Churchill magazine

What to think about before getting a pet

Updated on: 19 January 2021

buying a pet

When choosing an animal and then caring for it, there are many things you need to consider as your pet will be with you for a long time. On average, both cats and dogs live for 12-14 years.

Churchill provides a comprehensive insurance policy for both cats and dogs should they fall ill or go missing.

Are you thinking of buying a pet?

Cats are very clean, independent animals and provide loving companions for many. They also need to be given care and attention to keep them healthy and happy. Dogs are intelligent, faithful and fun. They do take up a lot of time and energy and need plenty of space so they are not ideal for people who are out of the house all day.

Here is some key advice for looking after your cat or dog.

What do cats need?

  • Company. They should be with other cats or people for at least some of each day.
  • A balanced diet. Make sure your cat’s food is free of bones.
  • Fresh, clean water in constant supply.
  • A sleeping area that is warm and cosy and a safe place to play and exercise every day.
  • Brushing regularly. Long-haired cats need to be brushed every day.
  • A scratching post.
  • Clean teeth. Use a brush or rub their teeth with special toothpaste and ask a vet to check them regularly.
  • Independence. A cat flap is ideal as cats like to come and go as they wish.
  • A litter tray that they are trained to use.
  • To be microchipped at the vets in case they get lost.
  • Neutering while they are young. It is a straightforward operation that can be arranged at your vets.
  • Veterinary care if they are ill or injured.
  • Injections to prevent them catching diseases (especially feline enteritis and cat flu when kittens).
  • Worming and flea treatment.
  • Support when being picked up – one hand under the cat’s chest and the other round its back legs.

What do dogs need?

  • Company. They like to be around other dogs or people and should not to be left alone for too long.
  • A balanced diet.
  • Fresh, clean water in constant supply.
  • A bed and blanket.
  • A garden that is safe and secure to play and exercise in.
  • Brushing every day, especially if they have long hair.
  • Clean teeth which should be checked by a vet regularly.
  • Regular walks. They should be kept on a lead when near traffic or other hazards.
  • A collar and identity tag.
  • Good training.
  • To be microchipped at the vets in case they get lost.
  • Neutering while they are young. It is a straightforward operation that can be arranged at your vets.
  • Veterinary care if they are ill or injured.
  • Injections to prevent them catching diseases.
  • Worming and flea treatment.
  • Well kept claws. They can be clipped by a vet if necessary.

How much can a new dog cost?

If you’re after a pedigree dog or cat, how much can you expect to pay and what do you need to know? Are certain breeds prone to certain illnesses and does that mean you won’t be covered by pet insurance? And if you are rescuing a pet, how do you find a reputable animal shelter and what’s expected of you?

Pure-breed dogs and cats are likely to cost you several hundred pounds, with the rarer and purer breeds costing five hundred pounds or more.

As an example, Labradors are very common, intelligent family pets, but could cost between £300 and £500. West Highland Terrier pure breeds are very pricey, though the dogs are usually full of character!

Full pedigrees generally cost upwards of £400, with females often costing more than the males. If you want to go for big, rare and expensive, the Komondor is a very rare Hungarian hunting dog pure breed, and may cost you many hundreds of pounds.

How much can a new cat cost?

Although much smaller, pedigree cats are priced roughly the same as dogs!

So, a Persian could cost between £200 and £350; a good Burmese will be around £350 to £400; and a Devon Rex could cost upwards of £400, which is a standard price for most other pedigree breeds.

What are the risks of disease?

Any breed of dog can be susceptible to certain diseases. With rare dogs, like the Komondor for example, you might face hereditary problems. There are only around 100 registered Komondors in the UK, and one ailment they can be prone to is dysplasia, a hereditary condition, which is a common problem with big dogs and particularly with pure-bred dogs.

Labradors are certainly not a rare breed but they too are susceptible to diseases including hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, epilepsy, cancer, metabolic liver defects and ear infections.

The point is that with dogs and cats, it is worth doing your homework to identify which conditions particular breeds are more prone to, so that this can be addressed by your pet insurance policy.

Don’t forget about your pet insurance…

In general, with Churchill pet insurance, as with most other pet insurers, any condition, which occurred or existed in any form, prior to inception of the insurance policy, will not be covered.

If your pet is ill before the policy starts, we would be unable to cover an illness or condition that is pre-existing, or occurs during the first 10 days of your insurance cover. New policies for cats can be taken out from the age of eight weeks anytime up to and including 10 years old.

Dog insurance policies can be taken out anytime from eight weeks up to and including eight years old. Once your pet is insured with us, cover is normally available for the rest of its life.

What about adopting a rescue animal?

Many people prefer to rescue animals rather than buy them on the open market. So, if you want to rescue an abandoned cat or dog, how do you find a reputable animal shelter?

The RSPCA is a great first point of contact. It re-homes around 70,000 animals a year and is in touch with many pet organisations. Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London is another good organisation to contact, with a good pedigree and excellent support.

A good dog or cat shelter will look to ensure you can provide a good home for the pet, provide for them, and care for them, and also that the pet is suited to you and your situation, and the other way around.

The adoption procedure reflects this. Although it varies between animal centres and branches, it tends to involve an initial questionnaire, animal viewings, conversations with the centre owners, a home visit, and the adoption itself, followed by support from the organisation.

Before you buy a new family pet, why not get some pet insurance quotes for different breeds of cat or dog from Churchill?

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