Pet Insurance Blog – Pets Best Insurance
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Dog health care extremes: Pet plastic surgery

Posted on: August 24th, 2011 by

A bloodhound without dog insurance may have plastic surgery.

Posted by: H.R.
For Pets Best Insurance

With the advancement of dog health care and online pet insurance, today’s pets are living longer, happier, healthier lives. Just like for humans, life expectancy is increasing and medical procedures are advancing.

Also just like for humans, pets are going under the knife today for cosmetic rather than medical reasons. While ear cropping and tail docking have been around for hundreds of years, the practices were developed with a purpose. Reasons included silencing and protecting the wagging tail of a hunting dog, or cropping and taping a guard dog’s ears up to help him appear more alert.

These practices became commonplace even after the necessity had waned. Some dog owners dock and crop purely for a preferred look, while others find the practice cruel and unnecessary. Many dog insurance companies consider cropping, docking and even feline declawing elective surgeries and do not cover them.

Other cosmetic surgeries that dogs are undergoing include eyelifts, facelifts and wrinkle reduction, according to an MSNBC report by Sandy Robins called More Pets Getting Nipped and Tucked: Cosmetic Surgeons Balance Medical Needs with Owners’ Egos. Excessive droolers like Mastiffs and Bloodhounds can get chin lifts to curb droopy lips that allow drool to escape the mouth. While most cat and dog insurance companies will not cover elective proceedures, some Bulldog owners opt for doggie facelifts becasue skin folds can trap bacteria. While facelifts may keep the wrinkles more sanitary and manageable, the less invasive alternative is to bathe and properly dry this breed more often.

Currently in the United States, there is no ban on cosmetic procedures for pets apart from some California cities, like San Francisco, banning feline declawing. Last year, a bill was vetoed that would have made it illegal for landlords in California to require tenants declaw or devocalize their pets. Some states are working to ban devocalization, where the vocal chords are surgically cut so that dogs cannot bark. In the United Kingdom, all elective surgeries on pets are prohibited, including docking tails, cropping ears, declawing cats and devocalizing pets.

Pets Eating Foreign Objects

Posted on: August 24th, 2011 by

Dr. Caldwell offers solutions for a dog who eats rocks and a cat who eats bags.

House training your pet

Posted on: August 23rd, 2011 by

A puppy with dog insurance sits on his owners lap.

Puppies are delightful. Watching their antics and enthusiasm for life is contagious. But that adorable fluff ball can grow into a problem child if not properly trained! After signing your pup up for dog insurance, house training is one of the next most important things your puppy will need. Start your puppy training program with a good potty training. It takes patience and perseverance, but training your pet is worth the ultimate goal: a house trained dog and a happy owner.

Getting Started
There are several effective methods of house or potty training your puppy.

• Paper or pad training – Newspapers used to be the only option, but now there are chemically-treated pads for your new puppy that attract them with scent. When you see signs that he needs to go, like sniffing the floor, etc., pick him up and carry him to the paper/pad and encourage him to go there. Gradually, move the pads closer to the door and then outside. Be sure and praise him every time he uses the pad.

• Crate training – The idea is that a puppy will not eliminate where he sleeps. So the size of the crate is critical. it should be roomy enough for him to comfortably stand and move around. A too-large crate may result in him using a corner to eliminate. Using the proper sized crate trains a puppy to hold it until you’re able to let him outside– but the time-frame should be reasonable.

A puppy should also be crated when he isn’t under observation. Before and after he is crated, be sure to take him outdoors. Don’t play with him on these trips outside – the objective is for him to eliminate only. Praise him when he goes. Then you can play a quick game of fetch.

• Supervised continuously – If you’re able to be with the puppy at all times, you can watch for his pre-elimination behavior and whisk him outside to go. When he goes, praise him and take him back in right away.

Most training sources agree on the two main rules that are critical to the success of your puppy’s house training:

Never punish when you didn’t see him do it. When you punish a puppy that had a previous accident, he has no ability to make the correlation between eliminating in the wrong spot and your actions. When you catch him going where he shouldn’t, pick him up calmly and sternly say “no” and take him outside.

Praise him when he does it right – Animals love to be praised and receive positive attention. Using praise appropriately will help to counterbalance the “no’s” he’s hearing when he goes in the wrong place.

For more information about training puppies and pet insurance, visit

Offering Your Clients Generic Drug Options

Posted on: August 23rd, 2011 by

A puppy with pet insurance sleeps next to pill bottles.

