Author Archives: Hadley Rush

Cat health care: Weight loss

A cat shows symptoms of weight loss.

Weight loss in cats is often the first indication of feline health issues. Cat weight loss causes can be from a variety of illnesses and diseases.

With older cats, owners may think that weight loss is part of the aging process. Anytime a cat has weight loss, they should be examined by a veterinarian.

One of the most common causes for weight loss in cats is feline hyperthyroidism. If your cat has weight loss, this is one of the diseases that your veterinarian will check for. There are several other pet health diseases that can cause similar symptoms to hyperthyroidism.

Diabetes mellitus is a disease where weight loss is a primary symptom. Other symptoms associated with diabetes are increased thirst and urination, increased or decreased appetite, vomiting, bad breath, and possible weakness in the hind legs. Diabetes is diagnosed via blood tests and urinalysis. Because of the multitude of diagnostic tests that may be required for sick cats, it’s a good idea to have pet insurance. Cat health insurance can help pet owners keep high vet costs down, while providing the best care for their pets.

Kidney failure is another feline disease that can cause weight loss. Kidney failure can cause other symptoms including: increased thirst, increased urination, decreased appetite, poor coat condition, lethargy, vomiting, and bad breath. Kidney failure is diagnosed by blood work, urinalysis, and ultrasound or x-ray.

In addition to the above mentioned illness, there are numerous causes of weight loss in cats. If you notice that your cat is loosing wight, get them checked out as soon as possible. With most of these conditions, the sooner your cat is diagnosed the better. The longer cats are untreated, the more damage is done to other organs.

Pet health: Dog food ingredients

A dog looks at a bowl of dog food.

When choosing pet food for your dog, it is important to check the ingredients. Labels can sometimes be misleading and you may think you are buying a healthy dog food when the food is actually not healthy at all.

Checking ingredient labels and comparing ingredients will allow you to choose a truly healthy dog food for your pet, and help to ensure your pet maintains proper pet health.

The first ingredient you will want to look for is the meat or protein in the food. The meat, or the meal of the meat, should be the first ingredient on the list. Meat meals are only found in dry dog food. The ingredients are listed from greatest amount in the food to the least amount. The name of the meat should be specified in the ingredient list as beef, lamb, salmon, chicken, etc. Avoid foods that list meat, meat meal, or by product as an ingredient.

The second thing you will want to do is check for the source of fat in the food. Choose a dog food with quality fats like olive oil, flax oil, canola oil, and chicken fat. Avoid foods with fats that are not specified. These fats will be listed as meat fat, poultry fat, lard, or vegetable oil.

Grains may or may not be listed in the ingredient list. Grains are not an essential part of a dog’s diet. Avoid foods that list grains in the first few ingredients and foods that include corn of any type. Corn is cheap filler that adds no nutritional value to the food.

Other ingredients to avoid include: artificial preservatives, soy, chemical additives, artificial colors and flavors, and artificial sweeteners.

For more information about which food is right for your pet, talk with your veterinarian.

Pet owners rethink their position to spay and neuter

A puppy waits to be neutered.

Despite the barrage of messages to the public from animal welfare groups and celebrities about the benefits of pet health due to pet spaying and neutering, there are still holdouts.

Until recently, William O of Elgin, Illinois was one of them. “I used to think that spaying/neutering pets was inhumane, but my position has changed because of the practical import in having such procedures done,” said O, a lawyer who is starting an animal law practice.

In addition to the problem of pet overpopulation (6-8 million pets wait for homes in shelters annually and at least half that number are euthanized each year), O sees another side of pet neutering and spaying– a lawyer’s point of view: housing, pet behavior issues, and noise complaints between tenants, landlords, and neighbors.

“For the most part, nuisance/noise complaints are caused by female outdoor pets in heat and their noisy, persistent suitors. Many of these problems could be avoided by spaying/neutering pets,” said O.

Another pet owner recently changed her mind about spaying a neutering.

Rasheda Williams of Detroit got her first cat this year, a kitten named Domingo. She didn’t want to put her kitten through any unnecessary pain, be it cat neutering or declawing. But when her friend, who owned multiple cats, told her she should have Domingo neutered, Williams began to wonder if she was in the minority.

“I went around asking pet owners and all of them agreed. I was so focused on my cat’s rights being violated that I didn’t see the big picture,” said Williams. “Once they explained to me the preventative benefits of the procedure, I changed my mind.” Domingo was neutered six months ago, is happy and healthy, and still has his claws.

