Revealed: Dog breeds that break the bank
WE used to ask how much is that doggy in the window. Now, we're better off asking how much will they will leave us in debt. An exclusive five-year study reveals the true cost of our most popular breeds.
Now the first comprehensive pet health census, revealed exclusively today in The Daily Telegraph, shows the bills don't stop flowing when it comes to caring for breeds with big eyes and squashed faces.
The Bullmastiff, British bulldog and Shar-Pei have come out on top of the list of the most expensive breeds for vet bills, data drawn from three million pet insurance claims over five years reveals.
The annual vet bill for these high-maintenance breeds is at least twice as much as the average _ $1,052 for Bullmastiff, $965 for British bulldog and $906 for Shar-Pei, according to the insurer PetSure's Pet Health Monitor.
"The issue is that they are so cute and so appealing," Magdoline Awad, chief vet at PetSure, which underwrites 80 per cent of pet insurance products in Australia including policies for RSPCA, Woolworths and HCF, said.
"Unfortunately the things that actually make them appealing also make them more prone to having a lot of problems and the problems are quite extensive."
Ms Awad's dog Rex underwent thousands of dollars worth of treatment after grass seed lodged in his lungs and a ruptured disc.
The Pet Health Monitor underlines how expensive having a pet can be and how buying certain breeds can help reduce the annual cost of looking after a pet.
It found cross bred dogs cost a lot less to care for, with the average annual vet bill $445 for crossbreeds, while purebred dogs on average cost $470 a year in vet bills.
Australian pet owners last year spent $410 million on comprehensive pet insurance policies, lodged more than one million claims and were paid a total of $139 million in benefits, the report reveals.
Topping the bills was $31,000 worth of treatment for multiple tumours and related conditions for an eight-year-old Staffordshire Terrier.
The biggest bill for a single treatment in the five years to 2018 was $15,000, for acute liver failure.
Snake bite treatment claims for dogs and cats reached $5.2 million in the five years to 2018.
Labradors made the top of the list for the dog most likely to eat socks and a Lab also got top honours for the biggest bill for a toxic dinner - $19,600 in treatment costs for ingesting a corn cob.
Benefits to treat inflammation of the abdominal wall, broken legs and anaemia typically reached $15,000, which is often the maximum annual total payout available.
Treatment for renal failure, hip dysplasia and spinal disc disease typically resulted in a benefit of $10,000 or more being paid.
Of the breeds most frequently at the vet British bulldog comes in at No. 1 with three visits a year, closely followed by Cavalier King Charles spaniel, West Highland White Terrier and Bichon Frise with 2.9 visits each.
Kelpies of various breeds were found to need the vet the least.
Certain breeds have a higher propensity to suffer particular conditions.
The Australian terrier is most likely to need treatment for a cruciate ligament, costing between $2,000 and $4,000. The Boxer is most at risk of a mast cell tumour, costing on average $2,400.
The squashed-face dogs - Brachycephalic breeds - often have partially obstructed airwaves, making them snore and snort, which left untreated can cause severe complications and even death.
Surgery for Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) increased a whopping 79 per cent in the five years to 2018. Treatment on average cost $1,438 with the highest claim last year $10,275.
In addition to their serious breathing issues, Brachy breeds are also more prone to a range of common health conditions, including ear infections, skin allergies and gastro bugs.
"There's an animal welfare impact on every single one of these diseases that they get. Not to mention the impact on the customer - some of these diseases reduce the quality of life and the duration of life with these breeds," Ms Awad said.
"People need to understand what they are in for," Ms Awad said.
"It's not just airwave disease, it's everything else."
"There are some companies around the world that won't insure these types of breeds or have exclusions on the types of conditions they won't insure for," Ms Awad said. PetSure underwritten policies typically do insure for these conditions but conditions apply and premiums are typically higher.
In total six short-nosed dogs made it on to the list of the top ten most expensive breeds for vet costs - Bullmastiff, British bulldog, Shar-Pei, Dogue De Bordeaux, French Bulldog and Boxer.
The British bulldog also leads the list of dogs most likely to be treated for heat stroke and hypothermia, ahead of French Bulldog, Great Dane, Australian Bulldog and Cavalier King Charles spaniel. The biggest claim for heatstroke treatment in the five years to 2018 was $22,000.