Pet Care: Injuries and Health Insurance
Who says animals can't be creative? If you've got pets, then you already know the many ways that beasties can hurt themselves unknowingly. In a recent conversation with Rob Jackson, CEO of Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, we discussed some common - and not so common - injury claims that he sees on his desk (including one that happened in his own office) and how they can be easily avoided.
Tell me about some of the oddest pet injuries you've seen or heard about.
There's all sorts of crazy stuff, especially around holiday times. At 4th of July, corn cobs are a classic one. The dogs swallow the whole cob and then the trouble starts. What you've got is a foreign body ingestion - very scary. Dogs become playful - especially puppies - they swallow these weird objects, especially when it's food play. Of course, the ingestion of chocolate is the one that people forget about - very dangerous for dogs. Halloween is a classic holiday risk for pets. Kids are pulling stuff out of their bag and pets get excited about it - it's a lack of awareness.
But it happens with even the most avid pet parents. I had it happen with Turner (his pit bull mix). I had a few chocolates on the table and I was watching the table but it doesn't' take very long. He hardly got anything but if you are away from the pets, they will definitely get into things. Also, Poinsettias around Christmas - very dangerous to dogs and cats. Just like when you make your house child-proof, what can they get in to? There are definitely preventable accidents that are out there. When you've got stuff around Christmas - little parts of toys, paper, ribbon - next thing you know, they've swallowed it.
Sometimes, it's as simple as a bag of dog food on the floor in the pantry, if you've got a dog that is food-motivated, that dog could bite right through that bag and eat it all and bloat from too much food. That's one of those thing you might not think about. The extra dog food can be in your garage and it's on the floor instead of up high - all very innocent little things. You've got to keep that food up high so they can't break into it. Dogs can literally eat themselves to death. A good friend lost their dog from this - went through the whole bag, I saw that happen. Their nose is going to be drawn to their food source. Our dogs, when its dinner time, it doesn't take them very long to wipe that bowl clean! They probably would eat until they pass out.
What animals does your company cover?
We cover dogs and cats only and 85 percent of pets that are insured are dogs. With the long, active limbs, the dogs get into more trouble. We see a very high number of ACL tears. Turner had a tear and required knee surgery but this is an example of very well-meaning pet parents doing the wrong thing. We'd go to the dog park with the Chuck-It things and Turner would come to such an abrupt halt, it was putting pressure on his knees. We think that the stops/stars/movements contributed to the damage of the cruciate ligament. They had to do a $4,000 procedure! Constant running is good but quick stops and starts that can put pressure on the wrong places and we are seeing very high incidents right now of this.
With pet insurance now, pet owners are not putting this stuff off. If the dog stays on stays on an injury, it may be more difficult to repair. If I have any advice for a pet parent, it's that you know your animal - if somethings is up, get that animal in to the vet right away. Early detection can make the difference between catching something early and letting something go until the damage is irreparable.
What dog breed do you see get the most coverage and/or claims?
The larger breeds tend to have more problems - St. Bernards, Mastiffs, Great Danes. With many of those breeds, there's a lot of weight being put on their limbs so they have issues with their legs/limbs. English Bulldogs have issues with their knees. I've a grand-dog, Lola, she turned 7 yesterday, and she's the $20,000 dog - both ACLs, done, patella, renal failure - you name it. English Bulldogs have quite a few issues. The premium would be more expensive for some of those dogs to cover injury tendencies within the breed. Mixed breeds tend to be have fewer issues because the cross-breeding has neutralized some of the breed issues. There are a lot of designer breeds going on right now, the Labradoodles and so on.