Labor Pains: Petplan Finds Working Dog Breeds Are More Prone to Injury, Cancer

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Pet insurance provider paid nearly $4 million in claims on working dog breeds in 2015

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As America recognizes the contributions of its workers on September 5, Petplan pet insurance is marking Labor Day with a celebration of the working dog. From Boxers to St. Bernards, Portuguese Water Dogs to Rottweilers, working breed dogs are larger than life—and so are their vet bills.

Petplan claims data reveals that working dog breeds experience more severe injuries and illnesses than their non-working counterparts. What’s more, the average paid claim for working dog breeds is 35% higher than other breeds.

Of the top ten most claimed for conditions of working breeds, three can be particularly costly: cruciate injuries, cancer and foreign body ingestions. These have the most expensive average treatment costs at $3,480, $2,033 and $1,755 respectively.

The risk of cruciate injuries in working dogs is 60% higher and claims are 65% more expensive compared to other dog breeds. The breeds’ risk of cancer is 40% higher. While it makes sense that working dog breeds would experience these conditions due to their size and physical activity, the data around claims for foreign body ingestion seems surprising.

“We think of working dogs as being very trainable and having self-control—certainly more than your typical family Labrador who eats anything in sight,” says Petplan Veterinary Manager Elyse Donnarumma. “But honestly, it makes sense that they are treated so often for foreign body ingestions. Working breed dogs need a job and they need to stay busy and stimulated. When they aren’t, well, they come up with their own activities.”

Case in point: Petplan-protected Beau, a 9-year-old Samoyed from California who had to have a tennis ball removed endoscopically in April to the tune of $3,209.03.

Bosley, a 7-year-old Great Dane from Pennsylvania, racked up $3,448.32 in vet bills last March after he sniffed out and ingested two stuffed animals (a bear and a bee).

And finally, Petplan paid a $2,312.85 claim for Lily, a 5-year-old Greater Swiss Mountain Dog from Maryland who ingested a sock in January.

“Our data certainly shows that working dog breeds may have the heart of a lion, but their bodies aren’t always so brawny,” says Natasha Ashton, co-founder and co-CEO of Petplan. “With all the trouble they can sniff out looking for their next ‘job,’ it’s absolutely essential that pet parents protect working dogs with insurance. We pay a lot of unusual claims for all kinds of dogs and cats, but working breeds seem to take the cake…and sometimes the fork and the napkin, too.”

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Petplan is more than a pet insurance provider. We’re dedicated to giving pet parents the support, resources and tools they need to keep their pets not just surviving—but thriving—into old age. Simply put, we aim to be the kind of company that will make our pets proud. For the third consecutive year, Petplan was listed among the top 50 of Forbes' annual ranking of America’s Most Promising Companies —a list of 100 privately held, high-growth companies with bright futures. Petplan is the only pet insurance provider to have been included on Inc. Magazine’s list of 500 fastest-growing, privately held companies in America.

Petplan’s fully customizable cat and dog insurance policies provide comprehensive coverage for all hereditary and chronic conditions for the life of the pet as standard. Petplan policies are underwritten by XL Specialty Insurance Company, a member of XL Catlin (rated A+ S&P) and AGCS Marine Insurance Company and Allianz Global Risks US Insurance Company in Canada, members of the Allianz Group (rated A+ A.M. Best). For more information about Petplan pet insurance, visit or call 1-866-467-3875.

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Jessica Kinney
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