A Pet's for Life

Local news has been full of stories about dogs being abandoned by families affected by the recession. Yet at such a time, surely a dog can be 'man's best friend'?

And if you are thinking about acquiring a dog then there are many charities and dogs' homes that will be only too happy to help you re-home an abandoned pet.

It's true that owning a dog is a big responsibility and should never be taken on lightly. They need training, exercise; discipline, feeding; their health and wellbeing looked after and – above all – patience and love.

"Develop a close relationship with a dog and you will never be without a true, faithful friend who will never disagree or argue back: and your affection will be returned a hundred-fold."

Karen Jakes, head of AA Pet Insurance, points out that dogs respond to human emotions. "If you're sad or at your wit's end, there can be few greater comforts than a dog. Even if you are angry, your dog's reproachful expression will soon help you calm down. And, of course, it's hard to beat the therapeutic effect of a good long walk, for you and your pet."

For most people a dog becomes a trusty and vital member of the family so it's important to make sure you care for them properly – especially if they are injured or fall ill.

Says Jakes: "When times are difficult and you need to cut back on your expenses, cutting back on caring for your dog should not be an option. You should especially make sure you maintain your pet's insurance: that's their health cover. Given that medical treatment for a dog can be extremely expensive insurance can literally be a life saver for them."

In the market there are three standards of pet insurance available. The cheapest is '12-month cover' which provides very basic insurance and should really be avoided. Other levels, such as 'Maximum benefit' and 'Lifetime' provide much enhanced cover.

Explains Karen: "AA Pet Insurance offers 'maximum benefit' insurance with three levels of cover: Bronze, Silver and Gold. It's designed to ensure that whatever happens to your pet, he or she will be looked after. It costs from £6.70* for a dog and £4 for a cat."

You can obtain advice from AA Pet Insurance and, if you wish to, talk to a specialist.

Jakes adds: "If you are thinking of buying a dog, choose one that best suits your circumstances. Generally the bigger the dog the more expensive they are to look after and you need to think about the size of your home and garden and where you might give your pet (and yourself) exercise. Also, while many pedigree dogs can be costly to buy from a breeder, you may well find one at a dogs' home but remember they may develop inherited conditions such as hip or eye problems later in life.

"A safer bet may be to choose a cross or mongrel: they will still be just as affectionate, open to learning and may suffer less in the way of health problems. And of course, their insurance cover is likely to be cheaper."

Get a pet insurance quote


* At least 10% of AA Pet Insurance customers pay £6.70 or less to insure their dog, according to a survey of new single policy insurance business in 2008.