Author Archives: Hadley Rush

Shelter dogs: The end of a year doesn’t have to be the end of a life

A shelter dog waits to be adopted.
Posted by: H.R.
For Pets Best Insurance

You’ve likely seen someone post an urgent plea on Facebook or other social media sites to adopt a dog whose time is running out. And how can you resist to help spread the news when the dog looks so thin, defeated and sad?

Perhaps you’ve even replied, sending your hopes that someone has room in their home for this dog. Maybe you’ve read through the replies nervously, wondering if this dog with the mysterious past would ever take another warm nap on a soft couch.

As heartbreaking as this is, it’s understandable and commonplace for older dogs to miss out on adoption opportunities. Puppies are cute and cuddly, we know their background, can train them to our liking, buy them best pet insurance from an early age and hope to have at least a decade of worry-free pet ownership. But I know for myself, as cute as puppies are, older shelter dogs can be just as great of a companion.

When I adopted my dog, Mr. Blue, I was told he was “middle-aged” and that no one knew how old he really was. But I didn’t care. What I got when I adopted him was a happy, mellow dog who loved my cats the first time he saw them and already knew many commands. It was fun testing new tricks to see whether or not he already knew them.

His past is a mystery, and that made for some trying getting-to-know-you times, but positive training saw us through it. I could see in his eyes just how much he loves having a home of his own. It warms my heart knowing that I can provide him with his own couch to sleep on, rather than the concrete bed of his past.

Whether you opt to adopt a puppy or a senior-aged dog, one thing is certain: dog health is never a sure bet. I researched pet insurance for older dogs to help me avoid ever having to choose between Mr. Blue and my bank account. Something tells me that when he isn’t here any longer, another senior dog will find his way into my heart.

Pet health: Give arthritic cats special care this winter

An old cat with pet insurance sits in a cat bed.
Posted by H.R.
For Pets Best Insurance

Creeky joints and a stiff back can compromise pet health at any age, but it’s particularly a problem for senior cats, overweight cats, and cats who have suffered an injury.

Dr. Carol Osborne writes on her website that “the signs of arthritis vary depending on exactly which joint or joints are affected, the age of the pet and the severity of the disease.”

According to Osborne, who was the first veterinarian to be Certified as a Diplomat of the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine in the United States, cat health care symptoms caused from arthritis can be subtle and difficult to detect. We may forgo specialized cat pet care, attributing slowing down to old age. Arthritic cats may become reluctant to move and often “miss” the litter box, because their stiffer joints ache when trying to climb into the box.

As in humans, cold air can worsen joint aches and stiffness. Some cats may benefit from heated cat beds in the winter, as this provides joints and muscles a soft, warm place to rejuvenate.

Holistic cat health care like acupuncture can help arthritic cats feel more comfortable. It is often covered by pet health insurance. Because of the vast benefits it provides, cat insurance may be a good option for pet owners with cats of any age. Acupuncture can even be done with lasers if the cat doesn’t tolerate needles well.

Gentle exercise is often prescribed by veterinarians to keep joints limber. There is even the option to give cats aqua therapy in warm water. The heat soothes joints and muscles, and moving in water is a gentle way to get exercise. Do a pet insurance comparison to see which cat insurance providers will help to cover these types of physical therapy. For more insight on aqua therapy for cats, talk with your veterinarian.

Why does my dog pee in the house?

The cover of Arden Moore's The Dog Behavior Book.

Oh Behave!
Q & A With Pet Expert Arden Moore

Q. My 10-year-old Bichon Frise sometimes goes to the bathroom in the house when no one is home. As soon as I walk in the front door, I know what Rascal has done without seeing the accident. She acts incredibly guilty, with downcast eyes and tail between her legs. If she feels so bad when she misbehaves, why does she continue to do it? Also, I think she sometimes urinates on the floor to get even with me for being gone for too long. The longer I am away from home, the more likely she is to have an accident. Is she trying to get revenge?

A. Many owners consider their pets to be members of the family, as well they should. But sometimes, we take this idea too far by attaching human emotions and motives to our dog’s behavior. Unlike humans, dogs don’t feel guilty when they have done something we think is wrong. They do, however, react to our body language and tone of voice, and they quickly learn to read and respond to our emotions.

In Rascal’s case, she has figured out that if she has an accident in the house, you will be angry when you get home. It’s very simple in her mind because unlike a human, she can’t grasp complicated ideas like, “I had an accident and five hours later, Mom is going to come home, see it, and get mad at me because now she has to clean it up.” All Rascal knows is that if she has had an accident, you are angry when you come home. Dogs have no concept of cause and effect, so unfortunately, she doesn’t realize that if she didn’t go to the bathroom in the house, you would not be mad.

