Coronavirus hits pet industry as dog prices boom during lockdown

Updated 4 August 2020  | 6 min read

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Lockdown has given us more time to spend with our pets. However, Covid-19 (coronavirus) has affected prices across many industries, particularly on the cost of dogs and dog insurance

Has Covid-19 affected the price of pups?

Yes. According to Dog's Trust, online searches for ‘buying a puppy’ have increased by 166% now we're spending more time at home.

The graph below shows the rise in the cost of dogs during the most recent pandemic.

average cost of a dog during coronavirus pandemic in 2020

*Based on customers who entered their pet purchase price while getting pet insurance quotes through GoCompare between June 2019 and July 2020

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK were at their highest in May, June and July. In this time, the average price of a new family dog increased from £534 in January to over £750 in July.

average price of a new dog increased by 50% compared to last year's prices during coronavirus pandemic

*Based on customers who entered their pet purchase price while getting pet insurance quotes through GoCompare between June 2019 and July 2020

This has taken the average cost of a new pooch to £753, which is a 50% increase on last year's prices.

The price of buying a puppy isn’t the only expense new dog owners will have to face. Consider the cost of vaccinations, microchipping, a bed, food, pet insurance, and grooming.

Which dog breeds have been affected the most? 

The biggest price changes were seen in Border collies, (toy) poodles, American bulldogs and (smooth-haired) dachshunds. Here’s how prices have changed for some of the most popular breeds since 2019:

Breed June 2019 June 2020 Percentage Increase
Border collie £203 £427 110.34%
Poodle (toy) £606 £1,040 71.62%
American bulldog £1,006 £1,618 60.83%
Dachshund (smooth-haired) £729 £1,159 58.98%
French bulldog £809 £1,230 52.04%
Rottweiler £553 £829 49.91%
Dogue De Bordeaux £788 £1,159 47.08%
German shepherd (Alsatian) £503 £706 40.36%

Border collies in particular have almost doubled in price from £203 to over £400. They're intelligent and need active owners who can keep them busy and exercise them frequently. The increase in cost may be a reflection of people having more time at home to spend with such an active breed.

Why has lockdown caused dog prices to rise?

Britain has been experiencing a puppy boom whilst in lockdown. “There is unprecedented demand”, comments Bill Lambert, head of health and welfare at the Kennel Club. “Normally I get one or two inquiries a month but now it’s four or five a day.”

During this isolating time, people are turning to pets to help relieve stress and anxiety, as well as a way to stay active. 

However, the RSPCA fears a surge of pet abandonments when people get back to work or realise they can no longer afford to keep or make time for their new pet.

Before buying a pet, stop and think

Think about the cost and time required for owning one. Certain dog breeds require a lot more attention and exercise than others, so it's important that you understand the specific needs of each variety before making a decision. 

A pet will still have the same requirements on your time and money when life gets back to normal after lockdown. 

The impact of coronavirus on pet insurance

Pet insurance prices have been going up going up too. 

According to our data, the average price of dog insurance hit a record high in May 2020 of £378 annually. This is 26% higher than the price the year before.

The average price of dog insurance hit a record high in May 2020 of £378 annually. This is 26% higher than the price the year before.

*Based on average purchase price of pet insurance bought through GoCompare between June 2019 and July 2020

It's often the case that pet owners take out insurance to give peace of mind and financial cover. Vet treatments often cost hundreds of pounds, depending on your pet’s diagnosis. 

But why are insurance costs rising? Well, the following factors could be contributing to the increase: 

Higher risk equals higher costs

Generally, the higher the risk, the more insurance will cost. Insurers are increasing costs to mitigate some of the uncertainty caused by Covid-19.

Veterinary practices are open but under limitations

Vets have remained open during lockdown, but under limited circumstances. Due to an increased demand for pets and restrictions set out by the government, some veterinary practises have upped their fees. Higher vet costs means higher insurance costs. 

Dogs are costing more

Insurance companies will take into account the cost of the dog, as well as the breed, age and any hereditary illnesses that specific breeds might be prone to.  

Usual year on year inflation

Pet insurance costs for cats and dogs have been increasing for the past couple of years. In 2013 the average premium was £255, in 2015 it was £267, and in 2017 £324. 

Take advantage of any extra time you have to carefully review pet insurance policies to find one that provides enough cover for a reasonable price.

Can dogs and cats catch Covid-19?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that some cats and dogs have tested positive for the virus. However, in these cases the pets had close contact with a human who had it. There’s also very little evidence to suggest that domestic animals are vulnerable to Covid-19 - if your pet did somehow catch the disease, they won’t really be affected by it. 

Can pets transmit/carry the virus to humans?

According to WHO, there is no evidence to suggest that pets spread the disease to humans. 

It's still recommended that pet owners wash their hands with soap and hot water for 30 seconds before and after contact with pets. Not only can this protect against Covid-19, but it can also help protect against other infections, such as E.Coli and Salmonella. 

The UK government has stated that based on limited information, the risk of animals spreading the disease to people has been considered low.

How to find cheap pet insurance during the Covid-19 outbreak

Regardless of the current pandemic, you can still find yourself the right cover. 

1. Compare 

Use GoCompare's comparison service to find cheaper pet insurance today. 

2. Try multi-pet policies

Have more than one animal? Many pet insurance providers offer a discount when you insure all of your pets with them. Find out more about multi-pet policies

3. Jabs and microchipping 

Make sure your pets jabs are up-to-date. This’ll help keep your pet as healthy as possible and lowers the risk to insurers. 

Microchipping dogs has been a legal requirement in the UK since April 6th 2016 and so shouldn’t affect insurance costs, but your entire policy could be void if it turns out your dog isn’t chipped. Some pet insurance providers will offer a discount for cats who are microchipped - so be sure to ask before you buy. 

4. Get the right cover

Getting the correct level of cover for your pet can help bring down the cost in the long run. Most pet insurers offer a range of policies:

Accident only - This level of cover is the cheapest and provides a fixed sum of money for each accidental injury. If the treatment required comes to more than the fixed sum, you will be required to pay the rest. This cover usually excludes illnesses and does not cover pre-existing conditions. 

Time-limited cover -  Time-limited cover is more comprehensive than accident only and excludes certain conditions after you hit your claims limit. This claims limit is either per condition or time-limited. For instance, £6,000 per condition over your pet’s life or £2,000 per year for each new condition. However, when the policy is renewed a condition will become pre-existing and be excluded from future policies. 

Lifetime cover - Lifetime is the most comprehensive type of pet insurance cover available. This cover normally pays out for ongoing issues your pet may have throughout its life. There are two different types of lifetime cover; per condition per year and annual lifetime cover. Annual lifetime will usually give you a set amount (such as £30,000) to use in the event of accidents or illnesses over your pet's lifetime. Per condition per year usually provides pets with a limit of a few thousand pounds per year for each condition. 

[1]Propellernet research sourced by Dogs Trust. Based on Google searches for “buy a puppy” from week commencing 22nd March 2020 compared to week commencing 12th July 2020.

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