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Wrong food and too much exercise results in poorly pets

12 October 2016

  • Britain’s unhealthiest pets live in East Anglia
  • Cats more likely to have problems with their digestive systems
  • Dog owners most likely to claim for problems relating to joints
  • London crowned the healthiest region

New data from Co-op Insurance reveals the leading medical conditions that prompt the most visits to the vets for cats and dogs.*

Aside from road traffic accidents being the biggest threat for both cats and dogs, cat owners are most likely to pack up their cats and take them to the vet for concerns over their digestive systems, whilst for dog owners it's problems with their joints, such as leg, hip and shoulder conditions.

Top 10 ailments for pets in the UK

Dogs

Cats

1

Joint disorders

Digestive system disorders

2

Digestive system disorders

Tumours, warts, cysts, growths, abscesses

3

Skin disorders

Bladder problems

4

Tumours, warts, cysts, growths, abscesses

Mouth and oral disorders

5

Neurological disorders

Respiratory system disorders

6

Eye disorders

Joint disorders

7

Bladder problems

Heart disorders

8

Ear disorders

Hormone disorders

9

Hormone disorders

Skin disorders

10

Heart disorders

Eye disorders


The need for owners to protect their animals from illnesses has never been greater with operations often running into the thousands. The average insurance claim** for the top three ailments for dogs amounts to £425 for problems with their joints, £416 for digestive system disorders and £243 for skin disorders. Whilst for their feline friends, the average insurance claim sees problems with the digestive system amounting to £379, for skin masses such as tumours, warts, cysts, growths & abscesses  £212, and £327 for bladder problems.

East Anglia has been revealed as having the unhealthiest pets in Britain, with London crowned the healthiest region. East Anglia can be an unhappy home for UK pets, with it being a hotspot for both cats and dog claims. The study revealed gastrointestinal and digestive disorders are the most common illness for this region, often caused from eating something other than pet food. Respiratory issues and skin masses such as tumours, warts, growths and abscesses are also common.

Top 10 unhealthiest pet regions in UK

1

East Anglia

2

North East England

3

South East England

4

The Midlands

5

North West England

6

South Central England

7

South West England

8

Scotland

9

Wales

10

London

Co-op Pet Insurance’s go to vet, Matt Brash, star of long running series ‘Zoo Vet at Large’ discusses the findings:

“It is so important to keep your pets healthy and, unsurprisingly, a big part of this is diet. The Co-op’s findings show that digestive tract problems are prevalent across the UK for both dogs and cats with stomach upsets and resulting gastro intestinal inflammation commonplace.

“Much of this is probably to do with the food that owners are feeding their pets. Whilst ‘human food’ may be seen as an innocent treat, this can be dangerous, especially for pets with sensitive stomachs, or pets with dietary allergies and intolerances. It causes them a great deal of discomfort and pain and of course the owners a big emotional and financial cost should the problem be severe.

“Likewise not feeding your pet the foods which are suitable for both their age and exercise levels can also cause issues. For example older pets do not need as much protein, as they are no longer building muscles and growing, and of course less carbohydrate as they are often less active. Over feeding them leads to obesity and all the problems that comes with that. Over feeding protein in older cats is particularly bad, as it can predispose to kidney failure. All pets, as they get older should be fed on a senior pet food.

“Interestingly on a national level, it does look as if pets in the north may be out exercising more on rugged terrain than their southern counterparts based on the number of joint related problems in that part of the country. Although there may be other factors involved, such as breed variations and obesity. Of course it could also be related to the colder damper weather we seem to get up north.”

David Hampson, Head of Pet Insurance at the Co-op, said: “Unfortunately owning a pet should sometimes come with a health warning, with illnesses as with humans, often coming out of the blue.

“There will always be circumstances which are unforeseen, but with vet fees on the rise and as they are the most common unplanned cost, pet owners should consider taking out pet insurance for peace of mind so that they have cover in place should the unexpected happen.”

Case Study:

Dog-owner, Joanne Bailey from Bath, has made numerous trips to the vet with her labradoodle, Stanley, aged two. He has a taste for chocolate and likes to climb. Despite his owners putting their chocolate out of reach following his first poisoning incident, he was able to get his paws on chocolate again.

Joanne realised something was wrong when she noticed that the chocolate had disappeared and Stanley at first appeared energetic, but then very lethargic. Despite thinking that the amount he had eaten was fairly small, she called the vet and he advised her to bring Stanley in to get checked out.

Stanley ate chocolate meaning he had to spend the night at the vets following an injection and charcoal treatment costing £315.48.

His second incident involved a tub of Green and Black's cocoa powder with treatment costing £112.46.

Stanley The Dog

Chocolate in the household now has to be kept under lock and key to prevent Stanley from getting hold of it again.  

Joanne said: “We were all very anxious when Stanley had eaten the chocolate. It was horrible to see him unwell and to know that he might die because we hadn't managed to keep the chocolate away from him. It made us feel quite helpless.

“The vet informed us that chocolate ingestion is quite common and needs to be treated as swiftly as possible. Stanley was treated quickly, well monitored and we were given the appropriate after-care advice.”

Joanne has a pet insurance policy with Co-op Insurance and the claim paid out was £230 for the chocolate incident.

Ends

Notes to editors

* Based on January – December 2015 Co-op Insurance claims data. The Co-op Insurance offers cover to cats and dogs.

** Based on January – December 2015 Co-op Insurance claims data

Cat Medical conditions and average cost

 

gastro-intestinal/ digestive system disorders

£       379.92

respiratory system disorders

£       365.76

urinary system disorders

£       327.44

leg/hip/shoulder disorders

£       287.70

tumours warts cysts growths abscesses

£       212.03

skin disorders

£       197.65

 

Dog medical conditions and average cost

 

respiratory system disorders

£       586.70

leg/hip/shoulder disorders

£       425.19

tumours warts cysts growths abscesses

£       419.95

gastro-intestinal/ digestive system disorders

£       416.25

urinary system disorders

£       373.09

skin disorders

£       243.82


According to the ABI - The number and cost of claims reached record levels: 911,000 pet insurance claims were made, up 9% on 2014. Their cost, at £657 million, was also up 9% on the previous year.

Co-op Pet Insurance yearly average premiums

Cat £97.40
Dog - £213.54

For more information contact:

Sarah Dawson
Press Officer
07702 506 126
sarah.dawson2@co-operative.coop

Jenna Moss
Press & Media Relations Manager
0161 767 4354/07770 441828
jenna.moss@co-operative.coop