More than 17,000 cancer-related claims were received by VPI, the oldest and largest pet insurance provider in the US, with those running the gamut of cancer types – from mast cell tumors to lung cancer.
"Our motivation for studying and sharing our proprietary claims data was to underscore the prevalence of cancer among dogs and cats," said Carol McConnell, DVM, manager of veterinary education and services for VPI. "The data demonstrates pets suffer from the same cancers as humans. Veterinary medicine has advanced tremendously the past ten years and pets are now receiving the same sophisticated treatments for these cancers that we do, such as chemotherapy, surgical procedures and immunotherapy."
VPI claims data from the past four years reveals that the most common cancers in dogs were lymphosarcoma (a cancer affecting the lymph node system), skin tumors and osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer). The data also suggests that cats similarly suffer from lympohsarcoma and skin tumors, but showed higher rates for partial mastectomies (breast cancer) and small intestinal cancer. Overall, the 2004 cancer-related claims submitted to Veterinary Pet Insurance represented 176 different canine breeds and 30 feline breeds. These claims include all age groups, from kittens and puppies to geriatric pets.
"Cancer in pets can be found in every breed at various ages," added McConnell. "It’s significantly less common in younger pets, but it’s not unheard of for a younger dog to develop a malignancy."
McConnell emphasizes the importance of monitoring your pet for clinical signs of cancer. "It’s imperative for pet owners to take their furry family members to their veterinarian for bi-annual checkups and to regularly check their pet for warning signs: lumps and bumps; sores that don’t heal; weight loss; loss of appetite; and exercise intolerance."
With one in every 3 family pets visiting a vet in an average year, pet insurance has never been so popular. Responsible pet owners are often very glad of insuring their pet, given that 40 percent of all vet fees are caused by ‘unforeseen’ illnesses or accidents, with the average vet bill for care and attention needed following a road accident involving a cat or dog last year was in the region of $1500 to $2000.