The top 3 reasons that pets are taken to the veterinarian according to claims submitted by VPI pet insurance company are often related to the same underlying problem. They are:
- Ear infection
- Skin allergy
- Skin infection/hot spot
"I can't imagine how my pet got an ear infection!" is a comment I hear from pet owners. An acute ear infection caused by a foreign body in the ear canal or getting too much water in the ear canal when giving a bath is actually uncommon. Most ear infections seen by veterinarians are secondary to an underlying allergy, most notably something in the environment like seasonal pollens or a food allergy. These problems are often chronic and you'll likely be faced with occasional flare-ups the rest of the pet's life. It's not uncommon for dogs with allergies to also have secondary ear infections or skin infections (pyoderma).
Dogs, especially, usually first show symptoms of allergies when they are young. Symptoms often include itchy skin manifested by excessive scratching or licking of feet or skin, shaking their head, rubbing or scratching their ears, reddened skin or a rash. Sometimes, you may have several visits to your veterinarian for the same problem over and over and receive the same treatment e.g. steroids and/or antibiotics, ear ointments, etc. If you find this happening, you and your veterinarian should try to find the underlying problem (usually, what's the pet allergic to?) and treat it rather than treating the symptoms over and over with medications that can have serious side effects with chronic use.
These are among the most common problems that veterinarians see - starting when the pet is young and requiring some sort of treatment the rest of the pet's life resulting in significant cumulative costs. Therefore, you should consider getting pet insurance when your pet is young (puppy or kitten) before symptoms start so that they will be covered by insurance.