Author Archives: Hadley Rush

Pet health: Common foods that are toxic to dogs

A dog licks his chops.

Foods that people love to eat can be extremely toxic to dogs and can compromise pet health if left untreated.

With the holidays approaching, it’s important to keep an eye out for these toxic foods and make sure that your dog does not have access to them.

It’s also a good idea to have a pet insurance plan for your dog, should any unexpected emergency situations arise. Having dog insurance can diminish the costs of expenses pet owners are unprepared for.

According to Ahna Brutlag, DVM, assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline, chocolate is one of the most problematic toxins. Dogs and cats cannot metabolize it as well as humans. Keep all types of chocolate—especially baking chocolate and other toxic foods—out of your dog’s reach. It can save you and your dog an emergency trip to the vet.

Chocolate poses a risk to dogs due the chemical theobromide. Symptoms associated with the ingestion of chocolate can include hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, pancreatitis, abnormal heart rhythm, and seizures. If a dog ingests any amount of chocolate, you should call your vet immediately.

Grapes and raisins are other foods that people love, but can also be toxic to dogs. Although unusual, ingesting these foods can cause kidney damage that may lead to kidney failure. Symptoms of raisin or grape poisoning include vomiting and diarrhea, loss of appetite, changes in the amount of urine passed or not passing any urine.

Schotzie, a special therapy dog

Schotzie and some other therapy dogs work their magic at a retirement home.
By: Dr. Jack Stephens
Pets Best Insurance President

Our dog Schotzie has been paralyzed for nearly a decade due to a ruptured disc in his back. This condition is common to the Daschund breed and if left untreated, can cause permanent paralysis. In Schotzie’s case, it caused sudden paralysis of the rear legs that required surgery to remove the disk material that was pressing on the spinal cord.

With quick treatment and surgery he could have been restored to normal. However, because his previous owners did not have the financial means to do so, he was not treated. This is just another example of how pet insurance could have easily changed Schotzie’s fate. As a result of not receiving proper treatment, he became permanently paralyzed and was schedule for euthanasia had not my wife adopted him. We flew him across the country and had a special cart made for him that allows him to be ambulatory. Of course as you can see by the photo, he must wear a diaper because he does not have normal control of his bladder or bowels.

He is a happy, patient and a wonderful therapy pet. He loves everyone and everyone loves to see him ambulate around in his doggy wheelchair. Though some humans, in a similar situation, might feel sorry for themselves, Schotzie behaves as if there is no physical problem.

One Halloween, he and Cooper (another one of our therapy dogs) visited a local nursing home with my wife, Vicki and our granddaughter Bradie.

As usual, Schotzie was especially inspirational for the seniors in wheelchairs. It was inspiring for them to see his outgoing and can-do disposition. Schotzie is also an inspiration when he visits children’s hospital wards. During these visits, he motivates the children to forget their own misfortune and gets them laughing, interacting and following him around.

There is nothing as gratifying as seeing therapy pets at work in society. Although most therapy pets are dogs, other pets, such as horses, cats, birds and rabbits do well also. My wife also has several miniature therapy horses for reading classes in grade schools. Therapy pets play the necessary role of relieving tension, reducing pain and depression and causing an increase in endorphins (warm feeling), oxytocin (happy hormone), prolactin (bonding hormone) and decreasing cortisol (stress hormone).

Visits at senior care facilities help to relieve boredom, entertain and create a warm atmosphere for patients and nursing staff. Therapy pets can also be used for detention facilities, special education students in high schools and rehabilitation facilities—many with great success stories.

Having worked with animals all my life, and now working in the pet insurance industry, I know better than most that special pets like Schotzie are not for everyone. They require more work, patience and time than normal pets. But the reward for those with the skills and patience is worth the effort because of their special attitude and zeal for life. Three of our therapy dogs; Schotzie, JP and Cooper were “throw away” pets that I can attest are now giving back so much to those they visit.

Consider adopting your next pet from a shelter or local rescue organization – you will receive more back from them than you can imagine!

Keep your pet safe when traveling by air

Posted by: H.R.
Pets Best Insurance Editorial Manager
A small dog gets ready to travel by air.
With the holiday season upon us, more pet owners will be traveling with their pets in tow. Aside from knowing the safety basics and ensuring your have pet insurance “just in case,” the following are some tips that can help when traveling with pets by air.

When traveling by car is not an option, you may choose to fly with your pet. Check with the the airline that you plan to fly with and get the rules and regulations they have concerning pets traveling. Pet travel by air can be a pleasant experience for you and your pet if you take the proper precautions when planning your trip.

