Veterinary bills on the up partly because of poor companion animal breeding

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) tell us that the average claim went up by 4.75 percent over the past year. The RSPCA says that a factor is the popularity of more vulnerable breeds such as French bulldogs and pugs which are relatively high maintenance dogs vis-a-vis veterinary bills compared to random breed dogs and perhaps cats too. Vet bills for dogs are historically higher than for cats.

French Bulldog at veterinary clinic. Photo in public domain.
Colorado State University postdoctoral fellow Willana Busuki examines Caroline Dennington’s French bulldog puppy Bruce in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s Dentistry and Oral Surgery section, June 11, 2015.

These breeds – like some cat breeds (e.g. Persian and Siamese) – are inherently unhealthy because thy are bred for appearance not health or character. The buyers are more concerned about the appearance of their companion animals than ever before. This trend is driven by social media and an image obsessed culture encouraged by Instagram and Facebook.

“Many of these dogs suffer from serious, inherent health problems due to the way they look. Some of these dogs require major operations and ongoing treatment throughout their lives to help them breathe more freely, for example, and this could certainly contribute to a rise in insurance claims.”

Caroline Allen, Chief Veterinary Officer for the RSPCA

An example of a large claim concerned a terrier whose medical bill has reached £40,000 since 2010 under a ‘covered for life’ insurance policy. The dog has had several treatments for a congenital lung disorder (i.e. an inherited health issue which should have been avoided using excellent breeding practices).

For cat and dog owners, one of the great weaknesses is that many owners fail to prepare for veterinary bills and can’t afford them. This inevitably leads to untreated sick animals, which is a form of animal cruelty. Owing a cat or dog can be expensive over their lifetime. People should recognise this and budget for it.

Despite pressures, the Kennel Club is still failing to impose sufficiently strict rules on their members to breed entirely ethically; to only breed healthy animals and to focus on health above all else.

Story: The Times hard copy + my thoughts.