Author Archives: Hadley Rush

Lessons from a shelter dog

A Labrador looks towards the sky.
Although I never knew much about pets or pet health in general, I’ve been a die-hard pet lover since the day I came home from school in the 2nd grade and met a gorgeous, 50 pound yellow Lab mix that my mother had adopted from the shelter.

I didn’t know a dog would start living with us that day, and I don’t think my mom did, either. She only visited dog rescue shelters out of curiosity, and when she saw the petite Lab with the brown nose, she asked to meet him. When his gate was opened, he sat in front of my mother and lifted his paw to shake. “I’ll take him,” she said.

I was only 8-years-old at the time, I have one distinct, life-changing memory from childhood thanks to that dog. One day, I realized that he was there to meet me every day when I came home from school, and that he just loved laying next to me no matter what room of the house I was in. It was then that our relationship changed from housemates to best friends, and also when my biased belief that Labradors are one of the best dog breeds began. It was around then that I also began to get a deeper understanding of pet health, and behavior.

A recent study at the University of Zurich found that children become less selfish around age 7 or 8. For me, the catalyst to this lesson was a lovable Lab, appropriately named Buddy by my father. Buddy was always with me growing up, and that included a cameo in my high school senior pictures.

The summer after graduation, before I moved away for college, I learned another life lesson thanks to Buddy. One day out of the blue, he died peacefully in our back yard. Even though he was no longer with me, his immeasurable love gave me so much. Buddy taught me love, tolerance and friendship. He was the best buddy a kid could ask for.

Taking steps now can help locate a missing dog in the future

Posted By: H.R.
Pets Best Insurance Editorial Manager
A lost dog sits alone on a beach.
It can happen to the best pet parents: the beloved family dog becomes lost. Visitors can come over and inadvertently leave a door open one second too long. A dog can be frightened by a loud noise while in the yard and dash out of site in a moment. A fun trip to the dog park can end in terror when the dog runs out the opened pet safety gates. Even those prepared pet parents who have purchased pet insurance for potential accidents or illnesses may not be prepared for their dog bolting.

In the event that a dog is lost, quick action is necessary. The first places to call with a description of the dog and the location where it was last seen include:

• Police
• City shelter or “pound”
• Humane society
• Local veterinarians (in case the dog is injured and brought in by a good Samaritan)

After these calls are made, posters with photos should be printed and taken to the above listed locations. Notices should also be placed online, at sites like and

Craigslist, a free online classified ads site, is a hotbed of lost and found pet ads as well as “pets available for adoption” ads.

When Laurie and Michael Gordon of Ohio lost their dog Hunter, they did all the right things to try to locate him. Someone noticed their efforts and alerted the Gordons that a similar looking dog was posted for sale on Craigslist. The people who had found Hunter made no attempt to find his owners.

According to the Akron Beacon-Journal, “the ad on Craigslist stated that the dog’s owners were looking for a ‘new home for our 18-month-old Jack Russell Terrier . . . he is good with kids and other dogs. He is housebroken as well. He loves to cuddle and loves attention. We have a baby due in just a couple of weeks and we want to ensure he gets all the attention he deserves.'”

When the Gordons responded to the ad, they were told that the dog had already been sold and there was no last name or phone number for the new owner.

The dog also had no license and wore no identification tags, so it was impossible for the Gordons to prove that Hunter was theirs. Fortunately, the mass media attention caught the eye of someone who recognized Hunter, and the Gordons got their dog back.

Ensuring your pet is equipped with ID tags and acting fast to find your lost pet can help ensure a safe arrival home.

Tips to keep your pet safe during travel

Dogs sit in the backseat of a car-- which is a travel no no.
Before embarking on your cross-county trip to visit family this holiday season with Fido or Fluffy in tow, there are things you need to do to make the trip pleasant for everyone.

Traveling with pets can be a fun experience if proper planning and preparation are done beforehand. Make your next trip with your pet a memory you want to remember, not a trip you want to forget.

For the safety of your pet as well as your human passengers, your pet should be secured when traveling. Dogs can be secured using dog car crates or by using special harnesses or tethers that are made to attach to the seatbelt to keep the dog secure. Cats should always be kept in pet crates or a cat carrier while traveling in a car. A carrier will prevent the cat from getting under the driver’s feet and possibly causing an accident.

Do not place pets in the front passenger seat of vehicles with an airbag. In case of an accident, the force of airbag deployment could severely injure your pet. It is a good idea to consider researching and purchasing the best pet insurance for your pet prior to traveling. It is also important to never leave pets unattended in a car as they can become overheated, too cold, or they can injure themselves trying to get out of the car.

If your dog is not accustomed to riding in the car, you will want to take him on several shorter rides to make sure he is comfortable beforehand. Going on shorter car rides will also allow you to know if your pet gets car sick. If you find that your pet does get car sick, your veterinarian can prescribe medication that will help with car sickness. If you happen to have cat insurance or dog insurance with Pets Best Insurance, some medications may even be covered if they’re FDA approved.

