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Pet insurance could reduce number of abandoned pets

01 May 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
The rising number of abandoned pets could be reduced if owners didn't underestimate the cost of owning animals, and got pet insurance to protect them, Sainsbury's Finance has said.

The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has announced that there has been a 23 per cent increase in the number of pets that are abandoned compared to last year, and Sainsbury's Pet Insurance believes that this is because people underestimate how much owning a pet could cost in the long run.

Sainsbury's found that the lifetime costs of owning a dog could be almost £9,000 and more than £7,000 for a cat. The average annual cost of owning a dog is £502, but this could increase to £921 in 12 years' time, the average life expectancy of a dog.

Steve Johnson, head of pet insurance at Sainsbury's Finance said: "The significant rise in pets being abandoned makes for depressing reading. As the cost of owning a pet steadily increases, it's important that owners and potential purchasers fully appreciate the financial commitment related to owning a cat or dog - this is rising at above the rate of inflation. Costs can also escalate as pets get older as they often need extra medical care and attention.

"The good news is that owners can help alleviate some of the financial burden and cost of veterinary bills by purchasing pet insurance at the point of buying their pet. Pet insurance need not be expensive and there are some very competitive premiums out there."

Meanwhile, RIAS – insurers for the over 50s – has found that many other pet owners are killing them with kindness by giving them unhealthy treats and causing their cuddly friends to become dangerously obese.

As National Pet Month draws to a close next week, many British pets will have enjoyed an Easter period of hot cross buns and chocolate Easter eggs, and the bank holiday weekend is sure to bring an array of other fatty treats, but RIAS is urging owners to think of their pet's health before doling out the snacks.

Britain's cats and dogs are now among the fattest in Europe, and it is estimated that more than half – approximately seven million – are overweight.

According to the RSPCA and British Veterinary Association, allowing pets to become so unhealthy can lead to further problems in the future, such as diabetes, respiratory and circulatory problems, even reducing life expectancy.

Bigger pets also mean bigger vet bills, with more than £1.5 million a year being spent each year, highlighting the importance of pet insurance.

RIAS Managing Director Janet Connor says: "Clearly protecting the health and well-being of pets is of paramount importance - after all, they are usually considered part of the family. We strongly advise that owners take preventative action rather than wait until a serious problem occurs. And of course, taking out a pet insurance policy can give pet owners additional peace of mind for those times when medical intervention and vet bills become unavoidable."

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