Author Archives: Dr. Jack Stephens

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


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5 Tips to Keep Your Dog from Digging

A dog digging in a yard 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.

Far too many dogs put the “d” in dig. Understanding this canine motivation is the first step in protecting your prized roses, your herb garden and your lawn.  Here is the prime reason why behind this gotta-dig mentality: Thousands of years ago, dogs in the wild did not know where their next meal would come from, so after a kill, they would bury any uneaten food to hide it from scavengers. They returned to this “canine pantry” when they were hungry again. The dirt also helped to keep their food fresher longer by protecting it from sunlight.

Your 21st Century canine is just following that ancestral urge – doesn’t matter that you feed your dog every day. It’s hard to take that “must stash food for a hungry day” mentality out of your dog.

Another reason dogs dig is to burn off energy and relieve boredom. These are signs that your dog needs to be exercised more often – and more vigorously. Take long walks in the morning and evening and vary the routes.

You can’t take the “dig” out of the dog, but you can re-direct this innate desire and save a few petunias in the process. Here are five creative, compromising ways to tame your dig-minded dog and maintain a beautiful backyard:

1. Create a mini “doggyland” by devoting a portion of your backyard to your dog. Buy an inexpensive plastic kiddy pool, fill it with dirt and hide a few dog treats and toys for your dog to discover. Or put about one foot of water and create an instant doggy pool. Encourage your dog to bob for balls and replace the water each day to keep it fresh.

2. Treat your dog to his own made-in-the-shade spot in the backyard by taking an old picnic table, sawing the legs in half to make it lower in height. This gives your dog the option of lounging under the picnic table for shade or sitting on top for sun.

3. Stash your delicate flowers and herbs in hanging pots out of paw’s reach. Designate a small section in your backyard to grow greens like alfalfa, barley or wheatgrass if your dog likes to nibble on grass.

4. Spritz your garden with what seasoned gardeners refer to as “pepper pooch.” Mix two tablespoons of cayenne pepper and 6 drops of dishwashing soap in a gallon of water. Place this solution in a spray bottle and apply it to your plants. Schedule this spraying when your dog is not around. Wait at least 10 minutes for it to dry before you allow your dog in the backyard.

5. Fill in the holes where you dog has dug and place heavy rocks on top of these spots. Dogs usually prefer soft dirt to carry out their excavations.


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