BREA, Calif., Aug. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- A fat cat, or dog, may result in
a fat bill. Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the nation's oldest and largest
provider of pet health insurance, recently reviewed policyholder data to
find that it reimbursed more than $14 million last year for claims with
links to pet obesity. Claims related to obesity represented 7 percent of
all medical claims submitted to VPI in 2006.
"Pet owners may think a few extra pounds is acceptable for their pet,
but no one finds extra veterinary bills very appealing," said Dr. Carol
McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary officer for VPI. "Obesity in
pets should be taken seriously by all pet owners. It shortens pets' lives
and dramatically increases health risks."
Veterinarians have long known that obesity is as harmful to pets as it
is to humans. Nearly all body systems are required to work harder to
support the extra weight, raising the risk of arthritis, intervertebral
disc disease, spondylosis and cruciate ligament rupture. There are other
diseases also correlated with obesity, such as diabetes, hypertension,
asthma, hepatitis and lipomas. Besides adversely affecting pets' quality
and length of life, any one of these diseases could require costly
treatment. In 2006, the average claimed cost of treatment for the
aforementioned medical conditions was $832, up from $713 in 2005 and $702
"Pet obesity begins with excessive kindness," said McConnell. "Food is
the primary way some pet owners demonstrate love to their pet. When dog
treats and table scraps become signs of affection or behavioral tools, it
becomes difficult to effectively regulate a pet's diet."
Studies suggest that between 25 and 40 percent of American pets are
overweight. While ideal weight varies among breeds and individual pets,
smaller pets can tip the scales with only two to three pounds of extra
weight. A simple way to determine if a pet is overweight is to feel its
spine and chest. The backbone and ribs should be easy to distinguish and
void of excess fat.
In order to lose weight, pets must reduce caloric intake while
increasing physical activity. For pet owners, this means regulating or
eliminating their pet's snacks and treats and finding a fun way to remain
active with their pet. Since pets have varying responses to weight loss,
advice from your veterinarian is essential for a safe and effective weight
loss regimen. A veterinarian can identify a pet's ideal weight and
customize a diet and exercise plan to promote healthy weight loss.
"Most pet owners think of pet insurance in the context of routine care
and the unexpected; they fail to think of how it protects against illnesses
like those associated with obesity," said McConnell. "VPI Pet Insurance
reimburses for conditions potentially related to and exacerbated by obesity
and offers options for routine care coverage to encourage pet owners to
bring their pet to the veterinarian for regular physical exams and
preventive health care. The good news for pet caregivers is that obesity
can be prevented and the excess costs avoided."
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 multiple
medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and
injuries. Optional Pet WellCare Protection(SM) for routine care is also
Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of
Columbia. More than 1,600 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. For more information about VPI
Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit petinsurance.com.
SOURCE Veterinary Pet Insurance Co.