Of Potbellies and Pills One Pet Pigs Overdosing Episode

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects Most Unusual December Claim

Brea, Calif. (Jan. 18, 2011) – According to Teresa Praus-Choe of Las Vegas, Nev., her pig Crispy Bacon is quite a ham. Though she and her husband Ian joke that Crispy is their little “rock star,” they never expected the potbellied pig to take that notion to the extreme. After overdosing on human medication while his owners were at work, Crispy has earned the title of "Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI).

“We had done absolutely everything to piggy-proof our home, including adding child safety locks to cabinet doors. We always place medication up high and out of reach,” said Teresa. “One night when we came home from work, we saw medicine bottles everywhere and pills on the floor. Crispy had knocked over a table and ingested ibuprofen, acetaminophen, omeprazole and beta blockers.”

Not knowing how many pills the pig had swallowed, Teresa and Ian rushed him to the emergency animal hospital as soon as he began to vomit. The next few days were torturous for the pig’s parents as Crispy was treated for drug toxicity. Concerned for the health and functionality of his heart, kidney and liver, Crispy’s veterinarian administered fluids intravenously, performed a charcoal treatment, and completed blood work daily to monitor Crispy’s organ function. After three days of care, Crispy was healthy enough to return home and has since made a full recovery.

“Although the pet in this case may be a less-than-common companion, the incident itself actually occurs rather frequently,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “In 2011, VPI received more than 1,000 claims for drug overdose making it the most common type of toxicity claim among companion animals. As Crispy’s owners know all too well, accidental ingestion of human medications can be life-threatening for a pet, as well as mentally, emotionally and financially taxing for a pet’s parents.”

Dr. McConnell recommends taking proper steps to prevent poisonings and having the phone numbers of emergency veterinary hospitals handy, should such an incident occur. For more information about toxicity prevention, pet owners should visit VPI's Pet HealthZone.

Crispy’s incident was one of more than 80,000 claims received in the month of December by VPI, the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, and was selected by VPI employees as the most unusual of the bunch. Honorable mentions in December included a Newfoundland dog that fell into a ravine; a corgi attacked by a mountain lion; and a boxer that ate a pound of sugar. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

As the most unusual claim submitted in December, Crispy will be in the running for the 2012 VPI Hambone Award. Other nominees include Baxter the domestic longhair cat who fell from the 11th story window of his owner’s Seattle high-rise, and Peanut the dachshund-terrier mix who became buried alive after a squabble with a skunk. For more information about the VPI Hambone Award, or to read about all of the 2012 nominees, visit www.VPIHamboneAward.com.

Note to editors: Digital images of Crispy Bacon are available upon request. Send requests to ncross@petinsurance.com

About VPI Hambone Award

The VPI Hambone Award is named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to rescue him. The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia. This quirky title was first awarded in 2009 to Lulu, a hungry English bulldog who swallowed 15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap and a piece of a basketball. The VPI Hambone Award and these unusual pet insurance claims have since helped educate the public about the unexpected mishaps that can affect household pets. Stories and pictures of the VPI Hambone Award nominees are available at VPIHamboneAward.com.

About Veterinary Pet Insurance

With more than 485,000 pets insured nationwide, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency is the No. 1 veterinarian-recommended pet health insurance company and is a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies. Providing pet owners with peace of mind since 1982, the company is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers and an advocate of pet health education. VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Optional CareGuard® coverage is available for routine care.

Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. More than 2,500 companies nationwide offer VPI Pet Insurance as a voluntary employee benefit. Policies are underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and in all other states by National Casualty Company, an A+15 rated company in Madison, Wis. Pet owners can find VPI Pet Insurance on Facebook or follow @VPI on Twitter. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit petinsurance.com.

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