Spay and neuter clinics abound, and many pet insurance providers even cover the procedure. Getting pets fixed is easier today than ever before.

What to do if you need to use your pet insurance while traveling

A dog joins his owner on a fishing trip.

Whether you travel with your pet all the time or you just take your pet with you on vacation once in awhile, having pet insurance is good idea. Pet insurance will allow you to get treatment for your pet if it gets sick or hurt while traveling. Pet transportation itself can be stressful for you and your pet. Give yourself one less thing to stress over while traveling knowing that your pet is covered if anything should happen.

When traveling make sure that you have copies of your pets vaccination record as well as any other important information you may need like the names of any medication your pet takes or the names of any medication your pet is allergic to. Keep your pet insurance claim forms with you so that you can fill out the form with the correct information.

Once you get home, file your claim form and any additional paperwork needed with your insurance company. Filing your claim in a timely manner will ensure that you get your payment back from the pet insurance company quickly. Some pet insurance companies, like Pets Best Insurance, even offer direct deposit reimbursement.

It is important to have pet insurance, like Pets Best Insurance, that allows you to see a veterinarian when your pet needs care without having to worry about how you will be able to afford it.

The truth about Rabies

A rabid dog attacks.

By: Dr. Fiona Caldwell
For Pets Best Insurance

Descriptions of rabies infections go back thousands of years, and most places in the world have had reports of this deadly disease. It is highly fatal, with no known predictable cure. While there have been recent reports of human survival after becoming infected, this is uncommon.

Many people don’t realize how fast death can occur once signs of rabies develop. The law, while regional in its specifics, generally requires all pets and most farm animals to be vaccinated against this disease. Even though vaccination is readily available, every year the U.S. reports several human deaths from rabies, not to mention hundreds of dog and cat deaths. Worldwide deaths from rabies are thought to be around 55,000 per year.

Rabies virus is an RNA virus called Lyssa virus. It is very unstable in the environment, meaning it can’t survive on its own and needs fresh contact with broken skin to survive. It is almost exclusively transmitted by bite wounds, but there have been reports of aerosolized transmission in bat caves also. Once the infected animal’s saliva is in the muscle tissue the virus works its way to nerve fibers where it slowly travels up nerves towards the brain. The farther away from the brain the animal or person is bitten, the longer it will take for them to show clinical signs. In general it can take weeks, months or even years to show signs. Once the virus reaches the brain, clinical signs begin within 3 days and the person or animal can become infective and spread the disease.

There are actually three stages once an animal is infected. Most people know the ‘mad’ or ‘furious’ stage, where animals become aggressive, but this is actually the second stage. The first stage generally involves a subtle behavior change. Social animals may become shy. Vocal animals may undergo a voice change. In the second stage the animal has no fear, may hallucinate and will attack. The last stage is a paralytic stage. Most animals will become weak and start to drool or foam at the mouth as the muscles in the throat are paralyzed. This is the most common stage for people to become exposed, as they approach an animal in distress.

In the last century, the number of human deaths from rabies in the U.S. has fallen from 100 or more per year to an average of a few per year. This is due to control and vaccination of pets and farm animals and to the development of effective post exposure treatment and vaccines. Even though human deaths from rabies are now rare in the U.S., approximately 16,000 to 39,000 people come in contact with potentially rabid animals and receive post exposure prophylaxis each year. Wild animals have accounted for over 90% of reported cases of rabies in recent years. Raccoons continue to be the most frequently reported rabid wildlife species, about a third of cases, with bats at about 25%, followed by skunks, foxes, and other wildlife.

If a person is exposed to rabies or bitten by an animal, quick treatment can prevent infection. Prompt washing of the wound with soap, water and iodine or alcohol can help. It is important to seek medical attention immediately; a series of vaccinations can prevent the disease. Most people working with wildlife or animals for a living are encouraged to be vaccinated against rabies.

Laws regarding rabies vaccination and biting dogs are very regionally dependent. Your area may differ, but in general, if your dog bites someone and isn’t current on their rabies vaccine, the law requires you to have them confined at an authorized facility for at least 10 days, and then vaccinated. If the dog had rabies at the time of the bite, they would likely die in that time.

You can help prevent rabies by keeping all of your pets vaccinated. Contact animal control to remove stray animals, or suspicious wildlife. Don’t approach sick or dead wildlife. If you are bitten, wash the wound and seek medical attention. The rabies vaccine is very effective, and with proper administration and common sense, rabies deaths should continue to decline. If you have questions about the vaccine status of your pet, contact your veterinarian.

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