What did that doggy eat?!

An owner tries to stop a dog with pet insurance from eating a toothbrush.

Posted by: H.R.
For Pets Best Insurance

It’s no surprise that pet owners want their companions to be healthy. And with the advancements in veterinary science and research, our pets are now able to live longer, happier and healthier lives. But many of the life-enhancing and often life-saving procedures are complex and very expensive. Pet owners who opt to purchase pet insurance plans often find that their financial burden is alleviated when their pet becomes ill or injured.

Many of the top pet insurance companies report certain pet health conditions/injuries ranking as the most expensive to treat. Gathering data from subscribers’ claims, they’ve determined the average costs for these procedures. Many pet owners can’t believe that they might have to pay more than $1,000 for a single pet health issue. But the reality is that often the total vet bill may be even higher.

Ingesting Foreign Objects
Stomach and intestinal problems resulting from ingesting foreign objects are some of the most costly pet accidents or injuries that owners experience. Foreign object ingestion covers any item that a pet consumes that is not food. Even small things swallowed by pets can cause serious and even fatal internal injuries.

You’ve probably caught your dog trying to eat something he shouldn’t, and many dogs will eat some unbelievable things. One vet reported a dog that ate an entire bed sheet! Another common item dogs seem to frequently ingest are rocks. Though cats are less likely to eat something just because it’s there, they can easily swallow string, bits of their toys and even plants or other decor.

Symptoms of Ingestion
The most obvious symptoms that your pet has eaten a foreign object are lack of appetite, vomiting (even after water) and diarrhea. Diarrhea can be a sign that his intestines are blocked. He may look unwell. If you think your pet has ingested something harmful, get him to the vet ASAP– if you have dog or cat insurance, foreign body removal can cost far less.

Your vet will first feel your pet’s abdomen for obstruction. If a foreign object is a possibility, X-rays will show some objects, but other items like plastic and cloth may not be visible. Sometimes an ultrasound may even be required to make the final diagnosis. In the worst cases, exploratory surgery is needed.

Sometimes by inducing vomiting, the object will come up if it’s still in his stomach. Items can also be removed with an endoscope. Sometimes, if the item has moved to the intestines, abdominal surgery may be necessary.

Make sure your pet has appropriate, safe toys, put them away when not in used and check them often for missing pieces. Obviously, pick things up off the floor that you wouldn’t want your dog to ingest.

Vet costs can vary depending on location as well as the severity of the foreign body diagnosis– but can often be upwards of $1,900.

For more information about how dog and cat insurance can help you afford the best healthcare for your pet, visit Pets Best Insurance.

Pastern Problems and Submissive Urination in Dogs

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

The first question comes from Kimberly. She writes “What recommendations would you have to correct a puppy who is down in his pastures? What supplements are beneficial?”

I think you actually mean ‘pasterns’. ‘Down in the pasterns’ is a term for a flat-footed, hyperextension of the joint. It’s common in larger breed puppies and it typically results from the bones, the tendons and the ligaments growing at different rates.

It used to be thought back in the old days that we would supplement calcium and limit exercise in these guys. We actually found that that’s wrong. Calcium supplementation in large breed growing dogs can be dangerous. We definitely don’t recommend that you do that. It’s actually thought that letting these guys get extra exercise on sure footing – grass, carpeting and that kind of thing – can really be beneficial for them.

If you do have a large breed puppy, it may benefit from a large breed puppy food, something that’s a little bit more energy-restricted. Most puppies will outgrow it usually within about two to four weeks. If it’s quite serious, I would recommend that you see your veterinarian.

The last question comes from May who says “My dog has an issue with submissive urination. When we arrive home we have to completely ignore her or she’ll get so excited she’ll accidentally pee. The same thing happens when strangers come over. She’s four years old. Is she ever going to outgrow this?”

This is really common in puppies, like little kids that get really excited, and puppies commonly outgrow it. If you have an adult dog that’s doing this, there is a possibility that it’s because of her nature and because of her being slightly anxious about this, it may not be something she outgrows.

I think your idea about completely ignoring her until the excitement of you coming home subsides is a great idea. If you can get strangers or people coming over to your house on-board with that, too, and let them to know to just ignore her for five or ten minutes until everything settles down, in that way you can avoid it.

Try not to discipline dogs that are submissively urinating. They typically don’t really know that they’re doing it and it can make the problem worse because it usually stems from anxiety.

Wildlife dangers and your pet

A dog with dog insurance sits outside.

