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Pet insurance for rescue dogs

Thinking of giving a new home to an abandoned dog? There are so many reasons why you should. You only have to look at the stats to see why it makes so much sense.

According to figures from the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA), 4.7 million households welcomed a new pet into their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, 3.4 million gave up a pet in the year up to February 2022.

And the most common pets to be abandoned? You’ve guessed it: dogs (60%).

If you’ve adopted a rescue dog or are thinking of doing so, you’ll want to give them the new life they deserve. Looking after your rescue dog means giving them oodles of love, but it also means getting the right protection (aka pet insurance) in place should they need it.

Here’s a guide to help you look after your rescue dog and tips on how to find the right pet insurance for your new four-legged friend.

What is rescue dog insurance?

When you adopt a pet from a shelter, you may have to complete a pre-adoption form. One of the questions you will be asked is whether you understand the cost of caring for a pet (including health care). That’s because the cost of medical treatment for an injured or unwell pet can quickly add up. But that’s where dog insurance comes in.

Pet insurance for a rescue dog will cover the cost of vet bills should they require treatment following an accident or after developing a health condition. There are main types of insurance for pets available (accident only, time limited, maximum benefit and lifetime). There are also different levels of insurance, with policies covering a range of canine needs, from dental cover to emergency boarding fees.

How do I get pet insurance for rescue dogs?

If you’ve fallen hard for an abandoned pooch, you may be wondering if you can get pet insurance for a rescue dog. Many potential rescue dog owners assume it will be hard to get pet insurance for a rescued mutt. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

The age, and breed will help an insurance provider calculate the cost of your pet insurance. This information will be readily available if you’re buying a puppy from a registered breeder. However, those details might be harder to come by if you’re going down the adoption route.

Fortunately, insurance companies do not differentiate between rescue dogs and non-rescue dogs, so insuring them is relatively straightforward.

The shelter will be able to provide you with the majority of information you require. Even if there is little known about a dog when it first comes into a shelter, on-site vets will carry out an assessment of the animal so you’ll have access to essential medical information.

If the age of the dog is unknown, the shelter will give you an estimate. Some insurance providers will only offer pet insurance to rescue dogs up to a certain age. But even if you’ve adopted an older rescue dog, there are specialist UK senior dog insurance providers – such as Petwise – that will happily insure older pets.

If you have decided to adopt a dog from overseas, this should bear no impact on the policy.An insurance provider doesn’t care where your dog is from (whether that’s the UK, Spain, or Turkey).

Can I insure a rescue pet with pre-existing health conditions?

The very nature of rescue dogs suggests there is a strong possibility that they will have had previous health conditions. Often, the main reason an owner has given up their dog is because they could not afford to pay for medical treatment.

Older dogs in a shelter may be more susceptible to health problems. But you may find that even younger pups – particularly those rescued from puppy farms or illicit breeders – experience health issues caused by malnutrition or inbreeding.

So, can you get pet insurance if your dog is already suffering from illness? Generally speaking, pre-existing or ongoing health issues are not covered by standard dog insurance policies. Common pre-existing conditions in dogs include arthritis, urinary blockages, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and hip dysplasia.

However, if you rehome a dog with any of these conditions, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to be able to find dog insurance. In fact, if your dog develops a new condition (If the condition is related to a pre-existing condition it’s unlikely it will be covered) with the right insurance policy they will be covered for the new health issue.

Dog insurance cover levels overview

How much does pet insurance for rescue dogs cost?

Re-homing a rescue dog isn’t something you can do for free. You may not have to pay for your rescue dog in the UK (some are free, others you pay a small fee to the shelter to cover their costs). However, there will always be financial obligations to owning a dog – from food to a lead to toys.

There’s also the cost of veterinary treatment. Luckily, that can be covered through your pet insurance.

The cost of insuring a rescue dog shouldn’t differ to the cost of insuring any other dog. The fact an insurance company is dealing with a rescue dog is of far less interest to them than things like your dog’s age, breed, and where you live. When it comes to calculating risk, these factors will have a much greater impact on your premiums.

