Pet Plans Can Save you From Shock Vet Fees

By: Philip Smith

Most of the pooches on parade at this month's Crufts dog show lead pampered lives but even the best cared-for pets can get into scrapes.

The website msnbc recently asked dog owners to tell tales on pets that had eaten bizarre objects. Among the items consumed were a Rolex watch, ornaments, razor blades, insects and a hamster.

The dog that ate the Rolex was a pit bull and his owner explained: "I was having a barbecue and some sauce got on my watch. I took my watch off and laid it on the table. Next thing my dog swallowed the watch. I took him to the vet and had his stomach pumped out. My dog, of course, is way more important to me than my Rolex."

A Weimaraner cost her owners $7,000 (?3,600) in veterinary fees for surgery because of her taste for plastic toy dinosaurs, tights and socks. She went on to eat a hamster and to snack enthusiastically on cicadas until her inability to digest the insects' wings and bodies caused pancreatitis.

A rottweiler ate a dress, a three-foot piece of sheet and a pack of macaroni cheese mix including the box, the dry pasta and even the shopping bag it was brought home in.

One dog helped herself to glass Christmas ornaments. The vet treated her by encouraging her to swallow cotton balls soaked in milk to absorb the fragments of glass. A puppy that ate razor blades also survived although she had to have an operation to have them removed.

An 11-year old dog had been through surgery twice because of his taste for bulletin board pins, carpet binding and underwear.

One little pug ate pompons but the family were able to see that they had passed successfully through her system because they were in the children's school colours of maroon and white.

Pets in Britain also get into scrapes that can cost owners hundreds of pounds for veterinary treatment. Lloyds TSB's pet insurance has paid out for a dog that swallowed golf balls and another poisoned by chocolates. It has also received claims for a cat that ran into a closed patio door after being startled by a dog barking on television, a dog that broke his tail while wagging it too vigorously, a cat that went through a washing machine cycle and a puppy that got its head caught in a babygate.

Tesco Pet Insurance reported in 2005 that "removal of a foreign body" was one of the top five "strange" claims on its policies. For cats, treatment for road traffic accidents was the most common claim overall and the average cost was ?251. For dogs, traffic accidents were the 10th most common cause of a claim but treatment for wounds ranked third, cuts and lacerations fourth and foreign bodies fifth.

Sophie Neary, product director for BeatThatQuote.com says: "Vet fees to treat a mishap can be an expensive and unexpected shock. But if you want to buy dog insurance, cat insurance or any pet insurance, don't pay more than you have to as premiums can vary considerably. You should also check the terms including age limits, excesses, caps on individual claims, limits on payments per year and how long policies will pay out for long term problems."

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