Author Archives: Hadley Rush

Pet health issues could be lurking in your trick-or-treat bag

Posted by: H.R.
Pets Best Insurance Editorial Manager
A dog plays it safe with his pet health this Halloween.

Trick-or-treating and dressing up are the hallmarks of Halloween. Kids of all ages enjoy this fun holiday. Some pet owners like to get into the holiday spirit by dressing up their pets, too.

While Halloween is a fun holiday, it can also present an array of potential pet health dangers. If accidents still occur despite your best efforts, you can still protect yourself by having dog health insurance.

It is a well known fact that dogs shouldn’t be fed chocolate as it is toxic to them. Pet owners often feel bad for their dogs because they are unable to enjoy the chocolate candy that is so dearly loved by humans. Dog owners may decide to give their dogs other types of candy thinking that they are making a wiser choice.

The truth is, candy in any form should not be given to dogs. Dogs that eat candy can develop pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. This condition is not only very painful for the dog, but it is potentially fatal. The symptoms of pancreatitis may not show up for two to four days after consuming candy.

This is important as you might not even know your dog has gotten into your candy stash. If you suspect your dog has been sickened by Halloween candy, he should be seen by a vet. Having pet insurance can help defray the costs of the treatments associated with pancreatitis. Avoid the risk of your pet getting pancreatitis altogether by not feeding him any candy. Be sure to store candy in places that pets do not have access to to prevent this accident from occurring.

Pets Best Insurance and The Rescue Train: A shared goal

The Rescue Train's logo.
By: Chryssa Rich
Pets Best Insurance Marketing Associate

A former professor once used this analogy to describe solving societal problems: Imagine you’re standing at a river bend, and one by one, people are being swept down the river while calling to you and others for help. You can spend all your energy pulling them from the river, or, you can go upstream and stop them from falling in the first place.

A similar choice faced two volunteers at Poochville Animal Rescue in Los Angeles nearly a decade ago. They’d started an effort to save adoptable animals from euthanasia, but over time, realized it was impossible to keep up with the demand of such a metropolitan area. Only one thing could make a long-term difference: education.

The Rescue Train was born from this new focus on education. The group’s mission is “to reduce the number of animals entering shelters by promoting education through creating unique programs and solutions.” From The Rescue Train website:

…including awareness, community involvement and events, responsible pet ownership, support for the Good Samaritan who rescues an animal, dog training, spaying and neutering and supported adoptions, and support for other rescue groups.

The group operates a no-kill shelter with an educational twist. Many of their dogs are taken through six-week obedience classes, and adopters are encouraged to continue classes post-adoption. They also provide details on each animal’s needs and behaviors so new pet owners will know exactly what to expect. Each animal is backed by a team of experts ready to solve problems and smooth transitions to forever homes.

In addition, every animal receives the best pet health care available. All are micro chipped, spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Readers familiar with Jack’s story understand why affordable pet health care and preventing euthanasia are so important to the Pets Best Insurance family.

Every week, the team at Pets Best Insurance is given the opportunity to help a number of worthy animal charities from coast to coast. Because we’re pet owners and pet lovers, it can be difficult to decide who to help first. With its dedication to long-term solutions, The Rescue Train certainly stood out as a worthy cause, and we are proud to be a sponsor of this year’s Race for the Rescues. The event happens to be star-studded, with Glee’s Jane Lynch, Carrie Ann Inaba from Dancing with the Stars and Seamus Denver from Castle, among others.

Visitors will find a wealth of information at, including training tips, pet health and safety information, plus opportunities to sponsor animals, make donations and donate volunteer hours. There are even comprehensive pages explaining what to do if you’ve found a stray animal and how to take great pictures of an animal you’re looking to adopt out.

If you’re passionate about education and would like to make a long-term difference in the homeless pet population, consider working with The Rescue Train. Dogs, cats and loving families across the United States will thank you for it.

Treatment options available to cats with Hyperthyroidism

A cat waiting to have its pet health assessed.As cats get older, they become more prone to feline health issues. Cat health care, especially in older cats, is important to catch diseases early. Catching a disease in its early stages can add years to your cat’s life.

It’s a good idea to have elderly cats examined every 6 months as opposed to once a year. Pet health can change drastically in just a few months. Having more frequent exams will allow your vet to keep a close eye on your cat’s weight. Common cat weight loss causes include feline hyperthyroidism and diabetes.

Feline hyperthyroidism is a disease that is cause by an overactive thyroid gland. The thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroid hormones. The increase in the thyroid hormone levels can cause weight loss, excessive hunger, increased thirst and even vomiting and diarrhea. When owning a cat, it is a good idea to compare pet insurance and select the best cat insurance for your cat.

There are three choices when it comes to treating hyperthyroidism:

1. The first choice is the administration of a daily medication to regulate the thyroid hormone levels. Additional blood tests will be needed to monitor the thyroid levels of the cat. Based on the bloodwork results, the vet will determine if the thyroid medication needs to be adjusted.

2. A second treatment choice is having the thyroid gland surgically removed. This procedure requires the cat to be in relatively good health in order for them to tolerate the anesthesia.

3. The third choice is having an injection that kills the tissue of the thyroid gland. This is the most costly treatment option and requires a stay in the hospital for several days.

Does pet health insurance pay for itself?

A dog with pet health insurance goes for a stroll.

By: Leigh A. Peterson
For Pets Best Insurance

If living with pets wasn’t rewarding and full of love, there would be a lot less pet owners in the world. As wonderful as it is however, caring for pets comes with hardships, too. They are completely dependent on us for their health and well-being, and when they get sick or injured, it’s a terrible experience for pet owners; especially when it comes to veterinarian bills. Nothing is more heartbreaking than being told how much it will cost to save or help your pet and having no idea where you’ll be able to come up with the funds.

Jennifer Neal of Salt Lake City, Utah, who has pet health insurance for her two Labrador Retrievers Buddha and Stella, knows this all too well.

“It has allowed me to truly care for them both in ways I would have otherwise not been able to afford,” Jennifer said of pet health insurance.

Jennifer had to use her pet insurance for truly unexpected events, when Buddha stepped on glass at the dog park and Stella swallowed some items that she was unable to pass on her own. Luckily for Buddha and Stella, their mom was able to give them the best care possible when they needed it most, and unthinkable outcomes were averted because she had purchased pet health insurance for her pets.

Pet owner Amy Reiley also has pet care insurance, although she hasn’t needed to use it yet and hopes she never will.

“With my trainer’s advice, I got my dog insurance when he was a puppy so it was very affordable,” said Amy. “I really have it for peace of mind so that if my dog gets in an accident I don’t have to make a difficult snap decision as to whether to pay for an expensive procedure.”

Is all this assistance and peace of mind affordable?

“They have far better coverage than I would ever be able to find for myself,” Jennifer said of pet insurance. “If I could find affordable insurance like that for me I’d also purchase it.”

Pet health Halloween hazards

By: Fiona Lee Caldwell DVM
For Pets Best Insurance
Two small puppies feast on Halloween candy, which can be a pet health issue.

Halloween and other winter holidays are just around the corner! While celebrating these occasions can be fun and exciting, it’s important to remember some of the dangers that the holidays can bring to pet health.

Halloween always comes with costumes, trick-or-treating, and lots of candy– but some candy can be dangerous for your pets, especially chocolate candy. Most people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs and can cause severe dog health care issues, but few of us actually know why. Chocolate toxicity is one of the most common ‘poisonings’ seen in veterinary medicine and can be fatal if left untreated.

Chocolate contains a caffeine-like substance called theobromine that dogs are very sensitive to, more so than humans. Theobromine is obtained from the plant Theobroma cocoa and is present in chocolate, cocoa, tea, cocoa beans and cocoa bean hulls. This substance causes the body to release catecholamines, which are the ‘fight or flight’ hormones released during extreme stress, and can cause muscles to contract. When skeletal muscles (the ones in arms and legs) contract muscle tremors are seen, but smooth muscle located in the intestines and in other areas of the body can contract as well, causing GI upset and other clinical signs of pet health issues.

Catecholamines are stimulants, like caffeine, and can cause an increased heart rate and blood pressure. In high doses, theobromine can be lethal to dogs. Clinical signs of theobromine or chocolate toxicity can include tremors, shaking, vomiting, diarrhea, heart arrhythmias and even seizures.

Theobromine stays in a dog’s body almost three times as long as in humans, 17.5 hours versus 6 hours in people. Dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate are the most dangerous to dog health care. This type of chocolate contains the most theobromine per ounce, about ten times as much as that contained in milk chocolate. Just 5 ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate could be lethal in a 10 pound dog.

Baked goods, such as cookies and cake are less dangerous, unless eaten in large quantities. Most halloween candies are made with the less concentrated milk chocolate, but dogs can vary in their sensitivity to theobromine. Thus, the smaller amounts found in candy can also be dangerous or cause serious illness in a pet with increased sensitivity to it. In addition, any sweet treat eaten in excess can cause GI upset, called gastroenteritis. While most gastroenteritis cases are not fatal, hospitalization is often needed to treat the symptoms, which can include vomiting, diarrhea and other pet health problems.

While there is no ‘reversal’ for theobromine and chocolate toxicity, if brought to a veterinary clinic promptly many dogs can be saved with appropriate and timely treatment. Treatment includes inducing vomiting if the pet has eaten the chocolate recently and administering activated charcoal, a substance that acts like a sponge and can help prevent theobromine from being absorbed through the lining of the GI tract. Some pets will need additional treatment to help prevent seizures and lower elevated blood pressure if present.

Contact your veterinarian immediately if you are concerned your pet may have ingested chocolate. Preventing your dog’s access to candy during Halloween is the best way to keep him or her safe so everyone can enjoy the costumes and trick-or-treating!

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