Fall 2023

Hambone Awards: From a veterinarian’s perspective

Here’s what our veterinary team had to say about our 2023 Hambone Nominee stories.

Despite our best efforts, not every accident can be avoided. Sometimes, the unexpected happens to our pets—and when it does, it helps to have a great veterinary team behind you.

Every year, Nationwide® highlights some of our strangest claims as part of the Hambone Award celebration. We’ve asked our in-house team of veterinary experts to shed a little light on each nominee’s story and offer their insights about protecting your pets.

Aurora, Goldendoodle

Aurora the goldendoodle bounds through a snowy area

From: Newton, IA

What happened? While on a walk during a heavy snowstorm, Aurora took one wrong step—and caught her leg in a storm drain. Read Aurora's story.

Veterinary takeaway: Going out in the snow with pets can be fun, but as Aurora’s pet parents learned, snow can also hide some hazards – especially after dark.

Sharp sticks, stones, uneven ground—and yes, storm drains—can be concealed beneath the powder and easily stepped on. We’ve even seen pets with facial injuries who ran into something with their noses when sniffing in the snow. Even though it can be tempting to let them play, keep a tight leash on pets in snowy, dark areas.

Belle, Jindo

Belle the jindo puppy smiles tongue out at the camera

From: Atlanta, GA

What happened? Belle squirmed through her enclosure to greet an unexpected visitor—a large, unfriendly buck. Read Belle's story.

Veterinary takeaway: If you know you live in an area with wild animals, make sure you take extra precautions to keep your pet away from them.

Belle was very lucky she didn’t get more severely injured, as bucks can be extremely aggressive during mating season. Those antlers and sharp hooves can cause significant damage to pets who get in their way. Learn about your local wildlife neighbors, whether it be skunks, snakes, coyotes, porcupines, deer or other animals. Make sure your pet cannot squeeze through or jump over barriers to reach wild animals, and always check your yard for “visitors” before letting your pet outside.

Bernie, Mixed-breed dog

Bernie a small mixed breed dog runs toward the camera across a grassy field

From: Rescue, CA

What happened? A fun run on the ranch turned dangerous when Bernie got tumbled by an ATV. Read Bernie's story.

Veterinary takeaway: Bernie was fortunate that his injuries—including the rare “folding fracture”—were relatively minor, and he was able to receive prompt treatment. Bernie's owner's extreme diligence in complying with veterinary instructions to restrict movement to crate rest and short leash trips was essential in allowing Bernie to properly heal and return to his old healthy self.

It can be tempting to allow dogs to chase motorized vehicles to get some energy out, but as Bernie’s story shows, the consequences can be catastrophic. From cars and trucks to ATVs and lawnmowers, the temptation to try and “catch” or bite at those tires may be too much, and pets can end up getting injured. If your dog has tons of energy to burn but you don't have time for long walks or jogs, try games that involve exercise.

Giles, Domestic short-haired cat

Giles the black cat sits on a bed

From: New York, NY

What happened? Giles quickly slipped under a pull-out sofa—and got smooshed when it was closed. Read Giles's story.

Veterinary takeaway: Cats are notorious for getting into tight spaces, so it’s important to be mindful of areas where they could hide, particularly if they are collapsible. Giles found a cozy spot under a pull-out couch, but other cats crawl into clothes dryers, nestle in cupboards, or doze on the undercarriages of cars.

If you’re packing or putting something away, check your cat’s whereabouts, and carefully look on, under and around furniture or objects to ensure your feline friend won’t get stuck or hurt. In the meantime, provide safe and comfortable places for your cat to climb.

Grayson, Labrador retriever

Grayson Haze the labrador retriever smiles tongue out at the camera at the park

From: College Station, TX

What happened? While out on his daily walk, Grayson took an unexpectedly mighty leap off a bridge. Read Grayson Haze's story.

