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The Soaring Cost of Veterinary Treatment


New research reveals the average cost of veterinary treatment for dogs and cats has risen by four per cent over the past year, with the average claim rising by £29, from £728 to £757.

The overall cost of medical treatment claims for dogs and cats in the UK totalled £775 million last year, an increase of ten per cent on 2016. With more than a million pet insurance claims made during 2017, an average of nearly two every minute, pet owners are advised to look out for early warning signs of illness and injury to ensure their pets are given the best possible care and to reduce the likelihood of increased veterinary bills further down the line, according to the study by Direct Line Pet Insurance.

The data shows that there are clear differences between the most commonly claimed-for ailments for cats and dogs. The most common illnesses in cats last year were identified as wounds (15 per cent), gastrointestinal disorders (14 per cent) and tumours, growths, warts or cysts (11 per cent). Poisoning and physical disorders (six per cent) were also prevalent in cats, which raises worrying questions about how to protect them from ingesting noxious substances or toxic plants when roaming freely.

Dogs are more likely to need treatment for tumours, growths, warts or cysts, which accounted for a fifth (20 per cent) of all claims in 2017. This was followed by musculoskeletal disorders such as lameness, arthritis or ligament damage (19 per cent) and gastrointestinal disorders such as vomiting, pancreatitis and gastritis (12 per cent).

Across all pets, mouth and oral disorders such as abscesses, ulcers and wounds, saw the sharpest increase in claims between 2016 and 2017, rising by 25 per cent. This was followed by disorders of the lymphatic system (20 per cent increase) and hernias (10 per cent increase). However, claims for poisoning or physical disorders of unknown cause fell by a third (33 per cent), while there was also a fall in the number of claims for liver disorders, which fell by 20 per cent year-on-year.

Table one: The most commonly claimed-for ailments for dogs and cats, 2017

Rank Ailment claimed under insurance Percentage share of all ailments
1 Tumours, growths, warts and cysts 20 per cent
2 Musculoskeletal disorders 19 per cent
3 Gastrointestinal disorders 12 per cent
4 Wounds 10 per cent
5 Skin disorders 4 per cent
1 Wounds 15 per cent
2 Gastrointestinal disorders 14 per cent
3 Tumours, growths, warts and cysts 11 per cent
4 Musculoskeletal disorders 8 per cent
5 Mouth and oral disorders 7 per cent

Source: Direct Line Pet Insurance, 2017

Prit Powar, head of pet insurance at Direct Line, commented: “Our analysis reveals the importance of insuring your pet against illness and injury, as owners can be left footing bills running into thousands of pounds. Many conditions can be easily treated so it is important to get your pet checked out as soon as you suspect something is wrong.  Comprehensive pet insurance provides the vital peace of mind that a trip to the vet won’t always result in a trip to the bank.”


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