Raw feeding has become increasingly popular over the last few years. Though its benefits remain unproven, the claims made by those who sell it can be alluring. If you feed your pet raw food (either as their main meal or as a top-up) then you may be wondering if this will affect your pet insurance. Can our pets’ diets affect their premiums?
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Will My Pet Insurance Ask About My Pet’s Diet?
When you take out a pet insurance policy, you must answer a series of questions about yourself and your pet. Currently, it appears that most insurance companies do not ask about a pet’s diet as one of the standard questions. This means that they would not be able to change your pet’s premiums on this basis.
However, it is important to read the terms and conditions of any policy that you take out very carefully. It is possible that the insurance company could include a clause relating to raw feeding, in which case you need to be aware of this.
Can My Pet Insurance Find Out That My Pet Is Raw Fed?
If you feed raw and need to claim your pet insurance, then it is possible that the insurance company will find out about your pet’s diet.
The process of making an insurance claim involves sending your pet’s full health records to your insurance company. This is to help them understand your pet’s illness and to make a decision on whether your claim is included in your policy or not. It is important to disclose to your vet that your dog is raw-fed for a range of different medical reasons. This should be recorded in your dog’s medical history.
This should not normally affect your insurance claim. But you will need to check for any specific clauses in your policy that relate to raw feeding.
Why Else Might Raw Feeding Increase My Pet Insurance Premiums?
Even if being raw fed does not directly increase your dog’s health insurance premiums, there are other reasons why it might affect your monthly direct debit. Some insurance companies will increase your premium after you make a claim. But is raw feeding likely to mean you need to claim more often?
There are several well-known health hazards that come with raw feeding, both for pets and human family members. Raw food, by definition, has not been cooked, and so is likely to be contaminated with bacteria. Many of these bacteria – including Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli – can infect pets or humans. These can cause illnesses ranging from food poisoning (vomiting and diarrhoea) to fever, sepsis and even death. Contrary to popular belief, pets are not immune to the effects of these bacteria and can end up seriously ill, too. There is also evidence that these bacteria are more likely to be resistant to antibiotics; meaning that it can be harder to treat these infections.
Home-made raw diets also run the risk of being nutritionally unbalanced. It is very difficult to produce a truly balanced homemade diet for dogs. Studies have found that almost all the recipes tested (from books or the internet) were deficient in at least one key nutrient, and many were seriously unbalanced.
All of this means that pets who are fed raw food are likely to be at a higher risk of becoming acutely unwell, compared to those who are fed a cooked commercial diet. This means that raw feeding could mean more trips to the vet, which would indirectly increase your pet insurance premiums.
Should I Withhold The Fact That I Feed Raw?
It is important to let your vet know that you are feeding your dog raw food – even if some of their diet is cooked. There are several different kinds of illnesses that are much more common in raw-fed dogs. Your vet needs to be aware of these if your pet becomes unwell, or they could end up being misdiagnosed. The increased risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria also means that your vet may need to be more proactive in culturing any infections that your dog may get, to make sure they are using the correct antibiotics.
If you deliberately withhold information from an insurance company, this may constitute insurance fraud, which is a criminal offence.
Choosing to raw feed your dog does not currently seem to directly increase pet insurance premiums, but you must always read an individual policy carefully before taking it out. However, raw feeding may lead to your pet developing certain illnesses which may require veterinary treatment. If you need to make claims for this treatment, then this could indirectly increase your premiums.