Claim Example: Dog Gastroenteritis Emergency

Poor Sid Vicious! He's a mixed breed dog that needed an emergency visit to the vet for gastroenteritis. Here are the costs involved with a 3 day, 2 night stay in the intensive care unit.

4/2/2011 Emer Exam $72.44
4/2/2011 ER Nova Stat Profile $24.66
4/2/2011 Emer Services $15.41
4/2/2011 Rads -Abdomen $109.94
4/2/2011 Emer Services $41.10
4/2/2011 Primary Care Giardia Snap Test $31.85
4/2/2011 US/SA Abdomen $205.50
4/2/2011 Emer Services Special Procedures $51.38
4/2/2011 Parvo Test Kit $25.69
4/2/2011 A/C Drugs and Supplies $38.63
4/2/2011 Metronidazole x 4 $4.88
4/2/2011 Maropitant Inj $23.78
4/3/2011 ER Hosp Services $20.55
4/2/2011 ICU Hosp $72.70
4/3/2011 Waste $5.65
4/3/2011 Venipuncture-Proc/Supplies $11.30
4/3/2011 IV Pump $6.17
4/3/2011 Drugs and Supplies $13.10
4/3/2011 US/SA Abdomen Recheck $165.43
4/3/2011 Emer Services Special Procedures $51.38
4/3/2011 Rads -Abdomen Recheck $89.39
4/4/2011 ER Hosp  $25.69
4/4/2011 ER Hosp Services $20.55
4/4/2011 ER Level 1 $30.00
4/4/2011 Fluid Pump $6.17
Total   $1,163.34

You can see the veterinarians had to rule out a variety of conditions using various diagnostic tests, some of which had to be repeated:

  • Parvo (blood work)
  • Giardia (blood work)
  • ingestion of a foreign body (X-rays aka radiographs)
  • organ and intestinal abnormalities (ultrasound)

Sid Vicious' premiums are $273.79 a year for $300 annual deductible, $10,000 annual maximum, and 20% coinsurance. His claim payout was as follows (the deductible was already taken care of this year):

STEP 1: Calculate Potential Refund        
  Billed Amount:       $1,163.34    
  Covered Charges:  (see attached detail)    $1,163.34    
  Annual deductible remaining   $0.00    
  subtotal   $1,163.34    
  Copay 20%  (your copayment)    $232.67    
Potential Refund        $930.67    
STEP 2: Compare potential refund against your annual maximums
     Annual Maximum     $10,000.00    
     Prior refunds for this policy year   $457.39    
     Coverage remaining   $9,542.61    
Your total refund is:     $930.67    

Have you had a surprise visit to the emerg with a gastrointestinal issue for your dog or cat?

Related Posts:
June is Gastrointestinal Month at Embrace
Guest Post: The Harmful Side of Animal-Sourced Dog Chews
What does that ever-so-generic term Colitis mean anyway?
Claim Example: Gastroenteritis Emergency in Savoy IL

Colitis in Cats and Dogs

A large proportion of the Embrace Pet Insurance gastrointestinal claims are classed as colitis, which means inflammation of the large intestine (aka colon).

What does colitis look like?

  • bloody or “slimy” diarrhea with mucus 
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting (especially in cats)
  • weight loss (especially in cats)
  • dehydration (especially if the diarrhea is very watery)
  • lethargy (tiredness)

Colitis is the result of a condition, not the cause of it, so when veterinarians are faced with a case of colitis, she'll treat the cause as best she can, not just the symptoms.

For example, colitis caused by parasites such as whipworms is treated with parasiticides, whereas colitis caused by eating something a dog shouldn't such as garbage is treated with antibiotics and a bland diet.

Here's a pretty typical simple case of undiagnosed colitis last month for an Airedale Terrier living in Chicago, IL:

Office Visit  $           52.00
Fecal Exam  $           38.40
Metronidazole x 14  $           18.30
   $         108.70

The pet parent also took home 5 cans of prescription diet food, which was not covered by the illness policy but would have been covered by the Wellness Rewards Plus plan if it had been picked for the dogs policy (in this case it wasn't).

To learn more about Colitis, you can visit the Embrace Pet Health Center Colitis entry

Related Posts:
June is Gastrointestinal Month at Embrace
Guest Post: The Harmful Side of Animal-Sourced Dog Chews
What does that ever-so-generic term Colitis mean anyway?

