Anal Gland Expression and Choosing a Premium Dog Food

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell, and I’m at home today answering questions from Pets Best’s Facebook page. The first question comes from Linda who writes, “I have to take my dog into the vet every two weeks for anal gland expressions or else they leak. Is there anything I can do to prevent this?”

This can be really a frustrating problem. Anal glands are really stinky. They’re basically underdeveloped scent glands that dogs have that are normally used to kind of mark their territories. In a normal dog, a little bit should probably be expressed every time they defecate. For some reason, your dog isn’t doing that the way that it would normally happen. When dogs are really relaxed, sometimes this fluid can leak out a little bit.

Getting the dog in regularly to have the glands emptied is one way that you can keep it from happening. Some other things that you might try, there are some things that you can do to kind of bulk up the stool a little bit so that every time your dog defecates it’s more likely to do sort of some expression and squeezing on its own. Fiber is a good way to do this. Most dogs like canned pumpkin, which is a pretty good source of fiber. You could try that, depending on the size of your dog. You can talk with your veterinarian about how much is appropriate. You could also do human fiber supplements, but, again, talk with your veterinarian about what dose would be appropriate for your dog.

The next question comes from Keshla who says, “Do you recommend premium or holistic foods? Which are better?” This is a really good question. There’s a lot of dog food out there, and it can be hard to know what to buy and what brands to use. A premium dog food generally refers to a dog food that has maybe higher quality ingredients, a little bit more quality control, not as much fillers is in it, whereas a holistic dog food might be more organic, preservative free, hormone free, that type of thing.

I think both types have a great place. I think either one of them are going to be far superior to sort of your grocery store brands that are a little bit less expensive and tend to have a lot of fillers. If the price is too good to be true, it probably really is too good to be true. Whatever works best for your pet and whatever your pet does best on is probably going to be fine, either a premium food or a holistic food.

If you guys have questions for me about your pet, feel free to post them at

Pet health special: A Basset’s broken biter

A dog with dog insurance smiles, showing healthy teeth.

By: Judy Luther
Certified Professional Dog Trainer
For Pets Best Insurance

Now that we’re well into February, and you’re both animal lovers and pet health insurance enthusiasts, you probably know that it’s National Pet Dental Month. You might be surprised that a dog trainer, like myself, would be concerned about the dental health of animals I work with, but the health of your dogs’ teeth is important for many reasons.

Recently I was called out to work with a client whose Basset Hound, Billy, was suddenly exhibiting severe aggression. I worked with Billy as a puppy and periodically when his family wanted him to learn new behaviors. Billy had never exhibited any aggression and had always been a happy, healthy and active dog. I was curious what was causing the sudden aggression. Any time, a dog has a sudden behavior change, my first concern is that there may be a pet health issue.

Often medical issues manifest themselves as behavior issues. While discussing recent events in Billy’s life, I searched for something that may have caused him to become aggressive. One of the children sadly told me that Billy stopped playing with his toys and would not even chew his favorite bones. After thinking about this, Billy’s owner told me they had purchased a cow hoof for Billy. That day Billy chewed on the cow hoof for a while then suddenly stopped chewing. That night he would not eat his dinner and the next day he seemed sad and grumpy, even snapping at one of the kids when they wanted to play with him. That is when they called me.

I recommended the family take Billy to the vet for a dental check-up. Later that day I received a call from the family who reported that Billy had a broken tooth. The veterinarian repaired the dog’s tooth and the aggressive behavior has stopped. Billy was obviously in pain from his broken tooth and a bit grumpy.

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Your dog’s dental health is very important. I recommend you brush your dog’s teeth as recommended by your veterinarian, give your dog good safe dental chews, avoiding chews that are too hard and examine your dog’s mouth daily to make us his teeth are healthy. Since this is Pet Dental Health month, it is a good time to make and appointment to see your vet and have your dog’s teeth checked. Your vet will also help you develop a good plan to keep your dog’s teeth healthy.

For more information about pet health and dog insurance, visit Pets Best Insurance.

Poochie Pilates

A dog that would benefit from dog insurance stretches.

