Author Archives: Hadley Rush

Winter and your senior dog

An elderly woman sits with a senior dog.From Pets Best, pet health insurance for dogs and cats.

Dogs age faster than humans—so much so that they are often far into their senior years before we even realize they are seniors. On average, small dogs become seniors around the age of 10, and large dogs become seniors around the ages of 5-7.

It’s important to realize the changes that may begin occurring and how to deal with them, notably to protect dog health care and well-being during the cold winter months.

Changes in Weight
As a dog’s body slows down, he may put on weight due to being less active, or he may lose weight due to less muscle mass. You may want look into pet insurance for older dogs and re-evaluate food intake and activity levels at this time. Pet insurance companies like Pets Best Insurance don’t have any upper age limits, and will insure a pet whether it’s 7 weeks old or 17 years old! Check out the feeding chart on your dog’s food or use a dog food calculator to determine if you need to feed less or switch to a food with fewer carbohydrates.

Remember that all dogs can benefit from exercise. Don’t let your dog turn into a couch potato just because it’s cold outside. Play and teach him new tricks indoors! According to the website for Hudson Highlands Veterinary Medical Group in Hopewell Junction, New York, “walks and play keep your dog in better shape, both mentally and physically,” and prevent your dog’s body from deteriorating faster.

Dulled Senses
Just like humans, senior dogs can experience a loss of vision, hearing, smell, and may begin reacting slower to stimuli or become easily startled. They can also become confused, forgetful, and unsure of their surroundings. This means senior pets may be more libel to wander, lose their way, and react slower to moving vehicles.

In the darker, colder winter months, dogs should be spending less time outdoors exposed to cold, ice, and salted concrete. But when outside, make sure your senior dog always wears identification, and consider reflective collars and leashes, or devices such as the Puplight. With three ultra bright white LEDs, the Puplight attaches to your dog’s collar and makes them visible from all angles for up to a mile away. This will help light her path if she’s losing vision, drivers spot her sooner, and you find them if they stray.

Beware of Too Much Change
Changes happen naturally as dogs age, but normal changes occur gradually. When signs of aging begin, consider dog insurance plans to help prepare you for sudden changes which may require a trip to the vet. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, such changes include:

• Loss or increase of appetite or thirst
• Vomiting or diarrhea lasting more than a day
• Sudden increase in abdomen size
• Chronic coughing or breathing problems
• Seizure

Nursing homes and miniature horses?

Thunder Pants, the mini horse, visits a senior care facility.
By: Jack L. Stephens DVM
Pets Best Insurance President

I must admit I was more than skeptical when my wife proposed taking one of her miniature horses to the local senior care facility she visits regularly with our therapy dogs.

Working in the pet insurance industry and having worked with animals for years before that, my wife and I know the importance of the animal-human bond. And we love to share our service animals with as many people as possible.

Although the mini horses were a huge hit at a local elementary school’s first and second grade reading classes, I was hesitant to see how the senior residents might react to a tiny horse. At the school, true miracles happened as children that could not read publicly; in an instant could read flawlessly when the horse was looking over their shoulder. They were also popular with the special education high school students. But the senior care facility had fragile, bed ridden and wheelchair patients!

She insisted that “Thunder Pants” was so gentle, stoic and calm that he would be great. After calling to be sure our liability policy was in force and that the staff was up for it, off she went to the facility. I’m seldom effective in restraining her enthusiasm when it comes to sharing the value of therapy pets.

When she got there, residents were already waiting at the door to see the mini horse. Senior residents were lined up and wheelchairs lined the lobby in anticipation of Thunder Pants’ arrival. Immediately, everyone flocked to him. Each resident wanted to touch and rub him. Everyone, including the staff, wanted their photo taken with him.

When Thunder Pants reached over and kissed Vicki, everyone burst into laughter and applause. He whinnied at the resident cockatiels and again everyone applauded. What was supposed to be a very brief trial visit ended up lasting over an hour. After the visit, some of the residents even walked Thunder Pants to the lobby to say their goodbyes.

Whoever says dogs are the only good therapy pets has likely never encountered a mini horse like Thunder Pants. But one thing is for sure, the tiny horse was a hit and a blessing for the residents and staff. Thunder Pants’ visit was a welcome pleasure for bedridden residents.

As my wife drove home, she called me crying. She was crying for the joy she felt in bringing enjoyment to those at the senior care facility and for sharing the wonderful magic of the human-animal bond. Schotzie, our wheelchair bound Daschund, still holds the inspirational title but he now has a competitor for most entertaining therapy pet.

How to keep your pet safe when away from home

A dog sits in a suitcase preparing for a trip.When traveling with pets, it is important to keep them safe during the trip. The job of keeping your pet safe doesn’t end when you have reached your final destination. There are steps that you should take to ensure your pet stays safe while you are away from home.

Bring a cat carrier for your cat and portable dog crates for your dog when traveling. Not only do the carriers and crates offer a safe place for your pet, they offer a safe place for your pet when staying at a hotel or a family member’s house. Using a crate or carrier for your pet at night and when you are not able to supervise them will keep them from getting into trouble and possibly injuring themselves. As a bonus, they offer a place for your pet to feel safe in his unfamiliar surroundings.

