By: H. R.
Pets Best Insurance Editorial Manager
You’re driving along in your car, rocking out to Guns n’ Roses, (or something equivalent) when all of the sudden a scraggly-looking dog darts across the road. Maybe you’re already late for work, or in a hurry to get home. Either way you’re not sure what to do. Do you stop and try to help the animal? What if the dog is injured or in poor shape? Should you get the dog health care?
The above is a heart-wrenching set of circumstances for any animal lover. Likely, after you’ve seen the stray dog or cat, you may revere it your duty as a compassionate being to help the creature. After all, it could easily be your pet out there on its own.
But before you pull over, there are ten things you should know when it comes to helping a stray animal:
1. Your own safety is the most important: You won’t be able to help the animal if your safety is compromised, so it’s important that you pull your car over somewhere out of the flow of traffic. Causing a three-car-pile-up to save a kitten won’t make you a hero in the animal or the human world.
2. Envision yourself in the animal’s situation: Whether it’s injured or not, the stray dog or cat will likely be spooked. If the animal looks or acts aggressive, stay in your car and call the local animal control instead.
3. Be cautious: Speak calmly and verbally reassure the animal that you aren’t a threat. Use soft tones and move slowly as to not frighten it.
4. Check for identification: If you are able to transport the animal safely, take it to the nearest shelter. The animal may have a dog or cat microchip that will help place the critter back with its family.
5. Post signs and ads to try to find the pet owner: Hang multiple signs around the area where you first saw the stray animal. Add a picture of the animal with a contact number where you can be reached.
6. If you decide to keep the stray animal: If you have no luck in locating the former owner and decide you want to add the stray to your family, check your local laws. In some states it does not automatically become your pet.
7. Be wary when introducing the dog or cat to its new environment: If you have another animal, keep the stray quarantined as not to transmit any potential diseases to other animals in the house. Take the stray to your local veterinarian as soon as possible to ensure your new pet receives proper health care.
8. Introduce new family members slowly: Have each person in the family come into the room where the dog or cat is, one at a time, to pet and talk to the animal. Encourage younger children to sit on the floor and let the animal come to them. Remember to make sure that children understand not to bother the animal while it eats or sleeps.
9. Let the animal explore on its own: If there are no other pets in the household, let the new dog or cat explore their new territory. The animal will use this time to sniff around and situate themselves in their new environment.
10. Introduce the new pet to other pets: Let both pets see each other but don’t yet allow them to interact. After a few days of this, introduce them in neutral territory, such as the yard. Never leave the pets alone until you are certain they will get along well.
By: Chryssa Rich
Pets Best Insurance Marketing Associate
Every time spring rolls around, I toy with the idea of getting a small dog. But I’ve always been concerned about how my cats would get along with one, and whether we could trust a new dog around my 3 year-old niece.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to check-out a local shelter’s website. They had lots of cute small dogs, so I decided to go see them after work. Unfortunately my two favorites were adopted before I could even get there. Even though there weren’t any other dogs that caught my attention on the shelter’s website, I decided to make the 45-minute drive.
While I was waiting for access to the room with small dogs, I decided to take a look at the big dogs just for fun, even though my small townhouse wouldn’t accommodate one very well. About halfway through, I came across a beautiful brown dog who happily wagged her tail at me when I walked by. She was sort of an in-between size, and the kennel she was in was way too big for her.
I went to the desk and asked to see her first. They went over her health records with me and everything checked out fine. . . but they had no idea how she’d be around cats or kids. No one knew if she was housebroken, and she didn’t even know “sit.”
Still, there was something promising about her. She walked next to me on the leash, and frequently looked up at me to see if I was trying to communicate with her. When I sat down and patted my knees, she gently put her paws up on them so I could pet her face. When I threw toys, she chased them but didn’t bite – just nuzzled them. She was such a sweetheart; I knew I had to give her a chance. The shelter employees also told me I had seven days to make sure we’d be a good fit for each other.
That was a Friday night; I brought her home the next Monday after work and it’s been nothing but fun ever since! I named her Jayda and was happy to discover that she sleeps through the night, is housebroken, and is very polite and gentle around the cats and children. She’d only been home for 48 hours when I noticed the first signs of all three animals playing together, and she took to my niece immediately.
My in-between Jayda has proven to be in-between when it comes to everything – her crate, collars, treats and toys. Nothing is quite the right size for her, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Every morning she’s so wiggly and happy to wake up, and later she’s just as happy to curl up on her bed while we hang out in the living room. She comes to work with me most mornings and loves to hide rawhide bones around the office and look out the window. She gets a little protective of me and barks when strangers or other dogs approach, but we’re starting some training classes soon to correct that behavior.
It’s hard to believe I almost missed out on such a great dog because she didn’t match the search criteria I entered into a website. If you’re thinking about getting a pet, go see for yourself. Most shelter animals will have an “unknown” or two, but the least we can do is give them a chance. My dad calls Jayda “lucky dog,” but I think I’m the one who lucked out.
Pets Best Insurance Editorial Manager
It was in the middle of the night, just as I had dozed off into oblivion under my soft, down duvet that my miniature teacup Chihuahua, La La, awoke me—as she often does, to alert me that it’s time to go potty, and nonetheless at 3:00 am.
La La, I’ve found, can sometimes be placated just long enough for me to fall back asleep, forego her urge and cuddle down beside me, but this time she would not let up—in fact, she was frantic.
