Posted: August 13, 2008, 5 p.m. EDT
Teeth that grow continuously are the culprits that caused the No. 1 claim to Veterinary Pet Insurance for exotic pets. VPI began insuring pets in 1982 and is presently the largest pet insurance company in the United States. Although dogs and cats make up the bulk of its clients, VPI also insures other species, including rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, hamsters, gerbils, sugar gliders and more.
Pets at risk for trouble with overgrown teeth include those that have teeth that grow continuously, which includes rabbits and rodents, such as guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and mice.
The second most common ailment for exotic pets that VPI received claims for in 2007 was ileus, which encompasses problems with motility in the gastrointestinal tract. Ileus was also in the No. 2 spot for 2006.
The remaining ailments for exotic pets that round out the top 10 for 2007 are:
3. Enteritis/Colitis/Wet Tail
5. Otitis Externa
6. Abscess or granuloma
10. Corneal ulcer — surgical
The top 10 ailments in 2006 and 2007 contained eight of the same conditions in slightly varying order. In 2006, neither URI/Influenza/Pasteurellosis nor corneal ulcer — surgical, made the top 10. Two ailments for exotic pets that dropped from the top 10 in 2007 are adrenal disorders and neoplasia.
This list was compiled from claims made for all types of small exotic pets — chinchillas, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, hedgehogs, mice, pot-bellied pigs, rats, rabbits, sugar gliders and ferrets. A company spokesperson noted that rabbits currently make up the majority of clients, so the list might skew toward rabbit ailments.