Author Archives: Dr. Jack Stephens

5 Fitness Tips for Pets in Winter

Fitness and exercise tips for your dogs and cats during winter.

By Therese Pope, a freelance writer based in California. Pope writes for Pets Best, a pet health insurance agency for dogs and cats.

Despite the frosty nip in the air, your dogs and cats still need exercise and playtime during the winter months. Here are 5 exercise tips to keep pets active, healthy and happy when the cold weather hits.

1. Sign pets up for a fitness class
Active dog breeds such as Labs and Shepherds need plenty of exercise and will greatly benefit from an indoor fitness class where they can run and jump. During the winter months, sign them up for an indoor agility, swimming or flyball class. Interactive fitness classes are also a great way for pet parents to bond with their fur babies. These classes also help dogs socialize and get along better with other dogs.

2. Play indoor hide and seek games
If it’s too cold for active pets to play and frolic outside, pet behaviorist Arden Moore suggests you create your own fun by playing indoor games. Hide and seek games with dogs reinforce their recall cues. Have your dog stay in one room while you hide in another room. Call out your dog’s name in a playful, friendly manner and tell him to find you. When he finds you, praise him with treats and lots of petting. Another fun game is to hide treats for cats and dogs in certain locations of your home. Dogs and cat are naturally curious and love to explore and sniff, especially when searching out their favorite treats.

3. Get pets moving with fun toys
When the temps drop, lazy pets like to sleep the day away by lounging in front of a warm fire. Get your pets moving! Find fun, engaging toys that encourage them to bat, run, jump and play. Puppies and kittens love to chase and pounce on toys that roll on the floor and make noise. Buy toys filled with catnip and watch your furry felines run around for hours. You can also play fetch games inside. Roll or throw a ball down a hallway and have fun watching them run back and forth. When playing with pets indoors, make sure there are no dangerous hazards that could injure both pets and humans.Read More…

New Pet Checklist – 7 Must Haves

A checklist of seven must haves for all new pet owners of dogs and cats.By Eva Evans, a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a pet health insurance agency for dogs and cats.

During the holidays many people add a new furry family member to their household. If you find yourself with a new cold-nosed four-legged friend this season, be sure to follow this important checklist to have everything ready for your new pet!

1. Food

Choosing a food that’s appropriate for your new pet can be overwhelming. With hundreds of brands available, it can be difficult to sort through all of the options for a good pet food. Be sure to choose a diet that is consistent with your new pet’s age and size. For example, a 6 month old Chihuahua should eat a small breed puppy food, while an 8 year old Great Dane should eat a giant breed senior formula. Be sure that your pet’s new food contains an AAFCO feeding statement – this means that the food has been scientifically tested and proved to be healthy! Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation on the best foods available and remember, while cheap foods tend to be poor quality, the most expensive food isn’t always the best.

2. Bedding

Your new pet will need a place to safely and comfortably rest after a long day of playing. If you plan to allow your new pet on the bed and sofa, they may not need their own bed as they will surely prefer yours! However, pets who will sleep in a crate at night or on the floor need an appropriately sized bed. Make sure that the bed is large enough for them to sprawl out comfortably and made from soft padding. Beds need to be washed, so a machine-washable fabric is best.

3. Crate or Carrier

New cats and kittens will need a carrier to safely transport them from the house to the veterinary office. New Puppies and dogs often need a crate as a safe place to sleep at night and when left alone at home. Crating your new puppy or dog will keep him safe from chewing on electrical cords, getting into toxic foods and chewing up your favorite pair of shoes! Crates are also very helpful when house training your new pet. Once your puppy or dog is comfortable in the house, potty-trained at night and no longer at risk of getting themselves hurt while unsupervised, you may no longer need the crate. Pets who are prone to getting themselves in trouble (getting into the trash, chewing up household items, counter surfing or fighting with housemates) at any age should be crated while unsupervised no matter what age they are. Providing your new pet with a comfortable carrier or crate that is big enough for them to turn around in also provides them with a “safe place” to hide when the stress of holiday parties and extended family are around.

4. VeterinarianRead More…

Cat Breed Guide: Russian Blue

A Russian Blue cat with pet insurance from Pets Best.By Dr. Fiona, a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a dog insurance and cat insurance agency.

