Author Archives: Hadley Rush

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.

Find a cat whose personality will make you purr

A young man holds a cat.

Not long after moving into my first apartment, I decided that I wanted to adopt a cat. I had never had a cat before, but I believed the hype. “Cats are easy,” I heard.

They’re independent and make great companion pets. So I scoured Chicago cat rescue shelters until someone stole my heart: a brown tabby that bonked his head against the glass every time I looked at him.

Charlie was the sweetest little 11 month old cat when I brought him home. He cuddled with me all night long, and quietly sat beside me or followed me around the apartment all day. Aside from wishing I’d purchased pet insurace when I took him to his first vet appointment, I learned that he had an infection from his neuter surgery and he was put on antibiotics. After he began feeling better, I saw the real Charlie: he was a devil cat.

I was not ready for the surprise ankle ambushes or the attacks on my head from behind the couch. Any attempt to correct him or remove him from a situation resulted in hisses and bloody scratches. Nobody liked Charlie, not even me. But he was my cat, and I loved him.

At the age of three, he calmed down a lot. Not completely, but a lot. Over the years, we learned to live with each other. He is now the love of my life.

Still, looking back, had I been more prepared with knowledge of cat personality, I would have asked more questions about the cats I was looking at at the shelters. Now I know that some cats are independent and some stick to you like glue. Some are inquisitive and some are laid back. Some are cuddly and some are aloof. But all are worthy of a wonderful home and have the potential to fit perfectly with the right family.

Shelter employees and volunteers get to know the resident cats so well; they are a wealth of knowledge. Ask them questions about the cat’s personalities, what kinds of supplies you will need, and what’s the best pet insurance when you go to adopt. And remember, not all cats are on their best behavior while in a cage, so don’t believe all you see. Tell the shelter what you’re looking for, and let them guide you to possible matches.

No! Bad myths! Three shelter dog myths

A dog waits to be adopted.
If you’re deciding between adopting from dog rescue shelters or a breeder, you may have heard some misinformation from well-meaning friends. I’d like to shed some light on the life of a shelter dog.

Myth #1: Shelter Dogs Have Behavior Problems
These helpless, innocent dogs—often some of the best dog breeds out there, like Labs, Boxers and good old mutts—are at the mercy of everyone around them. The reasons why they ended up at the shelter are as varied as the dogs themselves.

“Ironically, many of the dogs are there because of their owners’ behavior problems, not their own,” wrote Marion S. Lane in the book, The Humane Society of the United States Complete Guide to Dog Care: Everything You Need to Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.

Some of them were off-leash, got lost, and their owners never came to get them. Some were abandoned in foreclosed homes or left in a public place to be found. Some even had wonderful lives until their owner died or lost their source of income. They don’t deserve what they’ve been through, and they want to prove it to you. And remember, many shelters do not make a dog available for adoption until it has been temperament tested first.

Myth #2: You Can’t Bond With an Older Shelter Dog. Start Off Right With a Puppy
Many pet owners who have had both rescue dogs and purchased from a breeder feel that their rescue dogs appreciate them more. A shelter dog has been through more life experiences. As nice as it is to know exactly where your dog came from, and that it was raised underfoot by an attentive family, that doesn’t always mean the dog will be loving and well behaved. In fact, such dogs might be a little aloof simply because they never experienced going without anything.

Shelter dogs have seen a lot in life. Sometimes this can make for a very well-rounded pet who is comfortable in many different situations. Every day, abandoned rescue dogs are adopted and trained to become companion pets for special needs centers, the elderly, and hospitals.

Myth #3: All the Good Dogs at the Shelter Were Probably Adopted Already
New dogs find themselves in shelters daily. If you didn’t fall in love with any yesterday, visit again.

Once you find the perfect match, it’s a good idea to begin looking into pet insurance for your new friend. Not only can dog insurance help to ensure you won’t be in financial distress if something unexpected happens, but some plans also help pay for a portion of wellness and routine care.

Cat health: Pet food ingredients to avoid

Posted by: H.R.
Pets Best Insurance Editorial Manager
A cat enjoys a bowl of food.
Do you practice preventive care for your cats? Like any good cat owner, you probably do the basics: flea prevention, vaccines, and cat insurance. But what about the food you feed them? Do you believe that all cat food is the same? Are you intimidated by pet food ingredient lists?

While most cat owners research medications and cat insurance options in depth– many don’t spend nearly as much time looking into pet food.

Veterinarian of over 30 years, Greg Martinez DVM is part owner of the Gilroy Veterinary Hospital in Santa Clara Valley. Dr. Martinez wishes his clients would pay a little more attention to what they feed their pets.

“30% of my medical cases are related to common allergenic commercial ingredients in pet food,” wrote Dr. Martinez in an email.

Allergic reactions from pet food can appear as a variety of cat health symptoms. These include diarrhea, ear infections, and dry, itchy skin.

Hyperallergenic ingredients in cat foods that cause the most cat health care issues include wheat, soy, corn, beef and even fish. These are general ingredients you should seek to eliminate from your cat’s diet. Taking that step will be more beneficial than ruling out “by-products.” The term “by-product” simply refers to different parts of an animal, when in fact this is what cats are supposed to eat.

Cats are carnivores, meaning they need to eat animal-based protein. Pet food companies often rate their protein levels from plant-based proteins like grains, corn, and rice. These ingredients are often used to keep prices low, but they also keep the quality of nutrition low.

Starting at home, paying more attention to the ingredients you feed your cat can help him overcome or prevent issues that often result in stressful vet visits.

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