Are you wondering whether you should get insurance for your guinea pig? Well, you’re not alone. If the results from the Great British Guinea Pig Census (yes, there is such a thing), is anything to go by, only 3% of cavy owners in the UK insure their pets. This is compared to 67% that say they take their piggies to the vet at one or more times a year.
While we can all agree that that’s quite a big difference, there is no clear answer as to why some pet owners choose to have guinea pig insurance, and others don’t. We thought it was worth looking at this in a bit more detail so that we can answer the critical question, ‘is guinea pig insurance really necessary?’
Is Pet Insurance Important?
Although there is no clear-cut answer as to why so many people decide not to insure their animals, we think it could be because health cover (for humans and animals) is often seen as somewhat of a grudge purchase. After all, when times are hard, and finances tight (yes, 2020, we see you) the fees may seem a little indulgent for a ‘just in case’ situation.
But when you consider the costs of veterinary care in the UK, and around the world, the obvious answer to this question is yes, pet insurance is vital. While our medical bills are covered by the NHS, vet fees aren’t. And these usually need to be paid upfront. Unfortunately, when the money quite simply isn’t there, people are left with sometimes drastic and heartbreaking decisions.
What Kind of Care Does a Guinea Pig Need?
Guinea pigs need proper care. This includes a balanced diet with fruit and vegetables and plenty of exercise to stay healthy. They also need a good size hutch and run as well as the company of other cavies for their mental health.
Indoor cavies should be housed in a suitable cage, preferably one without a wire floor and have a safe space where they can run and play freely. Without these basic requirements, they are at risk of developing various health problems, such as mites, ringworm, malocclusion, bumblefoot and flystrike.
Other serious health issues include bone infections, pneumonia, ovarian cysts, tumours and kidney disease. Unlike cats and dogs, because of its size, treating a guinea pig isn’t only more challenging, it can also be a lot more expensive.
What Are Vet Fees Like For Guinea Pigs?
To give you an idea of what a typical visit to the vet could cost, we have listed a guinea pig parent’s most common concerns, as well as the approximate cost. Keep in mind that these prices are only an average. Factors, such as where you live, the extent of the problem and if there are any complications mean it could cost more or less.
- 15-minute consultation – between £20 and £35 (per guinea pig)
- X-rays – this usually includes a setup fee of approximately £15 plus £30 – £35 per image
- Dental work – £90
- Ultrasound – between £40 and £60
- Removal of abscess – £95 – £400
- Cyst removal – between £150 and £200
- Neutering – £90 – £100
These costs are for one guinea pig and don’t include additional expenses such as medication, pain relief or overnight stays at the surgery.
Can I Insure My Guinea Pig?
Considering the health risks for cavies, and the potential vet fees, you are probably wondering if it’s possible to get pet insurance for your guinea pig. The answer, quite simply, is yes, there is insurance available for exotic pets. In fact, the RSPCA has recently teamed up with ExoticDirect, offering new clients a 10% discount.
If you prefer finding your own provider, we suggest you search online for ‘small animals insurance’, ‘exotic pet insurance’ or ‘small pet insurance’. It is also a good idea to check comparison sites. This way you can find the best policy for your pet’s needs, at the right price, all in one place.
However, we suggest not going on price alone. Always read the fine print before deciding, as policies are very different from their terms and conditions to the types of benefits available as well as the exclusions. These can include pet’s age, any pre-existing health problems and even the vet you use.
Last but not least, it’s worth doing a background check on the insurance provider. Make sure the one you choose is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. You can also ask people you know for recommendations and check reviews of the company online.
Guinea Pig Insurance – Yes or No?
We can’t tell you whether or not you should have an insurance policy for your guinea pig, but we can tell you that with a lifespan of between 4 and 8 years, your pet is going to need medical care at some point. And depending on the care that is required, the costs could be sky-high. With an insurance policy in place, you can focus on your piggy getting better, rather than stressing about the cost of treatment
Have you got any thoughts on pet insurance? Do you have cover for your cavies that you would recommend? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.