09:30 AM

Nationwide® dedicates research, funding in fight to #CurePetCancer

A cancer diagnosis is never welcome, and that’s no less true when a beloved pet is the one who’s sick. But early detection, better treatment options and the knowledge needed to make critical care decisions can make a difference. That’s why as part of National Pet Cancer Awareness Month in November, Nationwide is engaging claims data to offer unique analyses and pledging support for pet cancer research.

“Nationwide members submitted claims for almost $50 million in 2020 for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in their pets,” said Dr. Jules Benson, Chief Veterinary Officer for Nationwide. “As pet lovers ourselves, we know the emotional impact behind these numbers, and that’s why we’re expanding our efforts in leveraging our industry-leading claims data to provide vital information to pet parents and veterinary teams alike.”

The nation’s leading pet health insurer is sharing the first of a series of analyses on which pets are more or less likely to develop cancer, and where those cancers are likely to occur.

Cancer in dogs: Mixed-breeds, purebreds and breed prevalence
Nationwide’s veterinary analytics team reviewed policy and claims information of more than 1.5 million Nationwide-insured dogs over a six-year period and identified the following insights:

  • Mixed-breed and cross-breed dogs are significantly less likely to have claims for cancer. Compared to purebred dogs as a group, dogs identified as mixed-breed or cross-breed (a mix of two purebreds) were 48% less likely to have submitted a claim for cancer than the average purebred dog.
  • Purebreds report cancer at vastly different rates across breeds. Looking at the top 100 purebred dogs across Nationwide policies and when comparing the highest and lowest prevalence by breed,

English Cocker Spaniels reported a cancer prevalence at 246% the rate of other dogs, compared with the Shiba Inu, a breed 62% less likely to have a claim for cancer than the average dog of any breed or mix.

Limiting the analysis to the top 10 most popular breeds among Nationwide-insured pets, the Boxer (7th most popular breed) was 161% more likely to report cancer, while the Chihuahua (8th most popular breed) was 47% less likely.

Cancer costs, locations in all pets
While the numbers above are specific to dogs, Nationwide also records where cancers occur on all types of pets – dogs, cats and other pets such as birds, small mammals and reptiles. The five locations that resulted in the highest submitted claim amounts are reported below, along with the average amount claimed per pet:


Average Claimed Cost*

Skin (e.g. melanoma)


Lymph (e.g. lymphoma)


Spleen (e.g. hemangiosarcoma)


Bone (e.g. osteosarcoma)


Liver (e.g. hepatocellular sarcoma)   


*Average claimed cost per affected pet over past 72 months

The importance of prevention and early detection
“The signs of cancer in pets can be vague, and can also be shared by other disease,” said Dr. Benson. “But having more information about cancer prevalence rates and what types of cancer are likely to occur can be key to an early diagnosis, and that can mean access to more treatment options and better outcomes.”

Dr. Benson advises that a veterinarian should check out any weight loss, drastic changes in appetite or thirst, or changes in energy level.

Even when caught early, the expenses associated with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer can limit the options available to pet parents. With Nationwide pet health insurance, many veterinary expenses associated with cancer diagnoses and treatments are eligible for reimbursement based on the member’s chosen coverage. To see plans available and get a quote for pet insurance for dogs, cats and many other kinds of pets, visit PetInsurance.com.

Take a walk to #CurePetCancer
Pet lovers are invited to join the fight against pet cancer by registering for the virtual 2021 Nationwide® Pet Cancer Awareness Walk, hosted by WoofTrax, Inc. and Animal Cancer Foundation. When registered participants track their walks on the WoofTrax mobile app between now and Nov. 30, 2021, Nationwide will donate 50 cents per walk, up to $60,000, to the Animal Cancer Foundation.

Those walking with their pets are encouraged to post photos on their favorite social media platforms using the hashtag #CurePetCancer. For complete details and registration, visit wooftrax.com/curepetcancer.

Over the last 11 years, Nationwide has donated nearly $500,000 to the Animal Cancer Foundation’s mission to fund research and increase public awareness of comparative oncology, the study of naturally occurring cancers in pets and people.