A Weighty Issue: Petplan Pet Insurance Sees Increase in Obesity-Related Illnesses and Injuries

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Claims for arthritis, diabetes and cardiac conditions are up, according to America’s No.1 pet insurance provider

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Pet obesity is a rising concern in the United States, and the impact of what this means to our pets’ health can’t be emphasized strongly enough

Pudgy pups and fat cats may elicit chuckles for their waddling ways, but according to No. 1-rated Petplan pet insurance, obesity in four-legged family members is no laughing matter.

Petplan’s 2011 claims data reveals that injuries that have been linked to obesity, such as cruciate ligament tears, remain near the top of the list of the most-claimed for conditions, while associated illnesses are on the rise from last year. Claims for arthritis rose 348 percent from 2010, while diabetes is up 253 percent and claims for cardiac disease rose 32 percent. While these conditions affect trim and tubby pets alike, overweight pets are at a higher risk from carrying around the added pounds.

And, the matter has recently grown even weightier. According to a recent study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 53 percent of adult dogs and 55 percent of cats are classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarians. What’s more, 22 percent of dog owners and 15 percent of cat owners characterized their pet as normal weight when it was actually overweight or obese, says APOP founder and Petplan Veterinary Advisory Board member Dr. Ernie Ward.

“Pet obesity is a rising concern in the United States, and the impact of what this means to our pets’ health can’t be emphasized strongly enough,” says Dr. Jules Benson, Vice President of Veterinary Services at Petplan. “Overfeeding and lack of adequate exercise are generally to blame, so by making simple adjustments to those routines, pet parents can not only extend the life of their four-legged family members, but help them avoid unnecessary illness and injury, as well.”

Tipping the scales even further, pets’ health isn’t the only thing at risk. Because portly pets have a higher incidence of costly illnesses and injuries, obesity can be a heavy burden for family budgets, too. Petplan data reveals that for diabetes, the average cost of veterinary care in 2011 was more than $900 per incident, with costs reaching as high as $5,700. Cruciate tears averaged $2,000, but some claims exceeded $6,000. The highest costs among obesity-related conditions were for arthritis, which averaged $2,000 per incident, with the highest per-policy cost topping $9,600.

To help chunky kitties and roly-poly “Rovers” slim down for good, Petplan has put together the following health tips:

  • Watch What They Eat: Grazing pets may be consuming more calories than they need to maintain a healthy weight, so consider switching to regular twice-daily feedings. Cut out table scraps, swap out fatty processed treats for whole foods including apple slices, string beans or baby carrots, and be sure to check with your vet about proper portioning for your pet.
  • Get a Move On! Daily exercise is essential for all pets, including low-energy dogs and cats, but don’t dive into intense exercise right away hoping to jump-start weight loss; you could risk injury to your pet. Start with short walks and moderate play sessions, and gradually progress to longer, more frequent or more energetic workouts.
  • Make Fitness Fun! Make pets work for their food by stuffing meals into food-releasing toys, or make meals work for you, using it as a reward while teaching new tricks. Turn exercise into a game by playing fetch, tug-of-war or introducing your pet to an obstacle course.

Top-rated pet insurance provider, Petplan, is the only pet insurance company to have been included on Inc. Magazine’s list of 500 fastest-growing, privately held companies in America. Petplan’s fully customizable policies provide coverage for all hereditary and congenital conditions for the life of the pet as standard, and meet the coverage requirements and budget for pets of all/any age. Petplan policies are underwritten by AGCS Marine Insurance Company, a member of the Allianz Group, rated A+ by A.M. Best (2010). For information, about Petplan pet insurance, visit http://www.GoPetplan.com or call 1-866-467-3875.

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Sara McMillan

Bill Tierney
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