Dogged devotion: Britons dig deep for pets

Forget worming pills and a flea collar – a trip to the vet in Britain these days could be about heart surgery, joint replacement, chemotherapy or a host of other cutting-edge procedures, says Reuters.


  • Research firm Datamonitor has forecast the country's pet insurance market will grow to almost £600 million (about R8.8 billion) in 2011 from nearly £380 million (about R5.6 million) in 2006.

  • Veterinarians have performed skin grafts for dogs hit by cars, joint replacements for crippled animals and chemotherapy for pets with cancer, says Jerry Davies, founder of Davies Veterinary Specialists, the largest private clinic of its kind in Europe.

    The rising costs and variety of care have persuaded many owners to insure their animals:

  • About a quarter of Britain's 16 million or so dogs and cats are insured, compared with less than 2 per cent in the United States, said Chris Price, a spokesman for Directline, a Royal Bank of Scotland subsidiary which offers pet insurance.

  • Insurers in many European countries do not even offer plans but in England a number of providers cater to pet owners in a market led by Allianz subsidiary Petplan; AXA SA also offers pet insurance.

  • The only country that insures a greater proportion of its pets is Sweden, where the first policy was written and almost half of all pets are insured.

    Other British pet owners are increasingly willing to pay themselves for an array of medical treatments, and Davies predicted even more complex procedures for animals will be available in the future. At the Royal Veterinary College in London about a third of the clients pay out of their own pocket for procedures that can run up to nearly £ 10,000 (about R147,000) said Dan Brockman, a surgeon at the school.

    Source: Michael Kahn, Dogged devotion: Britons dig deep for pets' health, Reuters, February 19, 2008.

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    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 26 February 2008
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