Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), sent us this press release in regards to their company data analyzing the effects of the pet food recalls among their policyholders:
Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the nationâ€™s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, reported a significant rise in the diagnosis of kidney conditions in the month of March â€“- the same month Menu Foods recalled 60 million cans and bags of tainted pet food. VPI, which insures more than 450,000 pets nationwide, has examined claims data to assess whether the recall had an effect on policyholder behavior and the diagnosis of kidney conditions. The company found that health testing increased by 37 percent in March and initial diagnosis of kidney conditions increased 33 percent for dogs and 46 percent for cats compared to expected seasonal averages.
â€œOur data shows that the pet food recall motivated a considerable number of our policyholders to take their pets to the veterinarian,â€ said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. â€œA few serious kidney conditions, whether caused by tainted food or other unrelated factors, were discovered as a result.â€
At the time of the recall, VPI saw a rise in phone calls from concerned pet owners, but could not determine whether more pet owners were visiting the veterinarian, since policyholders may submit claims several months after treatment. A possible link between the recall and an increase in testing and diagnosis of kidney conditions became more apparent as claims were subsequently received and processed. Claims submitted for treatment of uremia, an excess of metabolic waste products in the blood, showed the largest spike, increasing 141 percent for dogs and 152 percent for cats in March.
This springâ€™s pet food recall has prompted increased awareness among pet owners on the importance of kidney health. Contaminated food and other toxins, as well as systemic, inflammatory, infectious, and neoplastic disease (abnormal cell growth) in the body, can result in damage to the kidneys. This damage leads to the buildup of toxins in the body which results in clinical signs often not apparent until the more advanced stages of disease. Kidney health diagnostics are an important tool for veterinarians to detect kidney disease as early as possible in their patients. Protein levels in the urine can be one early marker of certain types of kidney disease.
A test to detect small amounts of protein, specifically a protein called albumin, is the Early Renal Disease (E.R.D.)-Healthscreen Urine Test. A positive E.R.D.-Healthscreen Urine Test can indicate the presence of underlying disease to prompt additional testing. Although kidney damage is irreversible, early detection can lead to earlier intervention to help prolong a petâ€™s life with treatments to alleviate stress on the kidneys.
Veterinarians may recommend that pets receive an E.R.D-Healthscreen Urine Test as part of their annual physical examination. A veterinarian will assess each patient individually and may recommend this test depending on a petâ€™s age, breed, and other risk factors. Dogs and cats can have different onsets and progressions of kidney disease, so the age for screening may vary.