Wrong food and too much exercise results in poorly pets

11 October 2016

  • Britain’s unhealthiest pets live in East Anglia
  • Cats more likely to have problems with their digestive systems
  • Dog owners most likely to claim for problems relating to joints
  • London crowned the healthiest region

New data from Co-op Insurance reveals the leading medical conditions that prompt the most visits to the vets for cats and dogs.*

Aside from road traffic accidents being the biggest threat for both cats and dogs, cat owners are most likely to pack up their cats and take them to the vet for concerns over their digestive systems, whilst for dog owners its problems with their joints, such as leg, hip and shoulder conditions.

Top 10 ailments for pets in the UK

Dogs Cats
Joint disorders Digestive system disorders
Digestive system disorders Tumours, warts, cysts,  growths, abscesses
Skin disorders Bladder problems
Tumours, warts, cysts,  growths, abscesses Mouth and oral disorders
Neurological disorders Respiratory system disorders
Eye disorders Joint disorders
Bladder problems Heart disorders
Ear disorders Hormone disorders
Hormone disorders Skin disorders
Heart disorders Eye disorders

The need for owners to protect their animals from illnesses has never been greater with operations often running into the thousands. The average insurance claim** for the top three ailments for dogs amounting to £425 for problems with their joints, £416 for digestive system disorders and £243 for skin disorders. Whilst for their feline friends, the average insurance claim sees problems with the digestive system amounting to £379, for skin masses such as tumours, warts, cysts, growths & abscesses  £212, and £327 for bladder problems.

East Anglia has been revealed as having the unhealthiest pets in Britain, with London crowned the healthiest region. East Anglia can be an unhappy home for UK pets, with it being a hotspot for both cats and dog claims. The study revealed gastrointestinal and digestive disorders are the most common illness for this region, often caused from eating something other than pet food. Respiratory issues and skin masses such as tumours, warts, growths and abscesses are also common.

The top 10 unhealthiest regions in the UK

  1. East Anglia
  2. North East England
  3. South East England
  4. The Midlands
  5. North West England
  6. South Central England
  7. South West England
  8. Scotland
  9. Wales
  10. London

Co-op Pet Insurance’s go to vet, Matt Brash, star of long running series ‘Zoo Vet at Large’ discusses the findings:

“It is so important to keep your pets healthy and, unsurprisingly, a big part of this is diet. The Co-op’s findings show that digestive tract problems are prevalent across the UK for both dogs and cats with stomach upsets and resulting gastro intestinal inflammation commonplace.

“Much of this is probably to do with the food that owners are feeding their pets. Whilst ‘human food’ may be seen as an innocent treat, this can be dangerous, especially for pets with sensitive stomachs, or pets with dietary allergies and intolerances. It causes them a great deal of discomfort and pain and of course the owners a big emotional and financial cost should the problem be severe.

“Likewise not feeding your pet the foods which are suitable for both their age and exercise levels can also cause issues. For example older pets do not need as much protein, as they are no longer building muscles and growing, and of course less carbohydrate as they are often less active. Over feeding them leads to obesity and all the problems that comes with that. Over feeding protein in older cats is particularly bad, as it can predispose to kidney failure. All pets, as they get older should be fed on a senior pet food.

“Interestingly on a national level, it does look as if  pets in the north may be out exercising more on rugged terrain than their southern counterparts based on the number of joint related problems  in that part of the country. Although there may be other factors involved, such as breed variations and obesity. Of course it could also be related to the colder damper weather we seem to get up north.”

David Hampson, Head of Pet Insurance at the Co-op, said:

“Unfortunately owning a pet should sometimes come with a health warning, with illnesses as with humans, often coming out of the blue.

“There will always be circumstances which are unforeseen, but with vet fees on the rise and as they are the most common unplanned cost, pet owners should consider taking out pet insurance for peace of mind so that they have cover in place should the unexpected happen.”

Notes to editors

* Based on January – December 2015 Co-op Insurance claims data. The Co-op Insurance offers cover to cats and dogs.
** Based on January – December 2015 Co-op Insurance claims data

Cat Medical conditions and average cost

  • gastro-intestinal/ digestive system disorders - £379.92
  • respiratory system disorders - £365.76
  • urinary system disorders - £327.44
  • leg/hip/shoulder disorders - £287.70
  • tumours warts cysts growths abscesses - £212.03
  • skin disorders - £197.65

Dog medical conditions and average cost

  • respiratory system disorders - £586.70
  • leg/hip/shoulder disorders - £425.19
  • tumours warts cysts growths abscesses - £419.95
  • gastro-intestinal/ digestive system disorders - £416.25
  • urinary system disorders - £373.09
  • skin disorders - £243.82

According to the ABI - The number and cost of claims reached record levels: 911,000 pet insurance claims were made, up 9% on 2014. Their cost, at £657 million, was also up 9% on the previous year - https://www.abi.org.uk/News/News-releases/2016/03/We-are-claiming-cats-and-dogs-insurers-help-a-record-number-of-pet-owners 

Co-op Pet Insurance yearly average premiums
Cat £97.40
Dog - £213.54

For further information please contact:

Sarah Dawson
Press Officer – The Co-op Group
 Tel: 0161 777 2468/07702506126
Email: Sarah.dawson2@co-operative.coop

Jenna Moss
Press & Media Relations Manager – The Co-op Group
Tel: 0161 767 4354/07770 441 828
Email: jenna.moss@co-operative.coop