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Stop, Shoe Thief!

Posted on: March 1st, 2011 by

Oh Behave!
Q&A with Pet Expert Arden Moore

For Pets Best Insurance

Photo of Arden Moore's book cover.

Q. My 3-year-old Dachshund, Schotzi, goes into my closet when I’m not home and takes my shoes out to chew on them. I try to keep the closet door closed, but if I inadvertently leave it open even a few inches, she pushes it open with her nose and drags out a shoe and destroys it. Why is she so obsessed with shoes, and how can I stop this bad (and expensive) habit?

A. I’m guessing the shoes in your closet that Schotzi prefers are made of leather. Many dogs find the smell and texture of leather intoxicating. They love the way it feels and tastes when they chew on it.

Some people make the mistake of giving old shoes to puppies to chew on when they are little, expecting the pup to know the difference between an old shoe that’s okay to chew and a newer shoe that is off-limits.

If Schotzi was given old shoes to gnaw on when she was little, she learned at an early age that shoes are made for chewing. Now, when she wants to gnaw on something, she simple helps herself from your wardrobe.

Even if you didn’t give Schotzi shoes when she was a puppy, she is choosing something that smells like you and that reassures her in your absence. Many dogs deal with loneliness or separation anxiety by seeking out their owner’s belongings (to dogs, even a stinky shoe is a comforting reminder of their owners).

Your first task is to make sure you don’t tempt her by leaving your closet door ajar. You might try putting self-closing hinges on the closet door or even closing your bedroom door as well. You could store your shoes on shelves above her reach or in a hanging container with pockets that hangs on the back of the door.

Next, give her something else to chew. Since she has a penchant for leather, consider a rawhide chew toy as a replacement. Talk to your veterinarian first to make sure rawhide is safe for your dog… give Schotzi one of these rawhide chews and praise her heartedly when she starts working on it. If she isn’t interested at first, a dab of peanut butter or a smear of cheese on the chew will probably increase its attractiveness.

In the event that Schotzi does sink her teeth into one of your shoes, and you catch her in the act, take it away from her and trade it for the rawhide chew. In time, she will get the message that shoes are a no and rawhides are a yes.

If Schotzi is one of those rare dogs who does not like to chew on rawhide, you may need to try a different chew toy to get her attention off your shoes. Take a trip to your local pet supply store and bring her with you. Walk her through the aisles and see which chew toys interest her the most. By letting her pick out her own chew toy, you are making her an active participant in her retraining.

Confounded by your canine? Frustrated by your feline? Relax. Pet expert Arden Moore is here to deliver the real truth about cats, dogs…and you with her column appropriately called, “Oh Behave!”
Arden sits with her four legged friends.

On a regular basis, Arden will unleash excerpts from her two award-winning books, The Dog Behavior Answer Book (named the top training and behavior book by the Dog Writers Association of America) and The Cat Behavior Answer Book (named the top training and behavior book by the Cat Writers Association). Learn more about Arden Moore, who also hosts a weekly radio show called “Oh Behave!” on Pet Life Radio (www.petliferadio.com) by visiting her Four Legged Life website (www.fourleggedlife.com).

Pets Best Insurance attends Spay-Ghetti, No Balls event

Posted on: February 28th, 2011 by

The Pets Best Insurance team watches a short film at SNIP's event.
By: Chryssa Rich
For Pets Best Insurance

Today wraps up the end of Prevent-A-Litter month, when pet organizations around the country promote the importance of spaying and neutering pets in order to avoid overpopulation and euthanization.

According to The Humane Society of The United States, four million cats and dogs are put down in U.S. shelters each year– that is about one every four seconds.

At Pets Best Insurance, we realize the subject of spaying and neutering can be controversial, but in our commitment to our local community and shelters nationwide, we choose to support organizations that help make high-quality spay and neuter surgeries convenient and affordable.

At this weekend’s comically-named “Spay-Ghetti, No Balls” fundraising dinner, Diane Ayres, director of SNIP (Spay and Neuter Idaho Pets), reported that the top two reasons pet owners don’t spay and neuter their pets are:

1. The cost is too high
2. They just don’t get around to it

Diane has been working tirelessly to open a low-cost spay and neuter clinic near Boise, with a long-term goal of offering mobile service as well. With her help, pet owners who want the service will be able to get their pets spayed and neutered in a convenient and affordable manner. They’ll also offer trap-spay-release service for feral cats. Ground-breaking has been tentatively scheduled for this spring.

