Author Archives: Dr. Fiona Caldwell

When to Try Acupuncture

Pets can benefit from acupuncture regardless of whether they have pet insurance.
Holistic medicine – treating the whole body instead of just the injured or diseased portion – has been around for centuries. Whether or not it works continues to be a hotly debated topic in both human and veterinary medicine. Most veterinary clinicians agree, however, that holistic medicine can be helpful when paired with Western medicine in the treatment of inflammatory, neurological and painful conditions.

Acupuncture is one of the most well-known holistic treatments, even for cats and dogs, and some Pets Best Insurance plans include limited coverage for acupuncture treatment. Here’s what you need to know about acupuncture and whether it’s right for your pet.

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Seven Warning Signs in Senior Pets

No cat is too old for cat insurance from Pets Best Insurance!

It’s always important to bring your pets to the veterinarian annually to be examined, and even more important for senior pets. But when should you consider making that appointment a little earlier? Being able to recognize the clinical signs of common diseases seen in elderly pets will help them get the treatment they need and improve their chances of recovery.

Always consider pet health insurance before your pets are seniors and start having problems, so they can get the treatment they need. Pets Best insurance has no upper age limits for senior pets so they can be insured at any time! Here are the top 7 clinical signs to look for at home in your aging pets, and what diseases they may be associated with:

1. Increased thirst, with or without increased urination.
This should always be accompanied by a trip to the veterinarian’s office. There are many diseases that can cause this. Some are simple and easy to treat, such as a urinary tract infection, others are more complicated and serious, such as kidney disease or diabetes. Your veterinarian will want to run a urinalysis and potentially a blood panel to determine the underlying cause.

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True or False? Top 5 Beliefs About Spay and Neuter

A dog with dog insurance sticks out his tongue.

Congrats! You’ve made the decision to adopt a new four-legged member into your family. As you undoubtedly want to get started on the right foot, you’ve visited your vet, bought pet health insurance, and plan to have the newest edition spayed or neutered. Perhaps you’ve done a little research on the best time to have this procedure done. The timing of puppy and kitten spaying and neutering is a hotly debated topic with much misinformation and myths, even amongst veterinarians.

Shelters vs. Veterinary Hospitals

Pediatric spaying and neutering is broadly defined as spay/neuter surgery performed between 6 and 16 weeks of age, or any time before the typically recommended 6 months of age. The most common reason this happens at such a young age is due to shelter situations. Shelters are anxious to get puppies and kittens adopted out, and want to help control the pet population by ensuring pets are altered before going to their forever homes. It is unrealistic for shelters to house these pets up to 6 months of age and then alter them.

In a veterinarian setting, this is less of an issue, as your vet hopes to develop a relationship with you and trusts you’ll return for the recommended procedures and the recommended times. The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) has published surgical and anesthetic protocols based on clinical research reporting that early spay/neuter is safe in an effort to stem pet overpopulation.[1]

So we know it is safe, but when is the right time for your pet? Here are some common misconceptions about spaying and neutering pediatric animals.

1. Early spaying or neutering will stunt growth: False

This is likely not clinically true.  Some studies even suggest that the growth plates remain open longer when the pet is altered earlier, but this isn’t likely to make any appreciable difference in final size.

2. Early spaying/neutering will protect against certain cancers: True and False

This is true in the case of mammary cancer in females. Literature suggests that the risk of developing mammary cancer in a pet spayed before her first heat cycle is less than 1%, after her first heat cycle her risk rises to 8%. It is false, however, that early neutering protects against prostatic cancer in males. The incidence of prostatic cancer is equivalent in neutered and intact males. [2]

3. Early spaying causes urinary incontinence in females: Unknown

The jury is out on this one. Cornell university did a long term study on dogs spayed prior to three months and found 12% of the early spayed females versus 5% of the later spayed females developed incontinence, but a Texas A&M research projects suggests there was no change in the numbers affected based on age spayed.  There have even been some studies showing the opposite to be true, that females spayed later had more urinary incontinence. Clearly there is a need for more research to settle this dispute.

4. Spaying and neutering causes obesity: False

It is statistically true that altered pets tend to be heavier than their intact counterparts, but obesity is highly linked to a variety of contributing factors and is largely preventable with diet and exercise. Even intact pets can be heavy if overfed.

5. My pet’s personality will change with spaying or neutering: False

There doesn’t appear to be any appreciable effect on personality with early spay/neuter. Certainly a pet spayed or neutered at any age will have fewer hormonally-driven behaviors such as urine marking, territorialism, roaming and fighting.

Be sure to talk with your veterinarian about the timing for your puppy of kitten to be spayed or neutered, and any reservations or questions you have about the procedure.


[1] American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

[2] American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Is Fluffy Too Flabby? 5 Tips to Get Frisky in Fine Shape

A cat with pet insurance eats wet food.

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) released a nationwide survey in February 2012 showing 55% of cats are overweight or obese. Getting an obese cat to lose weight can be a bit more challenging, than say a dog, due to their independent nature. And multiple cat households can be even trickier!

If you think Buttons might be too boxy, here are some tips that can help:

1. Reduce Portions
Use the 20% for cats too! Determine exactly how much your cat eats in 24 hours, then reduce by 20%. In single-cat households this can work nicely; when the daily allotment of kibble is gone, no more until the next day. It is possible to feed pre-measured meals also. Cats may benefit from more feedings through the day versus just two. Cats can be trained to eat meals, just like dogs.

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Bulging Baxter? 5 Tips for Chubby Canines

A dog with pet insurance eats a bowl of dog food.

It’s true, Americans are getting heavier and our pets are doing the same. To reverse this trend, the first thing that must happen is recognition of obesity.The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) released a nationwide survey in February 2012 showing that 53% of dogs overweight or obese. In addition to an increased number of obese pets, there is a disturbing decrease in people’s perception of their pets’ obesity. The study conducted by the APOP showed that 22% of dog owners and 15% of cat owners thought their pets were a normal weight, when really they were overweight.

Here are some tips transform your pooch from poochy, to healthy:

1. Hefty Hounds
Feed pre-measured meals. Pets that have access to as much food as they want and nibble through the day are going to be much harder to regulate. First determine exactly how many cups of kibble your pet is eating in 24 hours; use a baking measuring cup. Pet portion control is easy. Just measure out the amount you usually put in the bowl, them measure how much is left at the end of 24 hours. Next, reduce the amount of kibble you feed by about 20%. In single dog households this can work well, because you’ll put the pre-measured amount of kibble in the bowl, and when it’s gone, no refills!

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