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Top 10 Dog Health Conditions For 2012

Updated on July 27, 2013

What Most Often Brought You and Your Dog To The Vet's

My friends at Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) worked pretty hard sifting through their database of some 485,000 insured pets to categorize and organize claims into a helpful report on what was hot at the vet clinics in 2012.

Actually, the report is probably generated in 0.09 seconds after a handful of keystrokes, but we’ll let them think we think they worked very hard at it.

They didn’t become the largest pet insurance company in the U.S. by slacking off, that’s for sure. Being part of the Nationwide Insurance family probably helped a little, too.

Most of the conditions that made the list aren’t life-threatening, but if untreated, can escalate into serious conditions or chronic ones that become expensive to treat.

Some of the conditions on the list can be attributed to the dog’s natural aging process, but many of them can happen to any pet.

And The Envelope Please...

I wasn’t surprised to learn that SKIN ALLERGIES was the Number 1 cause for taking the dog to the vet. In my frequent dealings with pet owners, it’s the most common complaint I hear as well.

And in 2012, VPI processed more than 68,000 claims for skin allergies. The average claim fee was $96.00 per office visit.

It comes as no surprise that EAR INFECTION was the Number 2 cause for vet visits.

The ear canal is an extension of the skin, and if the dog is suffering from a skin allergy, the ear is itchy. The constant scratching can open up a wound thereby creating an entry point for bacteria.


Which brings us to Number 3, also no surprise, SKIN INFECTION. When dogs suffer skin allergies, they itch, and when they itch, they scratch.

If you and I open up a wound, we stop scratching the itch. Dogs don’t. That self-trauma often results in a skin infection.

Number 4 in the hurt parade is NON-CANCEROUS SKIN GROWTH. All dogs can get them, but it’s more common in some breeds; labs for example. When I had my store; one of my customers used to bring his black lab shopping with him.

The dog had a non-cancerous tumor on his side that was about the size of a softball. Because of the dog’s age, the vet advised against removing it and the dog seemed none the worse for it.

Leggings seem to help ease this dog's arthritis pain.
Leggings seem to help ease this dog's arthritis pain. | Source

Taking us away from skin conditions is Number 5, UPSET STOMACH/VOMITING. I can see you all shaking your head in agreement. Most dogs are just goofballs that will swallow anything. Sometimes, though, they can swallow something toxic and be in real trouble. Dog owners have to be ever vigilant.

Number 6 is ARTHRITIS, which is a bit of a surprise. If I were to speculate on a top 10 list, arthritis might not even make it. But, it was right up there on VPI’s list. It was the most expensive to treat, too, at an average cost of $258 per visit.

I’m not surprised at Number 7, INTESTINAL UPSET/DIARRHEA, but I would have expected to see it rank higher.

That’s a very common complaint among dog owners; especially those of you who like to share your table food with your fur kid.

I wouldn’t have thought of Number 8, either; BLADDER INFECTION. That’s not something you hear a lot of dog owners talk about. But Number 9 is;

PERIODONTITIS/DENTAL DISEASE. I would have expected to see that in the top 4 or 5 because, by age 3 some 70% of dogs show signs of periodontal disease.

And rounding out the list at Number 10 is BRUISE OR CONTUSION. I thought that would be higher up on the list, too. They injure themselves playing at the dog park, jumping from things, and chasing stuff.

We injure them by slamming doors on them, tripping over them, and hitting them with balls, discs and various other fetch toys.

A good piece of advice comes from Dr. Carol McConnell (bunches of letters alert), DVM, MBA, VP/CVMO at VPI: “Regardless of the age or breed of the dog or cat, pet owners should familiarize themselves with the pets’ daily routine in order to identify abnormal behaviors that might indicate an injury or illness. Amen to that.


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    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I had to check this great list since we do no have any cool databases like those computer whiz kids at VPI. No big surprises. I think skin conditions are number one in the tropics, but would not put it down to skin allergies. (We are fortunate enough to live without ragweed!)

      Thanks for putting this together. Voted up and interesting.

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 3 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Thanks for stopping by, Doc. What took you so long? I would think the tropics would generate some interesting skin conditions such as coconut husk abrasion, scorpion saliva dermatitis and anaconda compression lesion.

      Seriously though, thanks for commenting and voting. It's an interesting list, but I wonder how much it mirror's the real life experiences of the average vet clinic.

      I'm really surprised periodontal disease wasn't right up there. Around here that's a common condition...of course, that's an anecdotal observation.

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 3 years ago

      Very interesting to see what plagues our poor dogs. Arthritis is the one thing we haven't been to the vet with, all the others yes, numerous times with different animals. Up, interesting and useful.

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 3 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Hello, CyberShelley, nice to meet you. Your various vet visits, but none for arthritis, is in sync with my comment that I wouldn't have guessed the condition would make the top 10 list. A lot of folks buy supplements for joint health, but it seems to be more for prevention rather than treatment. Thanks for the visit, comment and votes. Regards, Bob

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