Puppy guide

Your complete puppy guide

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Find out more about caring for your puppy

Everything you need to know to help you get started

Bringing a puppy home is an exciting time for any household (who doesn’t want to hear the pitter-patter of tiny paws?), but it’s important to make sure you’re fully prepared and informed on what to expect when they walk through your front door for the first time. Download our puppy guide to find how to give your puppy the best care.

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Buy or adopt

Buying or adopting?

Buying a puppy - Are you buying a puppy from a breeder or someone you know? Consider the following before purchasing your puppy, such as:

  • Is the breeder a registered Kennel Club member?
  • Does the breeder have a legal breeding licence?
  • Is the puppy over eight weeks old?
  • Has the puppy been “socialised”? Is it home reared and exposed to everyday sights and sounds?
  • Has the puppy been vaccinated and microchipped?

Adopting a puppy - If you decide that adopting a puppy from a shelter is the option for you, then have a look for the dog shelters in your area, visit their websites and get in touch to check out their requirements for adoption. Below are some of the top dog shelters in the UK, such as the RSPCA, Dogs TrustAll Dogs Matter and the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

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Health issues

Dog breeds with health issues

Golden Retrievers - Golden Retrievers can be susceptible to a skin disease known as ‘Canine Atopic Dermatitis’, which causes skin irritation. The breed is also known to suffer from hip dysplasia.  

Labradors - Labradors also suffer from hip dysplasia and other issues with their joints, including ‘Osteochondritis Dissecans’, which affects their elbows and shoulders. 

British Bulldogs - British Bulldogs can suffer with breathing problems and various skin infections. Their large shoulders (even in puppies) also means that some mothers struggle to give birth naturally. 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels - It’s not uncommon for Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s to suffer from cataracts. The breed can also suffer from heart conditions.  

French Bulldogs - French Bulldogs and other short-faced breeds often suffer with a breathing issue known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). 

Puppy proofing your home

Puppy proofing your home

Here are eight top tips on how to make your house safer for your new arrival:

One - With teething puppies, keep them away from wires and cables. Provide them with chew toys instead.

Two - Chocolate should be avoided by puppies and dog at all costs! It can make them very sick.

Three - Never feed your puppy cooked bones. Raw chicken bones or wings can help keep teeth and gums healthy though.

Four - Block any escape routes in your garden and block off any rooms that you do not want them in.

Five - Keep household cleaning products out of reach from your puppy!

Six - Certain household plants can be poisonous to your puppy. Keep them out of reach!

Seven - Avoid using chemicals on your lawn. This is where your puppy goes to the toilet!

Eight - Keep an eye on the tightness of your puppy’s collar. As they grow, their collars will tighten.

Training your puppy

Training your puppy

Basic training - One of a puppy’s first training objectives might be to ‘Sit’ or ‘Stay’ which can be learnt from as young as seven to eight weeks old. Aim to give your puppy the command to ‘Sit’ once and reward your puppy into the correct position. Once your puppy has performed the command, instantly reward them with a treat or praise!

Crate training - Crate training is a great way to teach your puppy good behaviours from a young age. Teaching your dog when to use their crate can be useful for everything from mealtimes, bedtime and keeping them safe. Here’s a few steps on how to successfully crate train your puppy!

Toilet training - Your puppy can’t tell you when they need to go, so don’t expect them to. Accidents are bound to happen, so as long as you stay calm, clean up quickly and keep persisting, your puppy will be happily housetrained in no time.

Chewing - It’s perfectly normal for puppies to play-bite and chew. Your pup may be chewing because they’re teething and trying to relieve the pain in their gums. Young dogs also chew out of a sense of boredom or if they’re nervous.

Feeding your puppy

Feeding your puppy

Seven to eight weeks old - A this age, puppies will be dependent on their mother’s milk. Your puppy will then begin the process of feeding themselves, known as weaning. If you’re buying your puppy from a breeder, then they should already be weaned from the mother’s milk and gradually moved onto solids such as specialist puppy foods.

Two to three months old - When you first take your puppy home, you should be feeding them at least four times a day. Puppies at this age grow rapidly, so they need a diet of special puppy food to support that growth.

