One in three pets need veterinary treatment each year, with the average bill now standing at £300, research shows.
Insurers pay out more than £1.2 million on average every day to treat sick cats and dogs.
This is according to research by the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
Over the course of last year, a total of £452 million was paid out by insurers to cover vet bills across the country.
Average claim on the rise
Between 2007 and 2012 the average claim paid rose by 52 per cent – or £207 - much more than the £57 rise on average in pet insurance premiums.
While the average UK vet bill is now around £300, some more complex treatments for conditions can cost more than £4,000.
This includes disorders such as hip dysplasia – a condition commonly associated with dogs that affects the hip joint.
Meanwhile, some ongoing complaints could cost as much as £10,000, says the ABI.
The dog that swallowed a marker pen
The ABI’s list of medical treatment required by pets over the past year includes:
- A vet’s bill for £1,500 to treat a dog that swallowed a marker pen.
- Treating a four-year-old cat for a damaged eye and fractured jaw after it was hit by a car, which resulted in a vet bill of £1,800.
- An operation on a Mastiff dog to remove a snooker ball he had swallowed that cost more than £1,000.
And it’s not just cats and dogs that have needed medical help.
Here are some of the more unusual pets that had their medical treatment paid for by pet insurance:
- £1,064 to treat Jasper, a parrot, for respiratory problems.
- £951 to treat a corn snake with digestive problems.
- £293 to treat a tortoise suffering from pneumonia.
There’s ‘no NHS for pets’
ABI spokeswoman Linsey White said: "Owning a pet can be rewarding, but also expensive – especially if they need medical treatment.
"There is no NHS for our pets and even minor medical treatment can cost hundreds of pounds.
"Pet insurance protects you against the unexpected vet’s bills when your pet needs treatment and can help your pet live a longer, healthier life."
When choosing a policy, head of pet insurance at Confused.com Kate Rose urged pet owners to check the level of cover they are getting.
"You need to compare policies not just on the cost but also on what it offers," she said.
"Policies vary and there may be exclusions with a cheaper policy that means it is not the right cover for you, despite the attractive price.
"Equally, it’s important not to pay over the odds either. A comparison site is a good place to start to help find the right level of cover at the best price."
For more information on choosing the right policy read our pet insurance buyers guide.