Author Archives: Dr. Jack Stephens

Ebola in Dogs & Cats – What You Need to Know

Bentley the dog was released from Ebola quarantine on Nov 1 2014.

Nina Pham, the Dallas nurse who survived Ebola was reunited with her dog, Bentley, on Saturday Nov. 1 after he was released from quarantine. (Photo Credit: City of Dallas)

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

As the global Ebola virus outbreak worsens, pet owners are starting to wonder how their animals could be affected by the virus. Recently, a dog belonging to a Spanish healthcare worker was euthanized by Spanish health officials because of fears that the dog could transmit the deadly virus. The Dallas nurse, Nina Pham, who recently became the first person to contract Ebola in the United States is also a pet owner. The local authorities in Dallas quarantined her dog, but Pham is now an Ebola survivor and her dog was released from quarantine on Nov. 1st after being cleared of not having Ebola. With conflicting views on pets in the Ebola crisis, should we be concerned about our pets contracting or transmitting Ebola?

Ebola is a zoonotic disease, which means that it can be transmitted to humans from other species. It is well known that Ebola can be contracted in humans from certain animals such as fruit bats and non-human primates such as apes and monkeys. The virus is spread through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids from an infected person or animal such as bats or monkeys. Animal to human transmission typically occurs from eating bush meat from infected animals. Dogs and cats that have been exposed to Ebola will form antibodies which tell us that their immune system is responding to the presence of the virus. However, there is no evidence that they become sick or show any symptoms from the virus. Additionally, there is currently no proof that dogs and cats can pass on the Ebola virus to humans.Read More…

Cat Breed Guide: Birman Cat

A Birman breed of cat with pet health insurance.By Dr. Fiona is a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a cat insurance and dog insurance agency.

About the  Birman Cat

Weight:  10-18 lb

Points of conformation: Face resembles a Siamese, but is rounder and fuller.  They are heavier boned than Siamese, and have small wide set ears.  They have large round paws and are long bodied.

Coat: Medium-long single coat.

Color: Kittens are born white and then develops the seal points.  White mittens 1/2 to 3/4 up to the ankles is desired.

Grooming needs: Low to moderate, daily brushing is recommended.

Origin: Burma (Myanmar)

Behavior Traits: Playful and friendly, but with a territorial tendency.

Is a Birman Cat Right for You?Read More…

Do’s and Don’ts for Rescuing Wildlife

a baby deerBy 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.

If a baby bird fell out of nest and landed in your front lawn, would you know what to do? And what not to do?

Or, let’s say you look out your sprawling, wooded backyard and see a fawn limping or even laying still. Should you approach?

October is designated as National Animal Safety and Prevention Month. Created by the PALS Foundation, this campaign is aimed at educating the public on the proper ways to handle and care for not only family pets but also wildlife. It is the ideal time to acknowledge the need to do our part to ensure we coexist with all animals in nature.Read More…

In Praise of Black Cats

A black cat sits by a sign that says black cat crossing.

By Dr. Tracy McFarland, a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a pet insurance agency for dogs and cats. 

In America black cats are often viewed as unlucky, but the Russians, Japanese, Scots, Irish and English disagree. They all feel that black cats bring luck and prosperity. Sailors have historically prefered black cats on their ships to bring luck( and to take care of any stowaway rodents…).

Black cats probably got their unlucky reputation in America from their association with so- called “witches” in the Middle ages. More recently, they have been associated with Halloween, especially the classic scared kitty with hunched back and bottlebrush tail.Read More…

5 Most Dangerous Halloween Candies for Your Dog

candy corn

By: Dr. Eva Evans, a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a dog insurance and cat insurance agency.

Halloween is associated with spooky haunted houses, costume parties and most of all, Halloween candy! Certain types of candy can be toxic and very dangerous to pets. These are the top 5 most dangerous Halloween candies.

1. Sugar-free Gum – This type of gum may contain Xylitol, a sugar-substitute. Xylitol is perfectly safe in people, but it can be deadly if ingested by a dog. Xylitol causes a very severe drop in blood sugar that can happen within minutes after ingestion. Dogs may become lethargic, unable to walk and start having seizures. If they survive the initial symptoms, they often will have severe liver damage and potentially fatal liver failure. This is the most dangerous type of Halloween candy for dogs.

2. Chocolate Covered Raisins – These tasty treats combine two potentially deadly ingredients in dogs. Chocolate can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea and seizures. Raisins (and other grape products) can cause severe kidney failure. The two of these combined is the ultimate toxic nightmare for Fido. If your dog eats any chocolate covered raisins this Halloween, he needs to be taken to your veterinarian immediately for treatment.

3. Candy with wrappers – When dogs get into the candy bowl, they don’t usually bother to unwrap the treats first. Plastic and foil wrappers pose a health risk since they can cause an obstruction in the intestines and irritate the lining of the GI tract. Sometimes, pets can pass the wrappers without a problem, but it is best to keep all wrapped treats away from pets just in case.

4. Bite-size Hard Candy – Hard candy often has a delicious taste to dogs. These treats pose a major choking hazard for pets. Hard candy becomes slippery when mixed with saliva, and it can easily be inhaled into the trachea (wind pipe) which can cause choking. Be sure to keep these candies away from dogs and cats.

5. Candy Corn and other High Sugar Candies – Candies that are made with pure sugar can cause severe gas and diarrhea. The sugar not only provides a great source of food for gut bacteria to indulge on, it can also pull water into the colon and cause a bad case of diarrhea.

Keep your pet safe this Halloween by keeping all of your Halloween treats in a safe, secure place.

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