Four to six months old - As your puppy approaches the six-month stage, you should be able to take them down to three meals a day, although the quantity of each meal can be larger. Again, consult with your vet about what your puppy should be eating and how much.

Six months old and over - At the six-month stage, your puppy’s growth will start to slow. Some small breeds of dog will even be close to finishing growing. At this point, it should be fine to put your puppy onto a twice daily diet which they should be able to maintain for the rest of their life.

Socialising your puppy

Socialisation and exercise

Taking your puppy outside - Most vets will recommend that you wait until two weeks after their last vaccination booster until they can go outside. Puppies are bundles of energy, so plenty of exercise is important! Regular exercise keeps your puppy healthy, lets them burn off excess energy and allows you to strengthen the bond between owner and dog.

Regular exercise - Puppies are bundles of energy, so plenty of exercise is important! Regular exercise keeps your puppy healthy, lets them burn off excess energy and allows you to strengthen the bond between owner and dog. Regular exercise is really important for all puppies, especially energetic breeds such as the Border Collie or Siberian Husky.

What is socialisation? - Helping your puppy to develop relationships with other dogs and humans in their environment is a process known as ‘socialisation’. Socialising your puppy from an early age, will help them develop into a calm and well-rounded dog.

How to socialise your puppy - If your puppy hasn’t yet been vaccinated, then you should only let them socialise with dogs that you know are healthy and fully up to date with their vaccinations. Your puppy may show signs of anxiety at first when they’re meeting new people and much older dogs. Try to comfort them when they do by stroking and soothing them and if this doesn’t work, then take them away for a while.  

Puppy vaccinations and treatments

Vaccinations and treatments

Vaccinations - You must get your puppy vaccinated when they are between eight and ten weeks old. Puppy vaccinations are usually done in two-stages, with the second round of vaccinations happening around two weeks later. Your vet will be able to give you some advice on the best time to get your puppy vaccinated. Your puppy’s vaccinations should protect them against diseases and conditions such as: Canine distemper, Kennel cough, Canine parvovirus, Parainfluenza and Leptospirosis.

Treatments - Your puppy is bound to pick up a parasite at some point during their life, so it’s best to know what you’re looking out for and what you should do about fleas, ticks and worms.  Puppies bought from breeders should be wormed before they leave their home. For ticks and fleas, regular treatments such as spot on flea treatments, tablets, combs, powders, flea or tick collars can help keep these parasites at bay.

Puppy insurance

Puppy insurance

Getting a new puppy is an exciting time for anyone! But you never know what might happen, or when. Pet insurance can provide you with a safety net against expensive vet fees if your puppy hurts themselves or becomes unwell. With petGuard, you can get specialist puppy insurance that helps you with paying for your vet fees, emergency boarding costs if you’ve suffered an accident yourself and more!

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Frequently asked questions about puppy insurance

Want to find out more about our puppy insurance?

Got a question about our cover for your puppy? Or want to know more about puppies in general? We’ve answered a few questions for you here!

There are few greater joys in life than welcoming a new puppy into your home and starting their journey from young pup into family dog. However, looking after a new puppy can be a challenge within itself as they require a lot of care and attention.

So, is puppy insurance worth it?

Having insurance for your puppy means that you can be protected against unexpected vet fees and other costs that can come with owning a young dog. Puppies can be curious souls, and nobody wants their young pup to hurt themselves while they’re exploring. With our puppy insurance, you can choose between our Accident Only cover and cover against Accident and Illness to help pay for up to £12,000 of your annual vet fees.

Our cover starts for puppies over eight weeks of age. We cannot cover claims arising within the first 14 days of your insurance starting and pre-existing illnesses and conditions are not covered.

The excess for vet fee claims for dogs under eight years of age is the first £150 of the cost of treatment.

You can get insurance for your puppy from eight weeks of age. If you’ve recently welcomed a young pup into your home, then you can choose from either our Accident Only cover or cover for Accident and Illness to help cover you from the cost of up to £12,000 in annual vet fees.

We cannot cover claims arising within the first 14 days of your insurance starting and pre-existing illnesses and conditions are not covered.