New generic equivalents of brand-name pet drugs are hitting the market, but many clients may not be aware of this cost-saving option*.

Because these new generic versions are less expensive, more pet owners may be able to afford the products and follow through on your recommendations, which can ultimately result in better health for their pets.

While the lower cost can address economic pressures pet owners face, most clients probably won’t broach the topic of generics. So it’s vital to educate your clients about their pets’ drug options and your staff as well. Use staff meetings to go over new drug choices available to clients. Team members can share their knowledge from use with their own pets and client feedback regarding generic drugs. Generic pet meds can help keep the prescription in the practice and strengthen the vet-pet owner relationship.


Jacks View: Managed Care

Posted on: August 23rd, 2011 by

Dr. Jack Stephens, the founder of pet health insurance in the US, holds his pets.
By Dr. Jack Stephens
Pets Best Insurance President and Founder

Little did I realize in 1978 when I went to the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association with the concept of pet insurance that I would spend the next 30 plus years working to establish pet health insurance in the United States. Today there are 11 pet insurance plans in the U.S. insuring an estimated 1 million pets and reimbursing pet owners over $200 million annually for veterinary care.

Although the market penetration for pet insurance is low when compared to other countries, such as the United Kingdom where over 20% of pets are insured, the U.S. growth is steady. Despite the long recession, the annual growth for pet health insurance is 20%. Prior to the recession, market research conducted by Packaged Facts predicted a 25-35% growth for pet insurance.

While some companies in 2010 experienced little growth or flat sales as compared to the previous year, Pets Best Insurance experienced a healthy 30% annual growth rate. Our company also remained profitable in 2010. To the best of our knowledge, only four of the 11 other US pet insurance companies can make that claim. We attribute our success to both a strong following of veterinary practice referrals, as well as our current policyholders who are exceedingly satisfied with our service and rapid claim reimbursements.

Managed Care
Looking back on the 29 years since founding VPI, it’s important to remind my veterinary colleagues that despite some dire predictions, dog and cat insurance did not migrate to the managed care principals which have been so vilified in human health care.

Myself, along with the 900 other veterinarians who funded pet health insurance had one very specific goal in mind— to provide indemnity insurance to pet owners so they could afford veterinary care. We knew that most pet owners would not save funds for unexpected pet healthcare needs, but they could budget for the care by paying premiums for insurance coverage.

Had we known then the difficulty that was in store in founding pet health insurance in the US, perhaps we would not have pioneered the path that has lead to helping millions of pets and their owners afford the care their pets so desperately need.

From inception we knew that we wanted to avoid certain managed care principals that affected human health care, including:

1. Networks of veterinary hospitals— we wanted to allow pet owners to choose their own veterinarian, not be directed to select sites for services.

2. Fee setting—we wanted to allow veterinarians to set their own fees based on their cost and level of care.

3. Service restriction— we wanted to allow veterinarians and pet owners complete flexibility to determine the best treatment options and procedures based on the owners’ needs, the pets’ condition and the style of practice.

An obvious question might be: Will the next 30 years bring managed care principals into pet health insurance and veterinary medicine?
The answer is in your hands. Managed care in pet insurance and veterinary medicine will not occur, so long as veterinarians opt out of joining networks and refuse to accept restrictions on cost or care.

Veterinarians should support pet insurance, which simply reimburses policyholders for covered services. It’s that simple; support indemnity insurance that reimburses your clients a flat percentage of your treatment costs and avoid discounting, networks or restrictive care to keep the best insurance has to offer.

Certainly there have been attempts to initiate managed care principals in veterinary medicine by Pet Clubs and even one pet insurance plan. However, all have ceased or made little progress since there are good pet health insurance plans available that reimburse 80% after the deductible of actual charges. The old pet insurance company that the 900 of us founded still uses “benefit schedules” which limit reimbursements, however they are the only exception.

Pet Insurance Advantages
With Pets Best Insurance’s flat 80% reimbursement plans, pet owners have nearly 5X the spending power that they may otherwise not have available to them. For example if the most a pet owner could afford to pay for their pet’s treatment is $1,400 before opting for economic euthanasia— with an 80:20 structured plan and a $100 deductible, they could afford $7,000 in care and their out-of-pocket cost would only be $1,480. In this case, pet insurance would have reimbursed them $5,520.

Pet health insurance allows pet owners to budget through affordable monthly premiums, which makes veterinary medicine more affordable. We thank you for recommending Pets Best Insurance to your clients.