Pet insurance

Whether you’re bringing your furry friend from abroad or planning to adopt one, here are some key things you should know about having pets in Germany.

Bringing pets to Germany

For many people, a pet is part of the family. But there’s no need to leave a family member behind when you move, as each person moving to Germany from outside of the EU is allowed to bring up to five animals with them. These animals must be household pets and cannot be brought to the country to be sold or traded.

This can be any combination of five animals, except in the case of rabbits as any more than three is considered commercial trade in pets. Although how anyone could possibly run a successful trading business with just four or five rabbits I do not know.

A fairly large range of creatures can be brought into Germany as a pet but if your pet is a little less conventional it is probably best to check it isn’t mentioned in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) website.

Just like in many countries around the world, ownership of certain breeds of dog is restricted in Germany.

Although it varies a little from state to state, this list usually includes ‘Kampfhunde’, meaning ‘fighting dogs’ which are breeds like Pitbull-Terriers, Staffordshire-Bull terriers, American Staffordshire-Terriers, Bull terriers and any related crossbreeds. For a full list of categories for each state click here.

Pet immigration laws

Whether you’re a human or not, immigration in Germany is dealt with by ‘der Zoll’.

Just like humans, dogs, cats and ferrets need their own passports, but unlike humans, they must also be microchipped by a vet and their pet passports should be filled in with details of the animal’s vaccinations.

Luckily there is no need for your pets to be quarantined on arrival in Europe if they are up to date with the proper vaccinations (rabies for dogs, cats and ferrets and avian flu for birds).

Make sure your pet is old enough before you plan a move though as puppies and kittens under 15 weeks old cannot be brought to the EU. This is because they are given their first rabies shot at 12 to 24 weeks old, followed by a minimum 30-day waiting period.

If you’re moving within the EU similar rules apply so make sure your pet’s passport is up to date. But if your pets are on the smaller side, like guinea pigs, rabbits and rodents, there’s no need for a passport.

Pets in rented accommodation

It goes without saying that before bringing a pet into rented accommodation, you need to check whether your landlord allows it.

You’re likely to be allowed a pet in long-term rented accommodation — particularly houses — but if you’re in a city apartment you’re much more likely to come across restrictions.

Service dogs can be an exception to the rules when it comes to animal bans, but laws on service dogs vary from state to state so it’s probably a good idea to just find an animal-friendly landlord to begin with.

Smaller pets such as hamsters or fish are also sometimes an exception to the rule, as well as some more off-the-wall creatures such as hedgehogs and chameleons.

Dog Tax

Dogs in Germany need to be licensed and are subject to a ‘Hundesteuer’, meaning ‘dog tax’.

Most European countries scrapped the dog tax in the 20th century but Germany still stubbornly refuses to change the law. This is possibly because the dog tax is big business in Germany; in Berlin alone, dog owners paid €11 million in ‘dog tax’ last year.

Dog owners pay a lot more dog tax per animal if they have multiple dogs. This is because the aim of the tax is to keep dog ownership down.

Luckily there are circumstances in which you are exempt from paying the dog tax, for example, if your dog is a service dog. Good news for adoptive pet owners too: if your dog is a rescue dog, you are exempt from paying dog tax for the first year.

Cat owners can be smug in the knowledge that, while cats do need to be licensed, they are not subject to any kind of tax.

Adoption

300,000 animals are in need of adoption every year in Germany.

If you decide to adopt a pet, the best way to go about it is to go to a ‘Tierheim’, meaning animal shelter. A good thing about adopting from a shelter is that all animals are microchipped, come with a pet passport and will have up-to-date vaccinations.

Shelters tend not to let you ‘reserve’ an animal so expect to start the adoption process the same day as choosing your pet. You can also often come home with your new furry friend that day. Because of this, it’s best not to look around if you’re not going to choose an animal that day because you may come back another day to find that the one you fell in love with was adopted by someone else.

Once you’ve chosen your new pet you’ll need to fill out the necessary paperwork. You’ll be required to provide contact details, proof of ID and a copy of your ‘Anmeldung’, or proof that you live in Germany.

After that you’ll be required to pay the adoption fee: around €205 for dogs, €65 to €85 for cats, €20 for rabbits and €2 to €25 euros for smaller animals. These fees cover care, vaccinations, microchipping and spay or neutering.

After that, the animal is all yours to take home (in a box or travel crate provided by yourself).

Be warned though, Germans take animal welfare very seriously so expect hundreds of questions from the shelter about everything from your house and garden size to your working hours and family to whether you promise not to abandon your pet when you do move.

Some shelters may even want to view your house before letting you adopt a cat or dog — so check it’s suitably sized.

Vets

Known as ‘Tierartz‘, which directly translates to ‘animal doctor’, Germany is by no means short of vets.

