Accidental pet damage: Easy tips to prevent it and fix what’s done

A quarter of pet owners’ homes have been damaged by their beloved animals – we share some top tips on how to avoid disaster and ensure you’re covered by insurance.

We wouldn’t be without our beloved animals, but a new survey by Saga Insurance has revealed that one in four owners (24%) has experienced pet-related damage to their home – ranging from £500 to more than £1,000.

And worryingly, almost half of us don’t know whether the damage is covered by our home insurance – or whether we’ll be left to pick up the bill.

So what can you do to avoid a doggie disaster or a cat-astrophe – and if it does happen, how do you make sure you are covered by your insurance? We’ve got the best advice from the experts.

A guilty looking dog sat on a chair that's it's ripped, with the stuffing showingCredit: Shutterstock /Jeroen van den Broek

5 tips to avoid pet damage in the home

Easy ways to avoid your pet costing you thousands

Whether it’s a hapless hound, a crazy cat or even a rampaging rabbit, damage by pets to our homes can cost us thousands.

The key to avoiding any disasters is to think ahead and take steps before their behaviour spirals out of control

Dog behaviourist, trainer, and founder of Kids Around Dogs, Debby Lucken has five expert tips to help prevent pet damage.


1. Get professional help

Find a qualified, positive trainer who will work with you and your pet to address specific issues, keeping in mind your lifestyle, your pet’s environment, nutrition, mental and physical stimulations, and more.

2. Give your pet an outlet

Chewing is natural behaviour that needs satisfying. It often indicates your dog is bored, overstimulated, self-soothing or needs attention. Always have a chew toy at your dog’s disposal and a ‘special occasions’ chew toy they get at certain times to keep them interested. This can include bones from the butcher, or hollow toys filled with healthy spreadable food to lick and eat.

Naturally it’s also wise to keep precious items out of reach from pets and perhaps consider installing stairgates and playpens.

3. Provide scratching posts

Cats need to file their claws, and to them, scratching furniture gets the job done. To avoid this, redirect them towards a scratching post (or more than one), or an old piece of furniture you don’t care about anymore.

4. Engage in sniff games

Make sure walks are enjoyable for your dog by going to places where they have a lot of opportunities to smell. Give them enough time to sniff too without rushing.

Most pets also enjoy finding hidden treasures, so you could hide some special treats or toys around the home for dogs, cats, rabbits and other pets too.


5. Avoid overstimulating your pet.

Exercising and amusing your pet is crucial but be careful to not overdo it. You risk overstimulating them, or getting them overtired, which can equally prompt undesirable behaviour around the home.

Like humans, when we’re tired, we can get moody.

You may need advice from your vet

Lucken warns: “It’s important to remember negative behaviour can sometimes be caused by more serious problems, such as physical or mental health issues. I recommend having your pet checked by a vet to rule this out.”

Is pet damage covered in a standard home insurance policy?

Check your policy if you are a pet owner

Saga’s home insurance expert, Anna Thunstrom, said that 41 per cent of Brits don’t know whether their home insurance policy covers pet damage.

She says: “Accidental damage cover, which may include pet damage cover specifically, doesn’t always come as standard with home insurance policies. In fact, it’s often excluded. Many companies offer it as an optional extension, or sometimes within a higher level of cover.

“It’s important to note that if accidental damage is included in a policy, this is different to pet damage cover which is a separate type that can typically be categorised as chewing, scratching, tearing, or fouling.

“Pet owners need to read their policy carefully to understand what’s covered. Some people assume that their accidental damage insurance will cover the costs of fouling on the carpet or chewed sofas for example, but this isn’t always the case.”

The cost of pet damage

Saga’s survey revealed that nearly a quarter (24%) of Britons experienced damage ranging from £500 to £1000, and almost one in 10 (9%) experienced damage up to £2,000.

Don’t just hope for the best

Thunstrom adds: “Some people think they don’t need additional cover because their pets are well-behaved. However, it’s difficult to anticipate when they may get ill or cause costly damage. Especially when training a new puppy, there may be incidents like fouling indoors or chewing around the home, which is common during this time.

“I recommend reviewing your policy documents or getting in touch with your provider if you’re getting a new pet to make sure you have the appropriate level of cover to suit you.“

Phillipa Cherryson

Written by Phillipa Cherryson she/her


Phillipa Cherryson is a senior digital editor for Saga Exceptional. Phillipa has been a journalist for 30 years, writing for local and national newspapers, UK magazines and reporting onscreen for ITV. In her spare time she loves the outdoors and is a trainee mountain leader and Ordnance Survey Champion.

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