Pet Insurance Blog – Pets Best Insurance
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Hot Spots on Dogs, Injection Stress

Posted on: July 12th, 2011 by

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a veterinarian at Idaho Veterinarian Hospital. I’m at home today answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page.

The first question comes from Riley the Labrador. “What do you recommend for a dog with hot spots?” Hot spots are areas of dermatitis or infected skin that are usually self-inflicted. They can be related to underlying allergies, so first and foremost you’re going to want to see your veterinarian in case your dog needs to be put on antibiotics or other medications.

In the future, what you can do to prevent the hot spots would be try to find out what’s triggering them, if it’s underlying allergies to food or the environment. Sometimes boredom can play a part, too, so dogs that are crated or confined for a while can be affected. You can try special shampoos. Antihistamines are sometimes helpful. Probably starting with your veterinarian is going to be the best choice for you.

The next one comes from Jennifer. “I have to give my dog two shots a day and she fights so hard. I’ve tried everything I can think of and nothing seems to work.” This is a tough one. Dogs that are diabetic or need allergy shots will sometimes be required to get injections.

The best thing you can probably do is to try and distract them so make it a two-person job. Have somebody feed the dog treats or praise them or pet them while you’re doing the shots behind. Distraction is probably going to be your best option. Also, reward the dog. They know what’s coming, so if they know that there’s going to be a treat afterwards, it may make it a little bit better.

Dogs that receive insulin are usually given shots that have really small needles so pain is pretty negligible. I wonder if your dog may be picking up on your stress from administering the injections as well. If you could try to make it a more relaxed environment and sort of a less stressful time for the pet, they might do a little better.

Tips: Compare pet insurance

Posted on: July 11th, 2011 by

A cat is attended to by a veterinarian.

Pet insurance comparison takes time, but you want to pick out a plan that best suits you and your cat or dog. If you’re leaning towards a particular plan, start there, comparing it to others’ terms and conditions of coverage.

Pets Best Insurance
The following are the selling features of Pets Best Insurance:

• The pet insurance company’s founder is a vet and had 25 years of experience in the pet insurance industry before starting the company.

• The company is a member of NAPHIA, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.

• You can choose any licensed vet, anywhere in the world.

• MRIs, CAT Scans, and X-rays are covered.

• Prescription medications are covered.

• The plan covers cancer and many other illnesses and accidents.

• Claims are processed fast and the company now offers Direct Deposit Reimbursement.

• You are reimbursed 80 percent of your actual vet bill, after your deductible.

• Their entire policy is available as a download on their website, including a list of hereditary exclusions.

• There are no upper age limits.

• The company offers additional BestWellness coverage, which covers routine care costs as an add-on.

“Alternative” Therapies
Unlike other pet insurance companies, Pets Best Insurance covers the following treatments:
• Acupuncture
• Chiropractic care

Get a Quote
Starting with the above information, thoroughly read Pets Best pet insurance policy and then ask for a coverage quote coverage for your pet(s).

Compare Cat Insurance and Dog Insurance
After you have learned all you need to know about this particular pet health insurance company, compare its features and coverage with several others—then you can make an informed decision.

Zap! Why I finally put an E-collar on my dog

Posted on: July 11th, 2011 by

A dog with pet insurance runs after prey.

By: Chryssa Rich
For Pets Best Insurance

Electronic collars, also called e-collars, shock collars or static collars, are highly controversial among dog owners. Some believe they’re bad for pet health, and anyone who’s tried to buy one at a popular pet store has probably been intercepted by the resident trainer, pushing obedience classes over electronics.

When I adopted Jayda last year, I was definitely on team obedience. But after 15 months of dog training, I haven’t been able to put a dent in my dog’s insatiable prey drive. Jayda will run out the front door and sprint around the neighborhood looking for something to chase. She barks incessantly and chases cats and squirrels when we’re on walks or at friends’ houses. She even barks out the window at work when I take her to the pet insurance office. She jumps up on countertops to get cats and recently tried to join two wild mink fighting near the river. She picks fights with small dogs at the dog park.

In addition to being dangerous, Jayda’s behavior means she must be on a leash and prong collar 100% of the time outside the house, and she can’t come with me to visit friends who have cats. She can’t even be off-leash to fetch or swim while we’re camping.

Jayda is calm and obedient at home but seems to go into a trance when the prey drive kicks in. She doesn’t even flinch when I give a command or pop her prong collar. After one particularly stressful evening involving a Pomeranian at the dog park, I decided it was time to get complete control over my dog before she got us both in trouble.

The e-collar I chose has two buttons, a “tone” button that makes a beeping sound, and a “static” button that delivers the correction. The tone button is always used first, and for some dogs, that’s enough to disrupt the bad behavior.

The static button has 10 levels of correction, but Jayda only needed level 3 before she reacted to it. The reaction to watch for is very subtle: twitching the ears or trying to look at his or her own neck. No dog should vocalize or panic while wearing the collar. The goal is never to hurt them.

According to the instruction booklet, e-collars should only be used to correct one behavior at a time to avoid confusing the dog. This means that I‘ll only correct Jayda for chasing until she’s mastered the “no chase” command. Once we’ve covered that, we’ll move on to proper interaction with other dogs at the dog park.

