Top 10 Dog and Cat Insurance Claims

When you bring your pet to the veterinarian, it’s natural to wonder what brings all the other cats and dogs to the waiting room. If they aren’t all there for a checkup, there's a good chance at least one of the dogs will have a skin allergy or infection and that one of the kitties crouched in a carrier is suffering from a bladder infection.

Those are the findings of a recent analysis of claims filed with Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the nation's largest and oldest pet insurer, which tabulated the top 10 dog and cat medical conditions of 2012 and calculated a combined $58 million spent by their policyholders on them.

Skin problems, as well as ear infections, took the top three spots in 2012, while bladder conditions topped the list for felines.

Ailments Claiming the Top Spots

Ear infections traditionally top the list for dogs. Dr. Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI, believes skin allergies may have jumped ahead of ear infections because veterinarians are getting better at diagnosing allergies as the root cause of ear infections. “In the old days they used to write ear infection as the diagnosis and didn’t give us the more complicated version of the story,” says Dr. McConnell, who points out that underlying food, flea and even seasonal pollen allergies show in the skin of pets, and can then lead to skin and ear infections.

Topping the list for cats are bladder infections. A more serious urinary tract condition, especially in male cats, is the urinary obstruction. In these cases, crystals, stones or plugs can form in the urine and block the urethra (the tube leading from the bladder on out of the body). It becomes a medical emergency when these cats are unable to urinate. “Then they get in real trouble," Dr. McConnell says. "When the cat is straining to produce urine in the litterbox, you get that cat to a vet, even if it’s Sunday at 2 a.m.”

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