Sick as a Dog

Top Pet Medical Conditions in 2008

Dog with veterinarian

Not all the similarities between pets and people are cute and cuddly. Take ear infections, for example, or skin rashes. Not convinced? How about diarrhea?

Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, recently analyzed medical claims received in 2008 to find the year’s most common pet maladies.

The results indicate that pets visit the veterinarian for many of the same reasons humans visit the doctor, with ear infections the No. 1 condition for dogs and lower urinary tract disease No. 1 for cats.

Top Pet Health Claims

The top 10 conditions accounted for nearly 340,000, or close to 25 percent, of all canine and feline medical claims received in 2008:


Top Canine Claims Top Feline Claims
1.  Ear Infections                      1.  Lower Urinary Tract Disease
2.  Skin Allergies  2.  Gastritis/Stomach Upsets 
3.  Pyoderma/Hot Spots  3.  Chronic Renal Failure 
4.  Gastritis/Vomiting  4.  Enteritis/Diarrhea 
5.  Enteritis/Diarrhea  5.  Diabetes Mellitus 
6.  Urinary Tract Infections 6.  Skin Allergies 
7.  Benign Skin Tumors  7.  Hyperthyroidism
8.  Osteoarthritis  8.  Ear Infections 
9.  Eye Inflammation  9.  Upper Respiratory Virus 
10. Hypothyroidism  10. Eye Inflammation 

“The large number of claims received for these medical conditions attests to their often repetitive or chronic nature,” says Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “A dog with allergies, for example, will most likely require continuing care and a cat with diabetes will be no stranger to the veterinarian’s office.

"Pet owners have a tendency to fear major accidents and illnesses — car crash injuries, or cancer — but a chronic condition can be just as detrimental to a pet’s quality of life and financially burdensome to treat.”

Recognizing Pet Illness

Cat with veterinarian

Most of the top pet conditions will bring about a noticeable change in the behavior or appearance of a pet. Pet owners can ensure that they recognize an illness quickly with regular observation of a pet’s daily routine and inspection of a pet’s eyes, ears, and skin.

Any lumps, sores, unusual odors, or drastic changes in behavior suggest that one’s pet should be promptly examined by a veterinarian. Even before a problem manifests, semiannual physical exams can help diagnose problems early or in some cases prevent many illnesses.

If left untreated, any of the top 10 conditions could result in serious health problems and eventually cost hundreds of dollars to treat. In 2008, the most expensive of the common canine conditions was benign skin tumors, with an average submitted claim fee of $340. For cats, the most expensive common condition was renal failure, with an average submitted claim fee of $267.

Want to learn more about how pet health insurance can help protect your pet's health and manage your veterinary expenses? Click here.  


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