Python with anorexia swallows £800 in vet bills

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Burmese pythonImage source, Getty Images

A bearded dragon with an abscess, and a Burmese python with anorexia were among a record number of pets treated under insurance policies last year.

The bearded dragon, a kind of lizard, had its sore jaw treated at a cost of £410.

The food-resistant python proved even more expensive, costing £790 to treat.

They were both among 932,000 pet insurance claims made in 2016, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

The total amount paid out to policy-holders was £706m, a 7% increase on 2015 and also a record high.

Among other unusual treatments were:

  • A cocker spaniel which swallowed a turkey baster on Christmas day
  • A white cockatoo with respiratory problems
  • An English springer spaniel which swallowed a grass seed and needed surgery costing £3,400
  • A lethargic cat which cost £366 to cure

The average cost of a claim is now £757, a 5% rise on 2015.

"There is no NHS for pets, and the cost of getting quality veterinary treatment can quickly run into thousands of pounds, particularly with rising veterinary costs and a greater range of medical treatments for pets now available," said Rebecca Hollingsworth, general insurance policy adviser at the ABI.

However most pet owners do not bother with insurance.

Only 30% of dog owners and 16% of cat owners pay for an annual policy.