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Peek Into Pet Insurance Provider Data For The Major ‘claims To Fame’

Insurance claims data provides a fascinating insight into the ailments most commonly suffered by New Zealand’s dogs and cats – and alerts pet parents on what to look out for in the quest to deliver them better quality of life.

It also helps avoid a visit to the vet and that’s something pets and their owners will always prefer, says Michelle Le Long, Chief Operating Officer of pet insurance specialist PD Insurance.

“Our vet bill claims information for 2022 is a clear snapshot into what’s happening with pet health amongst our furry customers. While many vet visits are upsetting for the pet and pet parent involved, there’s also a strong sense of comfort in having medical treatment at your fingertips,” she said.

“Putting insurance in place helps ensure this, providing a soft landing financially in its cover of a wide range of illnesses, accidents, allergies and more, so pets can secure quality care.

Potentially avoidable (but expensive anyway)

For PD Insurance, there’s a broad category into which the top 8 claims fall - ‘arguably avoidable’ injuries and some diseases. These include, in order:

  1. skin allergies
  2. diarrhoea
  3. gastroenteritis
  4. foreign body ingestion
  5. ear infections
  6. limb injuries
  7. kennel cough
  8. conjunctivitis

“Some of these afflictions can be minimised or avoided by watching out for where and how your pets play, providing appropriate toys and exercise, and noticing signs of changed behaviour or physicality,” says Le Long, adding kennel cough is somewhat preventable through vaccination.

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“However, we’re not judgy. We are very aware that accidents happen; injuries happen no matter how careful you are and this is exactly why we’re here providing insurance. It’s for those unexpected incidents that can and do occur despite the best care and attention.”

Also occurring last year, though less often, were ligament issues, teeth extraction, hip dysplasia, patella issues, inflammation, arthritis, various ‘unspecified’ injuries, and fractures.

“Most of these are either chronic issues owing to an ageing pet – yes, doggie and kitty seniors need special care! – or once-off issues every pet owner will face sooner or later,” Le Long comments.

Watch the pets (and keep ‘em contained)

Claims data shows dogs of all breed types are prone to various allergic reactions, resulting in many food allergy and gastroenteritis claims, as well as a significant number of skin conditions.

It’s essential to know what your pet can and can’t eat (e.g. definitely no Easter chocolate for dogs; it’s poisonous for them), while structuring their diet accordingly. It’s also vital to keep them away from known irritants like certain types of grass or ‘identified’ potentially toxic plants such as daffodils, foxglove, karaka and onga onga.

Cats warrant special mention, too, with many claims for bite wounds, particularly among toms.

“Cat fights don’t only make a terrific noise often at the worst possible hour, they can result in nasty wounds. It’s always a good idea to keep cats indoors overnight; this is safer for them and reduces the environmental impact from cats hunting birds,” Le Long notes.

“And, of course, the same always goes for pooches – we have had far too many claims for dogs hit by cars, something we all want to avoid. Best keep them under control and contained.”

Expect the unexpected

There’s a big basket of other cases, ranging from fairly common to very uncommon, but the claims department has seen it all. Among them are feline asthma, sarcoma (a type of cancer), heat stroke, motion sickness, melanoma and leukemia (also cancers), cellulitis and tremors.

And although ingestion of all sorts of foreign objects is par for the course in claims, some of the objects raise eyebrows high – not just socks, undies and toxic plants and foods but golf balls, fishing hooks, pool covers, tinsel, nails, highlighters, string off the Sunday roast and more.

“That’s only naming a few. Just like humans experience all kinds of afflictions and injuries, so do our cats and dogs. Whenever we look at these claims, we share the relief that pet parents do: it affirms the necessity for pet insurance because treating these ailments is expensive and sometimes ongoing. Nobody wants to be in a position where their pet can’t access treatment because of the cost,” concludes Le Long.

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