It’s a good idea to register with a local vet on arrival as this will make things easier in an emergency as they’ll already have your pet’s details.

Appointments are not usually necessary and payment is typically made directly after treatment, meaning veterinary clinics are one of the few places in cash-happy Germany you can guarantee will take card.

There’s no need to worry if your German doesn’t yet include an extensive medical vocabulary as vets often speak a little English.

But if the language barrier gets in the way there’s no need to panic. Vets are used to working out what is wrong with patients who meow, bark or squeak instead of explaining their symptoms, so they will find a way to assess what is wrong with your furry friend.

Out and about

Germany is incredibly dog-friendly; whether you’re in the countryside or a big city, you are unlikely to go more than 500 metres without walking past a dog. Some offices even allow you to bring your dog to work — an added bonus for anyone who left a beloved dog with family when they moved here.

Even though you cannot bring a dog into a supermarket in Germany unless it is a service dog, many restaurants are happy to accommodate furry friends. But to be safe it’s best to check with a server on arrival.

Pets are also allowed on public transport provided you keep your cat or other small pet in a travel box. You may also be required to buy your dog a ticket — usually at half normal price — and to keep your dog on a short leash.

That being said, most people tend to turn a blind eye if your dog is well trained enough not to need a lead (but you didn’t hear that from us).

Pet Insurance

While pet insurance is of course very helpful for unexpected vet’s bills, Germany also has another kind of pet insurance called ‘Hundehaftpflichtversicherung’.

This tongue twister directly translates to ‘dog liability insurance’. This is a legal requirement in case they cause some kind of property damage or accident.

In other words, just like your insurance covers you when driving if you crash into another car, your dog insurance will cover you if your dog causes, for example, a bike crash.

Walks

Germany, of course, has rules regarding animals in public places, though like all things they vary from state to state.

Dogs are not allowed in children’s playgrounds and, although they are allowed in parks, it is best not to let your dog use these areas as a toilet as once again children tend to play there.

Not to point fingers but Germans tend to be better at bothering to scoop the poop than certain other European countries. Part of the reason for this is common courtesy but there is also the added motivation of avoiding a fine which could run up to thousands of euros.

Dogs must be kept on a lead in public and residential areas. In other places, they can run around off the lead but should usually be put back on the lead or called to you when someone approaches.

You could also happily walk your ferret or even your cat if you really wanted to in Germany, but you’re likely to get one or two funny looks.

A pet policy protects the furriest (and arguably most adorable), member of your family. Should they suddenly need medical attention after an accident or illness, could you meet the costs of their treatment? The last thing you want to be worrying about is vet fees when your pet is unwell.

Above all, having cover in place could give you peace of mind in the knowledge that your cat or dog is well-protected.

There are four main policy types you might want to consider for your pet;

  • Lifetime – to ensure your pet is covered you must renew your policy every year. This type of policy should cover any new medical illness or injury with a set amount of money each year. As long as the policy is renewed it will provide cover for long-term or recurring illnesses for the length of the policy.
  • Maximum benefit – a maximum set amount of money is made available to cover each illness or injury your pet may suffer. Once the amount has been paid out, the treatment won’t be covered again.
  • Time limited — also known as a 12 month policy. This is different from a maximum benefit policy as there is a fixed sum of money made available for each separate illness or injury, and it will only cover treatment for a specific period of time (usually 12 months from the start of the illness or injury).
  • Accident only – this type of policy provides a fixed sum of money for each accidental injury to help towards your pet’s treatment. This will only cover accidents and not illnesses, with some policies having a time limit on treatment.

If you’ve got more than one cat or dog, you might want to consider a multi-pet policy. You could cover multiple pets at the same time and have all of your documents in one place.

Don’t just compare cat and dog insurance policies based on the cheapest quote. It is important to decide which policy features will benefit you the most.

Typically, a cat or dog insurance policy might include cover for;

  • Accidents and injuries — if you need help towards any vet bills (at least in part, depending on your plan)
  • Treatment for unexpected illnesses  this can sometimes include cover for your own holiday cancellation due to an unwell pet
  • Boarding fees for kennels or catteries — should you have to spend more than 4 consecutive days in hospital
  • Liability cover — if your pet causes accidental damage to a third-party and they decide to take action against you
  • Advertising and reward — if your cat or dog goes missing or is stolen

As with all insurance, it is important to read the small print to make sure you know what you’re covered for.