During summer, it is essential to protect pets and other domesticated animals from possible encounters with local wildlife, which can result in injuries to pets as well as expose them to dangerous diseases. This is why proper attention to pet health and safety, and researching the best pet insurance, is essential in order to ensure the well-being of household pets in the great outdoors.

Fencing Around the Home
Fences are a good first step in preventing pets from coming into contact with other animals, but they only provide a basic level of protection and cannot defend against wildlife that can dig or climb over these barriers. Fences should be maintained and checked for holes and gaps.

Rabies Shots
One of the greatest risks to pets is the threat of contracting rabies from infected wildlife. Reported rabies cases are up this year in several areas of the country. The Virginia Department of Health, for example, is cautioning pet owners in the New River Valley district that the number of cases of rabies through May of 2011 has already matched the number for the entirety of last year. Cases have been reported in skunks, cats, raccoons and cows. Other areas of the state are similarly affected by the highly infectious disease.

The best way to ensure pet safety and to protect pets against contracting this deadly viral infection is to ensure that they get annual vaccinations against rabies as part of their regular veterinary routine. Rabies vaccinations are required in most areas of the country and provide nearly 100% protection for pets against contracting the disease. Some pet health insurance plans cover a portion these and other routine vaccinations.

Habitat Alterations
In Florida, the growing coyote population is beginning to pose a threat to domesticated animals. There have been a number of substantiated reports of coyotes stalking cats and dogs and even attacking them, according to Greg Andrews of Pinellas County Animal Services.

One way to make lawns and outdoor living areas less attractive to coyotes and other predators is by ensuring that pet food and garbage cans are not readily available food sources outside. Additionally, keeping the grass short and hedges and shrubs neatly trimmed is safer for pets since it presents fewer hiding places for undesired wildlife.

Another way to protect pets from wildlife and outdoor dangers is with pet insurance. Pet health insurance helps to manage costs associated with most possible wildlife-related incidents and also help ensure the best possible veterinary care is more afforable to your beloved pet.

What’s wrong with Frank the Dachshund?

A Dachshund without dog insurance plays with a bone.

By: Dr. Fiona Caldwell
Idaho Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance

Frank had a rough start on life. He spent who knows how long on the streets until he was spotted by a good Samaritan who took him in. He was hard to resist, since he was a very cute golden brown Dachshund with the longest ears. He was probably less than a year old. After a few days in his ‘new’ home, the good Samaritan realized something was wrong. And unfortunately, the pup didn’t yet have dog insurance.

He didn’t eat well, and when he did, he would vomit. In addition, his breathing was off; it was rapid and shallow. They made an appointment to see me the next day.

Frank was very thin when he first came to the clinic. It was clear there was a serious problem based on his physical exam. While the new ‘owner’ had gotten somewhat attached, she wasn’t prepared financially to take Frank on as her own dog and she made the difficult decision to relinquish him. Frank officially belonged to the clinic.

Using donated funds and doctor time, Frank was radiographed and admitted to the hospital for treatment. The x-rays revealed a disturbing change in Frank’s chest. The thin muscle wall that separates the lungs from the other organs in the body, the diaphragm, was torn. This tear, or hernia, had allowed things that are supposed to be in the abdomen access to the chest. Frank’s intestines and his stomach were in his chest and pushing on his lungs, partially collapsing them, making it hard for him to breathe. This is also why he couldn’t eat, and vomited when he did.

The name for this condition is a diaphragmatic hernia and can be very serious. Frank probably had some type of trauma, maybe he was hit by a car or fell from something and caused this to happen. Since he had no other obvious injuries on his body, it was impossible to know how long the hernia had been there.

Frank was given pain medication and an IV catheter to administer fluids and surgery was scheduled for the next day to repair the hernia.

In the morning Frank looked worse, it was even harder for him to breathe. He was quickly taken to the radiology room and x-rayed. The radiographs showed that Frank had an even more serious problem. The trapped stomach, which was in the chest, had started to bloat, filling with air and pushing more and more on the lungs.

Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) is commonly referred to as “Bloat” and is a potentially life threatening emergency that occurs primarily in large deep chested dogs, like Great Danes. The gastric dilatation (expansion) and volvulus (rotating) can occur separately, but when together the stomach will rapidly fill with air and can result in death if left untreated. It is unclear exactly what causes a gastric bloat to occur. It has about 15 to 33% mortality rate. It is estimated that approximately 22% of giant breeds and 24% of larger breed dogs may suffer a GDV in their lifetime. Thankfully, many pet insurance companies cover this condition.