The Spay-Ghetti event was full of good food and entertainment, including a DJ, silent and live auctions with a real auctioneer, a spaghetti dinner catered by Carino’s Italian, and a comical video featuring talking dogs (see picture). Pets Best Insurance sponsored a table and donated to the live auction, and many of us won great silent auction items.

Pets Best Insurance sends a sincere “thank you” to Diane Ayres, SNIP, and the 100+ guests who donated items and attended this weekend’s event!

Pets Best Insurance offers spay/neuter coverage through the BestWellness™ routine care coverage option. BestWellness can be added to any regular plan for routine care benefits with no deductible to meet.

Celebrate Prevent-A-Litter Month

Posted on: February 25th, 2011 by

A neutered dog with pet insurance waits for his master.
Did you know that each day there are 10,000 humans born in the U.S., but 70,000 puppies and kittens? As you can see, there will never be enough homes for all of the puppies and kittens.

The overpopulation of dogs and cats in the U.S. is out of control, and shelters around the country are filled beyond capacity. Do your part to help prevent unwanted litters by spaying and neutering your pets.

Not only does spaying and neutering your pet ensure that they aren’t contributing to the pet overpopulation problem, their pet health will be improved. Dogs that have been altered live 1 to 3 years longer, and altered cats can add 3 to 5 years to their life.

There are other pet health benefits that altering your pet offers. Females that have been altered will not have a heat cycle, which means they will not attract males. The urge to roam is less in females that have been altered. Females that are altered have a lessened risk of getting mammary tumors and uterine and ovarian cancer. If they are spayed before their first heat cycle, their risk of these conditions is almost eliminated. Spaying also eliminated their risk of getting uterine infections.

Neutering male dogs has significant health and behavior benefits. Males that are neutered are less likely to spray and mark their territory. Neutering also decreases aggressive behavior. When it comes to their health, they are at a lower risk of getting prostate diseases and their risk of testicular cancer is eliminated.

If veterinary costs are preventing you from getting your pet spayed or neutered, contact your local spay and neuter assistance programs. These programs work with people who want to have their pets altered but cannot afford it. Some pet insurance companies, like Pets Best Insurance also offer spay and neuter benefits with their wellness packages.

Pesky Kitty

Posted on: February 25th, 2011 by

La La the Chihuahua watch dog looks out the window.

By: Chryssa Rich
For Pets Best Insurance

I like to think a cat’s true personality really shines between 6:00 and 7:00 am. It’s that magical hour when your independent, aloof, sometimes downright rude feline suddenly needs you more than anything else in life.

Last year, our Top 5 tips to prevent pets from waking you early blog was quite popular. But sometimes cats just have minds of their own, and they adapt quickly to any deterrents (like squirt bottles) we have up our sleeves.

Every morning, my cat Monica likes to casually walk across my face a few times. If that doesn’t work, she curls up on my chest or back and purrs as loudly as possible, sometimes with her nose actually touching my ear. If that fails, she meows quietly while placing her paw on my eyelids or mouth. This morning, she decided to knock things off my nightstand one by one: BlackBerry, glasses, book, pen.

Luisa takes a different approach. If there’s a plastic bag handy (and there usually is some type of shopping bag in my room), she’ll begin to lick it. The rhythmic critch…critch…critch is like nails on a chalkboard, and it usually does the trick within a few seconds. If I hide under the covers and resist, Luisa sits outside my roommate’s door and attacks her feet when she comes out. In cat logic, I’m sure this plan makes perfect sense.

We recently asked our Pets Best Insurance Facebook friends to share the tricks their cats pull in the morning. Here’s a sampling of the best (or worst, I suppose):

• One of my cats pees on my bed if I’m not up at daybreak to feed him! – The Dog House Los Angeles

• Mine jump in the window and rattle the blinds, usually with two paws on a row. Then they move their paws up and down. – Tamara F.

• They scratch at the wooden sides of my bed. A simple “git” or “psss” just moves them for a minute. – Dana D.

• Izzy plays with the mail slot at the base of the front door. – William D.

• She licks my hair. – Mandy L.

• One of them combs my hair with his paw. The other one paws at my face. – Kimmie V.

• They bounce on me. If I shut the door, Shadow paws the door like he is shaking it off the hinges. His brother Smokey just meows pitifully outside the closed door. – Casey L.

• The weirdest was one who would sit on my chest and lick my eyelashes. Ack! – Laura N.

