10 common pet health problems -- and how much they cost

When it comes to the health and well-being of their animal friends, consumers are willing to dig deeper than ever into their bank accounts.

According to the American Pet Products Association, spending on veterinary care is expected to hit $16 billion this year, a year-over-year increase of about 3.2 percent. Medical supplies and over-the-counter medicines, which pet owners purchase at veterinarian offices, is expected to rise 5 percent to $15 billion in 2016.

One reason for the increased spending is that advances in human medicine have migrated to the animal world, according to PetPlan pet insurance.

"From cyberknife therapy for cancer treatment and hydrotherapy after a [knew] injury to acupuncture to treat allergies, many of the same treatments for people are also now available for our pets," wrote Elyse Donnarumma, Petplan veterinary manager, in an email. "But these treatments come at a cost. At Petplan pet insurance, we see an increase year-over-year for the amount we cover for our policyholders who are taking advantage of these treatments to help keep their pets healthy (and happy!)."

Read on to see PetPlan's list of the 10 most common health problems that affect pets, as well as their associated costs for human caregivers.

Joint injuries

2013 cost: $3,142

2016 cost: $3,456

Increase rate: 10 percent

Knee ligament problems are common issues in certain dog breeds such as cocker spaniels, poodles and rottweilers. Like with humans, obese canines are particularly susceptible to these types of injuries. But cats can also suffer with these issues. One study found that 90 percent of cats 12 years old and older suffered from degenerative joint disease.


2013 cost: $1,794

2016 cost: $2,039

Increase rate: 14 percent

Cancer can be a heartbreaking and costly experience for pet owners. Treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy used for humans are also available for animals. Dog breeds such as German shepherds, Labrador retrievers and Great Danes are especially susceptible to the deadly disease. Cats can also be stricken.

Swallowing foreign objects

2013 cost: $1,715

2016 cost: $1,728

Increase rate: 0.75 percent

Anyone who has ever owned a puppy knows that they excel at finding all sorts of objects to chew -- and swallow -- such as socks or chicken wings. Although these foreign bodies sometimes pass naturally, pet owners often need to seek professional medical help to rescue their animals from serious harm.


2013 cost: $852

2016 cost: $986

Increase rate: 16 percent

"Gait disturbances" in dogs may indicate a variety of orthopedic problems, including hip dysplasia. Cats can also experience these issues. Surgery may be an option depending on the severity of symptoms.

Intestinal problems

2013 cost: $777

2016 cost: $857

Increase rate: 10 percent

Stomach and intestinal disorders may indicate a host of problems in dogs, ranging from ulcers to parasites to kidney issues. Constipation is a common problem in cats, which can also suffer from inflammatory bowel disease and ulcers.

Periodontal disease

2013 cost: $783

2016 cost: $850

Increase rate: 9 percent

According to the American Veterinary Dental College, periodontal disease is the most common ailment in dogs and cats. It's entirely preventable and undertreated. Unfortunately, other than bad breath, the disease offers few signs of its presence, and treatment often comes too late to prevent it from spreading or to save a pet's teeth.


2013 cost: $746

2016 cost: $803

Increase rate: 8 percent

Dogs, like humans, can experience food allergies, which can trigger symptoms ranging from chronic ear inflammation to chronic gas to licking their feet. Cat food allergy symptoms include vomiting, irritated skin and hair loss. Seasonal conditions such as hay fever affect both dogs and cats.

Urinary tract infection

2013 cost: $515

2016 cost: $601

Increase rate: 17 percent

Pets experience a wide range of urological problems, including bladder stones, bacterial infections and chronic kidney disease. Older cats are especially susceptible to these conditions. Some university-affiliated veterinary hospitals such as the University of Pennsylvania's offer feline kidney transplants.

Skin disorders

2013 cost: $460

2016 cost: $520

Increase rate: 13 percent

Veterinarians recognize more than 160 skin disorders in dogs, ranging from chronic dermatitis to cancer. Cats can experience problems including ringworm and cat bite abscesses. According to the American College of Veterinary Dermatology, skin disorders can indicate more serious internal problems.

Ear infections

2013 cost: $357

2016 cost: $409

Increase rate: 15 percent

Ear infections in dogs are caused by a wide variety of issues, such as harmful bacteria, excessive hair and moisture. They're rare in cats.