Top 10 medical insurance claims for dogs in 2009
Veterinary Pet Insurance Co (VPI), the oldest and largest pet health insurance in the USA received >1 million claims from pet owners each year. For 2009, the top 10 canine conditions are:
1. Ear infection
2. Skin allergy
3. Skin infection/hot spot
5. Intestinal inflammation/diarrhoea
6. Bladder infection
8. Soft tissue trauma
9. Non-cancerous tumour
10. Eye infection
Most of the conditions affect all dogs, regardless of age.
At Toa Payoh Vets, Skin infection is the top canine condition in 2009 and 2010 seen by me. The others mentioned by VPI above are commonly seen but I don't have the statistics. As I have been in practice for over 30 years, many of my cases are old dogs as the children of my baby-boomer generation clientele have had grown up and become young adults taking over the care of their aged dogs.
An interesting case study of an old male dog problem is mentioned below.
Prostatitis in the old male dog
"I thought he had died," the mum said. The Shih Tzu, male, neutered, 8 years old was motionless. He had a right perineal hernia repair and then neutering 2 weeks ago and was Ok for a few days. Then he stopped eating for a few days and collapsed as if he had died.
On examination, he on 23.8.10, I found that he had a high fever and was pale.
1. Palpation: Bladder felt firm and enlarged. Urine by catherisation.
Urine test: Urinary Tract Infection. The dog went home the next day. 3 days later, he came back as he was licking his private parts and urine kept leaking out. Cloudy urine.
Palpation: Bladder felt firm and painful. It could be an enlarged bladder wall, bladder tumour or prostrate enlargement.
2. Empty bladder using cathether. 15 ml of urine came out. Palpated the bladder. A little amount of urine came out but a rounded lump of 3 cm x 3 cm. This was the enlarged prostate.
3. Rectal digital palpation when the bladder is emptied. This confirmed that the prostate was enlarged.
To check the prostate:
1. Palpation. There was painful reaction. I diagnosed this as prostatitis and enlargement. Also epithelial cells seen in urine test.
23.8.10 Creatinine was below normal. Red cell below normal. Total White Cell Count above normal. Neutrophils 97% (Absolute 17.2 x 10^9/L), Lymphocytes 2.5% (Absolute 0.45X 10^9/L).
Colourless, slightly turbid. pH 6.5 (5-8), SG 1.005 (1.005 - 1.030). Protein - trace. Blood 4+, White blood cells >2250, Red blood cells 20, epithelial cells 0, Mucus Threads Occasional, Bacterial Occasional. Possible haemolysis of RBC in urine.
Vomited white froth overnight
"Tongue colour pinker," the mother told me. "At 7 pm yesterday when I saw him, his tongue was very pale."
Another urine test was taken. Owner was advised that an X-ray or ultrasound scan might be required. "The dog had never been sick for the last 7 years," she said. Now there were some veterinary expenses and worries. The dog is still incontinent and more work need to be done.
"Can a dog die of UTI?" the mother asked me.
"A dog can die of UTI or any infection if he is not treated," I replied. "Older dogs are more likely to die when they are sick as they have lower immune system. Your dog is 8 years old and is considered an old dog."
Neutering the dog when he was young would have prevented the worries but many owners feel it cruel to sterilise dogs. Annual vet examination and health check may be advised. Statistically, male dogs that are not neutered are likely to get perineal hernia and prostrate enlargement and infection.