How does your cat wake you up? Share in the comments below.

Pets Best Insurance Q&A with “Ask Tracie”

Posted on: February 24th, 2011 by

A puppy with pet insurance sits in a dog bed.
Posted by: H.R.
For Pets Best Insurance

You asked, she answered! Pets Best Insurance solicited questions from our Facebook page friends relating to baffling pet behavior. Pet expert and author of The Dog Bible and the Cat Bible, Tracie Hotchner, weighs in! Read on to see if your question was answered:

Question from Bridget: I have a Bernese MTB dog, “Maddee” she loves to sit on our feet, also while I’m sitting on the floor she will come & sit on my lap. She is very much a “butt” dog, why is this? If I’m sitting there she will just back it up to sit on me, then turn her head around to see me.

Tracie: Congratulations! You have taught (allowed) a 100 lb. dog to treat you the way a 6 lb. Chihuahua would! Any affectionate dog, of any size, craves your attention, your caresses and as much body contact with you as you will permit. How much respect a dog has for your personal space, and your expectations of their behavior, all comes down to whether or not you set personal boundaries – something you have neglected to do with Maddee.

Remember the schoolyard phrase when another kid was leaning on you? You’d say, ”What am I, your PLP? Your Personal Leaning Post?” Well, respecting your space is what you now need to train Maddee to do. You need to send her away, just as another dog would do if she tried to invade their space. Tell her to go to her bed if she uses you as a PLP (teaching the command “Go to your bed” is described in my book THE DOG BIBLE.) Or you can simply stand up and walk away when she practices this behavior.

I can assure you she will get the message quickly and if you are consistent (and consistency is everything in training) in not allowing this plonking down on you –– she will overall be more willing to be obedient and compliant with your other wishes.

Question from Kerri: Why is my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel hungry ALL the time?? It’s like he’s bored and wants to eat out of boredom.

Tracie: The only way I can answer this is to ask what you are feeding your Cavvie now? If you are feeding only kibble, then I urge you to be sure it is the highest quality premium dry food (my dogs eat HALO Spot’s Stew because it has no by-products or meat meals) and then you want to be sure that the kibble is only 50% of his diet.

Carbohydrate-only diets can make dogs and people hungry because they are carb-loaded and lacking the genuine quality protein that can only come from a can or raw dehydrated (my dogs also eat The Honest Kitchen raw dehydrated human-grade food as well as home-cooked or canned meat or chicken). Jump over to my website www.TheDogBible.com (or even look at the nutrition section of THE DOG BIBLE itself ) because my research has convinced me that dogs need to have at least half of their diet come from high quality, minimally processed protein.

While Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can be real chowhounds, they also have delicate digestive systems, so you want to feed as natural a food as possible, with no artificial ingredients. If your dog seems bored, he probably is! The best thing you can do is add more walks and some quality play time with whatever kind of toys he most enjoys – that will tire him out and take his mind off the cookie jar!

Question from Catherine: About 10 months ago a very sick Himalayan was dropped off at my work she had infection from head to toe, and mats all over her body. So after 2-3 weeks, on a top quality food, her mats actually fell out while I was brushing her. At this point the only thing left to treat is her eye infection, her third eye is always swelled up, red and irritated. She looks so much better than when I first got her but I always think about how painful her eyes must be. I would appreciate any help or suggestions.

Tracie: Hi Catherine! The best way to personally ask me a question is to call into CAT CHAT any Wednesday night from 8-9 PM EST (or 1:1:30 PM on Wednesdays) 866-675-6675 which is toll free and you don’t even have to be a subscriber to Sirius/XM to call in! I will tell you now that the cat probably needs an antibiotic ointment in her eye but if your vet has already tried that, then there may be something imbedded in the eyelid or a blocked tear duct, etc. This is the perfect case of why you need to get pet insurance the very minute you add a pet to your family – because you never know when the bills will start to pile up.

I chose Pets Best Insurance because they pay 80% of your vet bills after the deductible on any individual incident – I have been thrilled with the service and the peace of mind that I can take my dogs to the vet anytime there is a problem and not be scared of a possibly big bill! In fact, with three smaller visits to the vet for the same issue (like my dog Teddy’s crushed toenail) those bills do add up to enough that I am so grateful for the financial safety net of pet insurance.

For more information about Tracie, visit http://www.traciehotchner.com.

*”Ask Tracie” does not necessarily represent the views or positions of Pets Best Insurance.