Sometimes, it seems that getting into scrapes is what pets do best. Getting out of them, however, can be another matter and may require medical care.
This year, the Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI) invited people to vote on the most outrageous pet health insurance claims filed over the past year and the winner will be given the first Hambone Award, which the VPI says will be an annual prize.
"In every pet's lifetime they're going to have one crazy, bizarre accident happen to them which you can't predict or prevent," said Corie Gross, field veterinarian for VPI. "So it's good to have pet insurance."
The claims -- one pet per month over 12 months were nominated for the award -- included a bulldog that ate 15 pacifiers, a Siamese cat that swallowed a needle, and a border collie that accidentally tipped a cow by running into it headlong.
But funny, surprising and tragic stories like these can walk into a veterinarian's office every day.
"I think every vet has a story like that they could tell," said Marty Becker, veterinarian and co-founder of Petconnection.com. "You really never know what every day is going to bring -- from the miraculous to the mundane."
Gross said that, although there are more pet cats in the United States than pet dogs -- 88.3 million cats compared to 74.8 million dogs, according to the Humane Society of the United States -- the preponderance of dog tales on the list may be related, in part, to dog owners being more likely to buy pet insurance.
But canine nature might also predispose them for trouble.
"Dogs are inquisitive by nature and they explore the world with their mouths," Becker said. "Cats are more in the background, looking and watching. Dogs will go headfirst into something."
Appropriate first aid can help. Becker pointed out that pet injuries can be time sensitive, so calling a veterinarian first and asking what to do if an animal is bleeding or having an allergic reaction can be crucial.
"Pet owners need to be ready to provide emergency care and also be able to afford the care," Becker said.
The following is a list of the 12 pets in the running for the VPI's Hambone Award, all of whom have made successful recoveries. Voting ends Sept. 14.
Ginger Reynolds said Sugar, her Jack Russell terrier, loves to chase any of the various wild animals that wander into her backyard from the surrounding area of Ocean Springs, Miss.
"Sugar was out one morning a little later than I expected her to be, happily looking up at the sky with a big dark thing in her mouth," Reynolds said. "I caught her red-pawed eating a turtle."
Sugar had, indeed, chomped up a small turtle, shell and all. Unfortunately, a piece of turtle shell had become lodged deep in Sugar's nasal cavity, restricting her breathing for weeks.
X-rays and other tests had missed the small piece of shell and Sugar's quality of life had deteriorated to the point where Reynolds was considering euthanasia.
"For two nights straight she was gasping for air through her mouth and I really thought I was about to lose Sugar," Reynolds said.
Doctors finally discovered and removed the piece of shell during surgery and Sugar was able to breathe normally. Reynolds now keeps the piece of turtle shell in a glass tube in her jewelry case.