I sighed a deep 3:00 am sigh, and flipped on the switch as she pawed and wiggled around the bed incessantly. But when the lights came on, I was terrified at what I saw. My tiny, 3-pound Chihuahua was scratching at her face in agony and her entire little head had swelled to two times its normal size. In fact, my little girl looked more like a puffy pug than an apple-headed Chi Chi.
I immediately called a family friend who works as a veterinary technician. She advised me to rush La La to an emergency clinic and call ahead to let them know we were coming.
Although it may sound odd, it’s not uncommon for pets to suffer from allergic reactions just as we humans do, and the symptoms are often remarkably similar to ours.
In La La’s case, it was determined she was likely allergic to a bee sting, spider bite or a vaccination. But other common pup and kitty allergies include contact allergens (touching), inhalant allergens (breathing in), ingested, and sub dermal (which are caused by injected medicine.)
Although the latter is less common, all are potentially serious and should be acknowledged by a licensed veterinarian as soon as they are noticed. Treatment and diagnosis for pets’ allergies are also much the same as in you or I.
Your dog or cat may develop rashes and itching, watering eyes, sneezing, coughing, swelling in the face and sniffling.
Food allergies are among the most prevalent in pets, and can often take anywhere from seven to ten days to manifest. Because of this, owners may not know what is wrong with their pet, and often don’t even consider that their pet may have been allergic to something it ate.
After that itchy, swollen, fateful night with La La in the ER, I learned to never ignore her quest for my attention. More-often-than-not, our pets are trying to tell us something when they won’t calm down—and in this case, it could have been life-threatening.
So next time your fur baby is acting odd or showing symptoms of allergies, call your vet stat. It may be the difference between life and death.
By: Dr. Jack Stephens
Feliz Navidog! It’s Torrey, writing to you from sunny Mexico. I’m spending a few days here, recharging my batteries before heading home to Idaho for Christmas. I need to be home, after all, when Santa Paws comes down the chimney dragging a sack full of presents for me with his teeth. Every year, I try to stay awake so I can see him but I always seem to fall asleep before he shows up. (Well, a girl does need her beauty rest, after all!)
Some of my friends, believe it or not, have tried to tell me that there is no Santa Paws at all, that he’s just made up. That’s simply ridiculous. I mean, how else could you explain the new chew toys, the soft fuzzy blankets, the boxes of treats and everything else I find under the tree each Christmas morning? And who eats those dog biscuits I always set out on a plate by the fireplace?
Now Santa, if you’re reading this, you know I’ve been extra good this year. Well, pretty good, anyway. I have tried not to bark so much at the office (I only bark when there is a very good reason) and have reduced my howling by as much as 50%. And I always work hard to keep my Dad happy. It hasn’t been easy, Santa, but I knew it would be worth it come Christmas morning.
As you know, Santa, I’m a simple dog with simple tastes. I’m easy to please. I don’t want to burden you with a long list of items, and after all, I already have everything a girl could want, so why not make it easy on yourself this year? Just bring me a simple diamond-studded collar. And if it’s not too much trouble, you might throw in a nice cashmere cardigan, size extra-small. Those Idaho nights do get mighty chilly, after all. You see? I’m quite easy to shop for.
Most of all, though, what I want is for my fellow dogs and cats, the homeless ones who have to spend the holidays in animal shelters, to find warm, loving homes. Santa, please tell everyone who has room in their house (and love to give) to think about adopting a shelter pet. My mom and dad do this, and even though I have to reestablish myself as top dog with each new pet, I do feel good about helping others. If they don’t have the room for a new pet, they should at least donate food or toys to their local shelters this Christmas; it would be best to call the shelter and ask what their biggest needs are.
And to all the rest of my friends out there, all of us at Pets Best would like to wish you health and happiness in the coming year. Try to stay warm and most of all, be good! After all, Santa Paws is watching you…
By: Dr. Jack Stephens
Hello, my adoring fans! As I’m sure you know, I’m something of a celebrity. I can’t help it. In my role as Customer Service Advocate for America’s Best pet insurance company, I’m a high-profile dog. And with my gorgeous looks and winning personality, well, let’s just say a certain amount of fame is inevitable. I’ve learned to live with it, darling.
Anyway, as a famous dog, I get a large amount of fan mail. I don’t read it, of course—my people take care of that kind of drudgery—but sometimes, if I’m in the mood, I will have my assistant read me a letter or two. Many of my fan letters ask for beauty tips, of course. How do I keep my coat so glossy? What’s my secret for long, elegant nails?
Well hold on to your hats, girls, because I’m about to spill it—my ultimate beauty secret. And that secret is, believe it or not, good health. I love pampering as much as the next girl, so far be it from me to downplay the value of a visit to the salon to get buffed, polished and pedicured, but let’s face it, without my overall glow of health, even the best groomer in Beverly Hills wouldn’t be able to make me shine the way I do.
As you might know, my Dad is a veterinarian, so I actually see the doctor every day. No wonder I’m such a specimen of health! But for most pets, an annual wellness screening is enough to keep them in the pink. And those that are middle-aged—relax, darling, you’re only as old as you feel—should have their people schedule an appointment every six months or so.
A good doctor will give you a thorough examination, including several lab tests, to keep an eye out for any potential problems that might keep you from being as attractive as I am—you know, bright eyes free of discharge, a sleek, beautiful coat with no nasty dandruff flakes, great-smelling breath, that sort of thing. I won’t promise that it will make you as beautiful and popular as me, but it’s a start, dear, it’s a start.
Until next time, keep those fan letters coming (who knows, I may just decide to answer one!) and remember, if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything, darling.
Let’s do lunch. Have your people call my people.