Data from Medibank Pet Insurance and RSPCA Pet Insurance shows that, in 2014, the top 15 most expensive claims totalled more than $140,000 worth of vet bills which owners paid to save their beloved animals.
Nationally, the most expensive claim put to Medibank was a $14,269 bill for a bone impaction to treat a dog who had swallowed a bone and needed emergency attention.
RSPCA reports its most expensive insurance claim totalled $8977.14 for a rottweiler to be treated for hip dysplasia.
The most common claims were arthritis, osteoarthritis and degenerative joint diseases with more than 8000 claims.
Coming in a close second were skin disorders with 7489 claims, followed by ear infections, lameness, gastroenteritis – including inflammation or infection of the digestive system – and conjunctivitis with 1646 claims.
Television vet Dr Chris Brown said in the lead up to Christmas, it was a “must” to insure a new addition to the family.
“Pets are full of surprises, which is part of the fun of owning them,” Dr Brown said.
“But sometimes these surprises aren’t welcome ones, especially at Christmas.
“That’s why it’s so important to make pet insurance a priority when you buy a pet for Christmas, so you don’t have to choose between your new best friend and your bank balance in the case of the unexpected.”
As a country with one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, its clear we love our four-legged friends but keeping them alive can be expensive.
RSPCA Victoria’s chief vet Dr Andrew Byrne said while modern medicine has improved in leaps and bounds it can come with a cost.
“Although the veterinary ability to prolong life or repair an injured animal has improved, it has also come with a price.
“A veterinarian can now perform amazing surgery or medical repair of an animal in trouble; it has become more difficult for both owners and veterinarians alike to admit defeat on the grounds of finance,” Dr Byrne said. He also cautioned responsible pet ownership can eliminate vet visits.
“Some owners give their pets cooked bones or overfeed them raw bones without knowing that it can cause serious problems to pets, particularly gastroenteritis, which is a very common illness that can lead to extreme vomiting and diarrhoea,” he said.