Author Archives: Dr. Jack Stephens

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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Halloween Survival Guide for Your Dog

A dog with a witch hat and trick or treat sign 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 cat insurance and dog insurance agency.

Got a people-pleasing dog, but not sure how he will fare on that one night of the year when your door bell seems to work overtime? Halloween can unleash plenty of stress in even the most even-tempered canine.Read More…

15 Common Halloween Themed Names

A dog in a pumpkin shirt

Halloween is the one time a year we get to dress up in silly costumes, eat way too much candy, and acceptably scare one another. However, some people choose to celebrate Halloween all year long and this includes giving their pet a Halloween themed name. We investigated our eerie attic (also known as our database) and in our records of over 155,000 pets we found 15 common Halloween themed names for dogs and cats. Here are the top 15 Halloween names, along with an actual pet who bears the name, keeping these pets in a constant state of Halloween!


Stealth and quiet are two words that best describe this particular 15-year-old domestic shorthair. People of Illinois, watch out, a cat-ghost might sneak up on you when you’re least expect it.


Cats can sometimes disappear for hours, quietly watching their prey as they hide from sight. This 4-year-old kitty in California lives up to his name by spooking the neighborhood mice.


After consuming last year’s Halloween (doggy) treats, two-year-old Bulldog, Bones no longer lives up to his name! However, you can bet he’ll be trick-or-treating in his California hometown, again this Halloween.


A 9-year-old domestic shorthair has a habit of hiding under beds at night. Illinois residents, be sure to check under your bed before you go to sleep tonight!Read More…

Dog Breed Guide: Basset Hound

A Basset HoundDr. Marc is a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a dog insurance and cat insurance agency.

About the Basset Hound

Height (to base of neck): less than 14″

Weight: 40-60lbs

Color: Tricolor and red and white are most common, but any hound color is accepted.

Origin: France and Belgium

Coat: Dense, short, smooth and glossy.

Life Expectancy: 12 years

Energy level: Low to moderate

Exercise needs: Moderate

Breed Nicknames:

Is a Basset Hound the Right Dog Breed for You?

Basset Hounds have an excellent nose and excel in tracking and field trials.  They are typically gentle and devoted and well suited as family pets, but some lineages have had problems with an aggressive, uneven temperament.  They can be quite stubborn and independent but are of moderate trainability.  They are good with children, especially when well socialized.  They have low grooming needs but special consideration should be made to ear hygiene.

5 Common Illnesses, Medical Conditions and Accidents for the Basset Hound

According to the number of dog insurance claims Pets Best receives

Medical Issue  Average Claim Amount  Most Expensive Claim 
Ear Infection $287 $3,294
Lipoma $497 $1,190
Skin Allergies $641 $6,562
Foreign Body- Intestinal $4,394 $6,882
Cyst $587 $1,955


Protect Your Basset Hound with Pet Insurance

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