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As the approximately 85 million families in the U.S. who own a pet can attest, Americans treat their animals as beloved and irreplaceable members of the household. That’s why so many families choose to purchase pet insurance for their dogs, cats, and other creatures: it’s a great way to ensure their animals get the care they need, often in the most unexpected of circumstances, without having to bear an undue financial burden. In fact, 50% of pet insurance policy holders file a claim every year
These claims can range from the mundane to the downright strange, but having pet insurance coverage can ensure families don’t have to choose between keeping their pet healthy and being stuck with a bill they can’t possibly afford.
Many of us love our pets for their mischievous and curious nature, but those tendencies can get them into trouble. Although anxiety and boredom are the top two reasons dogs find themselves in a predicament, these incidents can be caused by inquisitiveness, hunger, or even enthusiasm.
When these pets got into a tight spot, their families acted quickly and, with help from their vets and insurers, were able to restore their animals’ health and safety — and they’re left with some unforgettable stories to tell.
If your furry friend regularly begs for table scraps or occasionally manages to convince you to give them a piece of meat off your plate, you’ll know how tough it can be to resist those puppy dog eyes. In general, human food is a no-no for pets. Most dog owners know that chocolate is completely off-limits, but there are some snacks that are considered healthy for humans but are dangerous for dogs. Case in point: almonds and raisins.
Tomis the Cocker Spaniel found out just how hazardous these two munchies can be when he scarfed down an entire bowl during a holiday party thrown by his owners. The Unsworth family immediately brought Tomis to their vet’s office to test for raisin toxicity, but they later learned that Tomis had coughed while swallowing one of the almonds. This caused the nut to become lodged in the back of Tomis’s sinuses, an event that required a rhinoscopy. After the almond was surgically removed, Tomis was as good as new. And fortunately, because his family had pet insurance, they were able to get Tomis this treatment without paying thousands of dollars out-of-pocket.
As a general rule, you should keep your pups separated from gatherings, particularly if you’ll be serving food that could be dangerous to your animals. After all, you can’t possibly watch your dog every second, and well-meaning party guests could end up giving your dog a toxic treat. Keep in mind that raisins and almonds aren’t the only common pantry items that can present peril to your pup. Apricots and other stone fruit, sugar-free foods (like gum, mints, and certain kinds of peanut butter), Macadamia nuts, onions, avocados, garlic, and caffeinated beverages may be part of your diet, but you should never give them to your dog. If you really want to give them some people food, Modern Dog Magazine recommends sweet potatoes, pumpkin, fully-cooked fish (like salmon), yogurt (with no artificial sweeteners added), cooked eggs, green beans, or apples as a snack or supplement to their food.
Most pups are known for their ravenous appetites, so it’s no surprise that some dogs ingest potentially harmful people food in their quest to find something delicious. But some canine appetites often extend beyond the edible.
In the case of Tacoda the Alaskan Malamute, mistaken identity can present a huge danger. The pup mistook a decorative corn cob for the real thing; only after gobbling it up did he and his owners realize his blunder. Tacoda underwent surgery and recovered, thanks in large part to the $1,671 reimbursement his owners received from their insurer. If you love decorating your home with realistic, seasonal decor, make sure that you keep any tempting trinkets out of your pet’s reach. Don’t assume that its absence of delectable smell will deter your dog from taking a big bite.
Pets end up eating a lot of household items and plants that we wouldn’t consider to be enticing. Plant-related vet bills range from $215 to $3,270, according to pet insurance claims data from 2016. While many of us love fresh flowers and greenery, it’s important to note that many of these flora pose major health issues for our pets. Lilies, tulips, daffodils, azaleas, poinsettias, and all kinds of beautiful blooms are off-limits for dogs and cats. It’s best to avoid using these live plants at all in your home to ensure no one decides to take a taste when you aren’t looking.
And of course, one person’s trash might be a dog’s treasure. In May of 2016, two dog brothers were treated for consuming K-Cups they had found in the garbage. They required caffeine toxicity monitoring and treatment, as well as surgery to remove the foil and plastic. The treatment cost for Moots, who ate 15 K-Cups, came out to over $5,000 (of which the insurance company paid almost $4,500) and his brother Banjo’s treatment costs were around $1,200 (of which insurance paid out a little over $1,000). Remember: just because you know it’s garbage doesn’t mean your dog does.
Certain dogs don’t even know to stay away from objects like rocks. One little Pug named Harley had 100 rocks in his stomach (which were fortunately small enough to pass naturally without surgery), and a 12-year-old Welsh Corgi once ate nearly two cups of aquarium gravel after his owners emptied it in the garden and then discarded their barbecue grill grease on top of it. The Corgi had to have surgery to remove the gravel. Hopefully, his owners have learned to be more careful since.
Some dogs will inexplicably and compulsively eat non-food items. In many cases, this can beattributed to Pica a condition that causes pets to ingest inedible items. It can be attributed to behavioral issues or certain medical problems.
These incidents certainly aren’t isolated. One family-dog-turned-children’s-toy-thief was found to have ingested five (!) rubber ducks and a toy truck, all of which were successfully removed via surgery. And a three-year-old Great Dane was discovered to have eaten 43.5 socks<, thus providing answers to why so much of his family’s laundry had gone missing. In another case, a Chihuahua got into a box of sewing supplies and wolfed down nine sewing needles. Some dogs have even swallowed weapons: a Lab named Lucy once ate a pocket knife, and an 18-inch-long Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy somehow managed to consume a 15-inch serrated knife. Fortunately, all aforementioned pups were successfully treated and have (hopefully) put their days of adventurous eating behind them.
Some pet insurance claims actually have nothing to do with harmful ingestibles. A pup’s natural instincts might get the better of him, in some cases. That’s what happened to Peanut the Dachshund when he followed his nose and chased after a skunk intruder on his property. He followed the smelly bandit underneath his home’s deck, accidentally burying himself in the dirt during the chase. First responders were called in but gave up, saying it was a lost cause. Owners Christy and Keith Wolfram refused to accept defeat and started digging with shovels. The search took several hours, but they finally found Peanut, who was taken to the emergency vet and was treated for hypothermia. After about a week and a half, he made a full recovery (although the deck was a total goner).
Even when dogs are just doing what dogs do best, they may end up in perilous situations. Another territorial miniature Dachshund went up against a muskrat to defend his homestead. Despite the dog’s best efforts, the muskrat fought well and inflicted some damage that required surgery.
Other dogs will choose even stranger foes. Ginger the Golden Retriever learnednot to mess with turtlesafter she found a grumpy one in her own backyard. The slowpoke snapped and bit the curious dog’s snout, which required antibiotic treatment and emergency care for the lacerations. One 14-month-old Labrador puppy named Bayley decided he didn’t like the look of the family’s tortoises and slammed into the 55-gallon aquarium in their home. The dog sustained large gashes from the incident which were surgically closed by the family’s vet. But even now, the family isn’t quite sure why their dog decided to launch himself at the tank.
These incidents illustrate that not only is it important to keep an eye on pets when they’re outside or even during indoor play, but it may also be of benefit to learn some first aid skills for your pet and know what to do in the case of an emergency. That way, you may buy some time until you can get to your emergency vet’s office for treatment.
Understandably, you’ll want to do everything you can to keep your animals safe. But it’s not always easy. Like caring for a child, you mayfeel like you need five extrahands and eyes in the back of your head. But by following the tips outlined above and investing in pet insurance, you can reduce the risk of scary incidents like these. And even when accidents do happen, swift action and financial coverage can allow your pet to recover without immense economic hardship for your family.