Rescue dog insurance

If you’re thinking about adopting a rescue dog or have already welcomed one to your home, it’s important to make sure that you have the right cover from your pet insurance policy.

Updated 17 December 2021  | 3 min read

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In 2020, Dogs Trust cared for 10,416 dogs across the UK and Ireland.

Rescue dogs end up in the care of a shelter or charity for many unfortunate reasons, including pet allergies, owners moving house, affordability, or simply the fact that a new dog doesn’t fit in with other family members or existing pets.

Where can I get a rescue dog from?

Rescue dogs and other animals can be adopted from organisations such as:

Can I get insurance for a rescue dog?

Yes, you should get pet insurance for your rescue dog. Whether your pet has been adopted or bought is irrelevant when purchasing this type of insurance. 

Rescue dog insurance is essentially the same as standard dog insurance. It provides cover for your pet to help pay towards veterinary costs in the event of an accident which requires treatment, such as surgery or medication. 

Though, depending on the type of insurance you pick, it could cover aspects which are more tailored to the injuries and traumas a rescue dog could have. 

What will I need to insure a rescue dog?

You’ll need to gather all of your dog's medical information in order to apply for pet insurance. Make sure the shelter gives you everything they know about the pet you’re rescuing. This includes:

  • Age 
  • Pre-existing health conditions
  • Previous medical history 
  • Possible behavioural issues.

Many trusts and shelters will perform an evaluative assessment on their animals before allowing them to be adopted, so even if your dog didn’t come with a record, you should have access to some important medical information. 

For standard dog insurance, there are four main types of insurance: 

When applying for insurance you should  declare that your dog is a rescue. 

Will a rescue dog’s pre-existing health conditions be covered?

This depends on the policy and the level of cover  you have chosen. 

Typically, pre-existing conditions or recurring conditions aren’t covered by standard policies, but if your dog suffered another illness in relation to their pre-existing condition, that new problem might be covered. It’s important to read the terms and conditions carefully before choosing your pet insurance, so you don’t get caught out. 

You can choose policies based on time limits, or have a lifetime guarantee that refreshes each year. 

Some pet insurance policies may add on extra compensation if they are aware that your dog is a rescue, but usually, policies function the same for all types of dog. 

When should I insure my rescue dog?

It’s recommended that you insure your dog as soon as you bring them home, as accidents and sudden illnesses can happen at any time. 

Pet insurance is only effective from a specific start date, so it’s recommended to have a policy in place ready for your new dog's arrival. If not, you’ll have to pay for any vet fees yourself - unless there’s an agreement with the charity or shelter that you got your dog from.

Do watch out for cooling-off periods on insurance policies, you may not be able to claim during this time. Usually it’s 14 days. 

How long does it take a rescue dog to adjust?

This entirely depends on the dog in question. Some dogs settle into new environments quickly, adjusting to their surroundings with ease and comfort. 

Other dogs, particularly more traumatised and nervous ones, may take longer to settle and will usually require more TLC to help them get used to their new living arrangements. 

It could take a few weeks, or a few months. If your dog is really struggling to adapt to their new lifestyle, you may want to think about contacting your vet who could offer practical help and advice. 

The organisation you have rescued your pooch from will be able to give you advice on how to welcome it to your family. Here are some tips from the RSPCA to help your rescue dog settle in to their new home:

  • Your dog may experience a few issues when they first arrive at your home, such as toileting in the house or crying when you’re not in the room. Be patient and use reward training to ease the transition. Shouting at or punishing your dog is never recommended, it will frighten them and can cause behaviour problems. 
  • Keep your dog in tip top shape with a healthy diet and daily exercise, as well as keeping on top of grooming, vaccinations, as well as flea and worm treatments. Underlying health problems could affect their behaviour, so keep an eye out for signs of injury and illness.
  • Some dogs may have been rescued from appalling conditions. Giving them a safe, warm and comfortable area to sleep is important. It can also be useful if they’re feeling a little overwhelmed and need some time to themselves.
  • If you’re unsure how to handle your dog’s behaviour, make an appointment with your vet. After they’ve ruled out any health problems, they may refer you to an animal behaviourist. 
  • Opportunities for your dog to get outside and run around should be available at least once a day. Keeping them stimulated could help them stay calm during quieter times of the day. 
  • Keep an eye on your dog’s behaviour, look out for signs that they are nervous or stressed. This could include being aggressive or panting. Try to understand what has caused the reaction and why. 
  • Make sure that your pet has appropriate company, whether that be a dog sitter or walker while you’re out. If you already have other pets, it’s important to give them enough space away from each other. If in doubt, don’t leave your rescue dog with a person or pet that they don’t trust. 

And, finally, just show your new rescue dog all of the love they deserve.  

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