Author Archives: Dr. Fiona Caldwell

Your top 5 pet health Facebook questions

A puppy with pet insurance cocks his head.

The Pets Best Insurance Facebook page is always open to your pet health comments and questions! Here are some recent questions from our Facebook friends regarding their pets:

Delores asks: What age can you have a puppy’s dew claws removed*?

A: While some pet owners will opt to have their puppy’s dewclaws removed, many others will not. This procedure, which is considered “cosmetic” by Pets Best Insurance, and is therefore not covered, is something that should be discussed with your veterinarian. Puppies can have their dewclaws removed between 3 and 5 days of age. When younger than this, the pups tend to be a bit fragile, and when older than this, the blood supply to that declaw is increased, and stopping blood flow can be more difficult.

If you missed the tiny 2 day window for appropriate dewclaw removal, some veterinarians will remove the dewclaws when the pet is older and is spayed or neutered. This is a full anesthetic procedure and the pet will likely have stitches and bandages. But dewclaws aren’t always a bad thing. In fact, some breeds, like Great Pyrenees, are bred for their multiple dewclaws! The most important thing is to keep them trimmed because they often don’t wear down normally and can curl.

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Appreciate your pet? Here are 10 ways to show it!

A dog with pet health insurance goes for a car ride.

By: Dr. Fiona Caldwell
Idaho Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance

National Pet Appreciation Week is July 10th through the 16th! This week is meant to remind us to pause and be thankful for the unconditional love our pets provide for us daily, and to shed light on the epidemic of homeless pets that don’t have a person to love. Animals are unique in their ability to bring so much joy and ask for so little in return. Why not take some time to give back to the furry loved one in your life? Here are some ways that you can show how much you care, even if you don’t have a pet.

1. Consider pet health insurance
This is the ultimate way to show your pet you care. Pet insurance will allow you to give your beloved the treatment they need in a time of emergency. Veterinary medicine can be expensive and having dog or cat insurance may help alleviate the financial strain.

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Is your pet limping? It could be deadly

A dog without dog insurance awaits treatment for bone cancer.

By: Dr. Fiona Caldwell
Idaho Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance

‘Mack’ is a 4 year old Newfoundland with a sweet, goofy disposition and a whole LOT of hair. He tops the scales at over 160 pounds, but wouldn’t harm a fly. He came to my vet hospital recently for evaluation of a progressive lameness over several weeks. By the time he came into the clinic he wasn’t bearing any weight on his left hind leg. When I examined him, I could see is lower shin bone was swollen, hot and very painful. Concerned, I convinced the owners to let me do some diagnostic testing of the affected area. This confirmed my fears. Mack had bone cancer.

It is estimated that up to 50% of dogs and 30 to 35% of cats will be affected with some type of cancer in their lifetimes. This is one of the reasons pet insurance agency, Pets Best Insurance has just launched a new “Cancer Only” pet insurance policy— which may significantly help make cancer treatment more affordable for pet owners. Purebred dogs can be at an increased risk, and there are certain breeds that tend to be over-represented, such as Golden Retrievers and Boxers. It is postulated that the documented increase in cancer cases in our companion pets is likely related to the fact that pets are living longer. Many people are keeping their pets in their homes and feeding high quality diets, which is translating to longer life spans.

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Home cookin': The do’s and don’ts for your pet

By: Dr. Fiona Caldwell
Idaho Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance

A dog with pet health insurance watches as his master prepares a meal.

We all want our pets to be as healthy as possible, this is why many people purchase a pet health insurance policy for their pets and take them to the vet for routine visits. Obviously your pet’s diet is an important part of staying healthy. If you want to treat your furry family member to a feast for a special occasion, or if you prefer a daily home-cooked diet, here are some tips to ensure whatever you whip up in the kitchen is alright to share with your pet.

If you are exclusively cooking for your dog or cat, it is crucial that you make it a balanced diet. Cats, for example, cannot synthesize Taurine, and a diet deficient in this will cause heart disease. Commercial pet foods are nutritionally balanced to meet the meets of your pet, if you plan on foregoing commercial pet food completely, talk with your veterinarian about supplements you will need to add to meals you cook to create a balanced diet. This can be hard work, and is important that it is done right.

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Or Call 877-738-7237 to Speak with a Pets Best Insurance Agent to Add a Pet to Your Current Policy

Dogs are Omnivores
Dogs are actually not obligate carnivores like cats are. A healthy canine diet should consist of a variety of foods, including vegetables and grains, in addition to meat.

Cook Meats the Same as You Would for Yourself
Raw food diets are controversial in the veterinary world. The bottom line for feeding raw foods is that uncooked meat can carry harmful bacteria, such as salmonella and E. Coli or even internal parasites. Ideally meat and egg type ingredients should be cooked to prevent potential GI disease.

Foods to Avoid
Almost everyone knows that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but did you know you should also avoid grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, onions and garlic?

