Pet Insurance Company Examines Effects Of Pet Food Recall

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 nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, reported a significant rise in the diagnosis of kidney conditions in the month of March –- 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.

“Our data shows that the pet food recall motivated a considerable number of our policyholders to take their pets to the veterinarian,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “A few serious kidney conditions, whether caused by tainted food or other unrelated factors, were discovered as a result.”

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 spring’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 pet’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 pet’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.

9 Responses to “Pet Insurance Company Examines Effects Of Pet Food Recall”

  1. 5CatMom says:

    From Itchmo’s article:

    “Our data shows that the pet food recall motivated a considerable number of our policyholders to take their pets to the veterinarian,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI.

    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.

    ——-

    These two comments from VPI seem to be contradictory. The first statements says that more pets were taken to the vet, and the second statement says VPI couldn’t determine if there were more vet visits.

    Am I missing something here, or is VPI trying to backpeddle on the relationship between the PET FOOD RECALL and vet visits?

  2. Carol says:

    5CatMom says:

    October 17th, 2007 at 8:53 am

    My opinion is that companies are very careful what they say as I think they know it is hard to prove 100% without tissue samples, that a pet was indeed made sick or passed due to the food. I guess they don’t want to get sued for “liable” IMO. I’m sure my cats’ illnesses would be of question if it were not for the fact that one (my 2nd arf cat) had a completely normal urinalysis on Feb 8th and then she was on death’s door March 12th with acute renal failure. But yet I still post IMO so I guess I’m guilty of that too!

  3. Natalia says:

    5catmom,

    The two statements aren’t contradictory because they are talking about what conclusions could be made at two different points in time. It takes a few months for the majority of claims on visits in a certain month to get filed and processed for any kind of insurance since people or their vets need to fill out forms, attach reciepts, mail stuff in all of that. Phone call volume, however, is known immediately.

    Because of that, in March they would have immediately known that their call volume had gone up, but they probably could not see a complete number of how many vet visits their policy holders had in March until July or August. So basically, they were saying that in March when they saw the spike in call volume, but they couldn’t make any determinations based on that information alone. After the claims came in over the next few months, they confirmed that vet visits did go up.

  4. Carol says:

    Good point Natalia!

  5. insurance » Pet Insurance Company Examines Effects Of Pet Food Recall says:

    […] Emily Huh wrote an interesting post today on Pet Insurance Company Examines Effects Of Pet Food RecallHere’s a quick excerptVeterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, reported a significant rise in the diagnosis of kidney conditions in the month of March –- the same month Menu Foods recalled 60 million … […]

  6. Nora and Rufus says:

    The statement “A FEW serious kidney conditions were found, whether caused by tainted food or OTHER UNRELATED factors, were discovered as a result. THIS MAKES MY BLOOD BOIL. Insurance companies are known for their lies and glossing over of facts to protect their pocket book when REAL tragedies strike. INSURANCE IS NOTHING BUT LEGALIZED EXTORTION. If the people who really cared and were capable of the care needed did not have to contend with the Big Insurance Companies and the over inflated Meds and Drug Company prices, there would be no need for Insurance Companies. People who needed medical care for their pets AND themselves would be able to pay the Vets and Doctors directly and their would be no need for the MIDDLE MAN.

  7. 5CatMom says:

    Natalia,

    That’s a good explanation. Thanks very much.

    Honestly, I’m having trouble with the timeline because I know pets that continue to be affected.

  8. Anonymous says:

    “VPI…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. ”

    Out of the 450,000 insured, surely a subset of petowners nationwide.
    Quite a spike.

  9. anonymous says:

    There will be a new Law and Order episode broadcast tonight and the story line involves an FDA cover up (hahaha)-they kinda had to change it to be about kids -instead of pets but you will enjoy the rather obvious digs at the FDA. There are more explicit story lines to come, on various TV shows and other media, that are more pet industry specific. And vastly more damaging to the pet food industry.
    Some people don’t read, so TV is the way to reach them.

    By the time the pet food company’s go on trial for poisoning and trying to cover up and not not paying veterinary bills there will be that many more Americans sitting on the jury’s just itching to slap them with huge judgements. That many more in favor of tighter regulation and manditory criminal charges.


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