Pet health: You got a flu vaccine, should your dog get one too?

A veterinarian nurses a dog back to health.
By: Fiona Lee Caldwell DVM
For Pets Best Insurance

It’s just about flu season! Did you know that dogs have their own flu bug as well? Here’s what you need to know about the canine flu to ensure proper pet health this season.

Influenza, affectionately called the flu, is a virus that causes upper respiratory illness in animals and people. For the most part, the virus is very species specific, meaning dogs can’t catch swine flu or avian flu or even the human flu. However, the influenza virus is a unique virus that mutates, or changes, at a rapid rate. It can change significantly even during one flu season. This is why researchers spend so much time determining what the new influenza virus will act like each year in order to prepare a vaccine. This mutation rate also means it is possible, but rare, for the virus to change enough to infect a different species.

It has been recently proven that the canine influenza virus was originally the horse influenza. Twenty two greyhound dogs on a racetrack in Florida came down with respiratory infections in January of 2004.

Subsequent identification of flu infected dogs throughout the United States from 2003 to 2005, support the theory that a single virus mutation from horses to dogs occurred. In addition, the new mutated canine virus was able to be transmitted from dog to dog. To date, about 30 states and the District of Columbia have confirmed influenza infections in dogs. Most of these are in shelter settings.

Clinical signs of the canine flu include most commonly a mild cough with fever. Ten percent of infected dogs will show no clinical signs at all, but can ‘shed’ the virus, meaning other dogs can catch it from them, even though they aren’t sick. Most pets, about 80% with mild cough, recover without treatment. Some will require treatment with hospitalization, but rarely. While it is true that some dogs can develop severe illness and there have been some reports of deaths, this is uncommon. Canine influenza is not a highly fatal disease; mortality rate is about 6%, and likely to be even less in a clinical/hospital setting versus research or shelter setting. Like human influenza, the canine virus is very contagious, if exposed, most dogs will develop antibodies to it, but not every dog will get sick.

Treatment, when indicated, generally involves antibiotic therapy in addition to supportive therapy such as intravenous fluids and nutritional support. Dog health care can be compromised, and the virus can be ‘caught’ through causal contact, aerosolized nasal secretions, or shared bowls and toys.

These reports of canine influenza led researchers to develop a canine influenza vaccine in July of 2009, which is now available at many veterinary clinics. Here are some important facts to remember prior to getting the vaccine. It doesn’t prevent your dog from becoming infected, and it does not prevent shedding (infectivity). It has been shown to lessen the severity of the respiratory illness your dog develops. Most vaccinated dogs will have a shorter, milder course of illness. For optimum dog health care, two doses are necessary for protection and length of immunity is unknown at this time. The manufacturer recommends annual boosters.

The risk of your dog contracting canine influenza is low. Some states have never reported any cases of influenza at all. Most veterinary clinics consider the vaccine non-core, meaning experts are not recommending the vaccine unless there is an unusual circumstance, such as plans to travel, exposure to racetracks or exposure to shelter settings. There is, however, an indication for shelter housed animals, as an outbreak and threat of infection is higher, with more detrimental consequences.

It is important to assure pet owners that there is NO evidence there is any risk of spread of canine influenza to people. If you have more questions about the canine flu or the influenza vaccine, contact your veterinarian.

*Pets Best Insurance does not cover the canine influenza vaccine

Finding the perfect pet sitter

A pet sitter walks multiple dogs.
When boarding and doggie day care are not options and family and friends are unavailable, it’s time to look into dedicated, in-home pet sitting services.

Those with one well-mannered cat or a healthy dog and a fenced-in backyard might be able to get away with hiring a neighborhood teenager in lieu of a professional pet sitter. However, the level of professionalism required is proportionate to the number of pets in the home, pet health, and how often services are needed. and are two reputable membership sites where caregivers and pet sitters are listed by zip code, often with background checks and reviews included. Not all individuals listed are professionals, but these sites are great for pre-screening potential sitters and setting or negotiating affordable pet sitting fees.

Pet Sitters International also has a pet sitter locator on its website, Founded in 1994, PSI is the go-to source for professional, accredited pet sitters. These care providers are often bonded, carry pet insurance (for sitting services), and have been educated in dog and cat health care, nutrition, and business and office procedures.

“The U.S. Department of Labor reports that animal care and service workers held 220,400 jobs in 2008,” wrote Karen Maserjian Shan in The Poughkeepsie Journal. According to the October 2008 article, Wappingers Falls Dog Day Care Does Well, pet sitting services are only going to become easier to come by.

“Employment of animal care and service workers is expected to grow 21 percent between 2008 and 2018, as the pet population is expected to grow,” Shan wrote.

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