By: Kristie Sullens
Save-An-Angel Founder
For Pets Best Insurance

1 in 3 dogs is diagnosed with cancer each year, making it the leading cause of death for our canine companions. As with humans, EARLY DETECTION is critical and saves many lives every year. In the case of a cancer diagnosis, it’s also very helpful to have had a pet insurance policy in place for your pet.

Poochie Pilates is a fun way to check your dog for lumps! Performing monthly sessions could be the difference between life and death for your best friend. Poochie Pilates is for people and dogs of all ages and fitness levels. Not only can it be good for pet health, but it’s fun too! No medical degree or fancy machinery required! It’s simple, easy and fun. The next time your dog nudges you for affection, take that moment as an opportunity to be their voice. Let’s get started.

What you will need

• A positive attitude and a pooch
• A piece of paper and a pen to track any changes. You will use the same piece of paper every time so make sure it’s accessible.
• A calm, quiet environment. Pick a place where you and your dog feel comfortable and relaxed.
• Treats! Giving treats is a great way to distract hyper active or nervous dogs and puppies.

Pilate Techniques
Poochie Pilates is a great way to keep older dogs limber, and it helps young dogs become accustomed to being touched all over. The more comfortable your dog is with being handled, the easier it will be to tell if something is off. It is especially important for pet health to be sure you check inside the mouth and ears.

Bring your dog to a special place and lay them down on a towel, blanket or even your bed. Let them get used to you petting them while they are in this special place, so they will build a positive association with the Poochie Pilates environment.

When it comes to petting your dog, you can’t do it wrong enough or long enough! Here are some tips to get you started. Hold your hand out in front of you and spread your fingers (like you’re showing the #5) Place your hands flat on your dog’s back end with your fingers spread and gently squeeze. Continue the motion by moving your thumbs toward one another and work your way up. We always massage from the tail to head, or belly to chest to make the dogs more comfortable. Imagine how you would want a massage, and then give it to your pooch.

Make sure to check all over your dog’s body including the tail; back legs, belly, inside the legs, paws, chest, neck, back of neck, entire back, ears and even private parts. Remember to check inside of the mouth, because oral cancers are also a threat. We recommend brushing your dog’s teeth and giving heart worm preventatives on the same day you perform the monthly Poochie Pilates session.

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When you get to the legs, give your dog a nice long stretch and muscle massage. It might be difficult for older dogs at first; however it’s impressive to see how much they improve over time. Just like humans, dogs need to stretch in order to stay limber, so try to incorporate this portion of Poochie Pilates into your routine. Your dog will thank you for it!!

Now it’s time to create a baseline that will help you determine what is normal for your dog. It’s not uncommon for dogs to get lumps and bumps, however not all lumps are cancerous. Write the date, location of the lump, if the lump is hard or soft and the size and color of your findings on the sheet. This will help you track any changes that arise in the future. It’s important to note if the lump is hard or soft.

If you discover anything on your dog’s body, it’ It’s important to know if any existing lumps are benign (non-cancerous), and it will also help you to keep an eye on them if they grow.

Warning signs of cancer

• Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
• Sores that do not heal
• Weight loss
• Loss of appetite
• Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
• Offensive odor
• Difficulty eating or swallowing
• Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
• Persistent lameness or stiffness
• Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

When to call the doctor
Save-An-Angel recommends monthly “Poochie Pilates” sessions with your dog to check for unusual lumps, bumps and other warning signs. If you discover something on your dog, have it checked out by your vet right away! While Lymphoma is one of the most common types of cancer in dogs, it is just one of many that can occur. As with humans, EARLY DETECTION is critical and saves many lives every year.

For more information about pet health or dog insurance visit Pets Best Insurance.

I Love You, Snoofy Face

A dog with pet health insurance is dressed up.

By: Chryssa Rich
For Pets Best Insurance

Happy Valentine’s Day fellow pet insurance enthusiasts! There’s something about human nature that makes us give nicknames to the ones we love most.

Think about it: You wouldn’t call your boss Boo-Boo, nor would you call your neighbor Captain Fuzzypants. That would just be weird. But when it comes to our pets, almost nothing can stop the cute and silly nicknames we shower upon them.

