What pet owners need to know in 2021

Bought By Many’s Sarah James, who is a former vet nurse, and Dr Sophie Bell, a vet surgeon, look back on some of the issues that stood out in 2020 and suggest then things that owners may want to think about during 2021.

Pet travel rules after Brexit

The UK became Part 2 listed country for pets travelling to the EU in 2021 – this means that existing UK Pet Passports stopped being valid from 1 January 2021.

Any pet travelling to the EU from 2021 will need to be issued with an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) from a vet – this is an extra certification for vets to take. AHCs are lengthy documents (10 pages) so it will take some time for them to be completed.

To find out more, read our guide to pet travel to Europe after Brexit.

Raw diet for dogs and cats

Raw food diets are becoming increasingly popular. But there is mixed information out there about raw food so it's important to understand whether there are risks associated with it.

We've created a series of guides and articles about raw, you can find them linked in our piece on everything owners need to know about raw pet food.

Our veterinary expert Sophie Bell says: “The popularity doesn’t mean it is better, I think people feed it with very little understanding of it, which can make it very dangerous. There are a multitude of topics to think about with raw diet; for example, if you are not buying it as prepared food and making your own diet, it can lead to lots of health issues, I have seen dogs with pancreatitis and constipation/blockage, and gastrointestinal foreign bodies from bones.

"However, there are benefits to raw, if fed correctly.

"What is most important is to learn more about what diet is most suitable for your breed, and see the associated benefits and risks of that diet, there are many great resources that give a good guide on the amount that your breed should be consuming."

Pet subscription boxes

Pet subscription boxes have been particularly useful during coronavirus lockdowns.

There is a range of companies offering everything from food to medicine.

VetBox can help keep your pet free from fleas, worms and ticks with a monthly subscription of treatments that have been selected by vets.

Read about the best dog subscription boxes.

Sky high prices for pets

Over the past year prices for puppies and kittens have increased massively, with owners paying thousands of pounds in some cases. Demand for pets has shot up during the pandemic which has meant some breeders have increased prices.

Many people are still looking for new pets so it looks like prices may continue to remain higher than have in previous years.

If you are looking for a pet make sure you use a reputable breeder or rehoming centre. If someone offers you a pet at a suspiciously low price be wary.

Check out our guide to adopting or fostering a pet during lockdown.

Pet theft

With demand and prices for pets so high, there has been an increase in pet theft.

Although it's still relatively rare it's important to make sure you're keeping your pet safe. Here's our guide to dog theft.

Lameness and arthritis in dogs and cats

Lameness and arthritis are becoming more prevalent in our claims and owners can play a role in slowing down these conditions.

Even when cats and dogs are young owners should be thinking about how to prevent these issues. Here are some tips about what they can do:

  1. Most pets will develop arthritis, but if owners manage their weight it can be as beneficial as medication. And keeping a pet a healthy weight through its life will help reduce pressure on its joints.
  2. A balanced diet will ensure your pet is getting the right amount of nutrients. This will also help with weight and keeping their joints healthy.
  3. Adding appropriate supplements before arthritis kicks can help slow the process and support a pet's joints.
  4. Manage your pet's exercise. Too much exercise while a pet is young can cause permanent damage as its bones develop. For example, larger breeds' skeletal systems continue to develop until they are 18 months old, so exercise should be managed little and often until then.
  5. Cats hide pain well so arthritis often won’t be picked up until it is severe. Using the above tips to prevent arthritis in cats before they turn 8 will make a big difference.

Veterinary telemedicine

Vet telemedicine is something that we mentioned at the beginning of 2020 and this year we will see the need for these services increase.

At its simplest, vet telemedicine is a phone service, like VetFone, that owners can call to get advice when they're worried about their pet. However, services like FirstVet now offer 24/7 video appointments, which means owners can show a vet the injury or condition their pet might be suffering from.

Again, it's another service that has been useful for owners while they've been stuck at home during the pandemic.

We understand how important it is to get instant expert advice so all Bought By Many customers receive free access to FirstVet. Find out more about FirstVet here.

Stress in cats

Stress continues to cause common urinary issues in cats and vets believe it's an issue that owners should be aware of.

To help reduce stress around going to the toilet you can keep their litter tray in a spot that is open and traffic-free.

If you have an outdoor cat it's still worth keeping their litter tray inside.

Outdoor Cats during Covid

During 2020 many owners started to keep outdoor cats indoors, due to concerns about them catching or transmitting Covid. Cases of pets catching the virus are rare and it's worth keeping up with reputable information available about the disease. We have a guide to coronavirus and pets.

Moving an outdoor cat to an indoor lifestyle will cause behaviour problems and potentially affect its health.

International cat care (icatcare.org) has plenty of information for owners who are making the move to an indoor lifestyle. Many owners do not notice a particular behaviour as a sign of ‘stress’, therefore being up to speed with the effects of changes is important.

Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance is always an important consideration for pet owners. We've designed our cover to give owners what they're looking for, including making it easier to switch and claim online.

Our Complete policy is the most comprehensive in the UK and offers £15,000 of lifetime vet fee cover. Unlike most pet insurers we don’t consider conditions that ended over two years ago as pre-existing and we have a policy that can cover more recent conditions.

We removed the 14-day exclusion period for claims when owners switch to us from straight from another insurer with no gap in cover. Get a quote to see our policies.