By: Dr. Fiona Caldwell
Vet at Idaho Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance
The first week of Novemeber is National Cat Week! Setting aside a week to recognize the intelligence and personalities our feline friends offer is a small way to give thanks and to raise awareness about the scores of kitties that don’t have people to love. If you happen to already be a kitty owner, it’s a great time to look into cat health insurance for your furry companion. Cat insurance can help you afford the best care for your pet in the event of an illness or unexpected accident. Additionally, National Animal Shelter Appreciation week will be upon us soon– November 5th through the 11th, so after adopting your new best friend, make sure to start looking into the best cat or dog health insurance you can find. Companies like Pets Best Insurance reimburse 80% of the actual vet bill!
Local animal shelters are a haven for thousands of homeless animals and work closely with communities to ensure pet health and well-being. While this particular story is about a stray kitten that was lucky enough to never end up in a shelter, her story can still highlights the effort put forth by humane societies to connect homeless pets with petless homes.
A family recently came to my clinic and their story is perfect for National Cat week, and also resonates with National Shelter Animal Appreciation week. Autumn was a tiny 2 pound Calico bundle of skinny fur and whiskers. A couple found her in a drainage ditch, shivering. Unwilling to leave her there, they scooped her up and took her home. She was bathed and fed and within hours of being warmed and fed she became a playful 8 week old kitten. Before allowing her to interact with the other cats at home, the family recognized the importance of scheduling a visit with their veterinarian to ensure she was healthy.
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From the outside Autumn looked like she was in great pet health although she was slightly skinny. It was recommended that she start receiving kitten vaccines and that she be tested for infectious viral diseases; two such diseases are Feline immunodeficiency virus and Feline Leukemia virus. If Autumn had either of these disease, she could spread it to the healthy cats at home. The couple agreed that she should be tested. Unfortunately, the blood test was positive for Feline Leukemia virus.
Feline leukemia virus is a retrovirus that is spread from cat to cat by saliva of the infected to cat to eyes, mouth or nose of non-infected cats through grooming, biting, during pregnancy or nursing from mom to kitten and rarely from sharing bowls and toys. The virus spreads from the infected tissue to adjacent lymph nodes and eventually invades the bone marrow, causing leukemia, a cancer of lymphocytes. The virus can compromise the immune system, leaving the cat susceptible to a variety of other illnesses, thus clinical signs of the disease can be varied. If the cat’s immune system can’t clear the virus, the disease can be fatal. There is no cure.
There is a vaccine available against FeLV; most experts agree that cats with risk of exposure to other stray cats be vaccinated. Less than 1% of cats as pets are persistently infected with FeLV in the United States, but well over a third have specific antibodies which indicate prior exposure and subsequent development of immunity instead of infection. Experts agree there is strong evidence kittens under 4 months of age, such as Autumn are susceptible to infection, but as their immune system matures, they are able to ‘clear’ the virus from their bodies. There are three outcomes for cats infected with this virus, the cat can fight off the infection and become totally immune, it can become a healthy carrier that never gets sick itself but can infect other cats, or it can develop the disease and become immunocompromised. Pet insurance companies like Pets Best Insurance even offer a limited reimbursement for this vaccine.
The kind-hearted couple were faced with a huge dilemma. Do they open their home to this little kitten, segregating her from the other cats in the house, potentially for months, and retest her, knowing there was a risk she might get sick before then? Or do they give her up now, protecting their other cats at home from infection and hope someone else would give her the chance to clear the disease? Lastly, they considered putting her down now, and sparing her the suffering that would occur should she develop symptoms of leukemia.
The couple decided to sleep on it; they left Autumn at the clinic for a night so that they could go home and discuss the best option. To my delight, they decided to give her a chance! They brought their other cats in immediately to be FeLV vaccinated as an extra precaution, and kept Autumn in a separate part of the house for 8 weeks. Two months seemed to fly by, and soon Autumn was on my schedule to be re-tested. Everybody held their breath and crossed their fingers as we waited the agonizing ten minutes in takes to run the test. And she was negative! She had cleared the disease, just as we had hoped, and therefore was no longer a carrier and could live a normal life with her new family.
Autumn was lucky to have found a family to care for her; We encourage you to take a moment November 5 through 11 to appreciate the work that your local shelter does to help kittens like Autumn every day and take time this week to give your feline friend an extra kiss to recognize National Cat week!
For more information about pet health or pet insurance, visit Pets Best Insurance.
By: Dr. Jane Matheys
The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance
Estimates show that approximately 4 million cats enter shelters every year, and 1 to 2 million of them are euthanized. This got me thinking about my own current four cats who were adopted from local animal shelters or rescued as strays. I had to euthanize my oldest one named Glory B. just this past weekend.
I got her from a shelter when she was 2 years old, and she shared her life with me for over 12 years. I spoiled her rotten, of course, and in her mind every day was a celebration! In return, though, she brought me much love and laughter. Like all of you, I could write a book on all the funny things that she did and experiences that we went through together. he was a wonderful companion, and I miss her terribly.
Cats enrich our lives in so many ways, and there’s so much to love about them– the soft, silky fur, the gentle purrs, the kneading paws, the quiet meows and little chirps. The list goes on and on! But did you know that there are also important health benefits to owning a cat?
