is where a pet is euthanized because you can’t afford the treatment.”
Mr Wedderburn said shopping around for policies can be “difficult" – with policies coming in a wide range of cost brackets depending on the type of animal and its age.
He said dogs are typically more expensive to insure than cats, but this can also vary widely depending on the breed.
“Some breeds are more likely to get ill and are therefore more expensive to insure,” said Mr Wedderburn.
“The more crossbred they are, the less likely they are to get sick, so the cheaper the insurance is.
“It also depends on age. Generally, you can get your pet insured until they are seven years of age and after that, nobody will insure them.”
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