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5 expensive pet treatments

While pet ownership has its benefits, it also comes with extra costs. In addition to food, toys, and treats, pet ownership involves veterinary care, both planned and unplanned. According to a report from CNBC, roughly 1 in 3 pets visit the vet annually due to an emergency. There are various risk factors that may increase the odds of a visit as well.

For instance, your chances of visiting the vet increase as your pet ages. Dogs aged 6-8 are considered seniors and are more likely to experience cancer, heart disease, and more. As house cats age, they are also more likely to develop problems such as kidney disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and more.

The odds of a visit may rise depending on the pet breed. Roughly 65% of Golden Retrievers die from cancer-related causes, compared to a 25% cancer rate in all breeds. Siamese cats are twice as likely to develop mammary tumors, the most common malignant tumor found in cats, compared to different breeds.

The price tag for an emergency vet visit can range between $2,000 and $4,000; furthermore, CNBC reported that only 39% of Americans have enough savings to cover a $1,000 emergency expense. When low on cash, pet owners may benefit from having backup coverage such as a pet insurance policy.

Why would pet insurance help? Pet owners may be covered for partial or full treatment costs, but just how bad does it have to be to require pet insurance? Here are six common health issues that could surprise you with a high price tag. They may just warrant the need for pet insurance.

Degenerating Invertebrate Disease (Invertebral Disc Disease)

Degenerating invertebrate disease, also known as disc disease, involves a breakdown or slip of a disc in the spine. Disc disease can be painful for a pet regardless of the cause, and it often requires timely treatment.

Surgery may not be necessary to fix disc disease in a pet because some minor disc injuries or slips will self-correct over time. However, when the condition progresses, veterinarians suggest surgery to take place as soon as possible to avoid paralysis. Depending on the treatment, pet owners could pay between $1,500 and $4,000.

Laryngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal paralysis takes place when the muscles surrounding a pet’s larynx or voice box are weakened. The nerves break down and cartilage collapses, either due to aging or a genetic predisposition. Pets will experience minimal pain, but often deal with shortage of breath or a persistent cough.

The diagnosis and treatment for laryngeal paralysis depend heavily on the severity of the condition. For more serious cases, surgery is required to tie back the collapsed muscles and cartilage. Pets may also require medication for the remainder of their lives. These expenses can range from $1,000 up to $3,500.

Bile Duct Rupture

When a bile duct ruptures, inflammation in the bile duct connects to the gallbladder can cause digestion issues as well as fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, and weight loss. A bile duct rupture may be caused several different ways including infection, a systemic disease, or trauma.

Treatment of bile duct rupture often requires surgery which can cost between $3,000 and $6,000. Part of the total cost also includes diagnosis which can include extensive imaging and blood testing.

Foreign Object in Intestinal Tract/Stomach

A pet consuming a foreign object can lead to serious vet bills. When a foreign object reaches the intestinal tract, pets are likely to experience pain, bloating, vomiting, and lethargy. Emergency surgery is recommended whenever this happens; the object may cause blockage in the intestine and lead to death.

X-rays, blood tests, and other imaging are often required for diagnosing a foreign object in the intestine, followed closely by surgery in serious cases. Pet owners can pay up to $5,000 for emergency surgery and diagnostic tests.

Ligament Damage In the Knee

Knee ligament damage in a dog or cat can be expensive to diagnose and treat. Pet ligament ruptures or tears may occur when a pet changes direction suddenly while running or during extreme physical exertion. Ligament damage can be very painful.

Treatment is expensive because it requires imaging and x-rays for diagnosis on top of surgery to repair the ligament. Pets may also need to receive post-surgery care, adding to the cost. For example, the total can reach $8,000 to fix anterior cruciate ligament (or ACL) damage. Provided the condition is not pre-existing, pet insurance that covers a pet with an 80% reimbursement would pay for $3,200. As the pet owner, it leaves you to cover only $800 of treatment costs depending on your deductible amount.

Editor’s Note: See how Figo calculates claim reimbursements based on the actual veterinary bill.

Protecting Your Pet

Keeping a pet safe and healthy is a chief concern of many pet owners. Reading about all of the worst and most expensive pet health problems would probably convince anyone that pet insurance is entirely necessary.

Despite this, every pet owner should do their research before signing immediately with the next pet insurance company. Learn more about pet insurance in general. You can see other pet insurance reviews to get a better idea of how everything works, whether a company offers proper coverage for a particular pet, and how much it all costs. Part of safeguarding a pet is understanding possible insurance coverage, the companies offering them, and the expected cost of different treatments.


Andrew Rombach is a Content Associate who works for LendEDU – a consumer education website that covers pet insurance. When it comes to pets, Andrew loves both cats and dogs, but if he had to pick one, he’d go with cats!

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