Be Wary About Enticing with Human Foods
Dogs are smart! If you whip up a fried egg every time they refuse their kibbles, they will quickly learn to turn up their nose to dog food. In a sense, Fido is training you! Most dogs will eat when they are hungry, and refusing a meal might just be due to being full. Of course, if your dog is generally an enthusiastic eater and suddenly starts to refuse food, this could be a sign that something is wrong and you should consult with your veterinarian. Having a dog or cat insurance policy may help with diagnostic and treatment costs.

Be Cautious About Portions
Pet obesity is unfortunately a pretty common problem. Some estimates suggest up to a third of cats and dogs in the US suffer from being overweight. Obesity can cause a slew of health problems and can ultimately short your pet’s life. Visit or for tools to help you determine the right amount of food for your pet. Your veterinarian should also be able to calculate the right daily caloric requirements; the amount may surprise you!

Cooking for your cat or dog is a nice way to show them you care. If you are planning to cook every day, be sure to do your research, it can be fairly involved to ensure a balanced diet. If you are just interested in a special feast for a birthday or to celebrate graduating puppy classes, using these tips can help ensure a safe and yummy meal that is guaranteed to bring a smile.

Learn more about pet health and the benefits of cat and dog insurance today.

Top 10 things your veterinarian wants to say

A puppy chews on a shoe.

By: Dr. Fiona Caldwell
Idaho Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance

You’ve made the call and the appointment is on the calendar. Fido or Fluffy is going to the vet! Whether your appointment is to help diagnose and treat a potential problem (here’s where pet insurance can come in handy, by the way) or for a routine wellness examination and vaccines, here are 10 things that your veterinarian would really like you to know prior to stepping foot in the clinic:

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Or Call 877-738-7237 to Speak with a Pets Best Insurance Agent to Add a Pet to Your Current Policy

1. Use a leash
Even if Fido is the best-behaved dog on the block, there could be a clinic cat on the loose, birds on a perch up front, or other less-well trained dogs present in the waiting room. For your dog’s safety and the safety of the veterinary staff, use a leash when in a veterinary clinic every time.

2. Use a carrier for cats
Cats are particular creatures and for some reason, a veterinary clinic can bring out the worst in even the friendliest and best-behaved cat. If your cat were to get loose in the parking lot and run (this has happened!), you may have a very serious situation on your hands.

3. Please, please don’t bathe your pet immediately before the appointment
Of course you want Rosco looking his best for his check up, but no veterinarian wants to smell like a soggy, wet dog for the rest of the day. If you are going to bathe him, allow time for him to dry off, or if he’ll allow it, use a low setting on a blow dryer to speed up the drying process.

4. Bring samples
If Muffy has been having diarrhea, it may seem gross, but the doctor will likely want to run a sample to see what may be causing the underlying pet health issue. Same goes for urine, or unidentified insects or worms you see on your pet, sometimes even vomit can be helpful! If it isn’t needed, it can always just be thrown away. Use a clean container, such as Tupperware, or a Ziplock baggy.

5. Don’t let you dog urinate right before the exam if there is a possibility labwork might be performed
Often screening labwork will include a urinalysis, so be sure your dog has urine in her bladder beforehand. And, of course, if your pet is being seen for a urinary problem, a urine sample will be needed; don’t let your dog void it out on the clinic lawn!

6. Consider taking pictures or video of the problem
It never fails: limps go away, coughs can’t be conjured and that horrible sneeze will be nowhere in sight the minute you step foot in the vet’s office. Consider using your smart phone to capture the behavior that you are concerned about on video to show the veterinarian.

7. Please warn us if your dog may bite
Veterinarians understand the clinic is a scary place and even sweet dogs and cats may bite out of fear. By letting the veterinarian know beforehand that your dog is anxious, we can change how we approach him or her in the exam room to try and make it a more relaxing veterinarian trip. Likely we’ll try to move slower, talk a little more softly, and avoid making direct eye contact to be less threatening. Worse case scenario, we may opt to muzzle you pet prior to the examination in order to keep everyone safe.

8. Don’t bring other pets ‘along for the ride’
The exam room can be anxiety provoking enough without it being filled with more bodies! Let other pets stay home, or leave them with another family member in the waiting room.

9. Don’t feed your pet if you think there is a chance sedation will be needed
Of course we all know food should be withheld prior to surgeries, but if at all possible, food should be withheld prior to sedated procedures as well. This might include procedure to flush an ear, or stitch a wound.

10. Try to refrain from helping restrain your pet
We understand you feel the need to comfort your pet. I find that pets will often do better if the person most likely to ‘save’ them (you) isn’t hovering.

Using good common sense will go a long way towards making the vet visit comfortable and pleasant for everyone involved! One final word of veterinary wisdom I will leave you with is something every vet I know would like to say. Research cat and dog insurance. This is one of the best things you can do to help protect both the health of your pet and the special bond you have. Pet insurance can cost around $1 a day and makes the best treatments more affordable for pet owners. If you haven’t already, get a free quote from Pets Best Insurance today and learn why they are the “best pet insurance.”

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