Pets’ Bad Eating Habits Cost $4.2 Million at the Vet in 2015

Diana Faria
by Diana Faria
Dogs and cats often eat things they’re not supposed to – and we pay for it. Medical insurance provider Trupanion releases a report explaining how foreign body ingestion is on the rise.

From socks to your slippers, pups and dogs will gnaw on practically anything they deem toy-worthy, even if it’s at the cost of furniture. When my furry child was introduced to our home at a few weeks old, for example, she used our wooden chair legs as her personal chew toy for a while.

Thankfully, she never got hurt whilst chewing on the wood, but many dogs who find their own chew toy have had to receive medical treatment as a consequence of their poor snacking habits. Pet insurance company Trupanion recently released a report about the costs of pets chewing and/or eating things they shouldn’t.

Related: 10 Ways To Be a Responsible Pet Parent

When pets swallow something they shouldn’t and you rush them to the vet for help, it’s called foreign body ingestion and it’s one of the most frequent medical insurance claims Trupanion receives. The company has paid over $4.2 million towards pet owners’ vet bills for it and it seems to be steadily increasing over the years. Last year, Trupanion paid almost 10 percent more claims related to foreign body ingestion than in 2014.

According to the report, Trupanion sees this kind of medical emergency more frequently with young cats and dogs less than three years old. Have said that, pets over 8 years old that have this emergency has increased slightly, accounting for almost 10 percent of the cases the medical insurance provider has paid. The highest foreign body claim payout came from a dog in California who needed treatment for a small intestine tear caused by a bone… something we associate with dogs. Trupanion paid over $21,000 in order for this dog to receive the medical treatment needed. This makes me think twice about giving my dog anything she can chew for several hours (or even days) at a time. What if I’m not there when she suddenly chokes on something I thought was harmless? It’s a scary thought.

The report also states that a few dog breeds seem to ingest foreign objects more than others. These include Doberman Pinschers, Bernese Mountain Dogs and Goldendoodles (a Golden Retriever and Poodle mix). The worse part is that dogs who have been treated for foreign body ingestion are actually 33 percent more likely than cats to repeat the act – talk about not learning from your mistakes!

Related: All About Goldendoodles

Cats are also not immune from this rising issue. While they make up less than 10% of Trupanion’s total foreign ingestion related claims, they generally cost a lot more because of what they usually ingest. While dogs can bite into plastic or rubber, cats usually play with things like string, yarn and wire which is much more dangerous, as it can become entangled in their organs. Their treatment costs are nearly $2,000 annually. Better stick to catnip!

When you find out that your pet has ingested something they aren’t supposed to, get them to the nearest vet as soon as possible in order to limit the amount of internal damage and cost associated with it. The longer they have the object in their systems, the further it travels. An object caught in their mouth, for example, costs anywhere from $100-$900. In the small intestine, the cost skyrockets from anywhere between $800 to $6,000. Worse, if your dog experiences complications like infection and sepsis, it can cost even more – from $2,000 to over $10,000.

To save yourself the gut-wrenching fear and guilt of seeing your poor dog on the veterinarian table, be vigilant when your dog is eating a treat (like a bone), and buy toys that cannot be broken up into smaller parts.

Diana Faria
Diana Faria

More by Diana Faria