Pet scams, pet trips, and pet insurance -- what you need to know

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Traveling with a furry friend? Pet travel insurance might come in handy.

Pet owners, eyes forward. It’s time to update you on what’s going on with your pet if you're taking them on a trip, getting them insured, and not getting scammed. ConsumerAffairs has surveyed the current situation and here’s what we found.

Pet scams

A year after ConsumerAffairs first reported the puppy-of-your-dreams scam, scammers have decided to develop a new bag of tricks. They’ve figured out that if they go for a certain audience – like Dachshund puppies or people of the Catholic faith – convincing someone to buy their scheme has a better chance of working than flooding the market with a bunch of innocuous “Hey, win a puppy” emails.

“No matter how you’re feeling, your Labrador retriever is always gonna find you” is one example of a come-on for a specific breed. Most Labrador breeders are the real deal in’s mind, but it reports that scammers are taking advantage of that – and a Lab lover’s trust – by creating websites using stolen images and videos from genuine breeders and even of people's pets. 

Another question mark concerns the breeder's location.

“Scammers will often ask you for your location and then claim to be on the opposite side of the country. This allows them to scam you out of even more money by charging you for pet transportation services,” Petscams wrote.

One thing that is certain is that the information they give you will be false.

ConsumerAffairs found the images one scam site used are stock photos that we found on a Russian website as well as one of Hoperlabrador’s competitors’ sites.

Also, relying on one or two reviews is probably not a good idea. “It is important to be cautious and skeptical when reading online reviews, as they will not always be genuine,” says Petscam’s lead researcher, Paul Brady.

“One way to check the authenticity of reviews is to look for patterns in the language and content, as fake reviews are often copied and reused on multiple scam websites."

Brady says it's always best to check for multiple reviews with the same text on different websites. "

Pet travel

If you and your pet are getting things ready for a Labor Day mini-vacation, you’re not alone. A new survey from Embrace Pet Insurance found that over half (56%) of pet owners taking a vacation in 2023 will be packing up their furry friends and bringing them along. 

Besides the regular list of pet travel to-dos, the travel experts at Embrace offer two new suggestions:

Don’t forget the sunscreen: Outdoor activities like hiking or swimming are great ways for dogs to burn off energy after a long travel day. However, pet parents need to keep in mind sun protection and heat exhaustion. On top of the givens of keeping your dog hydrated, Embrace gurus recommend checking out pet-safe sunscreens and avoiding activities during the sun’s peak times.

Staying one step ahead: It never fails – something always seems to go wrong on a trip. People are usually prepared to take care of themselves or know what to do, but when it happens to a pet, it’s a whole different ball game.

“When in an unfamiliar place, being extra prepared for any situation or emergency is crucial. Do research to find a local emergency veterinary facility, consider microchipping for extra safety, and double-check tags and vaccine records ahead of time to avoid any issues,” Embrace told ConsumerAffairs.

Does that mean you should get pet travel insurance? The insurance world is quickly recognizing that pets are like family and, to some people, they should be given the same consideration when it comes to insurance.

If you fit that description, travel insurance expert, Meghan Walch, at InsureMyTrip, thinks one thing you should consider is a plan with trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage if your pet or service animal becomes severely ill, injured, or dies before you leave for your trip.

“There may also be kennel benefits included in some plans that can help pay for additional expenses if you’re delayed returning home for a covered reason and you incur additional boarding fees,” she said.

Walch says another important clause in a pet travel policy is medical expense coverage.   This benefit may provide reimbursement if your pet becomes ill and you need an emergency vet visit while on a trip. 

In her review of pet insurance companies, ConsumerAffairs’ Ashley Eneriz suggests that while pet insurance might not be a category on your monthly budget if something were to happen to your pet, it gives you solace as to how you would cover the bill. 

“No one likes to imagine their furry friend getting ill or having an accidental injury, but it happens, and it can be costly,” Eneriz said. “An emergency vet visit can cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Pet insurance helps you pay for the pricey vet visit and ensures you can afford the care your pet needs.”

Her full survey of – and picks for – flexible coverage, short waiting period, customer support, older pets, and for easy claims process is available here.

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