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Press Office

13th May 2008

Pet census suggests pet owners commonly choose euthanasia over vet bills

In the 2007 Petplan Pet Census, the most comprehensive study of pet ownership in the UK, 97% of vets reported that a lack of funds saw owners choosing euthanasia rather than treatment.

Whilst owners routinely see vet surgeons perform ‘miracles’ with sick animals on our television screens, rarely is the cost of the one-off ‘miracle’ treatment considered. But it’s not just the significant one-off treatment that can lead to a pet being euthanised, reported increases in pet obesity and diabetes, arthritis and behavioural problems were all cited in the Pet Census as common causes of increased and ongoing vet bills.

The results make alarming reading, suggesting companion animals with manageable long-term conditions are also being euthanised due to owners underestimating the cost of treatment. According to a panel of one hundred and ninety eight UK veterinary practices, more than one third (36%) of all dogs and one quarter (29%) cats they treat are obese.

Vets also reported a rise in diseases that are related to obesity in companion animals. More than half (53%) of vets say that cases of cat and dog diabetes are on the increase. Obesity is actually bucking the trend of more historically significant diseases, including parvovirus and kennel cough, FeLV or FIV, which are either remaining static or decreasing.

The number of pets with behavioural problems is also on the rise, with more than half of vets (55%) reporting an increase and most (95%) practices offering support for these animals. Effective treatment is not a quick-fix solution and requires changes to the owner’s lifestyle and lengthy work with experts in the field.

Simon Wheeler, head of marketing at Petplan, believes the report makes depressing reading.

"When pet owners lack funds for treatment, either for one-off treatments or ongoing management of conditions such as diabetes or behavioural problems, vets are not left with many options and this often leads to treatable pets being euthanised. But we could prevent animals being euthanised if owners take out a robust pet insurance policy. Vets are right to assert that owners should spend more time researching their future pet’s needs, and understand the full extent of responsibility pet ownership entails, so unnecessary cases of euthanasia might be avoided.

We receive over 8700 claims per week and a large sum of these claims is for treatment of manageable conditions such as diabetes or behaviour problems. Are these animals that would otherwise have been euthanised?"

The simple solution to the issue of unnecessary euthanasia is pet insurance. Vets report that dealing with insured clients is much easier as the full range of available treatments or therapies can be explored. Indeed, in many cases more extensive treatment is avoided altogether as insured clients are far more willing to seek veterinary advice in the early stages.

Notes to editors

Petplan is the largest pet insurance provider in the world, offering comprehensive lifetime pet insurance cover for dogs, cats and rabbits.

Established more than 30 years ago, it is part of Allianz Insurance, one of the largest general insurers in the UK.

For more information about Petplan cat insurance, please visit:
www.petplan.co.uk/factsheets/why-take-out-cat-insurance.asp

For more information about Petplan dog insurance, please visit:
www.petplan.co.uk/factsheets/why-take-out-dog-insurance.asp