Make sure that your pet is wearing a collar and identification tags at all times. Having your pet micro-chipped is another added safety measure you can take to help make finding your pet easier if he is lost or stolen. The addition of an identification tag with the information of where you are staying is also helpful when traveling with pets.

Once you get to your destination it is a good idea to know where the local animal emergency room is and the number of a local vet. Ask your friends or family members that live in the area for the name of the vet they use. If you have pet insurace with Pets Best Insurance, knowing you have the option to take your pet to any veterinarian anywhere in the world can be comforting. In the case of an accidental injury or sudden illness pet insurance can help bring down the cost of pricey vet bills.

Keeping your pet safe during your travels will ensure that your trip is enjoyable for both you and your pet.

Pet Relocation: The top four things to consider

Two dogs stick their heads out the car window.
By: The Pet Airways Team
For Pets Best Insurance

If you’re getting ready for a big move to a new city or a new state, you already know there are a gazillion things to take care of and remember. But if you’re moving with a pet, that makes it a gazillion and one – at least. At the risk of making your to-do list for relocation even longer, here are 4 things you shouldn’t forget when you’re moving and have to travel with your pet.

1. Microchips
If you haven’t already microchipped your pet, now is a perfect time to consider it. About the size of a grain of rice, each microchip contains a unique identification number assigned to your pet, and is implanted just under your pet’s skin. If your pet is lost and found by a shelter or local authority, the chip can be scanned and your pet’s identification information traced to you.

Most vet offices, humane societies and animal shelters have microchip readers. Implanting the chip takes just a few seconds, and no anesthesia is necessary. The primary benefit of microchip identification over a collar or tag is that the chip can’t be removed, fall off or get lost.

Of course, the registration information needs to be current! So if you’re microchipping your pet just before moving, make sure to use your new address – and if your pet already has a microchip, remember to update the address information with your registry keeper.

2. Is Your Car Safe?
Whether you’re flying with your pet, or driving all the way to your new home, make absolutely certain your pet is secured safely. While most of us wouldn’t think of driving off in the car without a seat belt, we don’t always think about our four-legged fellow travelers.

According to, letting your pet travel without a restraint poses dangers to both of you in the event of an accident. Even in a collision of only 30 mph, a 15-pound cat can cause an impact of more than 675 pounds. A 60-pound dog can cause an impact of 2,700 pounds, slamming into a car seat, windshield, or another passenger. It’s a terrifying thought! After a car accident, an unrestrained pet could escape and potentially cause a second collision, and a frightened or over-protective dog may not let strangers get close who are trying to help you.

Wherever you’re traveling, always use a pet seatbelt, or secure your pet and carrier in the cargo area of your vehicle.

3. Packing and Prep
Getting pets accustomed to a carrier in advance of the move is key, but so is getting your pets groomed for travel. Make sure your pet’s toenails are clipped so they won’t get hooked on the carrier door or other openings. You might also consider bringing your double-coated breed to the groomer or vet for professional undercoat removal. Removing dead undercoat will help your pet feel more comfortable especially in the summer months.

If your pet is flying to your new home, you’ll want to pack some luggage as well (carry-on, of course!). A one-gallon ziptop bag is the perfect size for 2 meals worth of food, any medications, a small toy or leash. Don’t forget your necessary medical documents including a health certificate, proof of rabies and other vaccinations.

4. The Transition Plan
If your pet has never been outside of the house, a big move can be especially challenging. Stress and fear can cause pets to run away after moving. If your new house has enough space, consider setting up a designated room just for your pet with food, water, toys, bedding and the travel crate. Keep your pet in this room for the first few hours or days after arrival with just short breaks outside for potty or walks.

Even a cat who is typically allowed outdoors should be kept inside for a few weeks. If your cat really, really wants to go out to explore, be sure you can monitor him. Once again, microchipping is a great precaution for that first trip outside.

Gradually socialize your dog in the new neighborhood. Start with short trips around the block – and make certain your first trips outside the house aren’t just to the vet’s office! Drives around the block, to the dog park or pet store will help your pet become familiar with unfamiliar surroundings.

A regular schedule of walks, meals, playtime and potty breaks will help you and your pet adjust quickly to life after a move.

Cat insurance continues to gain popularity

Two kittens with cat insurance play with one another.

When playing with your puppy or kitten, it’s easy to forget that one day their muzzle may be gray and their joints will be arthritic.

An unforeseen accident is unthinkable. However, more pet owners are thinking ahead, and pet health insurance is gaining popularity in the United States.

According to the market research paper, “Pet Insurance in North America, 4th Edition,” published by Packaged Facts, sales of insurance for pets rose 27 percent in 2008 and 16 percent in 2009.

This appears to be a good trade-off, because in a country where the average amount spent by cat owners on routine and surgical cat pet care is about $500 annually. It’s been widely reported over the years, by publications and organizations like the New York Times and the National Institute of Health Technology, that pet owners visit the doctor less. So while we take care of our pets, they help take care of us!

As the industry grows and becomes more competitive, veterinarians are recommending that cat owners compare pet insurance companies and plans. One reason: the cost of veterinarian assistance is another number that increases every year—by 9 percent annually, according to the New York Times.

Cat insurance, on the other hand, is becoming more affordable. There are plans of every size and price, from plans that strictly cover emergencies, to broader plans covering routine cat health care, vaccinations, and spaying and neutering. For more information on cat insurance visit

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