We recently asked our Facebook friends which nicknames they have for their pets, and quickly discovered that most fall into one of five loving categories.

1. Inspired by the Pet’s Actual Name
Some of our favorites were Miss Maddy Mayhem for Madison and Magga Dagga Doo for Maggie. And we love Cokie Dokie for Coco! It’s also pretty popular to create the diminutive version of the name: Panchito, Bandito, Coopie, Hunty.

2. Inspired by the Pet’s Vocal Abilities
My dog Jayda’s nicknames are Miss Barky Pants and Woofie. We also heard about a Barky McBarkerson and a Meow Meow Kittycat.

3. Inspired by Random Thoughts
Lots of pet owners admitted they have no idea where their pets nicknames came from. Some of the most random included Boo Boo, Baby, Puppy (for a cat), Tatty Pants, JJ Ruggles, Bows-a-Roo, Zubie, Da Doots, Donkey and Bun Bun.

4. Inspired by the Pet’s Body Parts
There’s no room for being politically correct here! Big bellies and floppy skin are too adorable to go ignored. Hence nicknames like Li’l Boobers, Chunk Butt, Wiggle Butt, Fat Boy, Smushie Face and Fatty Fatty 2×4.

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5. Inspired by the Pet’s Bodily Functions – Voluntary or Otherwise
From kissing and licking to active digestive systems, we got a laugh out of these nicknames! Smoochy, Stinkybutt, Snifferdoodle, FruityToot, Wiggle Butt and Farty Pants are just a few of the names you’ll hear our friends call out.

This Valentine’s Day, give your pets plenty of hugs and kisses. And if they’re not already insured, treat them to a pet insurance plan from Pets Best Insurance. Nothing says “I Love You” quite like insuring them for a lifetime of good health.

For more information about pet health or pet health insurance, visit Pets Best Insurance.

Cat insurance special: National Cat Health Month

A cat with cat insurance is held by her owner.

By: Dr. Jane Matheys
Associate Veterinarian
The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance

February is National Cat Health Month! It’s time to honor and celebrate the cats that you love so much, and to make sure that you are taking the necessary steps to keep them healthy. If you’re like many cat owners who are lax about regular check ups for their feline companions, it’s time to get them in for a veterinary visit.

Americans love cats! According to the 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, there are approximately 86 million cats in the United States, compared to approximately 78 million dogs. That makes cats the most popular pet here in the US– which is one of the reasons why cat insurance is so important. Despite the fact that cats are such a popular pet, many cats are not getting the veterinary care they deserve and need. A survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association revealed that cats don’t visit veterinarians as often as dogs. The average dog sees a veterinarian 1.5 times a year, whereas cats average less than once a year. This is especially bad news for cats because they tend to hide pain and illness so they often don’t see a doctor until they are seriously sick.

Prevention and early detection of medical problems are the keys to a healthy lifestyle for your cat. Cats need routine veterinary care just like dogs do. Your cat should be seen by a veterinarian at least once a year, even if he or she is an indoor pet. While an indoor cat is less likely to hit by a car or get a cat bite abscess from fighting, it’s just as likely to get kidney disease, cancer, diabetes or another serious ailment. Because cats age much more quickly than humans, older cats or cats with chronic illnesses benefit even more by visiting the veterinarian twice a year.

The cornerstone of each visit is the physical examination that the veterinarian performs. The doctor will then develop an individual wellness plan, including vaccinations and parasite prevention, that is based on your cat’s specific lifestyle. Regular medical check ups for your cat can help to identify pet health conditions before they become costly to treat and possibly even life-threatening.

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Pet health insurance is a cost effective way to provide your cat with the necessary veterinary care. Pet health plans are available that cover both preventative care and unexpected illness or emergency medical treatment. It’s always best to enroll in cat insurance while your cat is young and healthy with no pre-existing medical conditions.

Annual exams are the best way to prevent future medical problems, provide a longer life for your cat, and have a happier, healthier cat now. Take time this month to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for your feline friend.

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