If you’re welcoming more than one puppy into your home, or whether you’ve got a litter of puppies to look after then you may want to consider multi-pet insurance. Instead of having each of your dogs on different pet policies, with our multi-pet insurance, you can save both hassle and money by putting your puppies onto one policy!

Multi-pet insurance for your pups not only means that you don’t have to deal with different policies for each of your dogs, but you’ll even get a discount when you insure your puppies with us! We allow up to five pets, cats and dogs, on one policy.

Our multi-pet discount includes 10% off each pet that you insure with us. Each pet on your policy will need to be on the same level of cover.

Cover starts for puppies over eight weeks of age. We do not insure dogs that are used for breeding purposes and pre-existing illnesses and conditions are not covered.

If you’ve got dogs and cats at home, then why not look at multi-pet insurance?

Instead of having each of your dogs and cats on different pet policies, with our multi-pet insurance you can save any hassle and take advantage of our multi-pet discount. You can cover up to five pets on one policy. We are unable to insure dogs and cats that are used for breeding purposes and pre-existing illnesses and conditions are not covered.

Public Liability insurance for your dog, sometimes referred to as Third Party Liability insurance, can provide up to £2million per event if your dog injures someone or damages property and you are held liable.

If you’re out for a walk with your dog and they were to knock somebody over, then we can keep you covered if you’ve chosen our Public Liability option.

Heading out for a dog walk shouldn’t end in hefty compensation costs, which is why we offer dog owners Public Liability protection for claims of property damage or injury from a third party.

Cover only applies in the UK.

Some dog breeds cannot be covered by our Third Party Liability option, see “Are there any breeds of dog that you are unable to insure?” For assistance dogs to qualify for Third Party Liability cover, they must have been trained by a member of, and within the guidance of, the organisation of Assistance Dogs UK.

Having insurance for your dog means that you can be covered against the cost of potentially very expensive trips to the vet.

You get to choose either Accident Only cover or cover for Accident and Illness for your dog. We offer three levels of vet fee cover, which means that you can be covered for up to £3,000, £6,000 or £12,000 per year.

If your claim has been successful, then we can pay the agreed amount, less any excess, either:

  • Straight into your bank account so you aren't left out of pocket, or;
  • To your vet if this is more convenient for you and your vet.

All vet fee claims are handled in the UK by Covea Insurance. While your claim is being dealt with, you can receive regular updates on its progress via email or text message.

Yes! Our Accident Only cover still offers you the same great choice of annual vet fee cover options for £3,000, £6,000 or £12,000.

Dogs can suffer injuries when you least expect it. Whether they’ve hurt themselves while out for a walk, or if playtime has ended in a trip to the vets.

Our Accident Only policy provides you with an uncomplicated level of cover for your dog which aims to protect you against potentially expensive trips to the vet to treat your dog for an injury.

Vet fees arising from illnesses that your dog may be suffering from are not covered and the excess you will be required to pay for treatment for injury depends on the age of your pet. Unfortunately, we can’t cover any pre-existing conditions; nor claims for injury within the first 48 hours of your cover starting.

Yes! Our dog insurance includes mixed breed dogs, as well as pedigree and cross breed dogs. If you’ve got a mixed breed pooch, then we can include them on your policy.

Unfortunately, we cannot cover (whether pedigree, cross breed or mixed breed) any of the following: Dogo Argentino, Fila Brazillero, Japanese Tosa, Pit Bull, Shar-Pei, Wolf or Wolf Hybrid dog and any animal registered under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and/or the Dogs (Muzzling) regulations (Northern Ireland) 1991 or any amendments.

There are additional breeds that we cannot cover for our optional Third Party Liability cover, see “Are there any breeds of dog that you are unable to insure?”

BOAS (Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome) is a condition which is a progressive disorder that can impair the ability of certain breeds of short nose dog to exercise, play, eat and sleep.

We are able to consider claims provided that there are no pre-existing signs, symptoms or advice provided by a vet. In practice this usually means that the dog has to be insured with us from a very young age.

Unfortunately, for all of our policies, we cannot provide any cover (whether pedigree, cross breed or mixed breed) for the following: Dogo Argentino, Fila Brazillero, Japanese Tosa, Pit Bull, Shar-Pei, Wolf or Wolf Hybrid dog and any animal registered under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and/or the Dogs (Muzzling) regulations (Northern Ireland) 1991 or any amendments.

