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Very Egg-spensive: unsupervised pets have left owners paying hundreds of pounds for treatment

Owners are being urged to watch their pets this Easter. That’s as a trip to the vets for eating something toxic has cost a combined £635 for owners, on average.

Published on 27th March 2024
  • Chocolate and plants are the most common things eaten by pets, with symptoms such as vomiting (19%), diarrhoea (17%) and loss of appetite (9%).
  • But it’s not just accidental food consumption which harms our beloved pets. For both cats and dogs, the most common food items willingly fed by their owners were cheese, milk, raw meat, yoghurt and peanut butter. All of these can be harmful to pets.
  • 2 in 3 (66%) pet owners also admit to growing toxic plants in their garden. Some of the most common are Daffodils (38%), Lavender (27%), Tulips (23%) and Lillies (12%).
  • As a result, 1 in 7 (14%) owners had to make a trip to the vets for treatment after pets consumed toxic plants from their own garden.
  • Faith Tagg, pet insurance expert at Confused.com shares more on how to keep pets safe over the Spring season and why having pet insurance is important.

Not watching your pet around the home this Easter could mean owners pay hundreds of pounds in vet bills. New research reveals that a trip to the vet costs a combined amount of £635, on average, for pets that have eaten something toxic.

That’s according to new research from Confused.com. The insurance comparison site asked 2,000 pet owners whether their pets had eaten or come into contact with anything that could cause them harm.Overall, chocolate (12%) was the most common food accidentally consumed by curious pets. Dogs have an appetite for it, overall, around 1 in 5 (18%) took a sneaky bite. That’s in comparison to around 1 in 10 (8%) cats. Other items included plants (10%), cheese (9%) and milk (6%). After accidentally consuming these, common symptoms owners experienced their pets having were vomiting (19%), diarrhoea (17%) and loss of appetite (9%).

As a result of eating something accidentally, a quarter (26%) of pets had to go to the vets. Drips/fluids were the most common form of treatment (34%). Other treatments included blood tests (32%) and having to be monitored overnight (31%). In some cases, pets also had to have an ultrasound (22%). In total, pet owners said treatment cost them around £295, on average.

For the majority who didn’t take their pets to the vet (69%), they said it was because their pets showed no symptoms (61%). And almost a third (29%) said their pet had eaten it before and were fine. But leaving your pet could be fatal in some cases, so owners should always check in with a vet if they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t have.

But it’s not just things consumed accidentally which can cause the most problems. Some common produce that owners might think is safe can actually cause health issues for pets. . Data reveals that owners admit to willingly feeding their cats and dogs the following foods:

Food Dog Cat
Raw meat
Peanut butter
Cooked bones
Raw eggs
Bread dough
Citrus fruits
Blue cheese

But how are these bad for your pets exactly? Dairy items like cheese and milk aren’t toxic, but can cause upset stomachs, vomiting and diarrhoea, especially with cats. Raw meats and eggs are also likely to have harmful bacterias, such as salmonella and E.coli. Peanut butter can contain xylitol. This is an artificial sweetener that’s toxic for pets, and produce like garlic can damage red blood cells. So if your pet consumes any of these, owners might not only have to pay for treatment, but they put their pets' health at serious risk too.

This season can also be a prime time for many homeowners to take pride in their garden and get it ready to enjoy during warmer weather. But worryingly, 2 in 3 (66%) pet owners also admitted to growing plants in their garden which could be toxic for their fur-babies.

Some of the most common toxic plants to find in the homes of pet owners include daffodils (38%), lavender (27%), tulips (23%) and lillies (12%). But that’s not all. Other plants found in gardens included hydrangea (20%), snowdrops (19%), English ivy (15%), rhubarb (11%), and rhododendron (10%). All of which can be extremely harmful.

Springtime is a common time for people to plant bulbs, but these can also be some of the most dangerous for your pets. That’s because bulbs tend to have a high concentration of nutrients, meaning they can be poisonous - especially for cats and dogs. That means some of the most common plants could also do some of the most harm. In fact, 1 in 7 (14%) pets had to go to the vets after ingesting toxic plants that were growing in their owner’s gardens. Symptoms included vomiting (20%), diarrhoea (17%) and increased thirst (15%). And as a result, the cost of treatment from a vet was around £340, on average.

With money tight for so many right now, some owners might be tempted not to go to the vet when their pet needs treatment. But data reveals that those who had pet insurance were able to make significant savings and weren’t impacted by the financial costs. For pets who accidentally consumed items, such as chocolate, owners say that they were able to claim back £338, on average. And for pets that ate harmful plants, owners were able to claim back £365, on average. So on both occasions, owners could make notable savings when claiming for medical costs through their insurer.

There are responsible owners out there. But almost 1 in 6 (16%) didn’t know what items were toxic to their pets before taking part in the survey. Almost half (46%) also think that it’s the responsibility of the owner to educate themselves on what’s dangerous for their pets. Around 2 in 5 (37%) think those who knowingly feed their pets toxic items should be banned from owning them. Currently, there is no specific law around foods and other items. But under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, there are codes of practice in place. These provide owners with information on how to meet the welfare needs of animals, such as cats and dogs(1). By not listening to the codes of practice, which includes guidelines on healthy diets for pets, owners could risk being prosecuted under the Act. This could result in being banned from owning animals and also serving a prison sentence.

Faith Tagg, pet insurance expert at Confused.com comments:

“As we head into the Spring season, many pet owners might think about replanting some of their favourite flowers. They might even be buying chocolate ready for the Easter weekend. But some of these can make your pets, especially cats and dogs, very unwell. And a trip to the vet could result in expensive vet bills amounting to as much as £620, on average, as a result.

“If you do need to take your pet to the vet after they’ve consumed something potentially harmful, there are some things you can do:

  • Call your vet right away - they can usually offer advice over the phone or direct you to the nearest vet practice for emergency appointments, if needed.
  • Make a note of the foods or items your pet ate - this helps the vet determine the ingredients your pet’s digested and work out what to do.
  • Inform the vet of any other important information - if you can, knowing things like how much time has passed or if your pet has had a reaction before can be useful to the vet

“If your pet does need treatment, having a robust pet insurance policy can help cover the costs. Veterinary care can be expensive, but having insurance protection means you can be safe in the knowledge that your pet is being treated properly. Without the added stress of whether you can afford it. And if you take pride in your garden this time of year, plants such as roses and sunflowers can be a great, non-toxic alternative.”



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