Before your flight you will want to have your pet checked out by your veterinarian to make sure he is healthy enough to fly. Your veterinarian will also check to make sure that your pet is up-to-date on any vaccines that are needed to fly. Airlines require a health certificate from your vet stating that your pet is up-to-date on his vaccines and is healthy enough to fly.

When traveling by air, your pet will have to stay in a pet crate for the duration of the flight. Small dog carriers are available in an array of styles to keep your dog safe. If your dog is too large to ride in the plane with you, he will have to ride in the cargo area. When choosing large dog crates for flying, be sure that they are certified for air travel.

Make sure that your dog has a collar and identification tags prior to travel. It is also a good idea to put identification information on the crates themselves.

Always keep a leash with you so that you are able to safely walk your dog before and after the flight. In addition to keeping a leash with you, it is a good idea to have a picture of your dog with you in case he gets lost during your travels.

Don’t settle on a pet sitter

A pet sitter takes a dog for a walk in the park.
Any good pet owner probably knows the basics when it comes to pet health and care– whether it’s selecting the most nutritious food, insuring a pet with the best pet insurance policy they can find, or ensuring a pet gets his proper daily exercise.

But when the hefty task of finding the perfect professional pet sitter is narrowed down to the top dogs, the real work begins. Hiring a professional sitter may offer some assurance that those with a set of house keys are trustworthy, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case.

Ask Dog Lady is a nationwide newspaper column written by Monica Collins. A September column featured a question from a reader named Helena, who had had a bad experience with her pet sitter.

“I thought it was working well until I discovered some gold jewelry missing,” wrote Helena. The company she hired had sent a student to her home to perform the dog walking service. The student sold some of her jewelry to a gold broker, who melted down the gold before it could be recovered. In the end, the pet sitting company only compensated her with a new door lock. Chances are the company had no bond and did not carry pet insurance for sitting services, or the total value of the jewelry would have been repaid.

Who Will the Pet Sitter Be?
Those interviewing potential pet sitters should ask to meet the actual sitter who will be visiting the home. It’s important that household pets meet the sitter in the presence of their owner, so that the pet understands the sitter is not an intruder when the first visit occurs. Also, a respectable pet sitter will not bring friends or family along on a visit without prior approval.

What Time Will the Pet Sitter Visit?
If pets are fed, walked, or medicated at strict times, this should be brought to light in the initial consultation. Some pet care providers don’t go into homes after dark, and others charge additional pet sitting fees for visits after a certain time. Sitters should provide detailed notes to let the owner know what time they will arrive and depart.

Talk to References
References are of no use unless they are actually contacted. Prepare questions for the client to answer to avoid a canned, on-the-spot answer. Did the sitter leave detailed notes? Did the sitter call if there was a problem? Did the sitter pick up after dogs and leave the home in a clean condition?

Different clients expect different things from their animal care providers, so make sure a sitter can provide you with what YOU look for in a service provider.

How to know if your cat has been poisoned

Posted by: H.R.
Pets Best Insurance Editorial Manger
A veterinarian takes care of a sick cat.
Poisoning is a common occurrence in cats, who are generally more sensitive to toxins than dogs.

In fact, some products that are used on dogs, like certain types of flea preventative, can be toxic and even fatal to cats– just another reason why it’s so important to look into pet insurance plans for your cat. Just coming into contact with toxic substances can poison them.

There are symptoms to look for if you suspect that your cat has been exposed to a toxin. A change in cat behavior is often the fist sign that something is wrong.

Once a cat ingests or comes in contact with a toxin, symptoms may not show up right away. Some toxins may take 3 to 4 days to show any effects. The types of symptoms a cat will exhibit will depend on the toxin she has been exposed to. If your cat begins to display any odd symptoms, she should be taken to the vet immediately. Having pet insurance for your cat can help to reduce some of the costs associated with emergency vet visits.

A cat that has been poisoned may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms: lethargy or an overall sluggishness, vomiting, lack of appetite, difficulty walking or a staggering walk, seizure or difficulty breathing. If a cat has any of these symptoms, she should be seen by a veterinarian right away. Cat owners can sometimes overlook these symptoms and associate them with pet stress.

If you have witnessed or have evidence that your cat has gotten into a toxic substance, like pet medication, take action immediately. Even if she is exhibiting no symptoms of being poisoned, take her in.

Your veterinarian can take precautionary measures to lessen the effects of the poison on your cat.

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