Most policies typically exclude;

    • Preventive treatments (neutering, vaccinations)
    • Dental treatment
    • Pre-existing conditions 
    • Routine check-ups 
  • Behavioural problems 
  • Do your research — if you already own a pet then we know you wouldn’t change them for the world. However, if you’re looking to buy one it might be worth doing some research to find out which breeds are prone to certain medical conditions.
  • Keep your pet healthy – if you have to claim on your policy because your pet has fallen ill, your next insurance renewal may be more expensive.
  • Multi-pet insurance — if you have more than one cat or dog, consider taking out a multi-pet policy. Some providers offer a discount if you take out more than one pet insurance policy with them.
  • Vaccinations — keeping your pet’s vaccinations up-to-date will not only help protect them but could also lower your premium.
  • Excess — If you can afford to pay an increased excess, it could lower your premiums.

How much is pet insurance?

It really depends on the animal, its medical history and the type of cover you’re looking for but some policies start from as little as £2.94* a month.

What details do I need to get a pet insurance quote?

As well as details about yourself e.g. name, date of birth, email address and address, make sure you have these details to hand:

• Your pet’s personal details eg name, breed, gender, their date of birth and whether they’ve been neutered.
• Their vaccination history — are they up to date with their vaccines?

My pet has a pre-existing medical condition. Can I still get cover?

Most insurers won’t offer cover to a pet with pre-existing medical conditions, as it’s more likely that you’ll have to claim more than once for the original problem. It’s best to get your pet insured when they are young, so that if any health problems occur later in life, you’ll have peace of mind that they’ll be covered.

Does my pet need to be microchipped to get pet insurance?

Microchipping your dog is a legal requirement, and it makes life much easier if your dog goes missing. Although it’s not required by law, microchipping your cat is also a good idea. Not only does it make finding a missing pet much easier, it could also lower your premiums as you could be seen as a responsible owner.

Top-Rated Dog and Puppy Insurance

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation covers your pooch from head to paw. Our dog health insurance plan pays on your actual veterinary bill and covers injuries, illnesses, emergencies, genetic conditions and much more.

If your dog or puppy needs treatment for a new accident or illness (except pre-existing conditions), you’re covered. It’s that simple.

What is a pre-existing condition?
A pre-existing condition means that the condition first occurred or showed clinical signs or symptoms (there doesn’t need to be a diagnosis) before your dog’s coverage started, including waiting periods. Healthy Paws excludes pre-existing conditions from coverage as do all pet insurance companies.

What is not covered?
We are all about protecting your dog from the unexpected and you from the financial problems their treatment may cause. Our dog insurance plan doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions, the examination fee, or preventative care, such as annual check-ups, vaccinations, spay/neuter procedures and teeth cleaning. For more information, see our complete list of exclusions.

Pet Insurance — For Puppies To Senior Dogs

Whether your dog gets into mischief that lands him in the emergency room or develops a disease later in life that takes you both by surprise, your dog’s medical care can cost you at any point in their life.

Puppies to five-year-old dogs
You can start protecting your precious puppy at just 8-weeks old and make sure you can protect them from anything like a pesky bee sting to parvo, a potentially life-threatening disease. Plus, if you enroll your dog before the age of 6, hip dysplasia coverage is included at no extra cost.

Atlas the «Dober-Goat»

Watch how this cute Doberman can’t stop eating things he shouldn’t. Fortunately, his pet parents protected Atlas with Healthy Paws Pet Insurance.

Dogs six and older
As dogs age, hereditary and congenital conditions may affect your dog and these treatments can be expensive (although dogs of all ages are susceptible to these conditions). The good news is you can enroll your faithful friend with Healthy Paws up until their 14th birthday. As your dog reaches the golden years, rest assured that they’re covered for the lifetime of the policy.

There’s no age discrimination when it comes to the unexpected.
Join today and our Healthy Paws Pet Insurance team will be there to protect you and your dog from life’s (mis)adventures.

How Dog Insurance Works

With Healthy Paws, you can visit any licensed veterinarian including the specialists and emergency animal hospitals that can truly make a difference in your pet’s care. We even cover alternative care. After enrolling your dog, you will have a short 15-day waiting period for accidents and illnesses and a 12-month waiting period for hip dysplasia.

Claims. Fast, Easy, Worry Free!
With no more claim forms, we’ve created the fastest and easiest claim process for our customers. Just send us your veterinary hospital’s invoice through our online Customer Center or Healthy Paws Mobile App!

We’ll process your claim quickly and send you a reimbursement check via mail or you can sign up for direct deposit. Of course, if it’s your first claim, we’ll need your pet’s medical records to complete your claim. We may also pre-authorize very expensive treatments (on a case-by-case basis) with your veterinarian hospital to help reduce your upfront burden.

Our Commitment to Our Customers

The Healthy Paws pet insurance plan is easy to understand, we reimburse quickly, and you can count on us to help, especially when it comes to reducing the stress of caring for a sick pet.

Our commitment is to provide you and your dog with the best customer service and best pet insurance plan in the country. We are grateful to our pet-passionate customers for sharing their love of our plan and service by giving us a 98% satisfaction rating at Consumer’s Advocate!