Here’s why:

Breed: Certain dog breeds are at higher risk of developing certain health conditions than others. Pedigree and purebred dogs are often susceptible. For example, pugs and French bulldogs often have breathing difficulties. Dachshunds and corgis are prone to painful spinal problems. And larger dogs, such as St Bernard’s can suffer from hip ­­­dysplasia, arthritis and lameness.

Location: Vet’s fees are higher in certain parts of the UK than others. For example, vets located in London and the South East may charge more than those in parts of the West Midlands and Scotland. So if you’re looking for pet insurance for rescue dogs near Milton Keynes, for instance, you might pay more than someone taking out an identical policy in Dundee.

Age: When insuring a rescue dog, the biggest impact on the cost of your premiums is going to be their age. The older a dog, the more at risk they are of developing a health condition that requires treatment. Plus, some (not all) insurance firms have an upper age limit on new policies. Be sure to do your research and look for providers that specialise in insurance for older dogs – such as Petwise.

Does dog insurance cover your dogs straight away?

How soon can you take your new pet to the vet after taking out pet insurance? Depending on the policy, an insurance  can also start up to two weeks after the policy begins (i.e. once the waiting period has come to an end).

A waiting period is generally between 10 and 15 days. Any health concerns or illnesses that develop in that time will not be covered by the insurance. However, you may find there is a shorter waiting period for accidents.

The reason insurance companies impose these waiting periods is to avoid owners keeping their pet uninsured until an injury or illness occurs. If every pet owner were to do this, insurance companies would lose money and have to push up the price of premiums. Essentially, a waiting period keeps premiums lower for all pet owners.

How can I help my pet rescue dogs feel at home?

Introducing a rescue dog to your family home is an exciting time. Dogs can help improve your mental wellbeing and are a great addition to any family. But amid the anticipation, it’s important to remember the emotional needs of your new pet.

For some canine friends, moving into a new home can induce high levels of stress and anxiety. Others may find it easier to settle into their new environment and adjust quickly.

Rehomed dogs that take longer to settle may have a nervous disposition or have suffered some kind of trauma in their previous life. In these instances, you will need to give them plenty of TLC so they can adjust and get used to their new surroundings.

This could take a few weeks. It could take months. But with enough time and patience, you’ll both get there in the end.

Here are a few tips on how to help your rescue dog feel at home:

Stick to a routine: If a dog or cat has been a shelter for a while, they will have had a routine for mealtimes, exercise and resting. Try to create a similar routine – and stick to it.

Be patient: Recognise that your rescue pet may have been through some really tough times, so it’s no wonder they feel nervous and hesitant. Giving them plenty of love will help them feel safe and put them at ease.

Give them space: It is important to give your dog an area they can retreat to when things get too much. Designate a ‘doggy space’ that is theirs and theirs alone. Set up a comfy bed and let them get used to this area.

Look out for tell-tale behaviour: Keep an eye out for anything that suggests your pooch is feeling stressed or nervous. These emotions can manifest as heavy panting or aggression. Try to get to the root of the issue and understand what made them feel that way. There are many other reasons why an older dog may heavily pant and these can be explained on our recent blog.

Keep them healthy: Finally, the key to a happy dog? It’s simple, really. Lots of long walks. Plenty of healthy food. Regular grooming. Time out when they need it. And regular check-ups at the vet (including vaccinations, flea treatments and worming).

How pet insurance can improve the quality of your rescue dog’s life

When re-homing a pet, you’ll want to do everything you can to give that animal a better life. That’s why it is recommended you insure your rescue dog as soon as you bring them home.

It’s impossible to know what accidents or sudden illnesses may crop up in the future. But having the protection in place to give them the treatment they need, will mean you can improve the quality of their life no end.

Do your research in advance and have a policy in place to start on the day your pet joins your family. Not having pet insurance could mean you end up paying a vets bill yourself.

Ready for your pet insurance quote?

With the right insurance you can make sure your rescue dog gets the medical attention they need - precisely when they need it. Regular visits to the vet will help spot symptoms early (giving your pooch a better chance of recovery).

Get a quick, simple pet insurance quote from Petwise today, and find an insurance policy tailored to both you and your new-found friend.

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