About the Russian Blue

Weight:  8-12lb

Points of conformation: Medium sized lithe body with long features.  Long straight nose with a flat profile. Wide-set somewhat hairless ears with rounded tips. Small compact round feet and long slender tail.

Coat: Very dense short plush double hair coat with silky texture and glossy finish

Color: Distinctive blue with grey tipping on hairs.

Grooming needs: Low shedding and low grooming need.

Origin: Russia

Behavior Traits: Athletic and playful.

Is a Russian Blue cat right for You?Read More…

Top Pet Names of 2015

Bella, ranked number one for both dogs and cats as the top pet name of 2015.

By Pets Best, a leading U.S. pet insurance agency for dogs and cats, founded in 2005.

As the year comes to close, it’s time to look at the top dog and cat names of 2015. Each year at Pets Best, we look at our new customers from the year and make a list of the most popular pet names. While the list of top names stays fairly consistent year to year (we have data going back to 2005 when our company first launched) this year there were a few surprises.

Starting with the dogs, the name Cooper jumped up from #12 in 2014 to #8 this year. Perhaps due to the continued popularity of the TV show Big Bang Theory and its character Sheldon Cooper. While the name Jack, also a very popular human name, made #16 this year; in 2014, it wasn’t even in the top 20. While a former favorite name, Bear, was at #16 in 2014 and this year didn’t make it into the top 20.

The cats names were where the real shake ups were. Four of the top 10 names this year, weren’t in the top 10 last year. Bella, the #11 cat name in 2014 jumped all the way to #1 this year, making Bella the most popular name for both dogs and cats. Tiger and Lucy, in the top 20 in 2014, also jumped into the top 10 this year. However, the most impressive new entry into the top 10 this year was the name Buddy. Last year Buddy wasn’t even in the top 20 and yet the name “clawed” its way to #3 this year. While Tigger, the #3 name in 2014 didn’t even make the top 20 this year.

Did your pet’s name make the list?

Top Dog Names 2015
1. Bella
2. Charlie
3. Lucy
4. Max
5. Daisy
6. Bailey
7. Lola
8. Cooper
9. Buddy
10. MollyRead More…

9 Holiday Food Hazards for Pets

Holiday Christmas foods that are bad for dogs and cats.


By Dr. Eva Evans, a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a pet health insurance agency for dogs and cats founded in 2005.

The holidays are just around the corner, which means delicious treats and tasty eats. It’s important to know what ingredients are safe for dogs and cats, and what holiday meals can make them sick. In addition to the health issues listed below, all of these foods are high in calories. One small cube of cheese to your Chihuahua is like a human eating two donuts! Pets are at risk for obesity which leads to diabetes, arthritis, heart and lung disease and many other long term chronic diseases. Make sure to keep these nine holiday foods away from your pets!

1. Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin is good for dogs, right? By itself, canned pumpkin rarely causes any intestinal upset. However, pumpkin pie has added ingredients such as spices, sugar and dairy that can cause upset stomach and diarrhea. Pumpkin contains a lot of fiber, so feeding it to your pet will likely end with an emergency trip to the vet for diarrhea medications!

2. Pecan Pie

This holiday favorite is high in fat and sugar, which can lead to diarrhea, vomiting and upset stomach. In addition, small dogs and cats may swallow pecans whole which can lead to an intestinal blockage. Nuts are not easily digestible and can easily become lodged in the intestines leading to emergency surgery. Be sure to keep this delicious dessert away from pets, which means more for you!

3. Alcohol

When family and friends get together, sometimes alcohol is poured. Whether it be eggnog, punch, wine or a cocktail, it should all be kept away from pets. Dogs and cats alike will get into alcoholic drinks, and this can land them in the hospital. Even a small amount of alcohol can cause vomiting, weakness and seizures in pets. Be sure to keep pets away from the bar to keep them safe this holiday!

4. Bread Pudding & Plum Pudding

Two of the most decadent of all holiday desserts are bread pudding and plum pudding. Often made with raisins, these dishes can cause severe and potentially fatal kidney failure in dogs. Beware that any dish using grapes or raisins is toxic to dogs! In addition, the high fat and sugar content can cause upset stomachs leading to diarrhea and pancreatitis. If your recipe calls for walnuts or pecans, this creates an additional choking hazard and possibility for intestinal blockage.

5. HamRead More…

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