Survey Reveals Top 5 Pet Health Problems


Studies of pet health insurance claims indicate that cats and dogs suffer from many of the same common health problems that affect their owners. But the good news is that the most common pet health problems in cats and dogs aren’t necessarily the most expensive to treat.


Overall, ear infections in dogs were the leading cause of vet visits, with approximately 70,000 pet health insurance claims for ear- related health problems, costing an average of $100 per visit. Following ear infections, skin allergies, skin infections/hot spots, vomiting, and diarrhea round out the top five dog health problems.

Among cats, the top reason for visiting the vet was lower urinary tract problems, with over 3,500 pet health insurance claims at an average cost of $260 per visit. Rounding out the top five health conditions in felines were vomiting, chronic renal failure, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes mellitus.

Most Expensive Treatments

Luckily for pet owners, researchers say the pet health problems that are the most expensive to treat were not among the top five most common.

For dogs, the most expensive health problem in the top 10 was treating noncancerous tumors, at an average cost of $335 per visit, and it ranked at No. 9. The costliest health condition for cats was periodontitis/dental disease – ranked at No. 8 – with an average cost of $360 per visit.

Some of the top pet health conditions are associated with an animal’s natural aging process. But many of the most commonly reported pet health problems can befall any dog or cat, regardless of the age or breed of the pet.

Researchers say pet owners should familiarize themselves with their pet’s daily routine so they can more easily identify any abnormal behaviors that might be a sign of an injury or illness.

Regular physical exams can also help prevent and identify some before they become serious or costly. Following is a recommended schedule for visits to the vet.

Kitten or Puppy: Birth to 1 Year

You’ll need to bring your little one in for vaccines every 3 to 4 weeks until he or she is 16 weeks old.

Dogs will get shots for rabies, distemper-parvo, and other diseases. They may also need shots to protect against pet health problems such as kennel cough, influenza, and Lyme disease.

Cats will get tests for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus and vaccinations that cover several diseases.

At this stage, your pet will also start heartworm and flea- and tick-prevention medications, if they’re recommended for your area.

Adult: 1 to 7-10 Years

During this stage, we typically recommend yearly checkups that include a head-to-tail physical and blood tests to check for heartworms. (Cats normally don’t get tested because the results are difficult to interpret.)

Distemper-parvo and rabies booster shots happen during the first yearly checkup, then usually every 3 years after that, depending on state law. Your dog may get other vaccines to prevent illnesses like kennel cough, and outdoor cats should get feline leukemia vaccines.

It’s helpful to bring in a stool sample from your pet, which your vet will check for intestinal parasites.

Senior: 7 to 10 Years and Older

Vets suggest twice-yearly checkups for older pets. Your cat or dog will get vaccinations when needed and receive a thorough physical exam, along with tests to follow up on any problems and blood and urine tests. Mention any changes you’ve seen, as these can be signs of a new pet health problem such as kidney disease or arthritis.

How long has it been since you’ve had your pet(s) in for a checkup? If it’s been more than a year – don’t hesitate – call our office today. You could be putting your pet’s health in danger!

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