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Pet owners advised to look for early warning signs as vet costs rise

New analysis from Direct Line Pet Insurance has revealed that the average cost of veterinary treatment for dogs and cats has risen by four percent over the past year, with the average claim rising by £29, from £728 to £757.

The overall cost of medical treatment claims for dogs and cats in the UK totalled £775m last year, an increase of 10 percent on 2016.

With more than a million pet insurance claims made during 2017, an average of nearly two every minute, pet owners are advised to look out for early warning signs of illness and injury to ensure their pets are given the best possible care and to reduce the likelihood of increased veterinary bills further down the line.

Analysis of Direct Line’s Pet Insurance data also revealed clear differences between the most commonly claimed-for ailments for cats and dogs.

The most common illnesses in cats last year were identified as wounds (15 percent), gastrointestinal disorders (14 percent) and tumours, growths, warts or cysts (11 percent). Poisoning and physical disorders (six percent) were also prevalent in cats, raising questions about how to protect them from ingesting noxious substances or toxic plants when roaming freely.

Dogs are more likely to need treatment for tumours, growths, warts or cysts, which accounted for 20 percent of all claims in 2017. This was followed by musculoskeletal disorders such as lameness, arthritis or ligament damage (19 percent) and gastrointestinal disorders such as vomiting, pancreatitis and gastritis (12 percent).

Across all pets, mouth and oral disorders such as abscesses, ulcers and wounds, saw the sharpest increase in claims between 2016 and 2017, rising by 25 percent. This was followed by disorders of the lymphatic system (20 per cent increase) and hernias (10 percent increase). However, claims for poisoning or physical disorders of unknown cause fell by a third (33 percent), while there was also a fall in the number of claims for liver disorders, which fell by 20 percent year-on-year.

Prit Powar, head of pet insurance at Direct Line, said: “Our analysis reveals the importance of insuring your pet against illness and injury, as owners can be left footing bills running into thousands of pounds. Many conditions can be easily treated so it is important to get your pet checked out as soon as you suspect something is wrong. Comprehensive pet insurance provides the vital peace of mind that a trip to the vet won’t always result in a trip to the bank.”

Sarah Page-Jones, chief veterinary officer at mobile vet PawSquad, added: “As time goes on, it becomes possible to treat pets more comprehensively and to manage a wider range of conditions, so average veterinary bills continue to rise. Unfortunately, we still see a far lower percentage of cats visiting their vet than dogs, often due to the stress caused to both pet and owner.”

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