More Than Insurance has published interesting research which shows recent trends in pet insurance. As many people in lockdown have taken on the responsibility for a pet in the last year, there is an opportunity for growth in the UK market.
Snacking and unhealthy diets are revealed as one of the main pet health issues, with more than a third (34%) of pet owners admitting to feeding their pet more treats during lockdown. The study of 2,000 dog and cat owners also found that the amount of food being given to pets has also increased, with one in five (22%) feeding their pets more regularly and one in ten (10%) feeding their pets bigger portions than they would normally.
There are growing concerns about the long-term impact pet obesity can have on pet’s health with over 50% of dogs in the UK — and around 40% of cats — now overweight or obese. Worryingly, three in ten (30%) pet owners would be unable to confidently spot the signs of their pets being overweight, while one in ten (11%) do not know the recommended healthy weight for their pet.
Diabetes, heart disease and arthritis are amongst the most common health-related conditions caused or worsened by pet obesity, with the average diabetes-related claim amounting to £1,882.94 according to MORE THAN research (conducted from January 2018 – December 2020).
Graham Nicholls, Head of Pet Insurance at MORE THAN, comments:
“As a nation, we’ve been incredibly resilient to the pressures this pandemic has brought on us. We’ve adapted and changed our lifestyles to fit. While the odd treat to reward ourselves and pets is often much needed, what we don’t quite realise is the long term impact our habits can have on our pets.”
The research from MORE THAN also highlights a growing trend in vegan diets for pets, with one in eight (12%) owners feeding their cats and dogs more meat-free food products during lockdown. The vegan pet diet trend has been spurred by the recent social media posts of high-profile celebrities, showing how they have introduced plant-based diets for their dogs.
IE note; There is very little definitive research on the long term effects of vegan diets for cats and dogs, and some vets believe that it is difficult for cats in particular to get all the essential nutrition they need from a vegan only diet. For insurers, there is an opportunity to create a vegan pet insurance scheme, where the onus would be on the policyholder to accept a higher risk of bone or teeth fractures, plus other by-breed, pre-existing conditions. Possibly.
Fact is, this is a controversial issue, since insurers are colliding with woke activist belief systems, which clearly state that a vegan diet is intrinsically healthier for the animal. There may be a general reluctance to accept that a vegan diet should affect the pricing of pet insurance, except to reduce premiums.
Insurers and brokers in this niche have a great opportunity as the pet market grows. They should probably sponsor academic research as soon as possible, and act upon the results with caution.
“While there is a growing selection of safe vegan pet foods on the market, feeding meat-free food to pets without veterinary guidance and careful research could result in our pets missing the vital vitamins and nutrients needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
The findings also highlight the lockdown habits which have impacted pets in a positive way. With more time at home, MORE THAN has found that nearly two-thirds of cat owners (64%) are playing with their cat more, while over half (53%) of dog owners are taking their dogs out for more walks.
For more information on keeping your pets’ healthy, click here.