Feb. 23, 2010 -- A new survey of pet health insurance claims shows cats and dogs suffer from many of the same common health problems that affect their owners. But the good news is that the most common pet health problems in cats and dogs aren't necessarily the most expensive to treat.
Overall, ear infections in dogs were the leading cause of vet visits in 2009, with about 68,000 pet health insurance claims for ear-related health problems, costing an average of $100 per visit.
Following ear infections, skin allergies, skin infections/ hot spots, vomiting, and diarrhea round out the top five dog health problems.
Among cats, the top reason for visiting the vet was lower urinary tract problems, with 3,700 pet health insurance claims at an average cost of $260 per visit. Rounding out the top five health conditions in felines were vomiting, chronic renal failure, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes mellitus.
Luckily for pet owners, researchers say the pet health problems that are the most expensive to treat were not among the top five most common.
For dogs, the most expensive health problem in the top 10 was treating noncancerous tumors, at an average cost of $335 per visit, and it came it at No. 9.
The costliest health condition for cats was periodontitis/dental disease at No. 8, with an average cost of $360 per visit.
Some of the top 10 pet health conditions are associated with an animal's natural aging process. But many of the most commonly reported pet health problems can occur in any dog or cat, no matter the age or breed.
Researchers say pet owners should familiarize themselves with their pet's daily routine so they can more easily identify abnormal behaviors that might be a sign of an injury or illness. Regular physical exams can also help prevent and identify some pet health conditions before they become serious or costly.