Seven Warning Signs in Senior Pets

No cat is too old for cat insurance from Pets Best Insurance!

It’s always important to bring your pets to the veterinarian annually to be examined, and even more important for senior pets. But when should you consider making that appointment a little earlier? Being able to recognize the clinical signs of common diseases seen in elderly pets will help them get the treatment they need and improve their chances of recovery.

Always consider pet health insurance before your pets are seniors and start having problems, so they can get the treatment they need. Pets Best insurance has no upper age limits for senior pets so they can be insured at any time! Here are the top 7 clinical signs to look for at home in your aging pets, and what diseases they may be associated with:

1. Increased thirst, with or without increased urination.
This should always be accompanied by a trip to the veterinarian’s office. There are many diseases that can cause this. Some are simple and easy to treat, such as a urinary tract infection, others are more complicated and serious, such as kidney disease or diabetes. Your veterinarian will want to run a urinalysis and potentially a blood panel to determine the underlying cause.

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The 6 Moods Your Dog Communicates

This pet insurance dog wants you to know how he's feeling.

Dr. Marc, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine blogs for pet insurance provider, Pets Best.

Just like people, dogs can communicate with each other and their environment. Unlike people, dogs do this largely without a ‘verbal’ language, but rather utilize body language. Even though many dogs have unique behavior characteristics that are individualized, certain body language is generally consistent with most canines. Understanding these cues can help you interpret how your dog may be feeling.

1) Playful, Frisky
This language says: “I want to play”, or that previous roughhousing was not construed as threatening. The body position will often resemble a ramp, with the head and torso are near the ground, and the back end is in the air. The tail is usually up and waging. Ears will be up and attentive, the mouth may be open.

2) Relaxed
Dogs in this state are generally at ease. They do not feel threatened by nearby activities. Dogs in a relaxed state are generally not directly engaged with others. These animals are usually approachable. Most of the time, the ears will be up without any forward press, the tails are down (not tucked), and their stance is loose with weight evenly distributed.

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3) Alert, Engaged 

In the alert phase, dogs are usually investigating something of interest or determining a course of further action regarding an environmental stimulant. Tails are usually stretched out horizontally, and often straight back, but not puffed. Ears are perked and placed forward. The mouth is usually closed. They may give signs of gathering sensory information such as smelling the air, twitching or rotating the ears, or tracking something visually.

4) Dominant (aggressive)
Dominant aggressive animals vary from fearful aggressive animals in that they are full of confidence. These animals will attack if their dominance is challenged. The tail is usually stiff, raised, and puffed out. The body is usually shifted forward (more weight on front legs). These dogs may be growling with lips snarled and teeth exposed. Often their hackles are raised, especially near the neck.

5) Fearful (possibly aggressive)
Animals will generally cope with fear in one of two ways. The first is fearful aggressive, the second is fearful submissive. In the fearful aggressive animal, fear is the predominant feeling, though they may attack if the sense of danger exceeds their threshold. These dogs will have their bodies lowered and their tails tucked. The ears are usually back and tucked against the head. Their hackles may also be raised.

6) Fearful (submissive)
These animals are also in a state of fear or stress, however, it is unlikely these animals will attack unless their body language changes. These animals can vary from general worry to submission. In early phases, the ears are back against the head and the hackles are down. The tail is down, but not necessarily tucked. They may wag their tail briefly in its down position. The body is generally in a lowered position. During a greater sense of fear these animals may become submissive. In this state, dogs will often roll on their back, may urinate, and have their tails tucked. Most animals in all states of submissive fear will try to avoid making direct eye contact.

Why pet insurance? Learn more about pet insurance and why customers love Pets Best in these pet insurance reviews.

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Top 5 Ways to Prepare Dogs for a Baby’s Arrival

A baby and puppy with dog insurance get to know each other.

September is national Baby Safety Month! If you have a dog and are expecting a baby, be sure to prepare your dog ahead of time. This can include dog insurance for financial peace of mind, and planning for the change in household dynamic.

Dogs can be confused and stressed when new parents suddenly shift their attention from them to the baby, and this often shows in unacceptable behaviors such as: jumping up; stealing things that belong to the baby; going into the baby’s room; barking when the baby cries; becoming pushy when the mother is feeding the baby; or jumping on the stroller or pulling out in front of it.

In addition to checking with your family’s pediatrician, try the following to help prepare your dog for your new family member’s arrival:

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I Wish I Had Pet Insurance When…I Was Laid Off and My Dog Needed Help

Mih-kit-see now has the best dog insurance.

In 2008, before I started working for Pets Best Insurance, I had just lost my job at a vet clinic. One day I noticed my dog Mih-kit-see acting funny, like something was bothering her hind end. I noticed a red color in the area, and of course as a certified veterinary technician, I thought the worst: I thought she had hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, and had visions of bloody diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration. I had no money to take her to the vet for treatment. How I wish I had insurance then, as I had no way to treat hemorrhagic gastroenteritis at home.

I cried and hugged her, as I felt it was going to be a long, hard night. I took her outside and looked again, and noticed the discharge on Mih-kit-see was just blood. I looked more closely and noticed an anal gland abscess had ruptured. While this is still a messy, uncomfortable condition, it is much more treatable than hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, so I almost cried with joy. Had I had insurance, it would have been a simple trip to the vet for an exam and antibiotics. But because I didn’t, I had to treat her at home by flushing the wound, and it took at least twice as long to treat. I understand not every pet owner has a veterinary background like I do, and without it, I would have been even more worried.

Even as a vet tech, home treatment was nerve wracking because of the risks involved. If it didn’t heal correctly or didn’t heal at all, it could have caused a fistula or nerve damage resulting in incontinence.

We got lucky and Mih-kit-see recovered– but it was an extremely stressful time that would have been made so much easier with pet insurance. She’s now insured with Pets Best Insurance, as is her litter mate Ki-yoo, and my Bernese Mountain Dog, Nick. Mih-kit-see hasn’t had any more anal gland problems, but I have used my insurance for the other two dogs, and I am so glad to have it.

When people ask me how many kids I have, I always say I have six: a seven-year old boy, a two-year old girl, three dogs, and one cat. Now that I have pet insurance and know how much peace of mind it brings, I wouldn’t go without it just as much as I wouldn’t go without health insurance for my human kids.

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True or False? Top 5 Beliefs About Spay and Neuter

A dog with dog insurance sticks out his tongue.

Congrats! You’ve made the decision to adopt a new four-legged member into your family. As you undoubtedly want to get started on the right foot, you’ve visited your vet, bought pet health insurance, and plan to have the newest edition spayed or neutered. Perhaps you’ve done a little research on the best time to have this procedure done. The timing of puppy and kitten spaying and neutering is a hotly debated topic with much misinformation and myths, even amongst veterinarians.

Shelters vs. Veterinary Hospitals

Pediatric spaying and neutering is broadly defined as spay/neuter surgery performed between 6 and 16 weeks of age, or any time before the typically recommended 6 months of age. The most common reason this happens at such a young age is due to shelter situations. Shelters are anxious to get puppies and kittens adopted out, and want to help control the pet population by ensuring pets are altered before going to their forever homes. It is unrealistic for shelters to house these pets up to 6 months of age and then alter them.

In a veterinarian setting, this is less of an issue, as your vet hopes to develop a relationship with you and trusts you’ll return for the recommended procedures and the recommended times. The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) has published surgical and anesthetic protocols based on clinical research reporting that early spay/neuter is safe in an effort to stem pet overpopulation.[1]

So we know it is safe, but when is the right time for your pet? Here are some common misconceptions about spaying and neutering pediatric animals.

1. Early spaying or neutering will stunt growth: False

This is likely not clinically true.  Some studies even suggest that the growth plates remain open longer when the pet is altered earlier, but this isn’t likely to make any appreciable difference in final size.

2. Early spaying/neutering will protect against certain cancers: True and False

This is true in the case of mammary cancer in females. Literature suggests that the risk of developing mammary cancer in a pet spayed before her first heat cycle is less than 1%, after her first heat cycle her risk rises to 8%. It is false, however, that early neutering protects against prostatic cancer in males. The incidence of prostatic cancer is equivalent in neutered and intact males. [2]

3. Early spaying causes urinary incontinence in females: Unknown

The jury is out on this one. Cornell university did a long term study on dogs spayed prior to three months and found 12% of the early spayed females versus 5% of the later spayed females developed incontinence, but a Texas A&M research projects suggests there was no change in the numbers affected based on age spayed.  There have even been some studies showing the opposite to be true, that females spayed later had more urinary incontinence. Clearly there is a need for more research to settle this dispute.

4. Spaying and neutering causes obesity: False

It is statistically true that altered pets tend to be heavier than their intact counterparts, but obesity is highly linked to a variety of contributing factors and is largely preventable with diet and exercise. Even intact pets can be heavy if overfed.

5. My pet’s personality will change with spaying or neutering: False

There doesn’t appear to be any appreciable effect on personality with early spay/neuter. Certainly a pet spayed or neutered at any age will have fewer hormonally-driven behaviors such as urine marking, territorialism, roaming and fighting.

Be sure to talk with your veterinarian about the timing for your puppy of kitten to be spayed or neutered, and any reservations or questions you have about the procedure.


[1] American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

[2] American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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