BREA, Calif., May 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the nation's oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, recently reviewed all medical claims received in 2006 to identify the top 10 reasons dogs and cats were taken to the veterinarian. Compared with last year's list, the usual suspects -- skin allergies, urinary tract infections and upset stomachs -- remain near the top for both pets. Some conditions absent from last year's list were pyoderma (or hot spots) for dogs and tooth extractions for cats. "Almost all pets will have one of these conditions throughout their life," said Dr. Carol McConnell, director of veterinary relations for VPI. "In general, younger pets have a tendency to eat things they are not supposed to eat, which may result in stomach problems. Older pets are prone to tumors and arthritis." 2006 Top 10 Claims by 2006 Top 10 Claims by Incident -- Dogs Incident -- Cats 1. Skin allergies 1. Urinary tract infections 2. Ear infections 2. Stomach upsets 3. Stomach upsets 3. Kidney failure 4. Urinary tract infections 4. Skin allergies 5. Benign tumors 5. Diabetes 6. Pyoderma (hot spots/ 6. Respiratory infections bacterial skin infections) 7. Sprains 7. Ear infections 8. Osteoarthritis 8. Tooth extractions 9. Enteritis 9. Colitis 10. Eye infections 10. Hyperthyroidism The addition of pyoderma to the list reflects the prevalence of skin allergies among dogs. Like humans, dogs can have allergic reactions to food or pollen. Many dogs are allergic to contact with grass or carpet. The most common allergy is a reaction to flea bites. These allergies may cause a dog to lick or chew at an area on their skin until it creates a wound. Infected wounds from self trauma are what veterinarians call "pyoderma." On the feline side, cats are susceptible to urinary tract infections caused by viruses, urinary crystals, or even stress. Due to differences in the size and position of the urethra, male cats are more likely to get urinary tract infections than female cats. Always monitor a cat's frequency of visits to the litter box, as urination may increase with an infection. With each of the top 10 conditions, early detection by the owner and early treatment from a veterinarian is essential. In order to detect illnesses early, pet owners should pay attention to their pet's behavior and schedule regular visits to the veterinarian. McConnell recommends that young puppies and kittens see the veterinarian every two to three weeks and older dogs and cats visit once or twice a year. "Daily care and attention is important," said McConnell. "If you are touching your pet every day, you increase the chance of feeling a tumor, discovering an infection, or noticing if they have a sensitive area." Without detection, pet health problems can become serious and expensive. "All of these conditions on our top 10 list can adversely affect the pet's quality of life. Some could even become fatal," said McConnell. "Veterinarians never want to euthanize a pet, especially for something that could have been managed earlier in the course of the disease. That is why many veterinarians are focusing on preventive health care. Pet insurance is a way to help them with that." By offering plans that reimburse for routine health care and treatment for common ailments, VPI hopes to keep pet owners from incurring excessive expenses and keep pets from unnecessary euthanasia. McConnell recommends that pet owners purchase a pet insurance policy while their pet is still young and less likely to have a preexisting condition. The majority of VPI's policyholders understand the importance of health insurance for preventive and medical care, with approximately 85 percent opting for a medical plan with additional coverage for routine care. About Veterinary Pet Insurance Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency is the nation's oldest and largest pet health insurance company. 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 medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Optional Vaccination & Routine Care Coverage is also available. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 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. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit petinsurance.com.
SOURCE Veterinary Pet Insurance