The Cautious Optimist: So You Want To Get A Pet? The Fluffy Facts You Need To Know

Welcome to our series The Cautious Optimist, brought to you by our pals at Tower Insurance, where we – forever the optimists – at Capsule look into those big life decisions you might be toying with and how to make sure you’re making the right decisions, especially if, as we’re talking about this week, you’re thinking about getting a pet.

That’s right, we’re looking at the world of pets – they’re cute, they’re fluffy and boy, can they bring you a lot of joy while simultaneously costing you a lot of money (but we love them anyway).  We’ve spoken to Tower Product Manager Will Hay about why pet insurance is crucial – and the weirdest pet claims they’ve ever had – and to vet Dr Lianne Mellin about all things pet-related.

The Joy Of Pets

When I first moved into my current flat, my flatmates and I noticed the cat door on the lounge door with great excitement. “Oh, yes, we have a cat, but don’t worry, you’ll never see her because she hates men,” our new landlord told us. “Hurtful!” replied my male flatmate.

Well, if you know cats, you’ll know where this is going. Not but two hours later, who should arrive but the mysterious star herself: Peaches, a pale calico cat who basically set up shop in our house for the next four years (and counting). She saw us through every lockdown, a wedding, a Christmas tree that lasted a year and is now emotionally married to my husband, coming through the cat door every day at 2pm and screaming until she finds him (I have had to explain this on many a Zoom meeting).

Pets make the world a better place and if you were to say to me, “Should I get a pet?” there’s a chance I would also scream at you every day at 2pm until you did so. However – and it’s a big however – pets are also WORK, and they require a lot of planning until you take the plunge.

‘Hello, Operator? My Dog’s Been Stung on the Tongue by a Bee’

If you’ve ever said earnestly to a pet ‘tell me where it’s hurting!’, you know how stressful it can be when a pet gets sick or hurts itself. Here’s Tower Product Manager, Will Hay sharing his tips on pet insurance – and the money it can save you in the long run.

Why do you need pet insurance?
Our pets truly are members of the family and we want to make sure we’re able to take care of them, no matter the cost. You never know when your pet will need to see a vet or why. so it’s better to know the financial side of things is taken care of, rather than worrying about how you’re going to cover those vet bills.

We know from our research[1] that for a lot of cat and dog owners, (nearly half, in fact, at 45%), things like unexpected vet bills aren’t even on their radar, with only 36%  very confident that they have the money for unexpected vet bills and treatments.

Our research also shows that just 35% of people are willing to spend up to $1,000 for vet care for their beloved pet but vet costs can easily exceed this amount, especially in an emergency situation.

Whether you can afford vet care could mean life or death for your pet, or a serious decrease in their quality of life, not to mention financial strain for you as a pet owner. Luckily, these kinds of potentially heart-breaking situations can be avoided with insurance.

Life moves fast, so thinking ahead with insurance means you’re able to take care of your furry friends when they need it most. Long story short, pet insurance is a must have!

What sorts of things do pet owners claim for?
Any pet owner will tell you that their cat or dog has a mind of their own. Our pets are all unique and it’s their little quirks and personalities that make us love them so much. While this can be amazing and entertaining, it can also lead to some weird and interesting claims.

Think hungry, plastic eating Labradors, a curious Poodle stung on its tongue by a bee, and a determined German Shepherd with second-hand poisoning from digging up dead, poisoned rats!

Tower has been offering pet insurance for a year now, since launch, we’re proud to say that we’ve helped our customers pay for the recovery and care of 78 injured and 102 sick cats and dogs. We’ve even covered the cost of dental care and lifesaving surgery.

Will And Kai

Are there different types of pet insurance?
At Tower, we offer three levels of pet cover: comprehensive, essential and accident only, these start from just $3 a week, to suit the needs and budget of every pet owner.

For my dog Kai, I’ve purchased comprehensive cover. He is one very adventurous pup who’s still testing his limits in life and I wanted to be sure if anything went wrong, paying for his recovery would be one less thing I’d have to worry about.

The different levels include cover for a range of things from dental and routine care, to pet funeral costs, cover for illness, injury and specialist treatments, including various surgeries.

Like all of Tower’s products, simply go online to get a quote. With Tower’s online tool, you’ll be asked a few questions about your pet to get a quote for the level of cover you need – simple and fast. If you’d rather talk to our friendly customer care team, give us a call and we’ll sort you out.