Last night we took a walk and came upon the neighbor’s cat. Jayda usually goes crazy at the sight of Samson, but it was a different story with the e-collar. When Jayda started lunging, I said “No chase” and pressed the tone and static buttons. Jayda immediately stopped going after the cat and walked back to me. It was amazing. No yelping, no barking, no hissing.

I know that e-collars are controversial, but when my dog runs out the front door, goes after a cat or starts a fight with another dog, I need a way to stop her. Her life depends on it, and for that I’ll take any amount of controversy.

Dog owners and pet insurance enthusiasts , I’d love to hear from you: what’s your opinion on e-collars? How have you dealt with difficult dog behaviors?

Pets living longer means more vet care

Posted on: July 8th, 2011 by

A dog with pet insurance is tended to by a vet.

Advances in veterinary science have resulted in our pets living longer. Treatments that were unimaginable 20 years ago, are now possible for our pets. But along with those advances and increased life spans for pets, veterinary health care costs have increased dramatically. Pet health insurance is also fairly recent.

Pet insurance can help offset the cost of vet care. If you have assistance paying for life-saving procedures, it’s less of a financial burden to provide the best care possible for your beloved companions. Because of their longer lives, our pets depend on us to make sure the quality of their life is maintained. They bring us joy, providing both physical and psychological advantages to our lives.

Vets have access to more diagnostic tools, like MRIs, that allow them to diagnose problems with pets that might have gone undetected. Although wonderful for our pets, those and other procedures can be costly without pet insurance.

Still Only Small Percentage of Pets Insured
What’s surprising is that not many pet owners are taking advantage of the financial assistance an insurance plan can provide. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that in 2007, there were 72 million pet dogs and 82 million pet cats in U.S. homes. But only 850,000 cat and dog insurance policies were in place that year.

Pet owner’s awareness of the availability of pet health insurance is growing. Vet’s offices often give out brochures to their clients on various plans.

Check into the best pet insurance policy that makes sense for you. This is especially important if you have a multi-pet family. Those vet bills will add up!

Scary disease in dog refusing to eat

Posted on: July 7th, 2011 by

A dog who would benefit from pet insurance sits outside.
By: Dr. Fiona Caldwell
Idaho Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance

Charlie hadn’t eaten in three days. He was weak, seemed wobbly and had been excessively urinating. He was only a year old, and had always been a great eater. Although Charlie didn’t have pet insurance, when his owners became concerned, they brought him to see me. He is a beautiful white spotted cattle dog mix, and I could tell in the exam room that he didn’t feel well.

His physical exam revealed only weakness and lethargy, so a screening blood test and urinalysis were performed. While the physical exam was unremarkable, the diagnostic tests were very abnormal. The bad news was that Charlie was Addisonian; the good news is that his disease, while it can be fatal, is treatable.

Typical Addison’s disease, or hypoadrenocorticism is an inability of the body to produce steroids (cortisol) and mineralocorticoids. It is caused by immune-mediated destruction of the adrenal cortex, part of the adrenal glands. Your body is continuously adjusting your levels of cortisol, increasing levels during times of stress in order to keep you healthy. Mineralocorticoids are responsible to ensuring your electrolytes are in balance. Without them your kidneys cannot retain water, causing dehydration, and electrolytes can become dangerously imbalanced.

There is an Atypical form of Addison’s disease where there is a lack of cortisol only, and not mineralocorticoids. These dogs will have normal electrolytes on blood work and can be very difficult to diagnose.

Charlie had dangerously high potassium. Levels too high can be cardiotoxic, causing heart rhythm abnormalities. He was dehydrated, but he still had diluted urine since his kidneys were inappropriately wasting water. He was admitted to the hospital for overnight care to correct his electrolyte imbalance and to administer steroids and mineralocorticoids. Pet health insurance would have been helpful in Charlie’s case!

Diagnosis of this disease, while suggestive on routine screening blood work, is done by a test called an ACTH test. This test measures the body’s ability to produce steroids in response to a hormone normally produced in the pituitary gland. A synthetic version of this hormone is administered intravenously and a normal dog will respond by producing cortisol, which is subsequently measured. A dog with typical and atypical Addison’s disease will not produce any cortisol in response. Cortisol insufficiency can result in a decrease in the production of glucose used for energy and tolerance to stress is diminished.

Typical clinical signs of this disease can be varied from just lethargy and anorexia, like Charlie’s case, to vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, collapse and even shock. Intensive hospitalization and aggressive treatment is always warranted in the acute phase of an “Addisonian crisis.”

After the ‘crisis’ has been treated, medication for this disease is given long term, for the life of the pet. Most pets with Addison’s disease need to take daily prednisone and have monthly injections of a mineralocorticoid to keep their electrolytes balanced. Generally they need a little extra TLC too, as everyday ‘stressful’ things, such as family coming to visit, vacations, or kenneling can be hard for their bodies to adjust to. With some extra diligence though, most pets can live a long healthy life when well controlled. Always consider dog insurance to help defray unforeseen costs of pet care.