Here, and over on the Daily Vet, we’ve recently had a couple of "brisk" discussions about the pros and cons of the increasing corporate presence within veterinary medicine. No matter what your opinion is on this subject, one thing that large companies inarguably can do well is collect and analyze vast amounts of information.

Banfield did it when they released their 2011 State of Pet Health report, and pet insurance companies do similar things when they take a look at their claims. For example, Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) annually releases the top 10 most common medical conditions affecting pets covered by VPI policies. They’re still working on the 2011 findings, but in 2010 they were:

top pet health insurance claims, pet health, pet insurance

On a lighter note, VPI also combs through their records looking for their most unusual claims. Every month, employees select one claim as that month’s nominee and then the public can vote to elect a yearly "winner" of the Hambone award. According to VPI, "The Hambone Award is named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to find him! The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia."

The 2011 Hambone Award winner was Harley, a pug that ate more than 100 rocks. Thanks to the rocks’ small size and a little help from his veterinarian, Harley was able to pass all of the rocks without needing surgery and is now back to normal.

All of the Hambone nominees have made a full recovery, so if you are in need of a laugh, take a look at the award’s website.

Dr. Jennifer Coates

Image: Ham Heart: Using images by John Schwegel and Pugovica88 / both via Shutterstock