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Press Office

7th February 2012

Pet Pensioners

Pet owners' insurance cover turns to grey in pet's twilight years

Mirroring the UK's ageing human population, a large number of the nation's pets are hitting their twilight years1 . Whilst the average life expectancy of humans in the UK is 79, the UK's largest pet insurer, Petplan reveals that cats and dogs are also living longer, with some living to 120 years2, which is 26 and 24 respectively in human years3.

In a recently commissioned study, Petplan's Health Census reveals that pet owners are worryingly unprepared to deal with their pet's health throughout its lifetime especially when it comes to paying for large vet bills.

Despite illnesses and injuries striking at any age, Petplan's research reveals that pet owners visit their vets less regularly as they get older:

  • 31% of dog owners and 27% of cat owners visit the vet once a month for their pets first six months
  • However only 42% of dogs and 34% of cats over the age of 10 (70-98 dog years and 70+ cat years) visit the vet less than once every two years.

It appears that as a nation we are vigilant when it comes to our own health, though the same isn't true when it comes to our pets:

  • 70% of pet owners over the age of 36 visit their own doctor once a year
  • Compared to 47% of dog owners and 48% of cat owners who book an annual visit to the vet
  • And whilst, 89% of pet owners walk their dog at least once a day, 56% said they had never brushed their dog or cat's teeth – a direct cause of some pet diseases.

The findings also show that pet owners' knowledge of basic illness symptoms is severely lacking;

  • 12% of cat owners and 11% of dog owners say they wouldn't recognise signs such as falling over and flickering eyes as signs of a stroke.
  • Furthermore, 54% of cat owners and 40% of dog owners were unsure whether they'd be able to spot if their pet's eyesight was failing.

Isabella von Mesterhazy, Petplan's Head of Marketing says: "We're urging pet owners to think about the lifetime health of their pets, not just the early years. Many pets are not getting adequate care in their old age and if they don't have the right type of insurance cover from the beginning, often they are unable to get the best care when it becomes really critical."

Isabella added: "We all know that we view pets as part of the family, however it would appear that some pet owners are unable to visit a vet as their pet gets older because they don't have enough cover. Our Covered For Life® policy means a pet will have up to £12,000 of cover every year – for life."

Brian Faulkner, Petplan Vet of the Year, adds: "Pets are susceptible to a variety of illnesses at all ages, whether a young puppy, or a 'Pet Pensioner'. Like us, it's typically later in life that chronic conditions such as liver failure, renal failure and arthritis set in for pets but ongoing conditions such as diabetes can strike at any age. Often pet owners fail to realise the implications of not having lifetime cover for their beloved pet but a Covered For Life® policy gives you the ultimate peace of mind."

Petplan have also revealed the top 10 health conditions of 2011.

  1. Hyperthyroid/hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland – affecting body's metabolism).
  2. Diabetes mellitus (high blood sugar as a result of insulin production/responses).
  3. Cystitis (urinary bladder inflammation).
  4. Renal disease (kidney disease).
  5. Renal failure (kidney failure).
  6. Weight loss.
  7. Lameness.
  8. Diarrhoea.
  9. Vomiting.
  10. Abscess(es) (collection of pus causing inflammation and swelling).

Pets are susceptible to a variety of illnesses at all ages, whether a young puppy, or a 'Pet Pensioner' so it's important to get the right type of insurance from the start so you can get them the best possible treatment throughout their life. If you have a cat or dog click on the links below to see what types of injuries and illnesses they could face throughout their lifetime.

View cat life stagesFour life stages of cats

View dog life stagesFour life stages of dogs

1According to Petplan's January 2012 'Health Census' based on 1,530 pet owning respondents

2According to the Care Veterinary Group pet calculator (www.carevetgroup.com)

3Data from Petplan's customer base for 2012

For comprehensive cover or information about unique Petplan's Covered For Life® policy, visit www.petplan.co.uk.

Notes to editors

Petplan is the largest pet insurance provider in the world, offering comprehensive lifetime pet insurance cover for dogs, cats and rabbits.

Established more than 30 years ago, it is part of Allianz Insurance, one of the largest general insurers in the UK.

For more information about Petplan cat insurance, please visit:

For more information about Petplan dog insurance, please visit: