Author Archives: Hadley Rush

Pet health: How to pet proof for dogs and cats

A dog watches as his owner cooks.
Posted by: H.R
Pets Best Insurance Editorial Manager

It doesn’t take long after adopting your first kitten or puppy before you realize you must pet proof your home for the sake of pet health alone. Often, potential dangers are spotted instinctively as a new pet parent thinks like a spunky kitten or naughty pup. But there may be hidden animal attractions yet to be adjusted.

How to Dog Proof a Home
Dog’s noses are their biggest asset and their biggest source of trouble. They don’t discriminate much on smell; if it smells like anything, they’ll eat it. All food must be stored in the refrigerator or high in cupboards.
Trash cans must be very cleverly hidden. Most dogs can figure out how to nose open a cupboard. Trash should be secured behind child-proof locks or inside a heavy-duty garbage can that doesn’t easily open. Keeping the garbage in the garage is even better when you need to dog proof the kitchen.

The best way to keep a dog safe when he cannot be supervised is with crate training. Done right, dogs come to see a crate as their safe den. The crate can be associated with meal time, working up to nap time and away time.

Pet gates are also helpful for keeping dogs confined in safe zones. Pet safety gates are a wonderful investment that can be repurposed over the years, from potty training to sick days to times when repairmen or company are over. For big dogs and cats, two gates stacked together can prevent jumping.

How to Cat Proof a Home
When you cat proof your home, not only do you need to look at your home from down low, but you also need to look up. Cats can get into and onto just about anything, which can compromise pet health.

In an October 2010 Daytona Beach News-Journal article, author Jacque Estes highlights some of the most common dangers for cats.

“Cords of any kind, electrical and curtain, should be secured from the cat that likes to chew,” she wrote in the article, “Tips To Make Your House Cat Proof.”

Aside from chewing, cats also like to play with dangling cords, which can wrap around their necks or rip out a stuck claw.

Sorry, green thumbed cat lovers, but house plants and cats do not mix. “Cats jump, which makes few areas ‘out of reach,'” wrote Estes. Even if care is taken to only fill the house with plants that are not toxic to cats, chances are they will feast too much on the foliage.

Breakables need to be secure. Cats may be graceful, but they can also gracefully knock over an antique vase with one swoop of the tail.

For both dogs and cats, caution should be used with chemicals brought into the home. Just because something smells strong doesn’t mean a curious dog or cat won’t try giving it a lick. Spray-on products used to freshen up the home contain chemicals that a pet will likely ingest. This can compromise pet health. There are safe, eco-friendly products that are just as effective.

Volunteers work to keep stray cat numbers down

A feral cat hides in the wild.
Posted by: H.R.
Pets Best Insurance Editorial Manager

There are many different types of homeless cats: strays who are lost or abandoned, others that are waiting in shelters, pounds and foster homes, and an estimated 70 million “wild” feral cats in the United States alone, according to a 2004 National Geographic News article.

“The Humane Society of the United States believes feral and stray cats produce about 80 percent of all kittens,” wrote Patrick McCallister in a Daytona Beach News-Journal article entitled Oak Hill Seeks to Tame Feral Cat Growth.

The October 2010 article explains that the city is trying to establish a trap-neuter-release pet health program, in which feral cats are trapped and fixed to avoid further breeding of homeless pets. Because feral cats have never lived with humans and are usually not eligible for cat adoption, they are then released back into the area where they were found.

Volunteers across the country run similar programs in a never-ending effort to keep the number of stray cats down. With an estimated 6-8 million homeless pets already waiting for homes in pet adoption centers, according to a recent article in the Gary Post-Tribune, spaying and neutering is an important issue for animal advocates.

Low-cost spay and neuter clinics have opened in cities across the country in hopes that more pet owners will choose to spay or neuter their pets if the price is more affordable. The clinics also provide services for trapped feral cats. Such clinics are able to keep costs down by releasing pets hours after the desexing surgery rather than keeping them overnight for observation. And because they provide limited services, they can see more pets in a day than veterinary clinics.

The American Humane Society asks pet owners to help with pet overpopulation by spaying and neutering all pets. According to fact sheets on the Society’s website, it is safe to spay or neuter healthy pets as early as 8 weeks of age, and when fixed young, puppies and kittens heal faster and with less pain and stress than adult pets. Fixing pets can also help diminish cat and dog health care issues.

Things to consider before adopting a shelter dog

A puppy-eyed dog waits to be adopted at a shelter.
As October’s “Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog month” comes to an end, shelters are urging the public to consider adoption. According to a recent study by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, the number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year is approximately 6 to 8 million. Of those animals, only 3 to 4 million are adopted, leaving 3 to 4 million animals euthanized each year.

The most common reason for surrendering a dog to a shelter is that the owner is moving. Other reasons include too many animals in the house, cost of pet health, and not having time for a pet. Surprisingly, behavior problems ranked last on the list.

There are several things to consider before adopting a dog from one of your local shelters. You should first consider the ages of the people in your household. This will help you determine the size of dog you should choose. For example, families with small children would generally do better with a smaller dog.
Before adopting, it’s also important to make sure that you have the time necessary to dedicate to caring for a dog. Do you have time to walk and train your dog every day?

Finally, consider how much money you can spend on the dog. Take into consideration adoption costs, routine yearly dog health care and the dog’s food and supplies. There are also unforeseen costs, such as taking an emergency trip to the vet after an accident or illness. It’s also a good idea to consider purchasing pet health insurance.

Make sure when you are making the decision to adopt a puppy or an adult dog, that you are committed to providing the dog with a loving home for the remainder of his life.

Plastic, Q-tips and other weird things cats think are yummy

Posted by: H.R.
Pets Best Insurance Editorial Manager
A cat plays with string, which is a pet health concern.
Quirkiness is one of the reasons we love our cats. It’s also the very reason why cat health insurance is a good idea: cats love to eat strange things.

Many cat owners lament about having to baby-proof their home for their cat. Often, this is following cat health issues that develop after objects start disappearing from the home.

Recently, I asked cat lovers what delicious oddity their cats can’t resist. The list of responses included rubber bands, photos, Q-tips, ointment, mylar, and lots of plastic, string and ribbon. Plastic was the number one culprit; two cats even ate shower curtains to get their plastic fix.

As funny as some of these stories are, this behavior can be a sign of illness that causes many cat health symptoms. Pica, a disorder that drives one to eat non-nutritive or non-food items, has been said to be caused by a nutrient imbalance, boredom, and recently, a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Author Jacquie Lewis-Kemp’s cat will do anything for dried flowers and artificial foliage.

“I know this is a problem because my girlfriend had to take her cat for emergency surgery where they found Easter grass and a Barbie shoe in his stomach,” said Lewis-Kemp.

Any owner of a cat with pica will want to look into cat insurance. String is a common cat toy, but also one of the most dangerous.

PR Consultant Sekita Ekrek learned this the hard way during the holidays, when she found her cat Rohmer coughing up blood with a piece of gold band from a Christmas present on the floor in front of him. Ekrek rushed Rohmer to the vet.

“He apparently had swallowed the band, which could have proved deadly if it had tangled around his intestines,” said Ekrek. “They were able to remove it safely. Thank god he was ok and I learned my lesson!”

Prevent pet health accidents this Halloween

A dog with pet health insurance prepares for a safe Halloween.

While there are no surefire ways to ensure that your dog will not have an accident this Halloween, there are things you can do to lessen the chance that they will occur. With all of the hustle and bustle of people coming to your house for Halloween parties and the endless ringing of the doorbell by trick-or-treaters, there are ample opportunities for an accident to happen to your pet.

Having dog health insurance can help cover you if an accident does occur on Halloween, but there are also steps you can take to help keep your dog safe this year.

During Halloween it is important to protect your dog from the dangers of eating Halloween candy. The candy itself as well as the wrappers pose serious health risks to your dog. Keep candy in places where your dog can’t gain access.

Another Halloween danger for dogs are flames from burning candles. Candles can peak the curiosity of your dog and lead to a burned nose or worse. Your dog may also accidentally knock the pumpkin over, which could burn his fur or start a fire.

Costumes can be a risk for dogs during Halloween. If you decide to dress up your dog, be sure that his costume doesn’t hinder his abilities to see, breath or walk. Make sure that your dog only wears the costume when he is being supervised. Dogs that are left unsupervised in costumes may chew the costume, thereby ingesting it, or may injure themselves trying to get the costume off.

Even if you have taken steps to reduce the chances of your dog having an accident, it can still occur. Lessen your chance of having financial strain from a dog accident or emergency by having pet care insurance.

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