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Insurers increase cover for anxious dogs

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More insurers are covering emotional therapy for dogs as owners return to work, research shows.

Data from Defaqto shows 44 per cent of dog insurance policies now cover behavioural treatment compared to 30 per cent in February 2020.

The average amount of cover for animal behavioural treatment has increased too, with 25 per cent of insurers offering £5,000 or more, up from 17 per cent.

The number of dogs bought soared during the Covid pandemic as people sought comfort in lockdown.

However, with owners heading back to work, many dogs are being left at home alone for the first time.

According to the RSPCA, ‘separation anxiety’ in dogs occurs when the dog is separated from their owner and in many cases is because they are feeling distressed.

Symptoms include destructive behaviour, unwanted toileting or reports of howling/barking.

In some cases anxious dogs will show signs of trembling, whining or pacing, excessive salivation, self-mutilation, repetitive behaviour and vomiting.

Defaqto said many pet owners are unaware that their insurance policy could include cover for veterinary treatment for their distressed pets.

In most instances the treatment must be recommended by a vet and carried out by a registered professional such as Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist (CCAB) or member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC).

Cover may include the costs of pheromone products as part of a behaviour modification programme however these products are often only covered for a six-month period.

Brian Brown, consumer finance expert at Defaqto, said: “Dogs provided much-needed companionship for their owners throughout the pandemic and for those that started life in lockdown, they have never known any different. It is not surprising then that some dogs are anxious when they are being left alone for the first time and displaying destructive behaviour.

“The good news is that this is treatable, and insurers have stepped up to increase their cover for this.

“However, there is no excuse for not training and socialising a dog properly and insurers will not pay claims where this is the case.”

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