Rural life comes with own risks for man's best friend
It's a tough life being a farm dog down in the Westcountry.
In the course of your duties rounding up the sheep and keeping the cattle in order, you can be injured by barbed wire, kicked by a horse, run over by a tractor and even bitten by an adder.
Those are just some of the claims dealt with by the insurer NFU Mutual over the past year, which paid out £1.2 million for pet and working dogs in the South West.
The average claim costs £700, with the most expensive claim over the 12 months being £4,000.
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And never mind accidents – diseases and problems of the musculo-skeletal system top the claims list. Indeed, the insurer's data shows rural life comes with plenty of risks for man's best friend.
Jeremy Atkins, agent at NFU Mutual's Crediton agency, commented: "Dogs are part of the fabric of rural life and many dogs are working dogs and have a valuable role to play on farms and rural estates.
"A dog's environment influences the types of risks it is exposed to and dogs in rural areas are exposed to risks which their urban cousins might never encounter."
Claims for diseases and problems involving the musculoskeletal system, including arthritis and ligament problems, topped the list for dogs in the South West, with the treatment of lumps and cuts taking second and third place respectively. Canines in the region also ran the risk of developing dental problems.
Among some of the more unusual claims handled by the insurer were for dogs that had swallowed all manner of inedible objects including tin foil, a peach stone and items of underwear. And, it would seem that the wildlife in the South West is not always happy to see man's best friend – with reports of dogs being bitten by adders and kicked by deer.