Golden Retriever Pet Insurance is worth its weight in Gold
Has the breed's popularity also been their downfall?
With their golden looks, sunny temperaments, and unflinching loyalty come rain or shine, it is little wonder that the Golden retriever consistently features in 'Top 10' lists of the UK's most popular dog breeds.
Golden Retriever Pet Insurance for Peace of Mind
Originally bred in Victorian times as a hunting dog to retrieve water fowl, the Golden retriever is now equally at home by the hearth. However, their early ancestry in the field still echoes into the present day, since they are a dog that needs plenty of exercise. Indeed, the most sure-fire way to stop your Goldie getting up to mischief is to ensure he's tired at the end of each day.
The Golden retriever is a handsome dog with a fantastic temperament and a Peter Pan puppy-like love of play that stays with them down the years. All of which makes them great as family pets. However, popularity and a high demand for pups, can signal problems when less scrupulous breeders get involved.
Is Pet Insurance Worth It for a Golden Retriever?
ONE ANSWER: YES
When demand for pups is high, unhappily some people scent a profit and put this before animal welfare. Thus, be extremely careful about where you get a Golden retriever from. There are several aspects to this concern.
Firstly, is the genetic implications for the breed. When attractive looking dogs are bred together, regardless of whether they are healthy or not, this makes for a greater risk of sick puppies. Genetic conditions such as hip dysplasia or a tendency to cancer are passed down to pups, which means heartbreak and vet's bills for their new owner.
Then there are the immoral puppy farmers who care nothing for the mental or physical health of the mother and her pups. Never, ever purchase from a puppy farm, which means you should walk away if you don't get to see the mother nursing the rest of the litter.
Find out about Golden retriever health problems
To increase your chances of owning a healthy dog, chose your breeder wisely. With this in mind, let's look at some of the health problems linked to the breed.
Golden Retriever: Typical Health Problems
Fluid round the heart
Shortness of breath
Lack of energy
Drain the fluid
Surgery to remove the sac from around the heart
Heart ultrasound and drain fluid £300 +
Specialist appointment £200+
Specilaist heart surgery £2,000 - 3,000
Sticky infected skin on the face
Swollen face, poor appetite
Permanent scarring of the face
Long courses of antibiotic
Antibiotics £30 -60 / week
Grass awn foreign bodies
Discharging cyst between the toes
Severe ear irritation
Grass seed removal
Removal £35 - 300 depending on whether sedation needed
Mast cell tumours
Surgical removal of the lumps
Lump removal and analysis £400-800
Monthly medication £120 +
Poor hips or elbows
Reluctance to exercise
Ongoing pain relief medication
Surgery - including joint replacment
Pain relief medication £30 + / month
Hip replacement surgery £5,000-10,000
Symptoms depending on site but include sudden collapse due to internal bleeding
Surgical removal of the tumour
Diagnostic imaging £400- 1,500
Cost of surgery ranges from £700 - 2,000
Underactive thyroid glands
Poor coat quality
Thyroid supplement tablets
Diagnostic blood tests £70 - 300
Thyroid supplement £15 - 30 / month
We will now explore these medical issues in more detail so as you know what to look out for when insuring a Golden Retriever
Golden Retriever pet insurance offers a golden opportunity to protect both your pet and your wallet.
Fluid Round the Heart
The technical term for this is a ‘pericardial effusion’. It involves a buildup of fluid that’s trapped in the sac around the heart. The trouble is the sac (pericardium) isn’t stretchy, so instead of it growing bigger (like air blown into a balloon), it squashes the heart. With the heart unable to fill with blood, the circulation starts to fail and everything goes downhill from there.
The signs can be subtle and include a lack of energy. When the vet checks your dog over, they will notice quieter-than-usual heart sounds and the poor circulation. Then an ultrasound of the heart gives a classic picture and a diagnosis reached.
For Golden Retrievers this condition tends to occur spontaneously and for no identifiable reason (in other breeds there is a link to tumours at the base of the heart.) The fluid must be drained urgently, as a first aid measure. However, it will come back again and the best long-term solution involves surgery to remove the pericardium.
On the plus side, this lets the dog lead a normal life but on the minus its specialist surgery with a price tag to match.
