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Weight Issues Bring More Pets to the Doctor

Obesity-related insurance claims have swelled over the past nine years, Nationwide reports.

Weight Issues Bring More Pets to the Doctor

Obesity is exacting a heavy price on pets and their bill-paying owners.

Nationwide pet health insurance reported that claims for conditions linked to or made worse by obesity increased for the ninth straight year in 2020. Over a recent 12-month period, the company stated, obesity-related claims accounted for 20% of insured members’  claims.

“Veterinarians have been sounding the alarm about overweight pets for years now,” said Jules Benson, BVSc, MRCVS, the company’s chief veterinary officer. “Part of the problem is that pet parents often don’t realize when an animal is overweight, or if they’re aware, they struggle with helping their pet lose weight. The silver lining of the prevalence of pet obesity is that your veterinary teams have lots of experience assessing pets and helping pet parents with effective weight-loss plans.”

The insurer found that arthritis, at 85,000 claims, was the most common disease aggravated by excessive weight in dogs. The average treatment fee was $349.

“For cats,” Nationwide added, “bladder or urinary tract disease was the most common obesity-related condition, which accounted for nearly 14,000 claims, with an average claim amount of $529 per pet.”

The top 10 conditions related to or made worse by obesity, in the order of frequency, were:


  1. Arthritis
  2. Bladder/urinary tract disease
  3. Soft tissue trauma (bruise or contusion)
  4. Torn knee ligaments
  5. Liver disease
  6. Low thyroid hormone
  7. Diseased spinal disc
  8. Diabetes
  9. Chronic kidney disease
  10. Heart failure


  1. Bladder/urinary tract disease
  2. Chronic kidney disease
  3. Diabetes
  4. Liver disease
  5. Asthma
  6. Arthritis
  7. High blood pressure
  8. Soft tissue trauma (bruise or contusion)
  9. Heart failure
  10. Gall bladder disorder

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