Facebook Feedback Saves Canine’s Life

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects Most Unusual March Claim

Brea, Calif. (April 17, 2013) – While social media sometimes gets criticized for its lack of valuable content, it can also be educational, as Kyle Bowser of Barnstable, Mass., recently found out when her dog, Winnie, ate a two-pound bag of frozen onion rings. Ingesting the appetizer led to a severe stomach ache and a trip to the veterinarian for anemia testing, earning Winnie the title of March’s “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI).

“My husband and I had to rush out of the house to pick up our daughter after we went grocery shopping, and we accidentally left the bag of frozen onion rings on the counter,” explained Kyle. “When we returned home, we had a very guilty-looking dog and an empty bag of onion rings on the floor.”

Thinking the onion rings consumption would result in nothing more than a stomach ache; later that day, Kyle’s husband posted a photo of Winnie and the empty bag of onion rings on Facebook. Fortunately, a friend that viewed the photo pointed out that onions can be very harmful for dogs, leading Kyle to do some research on the toxicity of onions.

“I did some quick investigating and found out that onions aren’t just bad for dogs, they are extremely toxic and can cause anemia,” said Kyle. “After reading that, I immediately called the Pet Poison Helpline, and they instructed me to take Winnie to the veterinarian.”

At the animal hospital, the veterinarian induced vomiting and fed Winnie charcoal to absorb the toxins. While the veterinarian wasn’t worried initially when he examined Winnie, upon learning that she had ingested the entire-two-pound bag of frozen onion rings, he grew concerned that the ingredients in the onions could cause damage to her red blood cells.

“Onion ingestion can be extremely harmful because the vegetable contains thiosulphate, an ingredient that is toxic to cats and dogs,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Onion poisoning disrupts the pet’s red blood cells circulating the body which may lead to hemolytic anemia. In extreme cases, the pet may need a blood transfusion.”

Although Winnie’s blood tests did indicate initial signs of anemia, fortunately, Kyle and her husband’s mad dash to the veterinarian prevented any long-term damage from occurring. The startling incident left the Bowsers thankful that they decided to purchase pet insurance for Winnie.

“Having VPI Pet Insurance for Winnie, and our other dog Daphne, has given me so much peace of mind,” explained Kyle. “I love my dogs and I would do anything for them, so it’s nice knowing that I will have financial help when they need it most.”

Winnie’s incident was one of more than 80,000 claims received in the month of March 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 March included a beagle that survived a mountain lion attack, a Bergamasco shepherd that dislocated her hip after falling in a gopher hole, and an American shorthair cat that was stuck outside for two nights during a wind and snow storm. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

As the most unusual claim submitted in March, Winnie will be in the running for the 2013 VPI Hambone Award. Other nominees include Natasha the Siberian Forest cat who went through an entire washing machine cycle, Ariel the Himalayan kitten who was trapped underneath her pet parent’s garage door, and Annie the Yorkshire terrier that was stranded outdoors during one of the worst storms in North American history. For more information about the VPI Hambone Award, or to read about all of the 2013 nominees, visit VPIHamboneAward.com.

Digital images of Winnie are available upon request. Send requests to dolson@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 (VPI) is a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies and is the oldest and largest pet health insurance company in the United States. Since 1982, VPI has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers.

VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. CareGuard® coverage for routine care is available for an additional premium. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, one in three Fortune 500 companies offers VPI Pet Insurance as an employee benefit. Policies are offered and administered by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and DVM Insurance Agency in all other states. Underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Brea, CA, an A.M. Best A rated company (2012); National Casualty Company (all other states), Madison, WI, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2012). 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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