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Pet health trends: the rise of specialist services

There are striking similarities when comparing human health and pet health, particularly in terms of age.

Pets, similar to humans, are living longer due to advances in medicines and health care. PetSure data indicates health-related expenses gradually increase with age and peak at 13-15 years of age.

For pets, problems with the musculoskeletal system are the biggest contributors to total costs. Issues with the alimentary or gastrointestinal tract/digestive system and hair/skin conditions are the next two major health expenditures.

As treatment options for tumours and cancer have increased, consequently so have treatment costs. Cardiovascular disease is on the increase, particularly among cats.

The level of veterinary care available to pets has improved exponentially in recent years, driven by an increase in specialist veterinarians and referral/emergency hospitals, as well as the availability of new diagnostic tools such as CT, MRI, ECG and ultrasound.

Between 2013 and 2018, the availability and usage of MRI grew significantly (with the use of MRI up by 192%, CT-scan up 163% and ultrasound up 91%).

Over the same time, the proportion of specialist visits increased by 18% (from 4.1% to 4.9%) and the specialist referral rate (within 60 days of first general practice (GP) visit), increased by 28% (1.8% to 2.3%). As diseases are identified earlier, there is better prognosis for pets’ recovery and continued health.

With age, diseases such as cancer become more likely, so oncology treatment options are increasingly used. Human cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and vaccinations, are all being utilised in treating pets.

Any advice is general only and may not be right for you. Cover is subject to the policy terms and conditions. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or policy wording available from the relevant provider to decide if a product is right for you. Insurance products are issued by The Hollard Insurance Company (ABN 78 090 584 473; AFSL 241436) and administered by PetSure (Australia) Pty Ltd (ABN 95 075 949 923; AFSL 420183) through our Authorised Representatives and our distribution partners.