Veterinary takeaway: Grayson was a very lucky puppy. He turned to the side while in mid-air, which meant he didn’t land directly on his legs—a position that commonly leads to life-threatening injury when experienced by many falling pets. While he came home with some very serious injuries, it could have been much worse.

Since pets can be unpredictable, take extreme caution around ledges, cliffs, heights and other fall risks. Keep them on a tight leash and don’t let them get near the edge.

Jax, Pug

Jax the one-eyed pug nestles beneath a blanket

From: Las Vegas, NV

What happened? Sometimes you can get too snuggly—as Jax discovered when he fell asleep under a comforter and got heat stroke. Read Jax's story.

Veterinary takeaway: Pugs are at a much higher risk for overheating than other breeds, in part because their shortened noses make it more difficult for them to pant effectively. If a pug has breathing issues already, like Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), their risk is even higher.

While your pooch may look cozy snuggled under blankets, it can be dangerous to let them stay there for too long. Overheating can occur in a matter of minutes, so it’s best to ensure they stay cool to stay safe.

Josie, Mixed-breed dog

Josie the mixed breed dog stares at the camera on a blue background

From: Alameda, CA

What happened? An athletic and high-energy pup, Josie picked up too much speed and ran into a bleacher seat. Read Josie's story.

Veterinary takeaway: For high-energy dogs, the risk of injury during playtime increases—because they play and run so doggone hard! They’ll sometimes get so focused on the game that they forget to watch where they’re going. This can lead to unfortunate incidents like what happened to Josie.

When playing fetch or other games off-leash, choose a level, open, grassy area to play in. To minimize the risk of injury, examine the area before the game begins to ensure it’s free from potential hazards like holes, rocks, shrubs and lawn ornaments.

Miko, Tonkinese cat

Miko the Tonkinese cat sits in front of bright windows looking off screen

From: New Orleans, LA

What happened? An interaction with a nesting bird led to an emergency trip to the veterinarian for Miko. Read Miko's story.

Veterinary takeaway: When cats and wildlife meet, the result is often unpleasant for one side or the other (or, as in Miko’s case, all involved!). We can’t expect cats to suppress their natural instincts to hunt smaller animals or challenge other cats—so the best bet is to keep them away from potential danger entirely.

To ensure your feline friend stays safe, we recommend keeping them indoors. This also reduces their risk of picking up parasites or being exposed to other environmental hazards like toxic plants. Provide playtime and toys to help satisfy their need to chase, jump and hunt, and allow them access to windows to safely observe the outside world. If they crave wide open spaces, allow them to explore their yard on a leash or inside a “catio” while under your watchful eye.

Rolex, Conure

Rolex the multicolored conure poses on a blue background

From: Milton, MA

What happened? An elevated perch turned into a serious health scare when Rolex got shut in a closing door. Read Rolex's story.

Veterinary takeaway: When it comes to preventing injuries to feathered friends, knowing their habits and communicating those habits with visitors is your best bet. Rolex loves to view his world from up high on a door, while other birds may like to sit on ceiling fans, on chair backs, or on top of cabinets. If you have friends or family visiting, make sure they know your bird’s common hiding or perching places.

When your bird is free to roam the room, additional precautions must be taken to ensure their health and safety. Keep appliances turned off or unplugged and stow any electrical wires or cords to prevent chewing.

Sunny, Labrador retriever

Sunny

From: Anaheim, CA

What happened? Sunny’s insatiable urge to snack led to a shuffled crate and ingested cords. Read Sunny's story.

Veterinary takeaway: Foreign body ingestions are one of the most common health issues we see in Labs, especially during their puppy and young adult years. This risk decreases as they get older, but some young Labs can’t help themselves when it comes to eating forbidden objects. 

For inquisitive young dogs like Sunny who default to an “eat now, ask questions later” approach, the temptation to snack is too great and they’ll attempt to break out (or move an entire crate across the floor like Sunny did). It’s best to remove anything tempting from view, even when they’re crated. Giving your pooch an appropriate chew toy in the crate can help keep their minds occupied as well.

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Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet

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