Owning a cat can reduce your risk of heart disease. A recent study by researchers at the University of Minnesota found that people who did not own a cat were 30-40% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease, even if they owned dogs. Stroking a cat has been proven to lower blood pressure, and cat owners tend to have lower triglycerides, which reduces the risk of developing and dying from cardiovascular disease.
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Cat ownership has also been shown to boost the levels of mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. As such, cats can reduce feelings of stress, loneliness, anxiety, depression, and other negative states.
Elderly people are particularly likely to benefit from the health-protective effects of cat ownership. Those with cats are less inclined to suffer heart attacks, their blood pressure is lower on average, they report less tension and stress, and they live longer overall. With all the health benefits cats provide, it’s important that we give them something back. This is where pet health insurance comes in. Companies like Pets Best Insurance offer cat insurance plans that reimburse 80% of your kitty’s vet bill after a deductible.
Cats offer protection against a number of health problems. If adopted before or shortly after a child is born, they reduce the risk of developing animal allergies, asthma, and possibly other illnesses as well. Children who are in a home with cats tend to miss an average of 9 days less of school a year than children who do not live with cats. Children who own cats learn responsibility and show more empathy towards others and are more willing to help others. Cats teach children about body language and other non-verbal cues as well. Cats provide unconditional love and acceptance, which can help children through difficult times. Additionally, cats can provide therapeutic benefits for children with conditions such as autism.
If you have room in your heart and your home for a forever friend, consider adopting a cat. Please visit your local shelter to find a whole lot of love waiting for you inside! For more information about cat health care and cat insurance, visit www.petsbest.com.
By: Liam Crowe
Bark Busters CEO
For Pets Best Insurance
While many of us revel in all the spooky and unusual events Halloween brings, these unfamiliar happenings can quickly become a real nightmare for our canine companions. It’s a great idea to have dog insurance for your pet in the event of a holiday mishap, but the below are some tips to make sure this Halloween is full of treats, not tricks, for your dog.
TRICK: Leaving your dog out in a fenced yard during trick-or-treat festivities. It is often a natural instinct for dogs to protect the family from strangers, and there will be plenty coming and going on Halloween.
TREAT: Bring your dog inside so you know he and visitors to your home will be safe. If your dog usually stays outside, bring him in a few times before the big fright night to get him used to being inside— sudden changes can put more stress on your dog.
TRICK: Allowing your timid or over-exuberant dog to help answer the door. Whether your dog is wary of newcomers or wants to cover everyone who rings the doorbell with kisses, this creates a potentially dangerous situation for your dog and your guests.
TREAT: Create a safe place you can direct your dog to go anytime he is overwhelmed by visitors or household hubbub, such as a crate, pillow or bed. During trick or treat hours, it is best to keep him in a separate room away from the front door to limit his excitability, aggression, and chance of running outside and becoming lost.
TRICK: Giving your dog an unusual amount of attention if he is stressed by Halloween activities.
TREAT: The best thing you can do for your dog when he is feeling unsettled is to act normally. By over-reassuring your dog, you can inadvertently communicate to him that because you are acting differently, there must be something to worry about.
TRICK: Showing off your family’s new costumes to your dog. He may see you as strangers if you don your costumes without warning.
TREAT: Before you or the kids put on your costumes, allow your dog to scent them. Keep any masks off when you are with your dog, as dogs can become confused and stressed when they can’t see our faces.
TRICK: Not leaving ID tags on your dog at all times.
TREAT: With all the extra commotion and comings and goings, be sure identification tags are secure on your dog’s collar—just in case. And pet health insurance is an option that can give you even more peace of mind, knowing that you will be able to take care of any injuries that could occur if your dog was to run away in fear.
TRICK: Placing lit jack o’ lanterns at dog-level.
TREAT: Excited or stressed dogs (and their swinging tails!) can easily knock over a lit candle or pumpkin. While you’ll want to avoid this altogether, it’s a good idea to have dog insurance in case of any holiday accidents. Be sure to keep all jack o’ lanterns out of your dog’s reach, or consider a battery-powered candle that does not burn. It is also a good idea to allow your dog to see and scent carved pumpkin decorations before dark, without the candles. Those ghoulish faces can look very scary, especially from a dog’s eye view in the dark.
TRICK: Forcing your dog to wear a Halloween costume.
TREAT: Experiment before Halloween to see if your dog likes being in a costume. If so, fine— he’ll most likely enjoy himself and the extra attention his new look brings! However, if he shows any resistance, don’t force him to spend an already stressful night in discomfort. Try a fancy collar or a bandana around his neck instead.
If you want to include your dog in Halloween festivities, just be sure you think first about his safety and emotional stress level—much like you would for a small child. Your dog does not instinctively understand Halloween, and he needs you to provide guidance and safety measures to keep it a night full of fun, not fright. For more training tips, visit Bark Busters.
For more pet health and behavior tips, visit www.petsbest.com.
