The cost of owning a pet

A nation of animal lovers, the United Kingdom is home to over 16 million dogs and cats and almost half of households have at least one pet.

It’s clear that we love our furry friends and most of us treat them as part of the family. We take care of them when they’re unwell and their constant companionship keeps us smiling.

According to a recent survey, only 25% of people have Pet Insurance with many claiming that they can’t afford it. However the small cost of buying pet cover is insignificant when compared to the rising cost of vet bills.*

John Brady, Head of Commercial at John Lewis Insurance, answers your questions on the cost of owning a pet.

Q & A with John Brady

Q. What’s your background and what experience do you have in providing information about Pet Insurance?

A. I've worked in financial services for 20 years, including banking, credit cards and insurance. The last five have been spent at the John Lewis Partnership, where I’ve helped to launch and develop John Lewis Insurance, including our personal insurance cover for cars, weddings, travel, homes, events and, of course, pets.

Q. Why do I need Pet Insurance?

A. Pet Insurance provides financial protection if your pet becomes ill or has an accident, as your pet cover will help you to pay the cost of vet bills. As they get older, dogs and cats can be susceptible to illnesses and health problems, especially if they have a hereditary condition.

Q. My pet is a pedigree - surely they will have fewer health problems?

A. Actually, pedigree dogs and cats are at a higher risk of medical problems due to over breeding. Hereditary conditions are common and treatment can be expensive. If your dog or cat is worth several hundred pounds, you may wish to take out a higher level of pet cover. Talk to your pet’s breeder and find out if there is a history of illness.

Q. How much do vet bills really cost?

A. The average cost of owning a cat or dog - including food, vaccinations and treats - can amount to around £17,000 throughout your pet's lifetime.* The price of vet bills depends on the area you live in, the pet(s) you have and the treatment they’re having.

This table created in September 2011 offers a breakdown of some of the approximate costs of vet bills:


Approximate cost

Standard consultation

£25 - £35

Blood tests

£10 - £120 depending on illness (plus charge for vet's time)

Prescribed course of treatment

£3 - £70 depending on prescription

Emergency out of hours supplement

£30 - £150

Overnight stay

£30 - £50


£45 - £55 per x-ray


£150 - £5,000 depending on size of pet and length of treatment

(Two months to two years)


£1,000 - £2,000

MRI scan

£1,000 - £2,000

If your cat or dog is injured in an accident, there could be other treatments needed which will vary depending on the type of injury. For full details of the cost of different treatments, you should talk to your vet.

Q. Is my pet covered for complementary therapies?

A. Yes, with John Lewis Pet Insurance, your pet is entitled to up to £2,000 of complementary treatment each year (including chiropractic manipulation, osteopathy, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy treatments) for insured conditions carried out by a vet or a member of one of our approved Associations.

Q. What if my pet develops a long term illness?

A. Many insurance providers will cover you up to a set amount for your pet. This means that once you reach your limit, you won’t have any more cover for a long term illness, regardless of your dog’s age.

John Lewis Pet Insurance offers you long term cover of up to £12,000 each year, so you can claim up to this amount each year your policy is renewed and your premiums are paid, there is no time limit on how long a claim can last.

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