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4 Fall & Winter Hazards for Cats

Posted on: November 21st, 2014 by

A cat outside in lots of snow.

By Dr. Tracy McFarland, a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a cat insurance agency.

While Fall is definitely my favorite season, it does bring certain hazards to watch for when it comes to your cat.  Knowledge of these potential dangers gives you the power to keep your cat safe. Prevention is much better than treatment! Here are four hazards you should be aware of:

1. Antifreeze

Cooler weather often brings the necessity for changing or adding antifreeze to your car. If your radiator leaks, which occurs more commonly in older cars, antifreeze can end up on your garage floor, driveway or the gutter.

Antifreeze containing ethylene glycol is extremely poisonous to cats. Because ethylene glycol has a sweet taste, cats, dogs and wildlife are attracted to it. As little as a teaspoon of antifreeze can cause irreversible kidney damage and death, if not treated within the first few hours after ingestion. Antifreeze causes harm, first by gastrointestinal irritation and then by the formation of calcium oxalate crystals that destroy a cat’s kidneys, if prompt action isn’t taken to remove as much of the toxin as possible, followed by intravenous fluids to flush the kidneys, for two to three days. You might see initial neurologic signs of confusion, weakness and a wobbly gait. If given soon enough, 4-MP or 20% ethanol can prevent severe kidney damage caused by antifreeze toxicity.  Consider using one of the newer nontoxic antifreeze compounds in your car’s radiator.

2. Cold Weather

Another cold weather hazard is the actual weather itself. Extreme cold weather can cause life-threatening hypothermia, despite cats’ fur coats. While certain breeds such as Maine Coons have adapted to withstand harsh weather conditions, and most shorthaired cats can develop a thick undercoat when exposed to cold temperatures over time, the combination of cold and wet can be deadly.

If your cats live outdoors, shelter from cold, wind and damp will be very helpful, and indeed lifesaving in extreme weather conditions. If bringing your outdoor cat indoors into your home is not an option, please make sure he or she has an insulated doghouse, barn or out building to shelter in. The floor needs to be raised enough to stay dry, even in heavy rain.  Certain breeds cannot withstand severe weather, even with shelter. The “oriental” breeds, such as Siamese, Burmese, Tonkinese and Abyssinians have sleek coats with little undercoat. They love warmth and would be miserable and at risk in cold weather.

3. Turkey

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6 Thanksgiving Foods Dogs & Cats Shouldn’t Eat

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by

A black labrador dog eyes a plate full of food at Thanksgiving.

By Dr. Eva Evans, a veterinarian and writer for pet health insurance agency, Pets Best.

It’s that time of year again! Thanksgiving is almost here, and that means an abundance of delicious food. However, many food items that people enjoy aren’t healthy for pets to consume. This is important to remember during holiday meals, when dogs and cats beg for table scraps and guests might fall for those cute faces. To ensure your pets remain healthy this Thanksgiving, below are six dishes to keep away from your pets. Be sure to inform your family and dinner guests about these potentially toxic or dangerous foods so they do not feed them to your pets.

1. Ham

Ham and other pork products can cause pancreatitis, upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea. Ham tends to be high in fat as well, which can lead to obesity in pets. Even a small amount of ham can contribute a very large amount of calories in a small dog or cat.

 2. Turkey Bones

Bones can cause severe indigestion in dogs and cats, potentially causing vomiting and  obstructing the bowel. Bones may also splinter and cause damage to the inside of the stomach and intestines. In some cases, turkey bones may even puncture through the stomach and cause a potentially fatal abdominal infection.

3. Stuffing

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Dog Breed Guide: Bullmastiff

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by
A bullmastiff puppy dog with pet insurance from Pets Best.

A Bullmastiff puppy.

Dr. Marc is a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a dog insurance and cat insurance agency.

About the Bullmastiff
Height (to base of neck): female 24-26″, male 25-27″
Weight: female 100-120lbs, male 110-130lbs
Color: Fawn, red and brindled
Origin: Great Britain
Coat: Short very dense hair coat.
Life Expectancy: 9-10 years
Energy level: Low to moderate
Exercise needs: Low to moderate

Is a Bullmastiff the Right Dog Breed for You?
Bullmastiffs were originally used as guard dogs and thus they have retained their protectiveness. They are intelligent, self assured and courageous, but also very aloof with strangers and can be prone to aggression without early socialization. They are sensitive to temperature extremes, but are suited to urban or rural lifestyles due to low to moderate exercise needs. They require minimal grooming and shed moderately. They are droolers.

Common Illnesses, Medical Conditions and Accidents for the Bullmastiff

According to the number of dog insurance claims Pets Best receives

Medical Issue  Average Claim Amount  Expensive Claim 
Skin Allergies $795 $8,397
Cruciate Ligament Injury $2,742 $11,294
Ear Infections $248 $4,616
Cancer $3,136 $12,133
Cystitis $529 $2,414

 

Protect Your Bullmastiff with Pet Insurance

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Why Cats Eat Wool, and How to Help

Posted on: November 14th, 2014 by

A cat sucks on wool yarn.

By Arden Moore, a certified dog and cat behaviorist with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Arden is an author, radio host, and writer for Pets Best, a pet insurance agency for dogs and cats.

Oriental cat breeds, particularly Siamese cats, are genetically at an increased risk for mouthing, sucking and chewing on wool clothing and other materials. Some also salivate and knead with their forepaws.

Sucking on wool as well as chewing and eating shoelaces, newspaper and plastic, are forms of a feline compulsive disorder known as pica, or the eating of inedible objects. This behavior can start as early as when a kitten is four months of age, but generally surfaces after age 1.

Besides the destruction of perhaps your favorite wool sweater or unread section of the daily newspaper, pica can be extremely dangerous for the health of your cat. Ingesting wool can lead to intestinal obstruction that can have fatal consequences if not treated immediately by a veterinarian who may need to perform abdominal surgery.

The primary two-prong treatment for this obsessive-compulsive disorder involves specific medications and behavior modification. In addition, some cats seem to benefit by being switched to high-fiber diets recommended by your veterinarian.

Medical treatment may call for giving the cat Prozac® with the goal of eventually weaning the cat off of this drug. Behavior modification strategies that work best include stepping up the cat’s activity level by exercising him or her with moving toys and flashlights as well as treat balls that they can paw at to release kibble.

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Midas Cares Veteran’s Day Donation Match

Posted on: November 11th, 2014 by

United States Marine Sgt. Juan Valdez and Dogs on Deployment mascot, Midas.

Our friends at Dogs on Deployment are the experts at finding foster homes for the pets of military members who are fulfilling service commitments. Dogs on Deployment has added a new initiative, Midas Cares, bringing awareness to the benefits of using service dogs to treat military members and veterans with post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injuries, and military sexual trauma victims.

Midas is the 2014 Dogs on Deployment mascot and military pet of the year. In May, we announced Midas was protected with Pets Best, and has accident and illness coverage with his pet insurance plan. The Midas Cares initiative was created by Sgt. Juan Valdez, who credits Midas with saving his life while coping with PTS, after serving four tours in Iraq as a Marine.

With the help of Dogs on Deployment, Sgt. Valdez and Midas are able to fulfill their dreams and goals to improve the veteran service dog community. From helping veterans locate service dog programs in their area, to advocating for more holistic treatment and awareness for veterans everywhere, Midas Cares is a worthy cause.

In honor of Veteran’s Day, Pets Best will match donations made to the Midas Cares initiative for the month of November. To make a donation, visit Dogs on Deployment and select ‘Support Midas Cares’ from the dropdown menu. Get a pet insurance quote from Pets Best and receive a 5% discount.