A look at the most expensive common pet medical conditions
ConditionAverage feeConditionAverage fee
1. Intervertebral disk disease$2,8441. Foreign body ingestion (small intestine)$1,629
2. Lung cancer$2,0322. Urinary tract reconstruction$1,399
3. Gastric torsion (bloat)$1,9553. Foreign body ingestion (stomach)$1,391
4. Foreign body ingestion (small intestine)$1,6294. Rectal cancer$1,011
5. Cruciate rupture$1,5175. Bladder stones$989
6. Foreign body ingestion (stomach)$1,3986. Intestinal cancer$942
7. Cataract (senior)$1,2447. Hyperthyroidism (radiation)$920
8. Bone cancer$1,0598. Fibrosarcoma (skin cancer)$780
9. Pin in broken limb$1,0009. Acute renal failure$565
10. Brain cancer$91610. Mast cell tumors$497
* Treatment costs vary on a case-by-case basis. Dollar amounts reflect average initial claim fees submitted to Veterinary Pet Insurance and are not intended to suggest typical reimbursements, reflect average national veterinary fees or account for continuing fees associated with a particular condition. Source: VPI via Bankrate.com.

Going the distance for Fluffy

Because insurance is best used as protection against catastrophic expenses -- not those you could easily pay out of pocket -- the question becomes: How deep in the hole would you go for your pet? And then could you afford to pay those costs yourself?

Most common surgically removed items
1. Socks
2. Underwear
3. Pantyhose
4. Rocks
5. Balls
6. Chew toys
7. Corncobs
8. Bones
9. Hair ties / ribbons
10. Sticks
Source: Veterinary Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is a nonstarter for many pet owners, simply because they take a pragmatic approach to their animals. If the cost of treatment got too high, they would choose to have the animal put to death.

But many who think they'd draw the line at a certain dollar amount find their convictions wavering when the time actually comes, said Veterinary Pet Insurance's chief executive, Dennis Drent. The kids are crying, the vet says a treatment would be successful, and some parents break down and spend the money.

"It can be a very emotional situation," Drent said.