By: Dr. Fiona Caldwell
Veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance
Halloween is a spooky fun time for the whole family– but there are some things to remeber when keeping your furry family members safe during this October holiday. Having a dog or cat insurance policy is one of the best things you can do for your little goblin– in the event of a Halloween mishap. Here are some tips for your pet’s safety:
While scary costumes and ringing doorbells door-to-door can be fun for kids and adults, this can be stressful for some dogs and cats. Stress related colitis can occur with continual ringing of the doorbell and strangers coming and going. Try to keep your pet in a quiet safe place during treat-or-treating hours.
Halloween pranksters can occasionally be cruel, so be sure to keep all pets inside during the festivities of Halloween day and night. Black cats tend to be targeted for mean pranks on Halloween night, so be sure to keep a close eye on your kitty. Some humane societies won’t even allow adoptions of black cats around Halloween for this exact reason.
Another thing to consider is your scary costume! While these are Halloween staples, pets may become frightened, or even fearfully aggressive if they don’t recognize you or your children when you’re wearing something unfamiliar. Never assume that your dog will be comfortable with disguises. Talk in a low soothing voice to let him know it’s you. Another idea is to allow your pet in the room while you change into your costume or put your mask on.
Pet costumes are universally adorable and can be very tempting to put your pet in. But it’s important to be cognitive that most pets won’t like these and costumes can be stressful or uncomfortable for them. In addition, if there are tassels, fringe or strings on the costume, these can be ingested and cause serious intestinal problems or even blockage, which can require surgery to correct. Investing in pet health insurance is one of the best ways to be sure you can give your pet the best care in the event of a Halloween accident. Some pets might chew on the costume and ingest parts of the fabric, also causing problems. Never leave your dog unattended in a Halloween costume.
Carving pumpkins is a time honored tradition, but it’s important to keep your pet from eating the pumpkin innards. While not poisonous or toxic to dogs, pumpkin seeds in excess can cause gastritis, and subsequent vomiting and diarrhea. This can be a spendy trip to the vet without pet health insurance. So be sure to watch that pup or kitty around the carved leftovers.
After the pumpkins are carved and displayed, be sure to protect animals from the candles inside, which can pose a fire hazard if knocked over, or can cause serious burns or stomach upset if ingested.
Trick-or-treating always results in yummy candy! Most pets love the taste of candy, but shouldn’t be allowed to eat it. As many pet owners know, chocolate candies can be toxic to dogs and too much candy can cause inflammation of the pancreas, or pancreatitis, which can require hospitalization and intensive treatment. Because there tend to be more accidents of this kind around the Halloween holidy, it’s important that you have pet insurance for your four-legged friend.
Some sugar-free candies and gum contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is very toxic to dogs and can cause dangerously low blood sugar. This can lead to seizing, coma and can even be fatal. Be sure to keep these kinds of candies out of reach from your pet.
If your dog is comfortable in a costume and will go trick-or-treating with you, consider reflective collars or reflective additions to the costume in order to provide more visibility on busier streets in the dark.
With just a little extra forethought, Halloween can be a fun time for the whole family. If you are concerned that your pet has eaten candy it shouldn’t, or part of its costume, call your veterinarian immediately. Please watch out for animal cruelty as well, and contact the local authorities, or shelter if you suspect this.
By: Judy Luther
Certified Professional Dog Trainer
For Pets Best Insurance
Throughout your pet’s life, you will make many trips to visit their veterinarian. Hopefully most of these visits will be for routine check ups, but unfortunately at one point or another, these visits may be due to illness or emergencies– this is when dog insurance will come in handy. When going to the vet, your pet may show signs of anxiety and stress. This may be magnified as a result of not feeling well or suffering from pain and discomfort. Proper socialization at the veterinary office is critical to help you pet feel comfortable and safe during visits. It is never too early (or too late) to start this socialization process.
When you first get your new pet, aside from purchasing pet health insurance, the next thing you will want to do is take them to the vet for a visit. Your vet will want to do a health and wellness exam, to rule out any medical issues and to get your pet off to a good start. Many pet insurance companies, like Pets Best Insurance, even offer a wellness care option. This should be a stress free visit, think of it as a fun experience meeting new friends. Bring lots of yummy, healthy treats, and ask the receptionist, vet techs, vet assistants and of course, the vet to give your pet treats. Food changes the chemical makeup in the brain and the emotional state of the animal.
After this initial visit, you’ll want to continue to make visits to the vets office about every 6 months or as instructed by your vet. Ask the receptionist when the slowest time of the day tends to be and plan to visit during those times. Make your visits are short and happy. Even visits as simple as having the receptionist give your pet a treat, or having your pet weighed can help your pet get acclimated to the vet office. Many vet clinics have scales in the waiting room, so you will not have to interrupt the staff. This is also a great way to keep an eye on your dog’s weight.
If you have an older dog that has had a bad experience at the vet, or just does not like the vet’s office, short visits will help your dog feel less anxious when he has to go for a medical procedure. As pets age they can develop new fears and anxiety, so continue to make visits throughout your pet’s life.
If you take these steps now, your pet will look forward to their next veterinary visit, and the veterinary staff will appreciate a dog that is less stressed during the visit.
For more information about pet health and pet health insurance visit www.petsbest.com.