If you think your dog or cat has an unusual appetite, rest assured that it could be worse.
Harley, a pug, won the Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI) annual 2011 Hambone Award, which recognizes the pet that ingested the most unusual foreign object--or, in this case, the most astounding amount of foreign objects--in the last year.
Harley was treated after eating 100 rocks. The insurance company selected him for the dubious honor based on a review of more than 6,500 foreign object-ingestion insurance claims filed from January through November.
VPI policyholders spent almost $5.2 million treating pets that ingested foreign objects in the 11-month period. Surgery to remove foreign objects from the stomach of a pet cost an average of $1,472; surgical removal from the intestines averaged $1,910. Pets that ingest foreign objects display a variety of symptoms, including depression, a reluctance to eat or drink, vomiting, and occasionally diarrhea. If a pet owner suspects foreign-object ingestion, the animal should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Among the notable items ingested by VPI-insured dogs and cats in 2011 were:
- A foot-long metal hanger.
- 15 vanilla votive candles.
- A box of razor blades.
- Deer antlers.
- A marijuana cookie.
- A rat (swallowed whole).
- A dead porcupine.
- A dirty diaper.
All the pets made full recoveries, and their owners received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.
VPI recommends closely monitoring your pets' behavior and environment to prevent emergencies. Items small enough to be swallowed should be placed safely out of reach. You should also be careful to select toys appropriate for all animals in the home. Monitor these items for small pieces that may have been eaten.
VPI/DVM Insurance Agency insures more than 485,000 pets in the United States and is a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies.