Top 5 Ways to Prevent Pointless Veterinary Expenses

Disease Prevention

Story at-a-glance -

  • Once again, skin allergies and ear infections topped the list of reasons pets saw their vets in 2013. However, those weren’t the most expensive to treat of last year’s top 10 most common disorders.
  • Many of the illnesses and diseases on last year’s list can be partially or entirely prevented by pet owners who incorporate a few common-sense tips into the care they provide their dog or cat.
  • These tips include feeding biologically appropriate nutrition, keeping your pet lean and well-exercised, brushing his teeth, avoiding unnecessary vaccinations, and keeping up with both at-home and veterinary wellness exams.
  • Many of the most common canine accidents reported in 2013 can be prevented by insuring your four-legged companion is physically fit and under your constant supervision in any situation in which she could be injured.

By Dr. Becker

According to Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the top 10 dog and cat illnesses reported in 2013 and the average cost to treat them were:

Condition Cost to Treat
1. Skin allergies $186
2. Ear infection $149
3. Non-cancerous skin mass $342
4. Skin infection or hot spot $120
5. Arthritis $298
6. Vomiting/upset stomach $276
7. Periodontitis/dental disease $294
8. Diarrhea/intestinal upset $130
9. Bladder or urinary tract disease $231
10. Soft tissue trauma (bruise or contusion) $219

Many Diseases Can Be Prevented By Following These 5 Recommendations

Pet guardians can prevent many of these conditions from befalling their furry charges by following a few common sense recommendations for raising a healthy, long-lived pet, including:

  • Feed a balanced, species-appropriate diet that is anti-inflammatory. The right nutrition can prevent or alleviate diet-related skin allergies and infections (including hot spots), ear infections, gastrointestinal issues, and bladder and urinary tract disease.
  • Keep your dog or cat lean and fit. A pet in excellent physical condition is less likely to develop debilitating arthritis and degenerative joint disease.
  • Brush your pet's teeth daily or several times a week to prevent or control buildup of plaque that leads to tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral conditions. Follow through with professional veterinary cleanings as needed.
  • Keep your dog’s immune system healthy by eliminating unnecessary vaccines.
  • Stay on top of all changes in your pet’s health by performing regular at-home wellness exams, and scheduling twice-yearly wellness visits with your veterinarian.

When you consider the money pet owners spend on veterinary treatment for preventable conditions, it’s easy to see there are also financial benefits to helping your dog or cat remain healthy.

Top 5 Dog Accidents in 2013

VPI also compiled a list of the top 5 most common canine accidents in 2013. These included:

  1. Soft-tissue trauma (bruise or contusion)
  2. Cruciate ligament tear (without surgical repair)
  3. Lacerations or bite wounds
  4. Scratch or wound on the eye
  5. Cruciate ligament repair (with surgery)

Keeping your dog lean and fit can lower the risk for cranial cruciate ligament injuries. And being a responsible pet owner can go a long way toward helping your dog avoid the other three items on the list – soft-tissue trauma, lacerations or bite wounds, and eye injuries -- which often occur when dogs are left unsupervised, whether alone, around other dogs, other pets, or children.

Top 5 Most Costly Canine Diseases and Injuries

According to, the five most expensive diseases and injuries involving our canine companions include the following:

Condition Average Cost to Treat Vulnerable Breeds
Cancer $2,000 - $10,000 Golden Retriever, Boxer
Hip dysplasia $5,000 - $7,500 (surgery)
$500 - $1,000/year (medication)
Bulldog, German Shepherd, Beagle
CCL tear $2,000 to $5,000 Labrador Retriever
Elbow dysplasia $1,730 (surgery)
$500 - $1,000/year (medication)
Rottweiler, German Shepherd
Intervertebral disc disease $5,000 to $7,500 Dachshund, Beagle, Bassett Hound


For more information on the inherited disorders a certain breed of dog (or breed mix) may be predisposed to, visit the Canine Inherited Disorders Database or the Inherited Diseases in Dogs database.

+ Sources and References