Top 10 Most Expensive Pet Health Conditions

Nation's Largest Pet Insurer Reveals Most Common $1,000+ Claims

Brea, Calif. (June 28, 2011) – Few pet owners imagine they will ever have to spend more than $1,000 for treatment of a single pet health incident or condition. Unfortunately, data from Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, reveals that $1,000 veterinary bills may be more common than expected. In 2010, VPI policyholders submitted nearly 14,000 claims with an average treatment cost exceeding $1,000. VPI analyzed its database to find that the majority of its most expensive claims were the result of just 10 conditions. Following are the top 10 conditions—ranked by frequency—to cost pet owners more than $1,000 in 2010:

Condition Number of Claims Average Cost per Claim
1. Torn Knee Ligament/Cartilage 6,831 $1,578
2. Intestinal - Foreign Object 1,005 $1,967
3. Stomach - Foreign Object 954 $1,502
4. Intervertebral Disc Disease 879 $3,282
5. Stomach Torsion/Bloat 372 $2,509
6. Broken Leg (Plate) 350 $1,586
7. Laryngeal Paralysis 126 $2,042
8. Tumor of the Throat 124 $1,677
9. Ear Canal Surgery -Ablation 104 $1,285
10. Ruptured Bile Duct 102 $2,245

While surgical treatment for a torn knee ligament/cartilage occurred with the greatest frequency, the condition with the highest average cost per claim was intervertebral disc disease, for which pet owners paid an average of $3,282 in 2010. According to DVM Newsmagazine’s 2009 State of the Profession survey, veterinarians estimate the average dollar amount at which most clients would opt to stop treatment of a sick or injured animal at $1,451. Of the top 10 most common costly claims, only ear canal surgery falls beneath the average survey limit, thus illustrating the value of pet health insurance as a way to manage unexpected pet health expenses.

“Pet owners should be aware that these $1,000 accidents and illnesses can happen to just about any pet—indoor, outdoor, young or old,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Though the cost of care for these conditions may be high, the prognosis is usually positive, and many of the pets that are treated will recover.”

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 Pet CareGuard® for routine care is also available.

Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. More than 2,000 companies nationwide offer VPI Pet Insurance as an 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, Wisconsin. 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

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Brea, CA 92822-2344