For those that choose our Third Party Liability cover option, we cannot provide the Third Party Liability cover in any circumstances for any insured dog that is required to be registered under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and/or the Dogs (Muzzling) regulations (Northern Ireland) 1991 or any amendments, or any American Bulldog, American Indian Dog, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bandog, Boerboel, Bully Kutta, Canary Dog, Cane Corso, Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, Dingo, Dogo Argentino, Dogue Brasileiro, Fila Brasileiro, Gull Dong, Husky Wolf Hybrid, Irish Staffordshire Blue Bull Terrier, Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Pit Bull Terrier, Saarlooswolfhound, Tosa, Tosa Inu, Wolf Hybrid, Wolfdog, or any dog crossbred or mixed with any of these breeds.

Your pet must be eight weeks old at the start date of cover. There is no maximum pet age to apply for this insurance, but there are age limits on cover sections.

Death due to illness is limited to pets under five years of age at the time of the incident. Full details are found in the policy wording.

Provided that you have chosen our Accident and Illness cover we will refresh your veterinary fees benefit each year allowing you to claim for ongoing conditions on your pet insurance for as long as we are able to offer a renewal and you renew without a gap in cover.

Yes. Depending on the type of cover you select we are able to cover treatment provided that it is related to an injury or illness.

No, we cannot provide cover for pets that are used for breeding. There are special policies for their specific risks, and we suggest you speak to your vet or local insurance broker for help finding suitable cover.

We offer a choice of three annual benefit levels. You can insure up to the chosen limit each year and provided that we are able to offer renewal and you renew without a gap in cover the benefit will be reinstated for the next period of insurance. This means that you can claim for chronic or ongoing conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, heart or skin conditions whilst the policy remains in force.

Yes. You must be a UK resident and domiciled in the UK.

Yes there is an excess you will need to pay in respect of each illness or injury for which you wish to claim each year. These are as follows:

Veterinary Fees

For each illness or injury arising during each period of insurance your excess will be:

  • For pets under eight years of age at time of treatment: The first £150.
  • For pets older than eight years of age at time of treatment: The first £150 plus 20% of the remaining cost of treatment.

Holiday Cancellation - The first £75 of the claim

Accidental Damage to Third Party Property The first £75 of the claim

Accidental Damage to Pet Accessories - The first £50 of the claim

Emergency Expenses - The first £50 of the claim

Third Party Liability The first £250 of property damage claim

We need some details about you and the pet you wish to insure together with either bank account or debit/credit card details for payment of the premium.

We look at a number of factors including the age and breed of the pet, the risk of chronic or recurring conditions associated with certain breeds, the area the pet lives in and any claims history.

You can choose to pay in full by credit or debit card. Alternatively, you can take advantage of our interest free monthly payment option and simply spread the payments out, without any additional cost.

This is something we are able to do provided that your vet is happy with this arrangement.

If you need to make a claim (excluding Third Party Liability claims), then feel free to contact our UK-based claims team. Once you've made a claim, we can keep you updated regularly by text or email.

Make your claim by either calling Covea Insurance on: 0333 130 4534 or email: claims@petadminteam.com

For Third Party Liability claims, contact Ageas Insurance Ltd on: 0345 415 0495

For Dog Liability claims, please contact Ageas Insurance by either phone: 0345 415 0495 or email: commercialclaims.eastleighteam@ageas.co.uk

As the insurance policy is a legal agreement between us and the policyholder, we can only set up a policy with the person who will be named as the policyholder.

Travelling with your pet within the European Union is due to be affected by developments regarding Brexit. Her Majesty’s Government has clarified that until an agreement has been reached between the United Kingdom and the European Union you will need to follow the guidance set out below for any pet that travels overseas from 1st January 2021. More details on the current guidance and requirements for travelling abroad with your pet can be found in our section on How will Brexit affect travelling with my pet?

