Latest figures reveal insurers paid out the equivalent of £1.3 million every day in 2013.
The cost of owning a cat or dog has been highlighted by the latest figures from the Association of British Insurers, which show the average claim made on pet insurance has topped £600.
Last year, pet insurers paid £478 million mainly to cover veterinary bills for treating sick and injured cats and dogs.
Yet despite the rise in the number and cost of claims, the figures reveal that an alarming number of pet owners in the UK still do not have pet insurance.
The figures show that in 2013:
• £478 million was paid by pet insurers, mainly in respect of the cost of treating sick or injured cats and dogs, up 24% since 2010
• Nearly 800,000 claims were made by cat and dog owners, a rise of 8% since 2010
• Of the 17 million owners of cats and dogs in the UK, only around 15% have pet insurance
Figures indicate the average cost of treating a dog injured in a road traffic accident is £674 and £300 for a cat.
Spinal surgery for a dog can cost £2,000 and treating a uterine infection will cost around £900, while an overnight stay can typically cost £675 for a dog and £300 for a cat.
Along with routine claims for cats and dogs, there was a number of unusual pet claims including the removal of a mouth tumour from a hedgehog and the treatment of a ferret with heart disease.