Leaping Pet ‘Tails’

Nationwide insured pet Shayna enjoys a leap into the family pool.


Leap Year just passed and only comes once every four years, but our pets are not averse to taking a “leap” when we least expect it. In honor of the quadrennial holiday on February 29, 2016 Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance, featured perilous pups and courageous cats that took a leap of faith and lived to bark or purr about it.

From a super hero impersonating cat in Florida, to an overanxious traveling Husky in New Jersey, the Nationwide database of more than 550,000 insured pets reveals several harrowing leaps:

  • Henry, a Labrador retriever from San Diego, Calif., over shot an enthusiastic reunion with his neighbor and launched off a two-story balcony before landing on a car. Despite falling more than 20 feet and having a “ruff” landing, Henry only suffered from a broken toe nail and has since made a full recovery.
  • Eero, a Husky from Lawrence Township, N.J., couldn’t contain himself on his daily commute to the dog park and leaped out of his owner’s car, which was traveling at more than 35 mph. Eero freed himself from his safety travel hammock and squeezed through a side window, landing on the pavement below. After receiving stitches, Eero made a full recovery and escaped the incident with nothing more than a life lesson.


  • Shayna, a Labrador retriever from Holiday, Fla., jumped off a sea wall and into a canal, which wasn’t too far-fetched, since this leaping Lab loves the water. But because it was low tide, Shayna fell onto a bed of sharp oysters leading to treatment for multiple lacerations. Shayna has made a full recovery and enjoys her days leaping into the family swimming pool for a daily dip.
  • Stark, a mixed breed cat from Naples, Fla., lived up to his “Iron Man” inspired name when he attempted to fly off his cat tree by leaping off the top. Unfortunately, Stark’s plan was foiled when he got caught in the window blinds and ended up hanging upside down by his tail. After being rescued and undergoing medical treatment, Stark’s tail was saved and he has since made a full recovery.
  • Heidi Elizabeth, a Cocker Spaniel from Cumberland, R.I., attempted to get a better view of her owners as they drove away by using the back of a couch to look out of a second story window. However, the sporadic Spaniel misjudged her leap to the top and crashed through the window, falling to the concrete driveway directly in front of her departing owner. Luckily, Heidi Elizabeth avoided any long term injuries and has since made a full recovery.

Last year, soft tissue trauma was the most common injury related to leaping accidents among Nationwide insured pets with more than 20,000 individual cases, and carried an average cost of $230 for treatment. Sprains were the second most common injury with more than 4,000 individual cases and an average cost of $186 to treat.

“Many times our pets become too excited and jump from heights without realizing the danger,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for Nationwide. “If your pets fall from a high distance, you should take them to a veterinarian immediately, even if they don’t show signs of pain. They may be instinctively hiding an injury, leaving you unaware of the damage they have caused.”

One final conclusion worth leaping to: among Nationwide’s database of insured pets, one species reigns supreme as the Leap Year champion – the Sugar Glider, a small gliding possum that leaps and can subsequently glide the length of a football field. Nationwide is the only pet insurance company in the United States that insures these leaping legends.


*All pets highlighted above have made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible medical expenses.