  1. Ensure your pet is microchipped
  2. Have your pet vaccinated against rabies. It is advised that your pet has a blood test at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination or booster to ensure the rabies antibodies are present
  3. Wait three months from the date the successful blood sample was taken before you choose to travel. You will need to ensure your vet gives you a copy of the test results and records the date the blood sample was taken on your Animal Health Certificate (AHC).

Please be advised that you will not be allowed to travel with your pet if you have not completed the steps above.

If your pet's blood test result is unfortunately unsuccessful, you’ll need to repeat the vaccination and the process above until it is successful before your pet is able to travel.

If you have any queries relating to any future travel you may have planned, please contact your vet. You can also view the Government guidance on pet travel here. It is important that you follow all up to date Government guidance when traveling abroad with your pet.

With our optional Overseas Travel cover, you can get travel insurance for your pet so that you don’t have to leave them behind when you head away. We can help with the cost of vet fees abroad, as well as providing up to £1,500 to cover emergency expenses (maximum 60 days of cover per trip). Overseas Travel can be a useful option if you are planning to take your pet on holiday with you, providing your pet complies with the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). This allows you to travel with your pet to anywhere in Europe (including Channel Islands consisting of the Bailiwick of Jersey and the Bailiwick of Guernsey Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland).

You can read more about our optional Overseas Travel cover and how Brexit is affecting travelling with your pets from January 1st here.

To help reduce the stress levels in your cat or dog, traveling by car or train is usually the better option. If you have no choice but to travel by plane, flying is still a safe option for your pet. However, traveling by car does allow pet owners to keep a much closer eye on their pets, with the added bonus of being able to pull-over for breaks as often as you want. When traveling by train or plane, there will be tighter restrictions on where your pet can sit, how often (if they can in fact) move around, and with more people traveling alongside you, your pet could become increasingly stressed.

Before traveling on any long journey, carefully consider what the best form of transport for your cat or dog would be, and how you feel they would cope on the journey.

Most airlines will allow you to take a cat or dog on the plane, either in the cabin or down below in cargo. Before booking your flight, check with the airline that they can in fact, fly your pet. You may have to book in advance, with some airlines charging additional fees for traveling pets.

Your pet will need pet travel documents before they can fly, as this will need to be presented to the airline when checking in your pet. Depending on where your pet is flying from and where they are flying to, they will need to have certain vaccinations and treatments for illnesses such as rabies or tapeworm. You will most likely need to proof of the vaccinations and treatment from your vet.

If you’re traveling abroad, or simply going away for a few days in the UK, it’s still a good idea to prep your pet for the journey. Such preparation measures could help reduce the stress levels in your pet, help you understand how best your pet travels, and help make the journey that little bit easier for both you and your pet.

  • Before taking your pet on any long car journey, take them on short drives close to home, while slowly increasing the amount of time spent in the car. This will not only help them get used to being confined in a car, but it could help them overcome travel sickness if they suffer from it.
  • Avoid feeding your cat or dog right before traveling, as the motion of the car, train or plane could upset their stomach. Make sure they have plenty of water, so they are well hydrated.
  • Before any long journey, consider the health of your pet. Are they fit and healthy enough to travel? Make sure they are up to date with their vaccinations and treatments and be sure to check if they need any additional ones, as this could be a requirement of certain countries or airlines.
  • To help ensure your pet is comfortable while traveling, make sure they have plenty of water, (food but depending how well they travel on a full stomach), toys to keep them occupied, and a comfortable place to sleep and rest. Most importantly, they need to be secured while traveling, whether it be in a crate that is large enough for them to sit in, stand and move around in, or strapped in using a proper pet seat belt for the car.

If you don’t want to take your cat or dog on holiday with you, then why not consider the following instead:

  • Leave your pet with a friend or family member
  • Have a qualified pet-sitter come around to your home, to feed, walk and check-up on your pet
  • Take your pet to a reputable kennel or cattery
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Your policy document explorer

Take a moment to explore the details of our cover in the policy documents below. Documents apply to all pet insurance policies purchased from 27/09/2020 onwards.

Existing customers

If you purchased your policy before the date shown above, you can log into your account where you can view, amend, and renew your documents right here. If you have not already signed up for an account, then you can register here.

If you purchased your policy before 23rd September 2019, please contact us on: 0345 450 7042

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