Always remember, quotes from insurers are no obligation. Look out for discounts too, Tower offers a discount if you insure two or more pets!

Bringing a pet into your home is a big responsibility, there’s a lot more to it than just having the right insurance in place. For our tips and tricks on pet ownership, including how to keep your pets happy and relaxed over the summer break, the Tower blog is full of helpful information:

Wondering how quickly the $$$ can pile up? Checkout David’s pet insurance story
Tower customer David shares his pet insurance story with us, after his dog was injured during lockdown last year.

“Sadly, early one morning my dog was hit by a bus. We had a comprehensive pet insurance plan and we’ve been lucky the recovery time was mostly at home, but we have found things like physio support has been really important to build strength and mobility.”

Costs for David’s dog’s care:

  • Initial treatment at the after-hours clinic – $186
  • Regular vet full workup (X-rays, ultrasound, stitches for cuts and grazing) – $587
  • Follow up to check the wound was healing – $78.
  • Specialist referral for ruptured their cruciate ligament surgery consultation – $225
  • Surgery/hospitalisation – $7,798
  • Post-surgery consult – $395
  • Post-surgery physiotherapy sessions – $525 ($175 per session)

“The overall cost has been $9,794 to date. Our insurance policy has a 20% co-pay that has saved me $7,835 in costs,” says David.

Owning a Pet is Like Having a Toddler Around the House”

So that’s the insurance side of things, but there are still a lot of other decisions to make. So, we brought in vet Dr Lianne Mellin, to tell us the ins and outs of owning a pet.

Dr Lianne Mellin with a happy customer

What are the top pieces of advice for someone thinking about IF a pet is right for their life?
This is a big decision, and not one that should be taken lightly! Bringing a pet into your life is making a commitment to, at the very least, a decade of loving and caring for them.

Things to consider include:

  • Do you want a dog, cat, fish, bird or horse? Each of these animals requires a different kind of care from you. Take your time to research the needs of the animal you’re interested in.
  • Do you have the time? Will your pet spend most of the day at home by themselves? If you get a cat, being at work most of the day will be less of an issue than if you have a dog who needs regular walking and interaction, for example.
  • Is your living environment appropriate? If you’re renting, it is important to consider that you may not be in the same house long-term and many landlords have conditions related to pets. If you have don’t have access to land, a miniature poodle is more appropriate for you than a border collie!
  • Do you plan on travelling? Remember, pets are long-term commitments who need care. Unfortunately (as much as we’d love to be able to), we can’t just buy a passenger seat on the plane for our dogs to travel with us!

These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself before bringing a pet into your life. Check out for more considerations.

If you have a friend with a pet, it may be worth asking them if you can “borrow” their pet for a day or two to help you see how owning one would fit into your lifestyle!

Next up – someone has made the call, they’re getting a pet! Hurrah! What do they need to do to get their home and life ready for the pet to arrive?
Owning a pet is like having a toddler around the house – especially if you’ve decided to adopt a puppy or kitten.

  • Ensure the environment is safe for your pet. This includes fencing and removing items that may be chewed or eaten (toxic foods, medication, etc.).
  • You’ll need food, food bowls, water bowls, bedding and safe toys.
  • Know who and where your local vet is AND your nearest after-hours/emergency vet.
  • Look into pet insurance. Emergencies happen!!!
  • A pet first aid kit.

What are some advantages of picking a rescue animal?
By choosing a rescue animal, you are saving a life! Sadly, animals that cannot be re-homed often end up being euthanised due to a lack of space and resources in shelters or with foster carers. By giving a rescue pet a home, you’re also giving another animal an opportunity to be helped by creating room at the shelters.

Adopting rescue animals helps to combat puppy mills as you’re not supporting irresponsible breeding.

On top of this, buying pets from breeders can be very expensive! Adopting fees are generally much cheaper.

Save on pet insurance with Tower this December! We know Christmas and summer are an expensive time for Kiwis, that’s why we are offering a month’s free pet insurance (up to the value of $100) when you buy a pet policy online using promo code 1MONTH*. Peace of mind when it comes to your furry friend is our Christmas gift to you. Click here for more info

[1] Independent research conducted by Pureprofile, with a sample size representative of the New Zealand’s dog & cat owning population

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