Guest Post: The Harmful Side of Animal-Sourced Dog Chews

Here's a guest post from Dr. Rex Riggs on the topic of dog chews - the ones sourced from animal body parts that aren't used for other purposes. Dr. Rex Riggs is the owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is a veterinarian, and an Advisory Board member of Embrace Pet Insurance.

>622002_hair_of_the_dog Bully sticks, pig’s ears, cow hooves, marrow bones, rawhides and antlers.  Sounds like a yummy smorgasbord for your dog, doesn’t it?  I bet many of you use these treats to satisfy your dog’s chewing and keeping them occupied; but should you?  Have you ever given deep thought to these animal “pieces parts” that we give to our pets??

First where do these things come from and why are they used as chew toys? I think it is obvious that these are all parts of animals that we eat.  Not that we want to think about it but these are waste byproducts from the meat industry.  Some entrepreneur decided this would be an easy way to make money so…. a new industry was born.

  • Cow hooves and pigs ears are what the name implies. 
  • Marrow bones are from the long bones of cows and pigs.
  • Rawhides are the skin of cows. 
  • Antlers come from either deer or elk. 
  • So what do you think bully sticks are?  Think about this one.  Give up?  They are bull penises! Hmm.

There are some dangers with all of these items. All of these have the potential and can cause intestinal obstructions, but equally important are the dangers that come from the way these are processed.  They are first soaked for hours in a caustic lye solution to digest the undesirables off the skin and then to remove the lye the skin is then soaked in bleach solution.  Sounds yummy. Many of the rawhides come from China where they have been known to use arsenic compounds to preserve them. 

There is no regulation of rawhides or pigs ears.  You really have no idea where these come from.

Marrow bones and antlers cause many broken teeth.  A good rule of thumb is if you don’t want me to hit you in the kneecap with it, your dog should not be chewing on it. I can not tell you how many expensive extractions are the result of dogs chewing bones.

578609_give_the_dog_a_bone_2 Another concern of mine is the potential introduction and spread of disease to naive areas.  Many of the elk antlers come from Wyoming where the elk migrate and drop their antlers each year. These are collected in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, by Boy Scouts who sell them to support their troop. Many are used to make decorative pieces but others end up as chew toys. Wyoming has a devastating disease call Chronic Wasting Disease and is caused by a small protein subpart called a prion.  Prions have the potential to be in antlers and other body parts and thus may be introduced into deer populations in other parts of the country.  Much like the devastating Ash Borror that was introduced into my state of Ohio in firewood brought in from Michigan, the infestation is quickly depleting the Ash trees in the state. . 

My biggest concern though with all these chew toys is the potential for passing harmful bacteria to your pet and YOU.  There have been many cases of Salmonella and E. Coli contaminations directly linked to rawhides, pig’s ears and other animal product toys. The FDA has published an advisory warning of this risk and urges those who come in contact with them to wash their hands thoroughly.

Sorry for the disgusting facts in this blog, but hopefully I have educated you, so you can pick the safest products for your beloved pet.

Related Posts:
June is Gastrointestinal Month at Embrace
Guest Post: The Harmful Side of Animal-Sourced Dog Chews
What does that ever-so-generic term Colitis mean anyway?

Other posts by Dr Riggs

Dr_RiggsDr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie, and two cats Franklin and Speeder. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and enjoys travel and photography.

June is Gastrointestinal Month at Embrace - ew!

Pepe-WilliamScheibner1 Yup, it's that time again to talk about tummy rumbles, digestive mishaps, and even a bit of diet advice.

As a cat mom, I always think of that awful gagging sound a cat makes when she coughs up furballs oh-so-politely on your best cushion or worse. And there's that regurgitated recently-eaten mouse presented at the foot of your bed for your admiration...

But I know dogs have their fair share too.

Of our claims closed over the last 6 weeks, about 17% of them were for intestinal issues of one sort of another such as:

  • basic vomiting or diarrhea (hope you aren't eating your lunch while you are reading this)
  • gastroenteritis from bacteria or a virus or two
  • ingesting foreign objects (such as razer blades,rubber balls, or undies) or poisonous items (such as rat bait or raisins)
  • parasitic issues (I promise, no pictures this time around)
  • food allergies
  • and even motion sickness (who knew dogs got motion sickness!)

Most gastro issues are symptoms of an underlying condition, which is often hard to determine and many times goes away without us finding out what it is.

Which one of these has your dog or cat had before?

Related Posts:
June is Gastrointestinal Month at Embrace
Guest Post: The Harmful Side of Animal-Sourced Dog Chews
What does that ever-so-generic term Colitis mean anyway?

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