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Insuring older large breed dog - when to call it a day and put money aside?

(11 Posts)
sheffieldsteeler Mon 16-Feb-15 19:26:14

I have two much-loved large breed pedigree dogs, who are both insured with John Lewis. The renewals have just arrived - this year the 5.5yr old's premium is £850, but for the older girl, who will be 10 in July, it's a whopping £1250.

Setting aside the matter of third party insurance, which obviously I'd want in case of an accident, I'm in two minds about whether to continue the older girl's cover. The life expectancy for the breed is around 11-12. My feeling is that if, at 10, she was diagnosed with something that was going to cost more than £1500 to put right (eg, cancer, a serious bone injury) the invasiveness of the treatment would be distressing in her twilight years, for the sake of what might only be a few extra months. I can cover less dramatic treatment out of savings, and would rather spend the money on old dog pampering quality food for her, memory foam bed, joint supplements, etc. She's in pretty good health, if slowing down a bit, and basically lives the life of Riley. I adore her, and would never see her suffering.

Or should I just suck it up and consider £1250 (plus £250 excess) a down payment on care she'll inevitably need? I know two or three trips to the vets can easily make up that amount over a year... Would really appreciate any older-dog owners' thoughts, or vets!

Blistory Mon 16-Feb-15 20:34:36

I can understand why you're considering not renewing but I would.

My three year old costs me £65 per month and my two year old £53. Feck knows how much it's going to go up over their lifetimes. My vet was very honest about the costs, not just of illness, but of accidents for large breeds.

For me, I'd want the option of treatment to be based on what's best for my dogs, not based on what I can afford. It's part of my deal with my dogs that I'll look after them to the best of my ability and much as my sensible head tells me just to save the money in an account, my heart won't let me do it.

I've decided not to treat an older dog before but that was because the treatment was brutal. I was grateful at the time that the cost wasn't a factor given the insurance I had so I've stuck with the maxim of hope for the best but plan for the worst.

WeAllHaveWings Mon 16-Feb-15 21:03:40

sheffieldsteeler tough decision and one of the reasons we have stuck with one Labrador when we would love to have two, we simply would not be able to afford insurance for two older dogs.

I am risk adverse and would continue to insure for all the reasons Blistory has given.

tabulahrasa Mon 16-Feb-15 21:33:43

My 2 yr old dog costs about £100 more than your expensive one, lol.

With an older dog while you may not opt for invasive treatment, diagnosis can be more than £1500 if it involved scans and ongoing medication can be expensive.

So it's all very well deciding you wouldn't do something invasive, but that isn't actually the same as ruling out anything expensive.

Scuttlebutter Mon 16-Feb-15 23:25:15

One of our older (10) dogs had a real year of it last year. In particular, she ran head first into a tree while chasing a squirrel. Fractured her skull, many wounds and spinal damage leading to (temporary) paralysis. She was rushed into ICU at Langfords veterinary hospital, where to our amazement she did not need surgery, but this was only decided after extensive (and expensive) imaging diagnostics. She had intensive nursing there for around 10 days and then came home. In total, I think this adventure came in at around £4K. I am still so thankful every day when I see her now that we had access to superb specialist vet care, nursing and tests to help her on her way. No surgery, apart from a few stitches in the wounds, but a very good example of the type of accident that insurance will cover. I would only drop your insurance if you are comfortably able to afford this type of expenditure out of the blue.

NiceCupOfTeaAndALittleSitDown Mon 16-Feb-15 23:36:09

We got our rescue dog - small breed - insured through E and L. It was his first insurance policy aged 9 with an unknown medical history. Would be worth getting a quote, they were more reasonably by a mile compared to other insurers. I think it's around £20/£25 a month.

MitchellMummy Tue 17-Feb-15 07:00:31

I'd carry on insuring if you have the money to do so ... as I've done.

Contraryish Tue 17-Feb-15 07:08:50

This time last year I'd have told you our 11 year-old collie was in pretty good health. But in the spring, he started going downhill and ended up being admitted to the vets. He spent a total of four nights in on two different occasions, and had various blood tests and an ultrasound. No surgery. He came out on a cocktail of drugs and rattled when he walked. But it all added up to nearly £2000 in vet's fees. Thankfully, he's doing much better now and down to just one tablet a day. But a figure of £1500 is easily racked up and doesn't have to be something that could potentially be terminal.

sheffieldsteeler Tue 17-Feb-15 09:26:06

thanks all very much for your thoughts - I appreciate them! I will grit my teeth and carry on the insurance; I hate the feeling of putting a price limit on DDog's health. It was just a bit of a shock, realising I'd be spending over two grand on dog insurance this year, when I've only ever made one claim in seven years. Still, I guess that's the joy/responsibility of ownership, and the one year you don't insure is the one year you really need it... smile

TheFantasticMrsFox Tue 17-Feb-15 09:40:28

We were in your situation with BlackDog. Ultimately we decided against renewing as she hated all vets with a passion that knew no bounds, needing sedating even to have her temperature taken which was enormously stressful to her (not to mention me and the vet grin)

Thoughtful to the end she died six days before we were supposed to renew, so the issue never actually arose. However in the same situation I think I would do the same. If she had been happy to submit to examinations, I suspect I may have continued for all the reasons outlined above.

moosemama Tue 17-Feb-15 10:54:09

I cancelled my dogs' insurance a few years back, when the premiums got ridiculous and I was thinking along the same lines as you. Two of my dogs, both breeds expected to live to around 12, then lived to 14 and the second of the two cost us over £4,000 in veterinary treatment during the last two months of her life. She was still happy and enjoying life, so not-treating was never an option and we had to put it on a credit card to cover it.

So, in our case a £1,250 premium, plus £250 excess would have been the cheaper option.

I now have both my dogs fully insured again. My older lad will be 10 in November and this time I'll be maintaining his premiums even if the price goes up considerably.

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