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Obesity-Related Claims Rise Among Companion Animals

BREA, Calif., June 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Giving pets table scraps and treats may seem like a harmless reward for your cuddly canine or friendly feline, but it can lead to health problems down the road, including arthritis, diabetes and liver disease. Just like their human counterparts, excessive weight increases the risk of additional health problems and shortens the life expectancy of pets.

Over the last three years, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, has seen pet obesity-related claims steadily increase. In 2012, VPI policyholders filed more than $34 million in claims for conditions and diseases that can be caused or exacerbated by excess weight. Such claims totaled $30.2 million in 2011 and $28.3 million in 2010. The company recently sorted its database of more than 485,000 insured pets to determine the top 10 dog and cat obesity-related conditions in 2012.

The most common dog obesity-related conditions were:
1. Arthritis
2. Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease
3. Undiagnosed Limp
4. Low Thyroid Hormone
5. Liver Disease
6. Torn Knee Ligaments
7. Diseased Disc in the Spine
8. Diabetes
9. Heart Failure
10. Chronic Kidney Disease

“Taking your pet to the veterinarian for regular wellness visits is the most effective way to monitor your pet’s weight,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Routine exercise, a regulated diet and watching for signs of excessive weight gain are important steps in avoiding pet obesity and the additional health concerns that are associated with it.”

In 2012, VPI received more than 34,000 canine claims for arthritis, the most common joint disease aggravated by excessive weight, 30,018 in 2011 and 26,675 in 2010. The average claim fee was $300 per pet in 2012, 291 in 2011 and $280 in 2010.

In addition to taking pets to the veterinarian for regular wellness visits, below are simple tests you can perform to determine if your pet needs to lose weight:

You should be able to feel your pet’s ribs without pressing.

You should see a noticeable “waist” on your pet, between the back of the ribs and the hips, when viewing your pet from above. When looking from the side, your pet’s belly should go up from the bottom of the ribcage to inside the thighs.

About Veterinary Pet Insurance
With more than 485,000 pets insured nationwide, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency (VPI) is a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies and is the oldest and largest pet health insurance company in the United States. Since 1982, VPI has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers.

VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. CareGuard® coverage for routine care is available for an additional premium. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, one in three Fortune 500 companies offers VPI Pet Insurance as an employee benefit. Policies are offered and administered by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and DVM Insurance Agency in all other states. Underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Brea, CA, an A.M. Best A rated company (2012); National Casualty Company (all other states), Madison, WI, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2012). Pet owners can find VPI Pet Insurance on Facebook or follow @VPI on Twitter. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit petinsurance.com.

SOURCE Veterinary Pet Insurance

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