So, if Rascal doesn’t know she did something wrong, why does she look so guilty? Dogs often behave submissively when their owners are angry, in the hopes of ending the conflict. In wolf packs, subordinate members behave submissively in front of the more dominant wolves to avoid fights. Rascal tucks her tail and hangs her head when she senses or anticipates your anger to illustrate her submissiveness to you, her pack leader. Signs of submissive behavior include a cringing posture, lowered ears, downcast eyes, and a tucked tail. A canine pack leader would most likely accept this behavioral apology and move one. Unhappily, people tend to become even angrier when confronted by such signs of “guilt,” which makes the poor dog cringe even more.

As for the possibility of Rascal going to the bathroom in the house to get even with you for leaving her alone too long, dogs do not have the capacity to think in these terms. Revenge remains an exclusively human endeavor, and something only a complex brain can calculate. Dogs don’t have the mental ability or the emotional complexity to grasp the concept of getting even.

Rascal’s accidents are most likely the result of her inability to hold her urine for long periods of time. She may be suffering from a urinary tract infection or another medical condition that makes it hard for her to hold a full bladder for an extended period of time. Older dogs often have trouble with incontinence and sometimes need medication to remedy the problem. Take Rascal to your veterinarian for a complete physical evaluation. In the meantime, try not to leave her along for too long to help her avoid accidents. This might mean asking a neighbor or professional pet sitter to come over and let her out to relieve herself on days you know you’ll be gone for a long period of time.

Confounded by your canine? Frustrated by your feline? Relax. Pet expert Arden Moore is here to deliver the real truth about cats, dogs…and you with her column appropriately called, “Oh Behave!”

Author and pet expert Arden Moore sits with her pets.
On a regular basis, Arden will unleash excerpts from her two award-winning books, The Dog Behavior Answer Book (named the top training and behavior book by the Dog Writers Association of America) and The Cat Behavior Answer Book (named the top training and behavior book by the Cat Writers Association). Learn more about Arden Moore, who also hosts a weekly radio show called “Oh Behave!” on Pet Life Radio (www.petliferadio.com) by visiting her Four Legged Life website (www.fourleggedlife.com).

Cat health care: A feeding guide for your new kitten

A tiny kitten sits in a large food dish.

If you’ve decided to add a new member to your family and have adopted a cute little kitten you might be wondering considering purchasing a pet insurance policy, but you might also be wondering what you should feed him.

You may be confused with all the choices you’re presented with. Do you need a kitten food or is a food that states “for all life stages” okay? Do you choose a wet food or a dry food? Should you choose natural or organic? With all the choices, feeding kittens can be more confusing than it needs to be.

Kittens are energetic animals and burn large amounts of calories each day. They need to be fed a food that is specially formulated for kittens. Kitten food provides higher amounts of protein for proper growth.

Young kittens and those that are small can benefit from the additional nutrients in wet food. Kittens that are fed both wet and dry food should be fed twice a day. If only wet food is being fed, they should be fed four times a day.

Kittens that eat dry food can be “free fed” until around four months of age. Free feeding means the kitten has free access to their food throughout the day. Once the kitten reaches four months of age, he should be switched to a scheduled feed twice a day. Kittens that are overweight should not be free fed.

Wet food should not be left out for free feedings. Wet food becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and can make your kitten sick. Use separate bowls if feeding wet and dry food to keep the dry from being contaminated from the wet food. Opened cans of wet food should be kept in the refrigerator.

Whether you choose to feed your cat wet or dry food, make sure to choose a quality natural or organic cat food. These foods offer higher quality ingredients that will help your cat live a healthy life.

Pet health: Natural or organic pet food?

A cat eats food from a dish.

When choosing a healthy dog food or healthy cat food, a natural dog food or organic cat food may be at the top of your list. Do you know what the difference is between natural and organic food? Is one better than the other? Knowing the true definition of these terms can help you make an informed decision about your pet’s food and in turn, maintain pet health.

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), who establishes the rules and regulations of animal feed, “natural” is a food or ingredient that is derived only from plant, animal, or mined sources. It must be in either an unprocessed state or have been processed in a way that is listed in the AAFCO guidelines. Every ingredient must meet the definition of natural. Ingredients that do not have to meet the definition include: synthesized minerals, trace nutrients, and vitamins.

When choosing an organic cat food or dog food, be sure to check that each ingredient is listed as organic. Companies may have organics in their name but their food is not made from actual organic ingredients. Foods that have organic ingredients will have an organic certification seal on the bag.

The terms “holistic” and “human grade” are not recognized by the AAFCO and therefore, are meaningless when used to label pet food.

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