There’s only one thing cuter than a Golden retriever…and that’s a Golden Retriever puppy.
However, this can all go horribly wrong if the puppy develops a form of generalised infection in the skin, called cellulitis. The suppurating skin causes hair to fall out and left untreated scar tissue forms and the hair never regrows. So after the active stage of the infection is over that teddy bear pup is left looking leathery rather than fluffy.
OK, not all cases are that extreme, but if your puppy had cellulitis, would you want to take the risk?
Successful management of these pups includes tests to look for skin parasites that could trigger infection and long courses of antibiotics.
Grass Awn Foreign Bodies
One of the joys of dog ownership is walking in the countryside on a beautiful summer’s day. However, the Golden retriever’s long silky fur has a knack of sweeping up grass awns. If those grass seeds go undetected, their dart-like shape helps them migrate down towards the skin.
Grass awns are surprisingly sharp and readily penetrate the skin, where they set up blisters of infections. Alternatively, they migrate down the ear canal where they cause extreme discomfort.
A grass awn foreign body means a trip to the vet to have it removed, plus a course of antibiotics. And don’t forget, there’s no limit to how many times this can happen.
Mast Cell Tumours
There is arguably no condition that causes quite so much heartbreak amongst owners and headaches for vets than mast cell tumours. Unfortunately, the Golden retriever, along with shorter coated breeds such as the Boxer, Boston Terrier, and bulldog, are at increased risk of this cancer.
Mast cells tumours often pop up on or under the skin. One of the reasons they are so dreaded is that they can be extremely serious and need radical surgery to remove them or they can be relatively minor. You would think the latter would be good news, but in fact, it just muddies the water.
Think about it. When faced with a small lump do you put the dog through major surgery to remove it with extra wide and deep margins on the off chance, or remove it with normal margins? There is a risk that some dogs go through unnecessarily aggressive surgery whilst others don’t get the life-saving surgery they need.
One thing that can be said, is that all mast cells tumours must be removed. And for the worst cases, there are now special drugs to decrease the chances of multiple lumps from growing bigger…but the drugs are expensive.
Poor Hips and Elbows
Along with Labrador retrievers and German shepherds, the Golden Retriever is a breed that carries a raised chance of inherited hip or elbow dysplasia.
Prevention is better than cure, so for the best chance of a healthy pup that grows into an active adult, source a litter from screened parents.
If however, that horse has bolted, then the costs of treatment linked to sore joints can be ongoing and high. From painkilling medications to physiotherapy or joint replacements, you need to have good financial provision in place that covers treatment for the remainder of the pet’s life.
This means having a pet insurance policy which insures against a named condition for life. To understand the different types of insurance cover hop over to A No NonSense Guide to Finding the Best Pet Insurance for Dogs.
From cancer affecting the spleen and blood vessels to bone cancer, the older Golden Retriever is sadly over-represented amongst dogs.
The first hint that a senior Golden Retriever has splenic cancer can be dramatic, such as the dog collapses. Haemangiosarcoma of the spleen is a friable, highly vascular tumour that is prone to bleeding and it’s this internal haemorrhage that can be the first clue.
Once the problem is identified then life-saving surgery can extend life, but the surgery is costly.
Underactive Thyroid Glands
And last but not least, Golden Retrievers have a tendency to have underactive thyroid glands.
Symptoms include lack of energy, baldness, and a harsh dry coat. Happily, the answer is simple – a daily thyroid supplement, but first, it needs to be diagnosed with a raft of blood tests.
Golden Retriever Pet Insurance
Your Golden Retriever is a much-loved family member. Avoid the heartbreak of deciding treatment based on your finances, rather than what’s best for the dog. Pet insurance is a great way to cover the cost of unexpected vet’s bills. In addition, be savvy as to the type of insurance you take out, and know what different policies have to offer.
In addition, insure your dog from puppyhood. Don’t think that because they are young they will be healthy and you don’t need cover. It goes with the job of being a puppy to get up to mischief and eat things your shouldn’t! Plus, taking out cover as a pup makes it easier to keep up that protection through into their senior years.
Don’t delay: Protect your dog today!