However, not only was Frank not a large breed dog, but his GDV was even more life threatening since it was occurring in his chest. He was rushed immediately to surgery where the stomach was gently removed from the hole in his diaphragm and untwisted. Immediately his lungs were able to expand and his oxygen levels improved. The tear in the diaphragm was repaired and the stomach inspected for any damage. It was ‘tacked’ to the body wall to ensure it didn’t twist again.

When Frank woke up, he felt like a new dog. His recovery was very quick and within days he had gained weight and was acting like a puppy again. He was placed in a foster home and quickly adopted into a family that loved him.

Frank’s case is definitely a once in a lifetime situation and very unusual. Thankfully it ended well and Frank touched a lot of hearts in his short stay with us.

Oh, those house training issues!

A Chihuahua puppy is house broken.

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

House training issues are a common complaint among dog and puppy owners. Even if you provide your pup with the best food, toys, vet care and dog insurance, most dog owners will struggle a bit with potty training at first. As owners we often unknowingly set-up our dogs to fail house training. These are common mistakes that can be easily remedied.

First be consistent with potty breaks. You should always set your puppy or dog up to succeed. I suggest setting a timer for every 60 to 90 minutes. When the timer goes off, take your puppy outside on a leash and ask your puppy to “go potty.” You can use any cue word you would like. Some people ask their dogs to “do their business”, “take a break,” “go potty,” etc. It doesn’t matter what you say, just be consistent.

As soon as your new puppy finishes going, immediately say “good” and give your pup a treat. It is important you give the treat outside as soon as your pup finishes. If you wait until you take him inside, he may not realize that he is getting a treat for going potty. You want to be very clear that he is getting the treat for relieving himself outside. I often recommend people make a big deal of the puppy going outside, praise, treats and happy talk. You want your puppy to “love” going outside to potty.

So what should you do when your puppy has an accident inside? If you see the accident after the puppy has gone, simply clean up the spot with a good enzyme based cleaner, to remove the odor. DO NOT punish your puppy or bring attention to the accident. If the pup or dog has an accident, it is simply that– an accident. Next time just be aware of the puppy’s needs and take him out more frequently. Remember the dog cannot open the door and let himself out, they have to depend on us to let them out.

If you catch the puppy in the act of relieving himself inside, scoop him up and take him outside. Do not scold him, or punish him. This is where many people make a mistake by correcting the puppy. You should NEVER correct your pup for having an accident. Correcting your puppy does not teach him to stop relieving himself inside, but it does teach him that going in the presence of people is dangerous.

This is why some puppies will go into another room, or hide behind furniture to relieve themselves. They need to relieve themselves, but they are frightened of what may happen when people are present.

Correcting a dog or puppy for relieving themselves can create another issue; dogs that will not relieve themselves when on lead. If your dog will not relieve himself when on a lead, it may be difficult to:

– Take your dog on a trip and stop for potty breaks
– Leash walk your pet if he becomes injured
-Kennel your dog
-Compete in dog shows
-Train him to be a therapy dog

Another method for house training, is to teach your dog or puppy to ring a bell to notify you that it is time to go outside. Hang some bells on the wall beside the door you take your puppy out for potty breaks.

(Do not hang the bells on the door knob since people opening and closing the door will cause the bells to ring sending the puppy mixed signals.) Every time you take your puppy outside, say to your pup “let’s go potty” ring the bells and take the puppy outside. Soon your puppy will associate ringing the bells with going outside to relieve himself.

There is a common myth that certain breeds of dogs are harder to house train than others. This is actually a misconception. Most of the dogs that get this bad reputation are the smaller breeds like Yorkies, Maltese and Bischons. Because these breeds are smaller, the accidents are smaller, so many people are not as disturbed and therefore the house training is not as urgent. The urgency in house training often correlates with the size of the dog’s accident. Any dog or puppy can be house trained, no excuses for the little ones.

One last note; if you notice your puppy or dog relieving himself more frequently than usual or needing to go out more often, you should consult your veterinarian. Your vet can rule out possible medical issues, such as urinary tract infections, which may sideline your house training efforts. UTIs are not uncommon in dogs and can be very painful. This is another good reason to look into pet insurance for your new puppy if you haven’t already. Your vet can do a simple urinalysis and provide you with medication to clear up this condition.

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