Pet Insurance Blog – Pets Best Insurance
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Dog Dewclaws and Fast-Growing Toenails

Posted on: May 3rd, 2011 by

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

The first question comes from Hadley who asks, “Why to dogs have dewclaws and is removal necessary?”

Dewclaws probably don’t really have a purpose anymore. It’s probably just left over as an evolutionary trait when there were five fingers. Some dogs are born without them and some dogs have them. There’s not really a problem with leaving them there. The biggest problem that I see is that because of their location they often don’t wear down appropriately and therefore need to be trimmed more frequently.

Occasionally I’ve seen them kind of get snagged on things, especially the really active dogs that are outside a lot. If your dog is an adult and it has a dewclaw I wouldn’t recommend removing them. If you have a litter of puppies who are days old, that’s when removal happens. If you’re planning on breeding dogs and want to prevent the dewclaws from occurring you would want to do this when they’re first born.

The next question comes from Chrissa. She asks, “My dog has eight black toenails and two white ones, and one of the white ones grows insanely fast. It’s always at least half an inch longer than the rest. Any idea why?”

I’m not sure. There’s a possibility that this could be an outside toe that’s not wearing down as quickly as the others. It probably doesn’t have anything to do with the color. Dogs sometimes have a combination of black and white nails. It’s possible that there was an injury at one point and that caused the nail to grow abnormally. It’s not likely to be related to a problem; it just probably means that you have to trim it a little more frequently.

Pet health care keeps you healthy too

Posted on: May 2nd, 2011 by

A dog with pet insurance plays with his owner.

It may sound odd, but keeping up with good pet health care as well as pet insurance can be good for you too.

Besides the obvious reason that we want our animal companions to be well, taking care of pets has physical and psychological health benefits. The following are some examples:

Pet Ownership Promotes Responsibility
You often hear a good reason to get a pet for a child is that is promotes responsibility—the child learns to feed and care for another living thing. But it can also be good for adults. Looking after a pet and ensuring they have pet insurance, food, water and exercise helps you be a responsible person.

Physical Comfort
Petting your dog or cat after a bad day can have a comforting and relaxing effect on your body and mind. A cat jumping in your lap or a dog putting his wet nose on your hand can help tremendously if you’re feeling overly stressed. Studies have shown that just being around animals reduces blood pressure.

Emotional Wellness
“Unconditional love” is an overused term, but it aptly describes the kind of love that pets give you. They don’t care if you’re feeling snarky or irritable, they still like to be around you. Having pets can reduce isolation and promotes social activity. Walking with your pet or taking your pet to the dog park can up your socialization as well as your dogs’.

Benefits for Older Adults
There’s a reason why companion and therapy animals are often taken into nursing homes. Older people in that environment, who have often had to give up a pet, crave contact with a loving animal. Research even shows that older adults who have a pet have fewer doctor visits.

Providing pets with the best digestive health

Posted on: May 2nd, 2011 by

A dog with dog insurance eats a treat.

Posted by: H.R.
For Pets Best Insurance

There is a lot of indecision about what kinds of pet foods are best for Fido—natural and organic, raw, and expensive manufactured food all claim to be the best. There are a number of cookbooks out there for owners who wish to make their own food for their pets rather than buy the processed brands.

Still, there are some very basic guidelines that should be followed to ensure that your pup has the best digestive health—from food to insurance for dogs. Here are a few tips:

• Find a great dog insurance plan to prepare for emergencies. Make sure to compare pet insurance policies to find one that would cover Fido accidentally eating something poisonous, as well as serious digestive complications. Take your dog to the vet for routine check-ups and monitor eating habits if your dog is vomiting or has unusual stools.

• Feed your pet nutrient-rich food. Whether it comes from a bag or you cook it up yourself, make sure that your dog is getting all of the nutrients he or she needs. Be mindful that the cook books out there often include supplemental powders in the recipes and make sure you include these supplements. They are absolutely vital for your pet’s digestive and overall nutrition.

• Refrain from giving table scraps. Most vets would agree that table scraps should be a no-no, for a couple of reasons. Our food contains a whole variety of ingredients, and we don’t always know every single one. You also don’t want him to think that he is the boss! Keep all food in his dish.

Though dog insurance may not seem necessary, serious digestive illnesses can become a huge financial burden. Finding pet health insurance is one way to alleviate those costs and keep your pup healthy. So don’t forget: avoid falling victim to the puppy dog eyes and refrain from giving table scraps—and be mindful of your pet’s nutrition!

World Veterinary Day Focuses on Rabies Prevention

Posted on: April 29th, 2011 by

A dog with dog insurance sits down.

In 2000, the World Veterinary Association set the last Saturday of April to be designated as World Veterinary Day. A theme is selected for the day each year, and the 2011 theme is to raise awareness of veterinarians’ role in rabies prevention and control.

Several rabies warnings have already been issued around the US in early 2011, mostly due to non-domestic animals found with rabies. This includes skunks in Allentown, PA, one of which bit a resident, and a raccoon in Titusville, FL. One horse was euthanized in Virginia after it was found to be suffering from rabies, as well.

When raccoons are found to have rabies, the first thought should be to keep dogs and cats safe while outside to avoid being bitten. According to a brochure printed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs and cats “that have never been vaccinated and are exposed to a rabid animal may need to be euthanized or placed in strict isolation for six months.”

It’s easy to keep pets safe with rabies vaccinations, however, as part of a dog and cat health care regimen subsidized with lifelong pet insurance.

Other rabies control tips from the AVMA include:
•Don’t allow pets to roam free. Cats should be kept indoors and dogs supervised while outside.

Spay and neuter to prevent the urge to roam. This procedure is easily healed from when performed at a young age, and made affordable with cat and dog insurance.

•Don’t leave garbage or pet food exposed outdoors to prevent attracting wild animals.

•Don’t attempt to handle wild animals or keep them as pets.

ACL Injuries: What they mean for your pet

Posted on: April 28th, 2011 by

A dog with dog insurance heals from an ACL injury.

By: Dr. Fional Caldwell
For Pets Best Insurance

It’s all too common, a big athletic dog suddenly comes back from the park limping, or even holding up the hind leg completely. You end up at the veterinarian’s office, where you are told your dog has just injured its ACL.

ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament; in proper veterinary terminology this ligament is the Cranial Cruciate Ligament, or CCL. We think of ACL injuries occurring in athletes, such as football players and skiers, but this happens in dogs and cats too. In fact, cruciate ruptures are the most common orthopedic injury seen in veterinary medicine; having dog insurance can often make this injury more financially feasible to treat.*

The cruciate ligaments are located in the knee (or stifle in animals). These ligaments are vital for proper movement of the knee. The term “cruciate” implies there are two ligaments that form an ‘X.’ The cranial and caudal ligaments do just this and normally function to stabilize the knee so the shinbone (tibia) doesn’t slide back front to back in relation to the thigh bone (femur).

One big difference between veterinary and human cruciate injuries is that human cruciate ruptures tend to be due to traumatic injuries, such as, playing sports. In animals this isn’t always the case, which is another good reason it’s often a good idea to look into insurance for dogs.

While some may occur as the result of some injury, such as after chasing a Frisbee, 75% of cases are thought to be due to congenital predisposition (genetics) or degeneration in the stifle. Obesity is a huge predisposing factor! Breeds prone to this condition include the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Rottweiler, and St. Bernard among others.

Due to the degenerative nature of cruciate disease, between 30-40% of dogs will go on to eventually injure the other knee. This is due to increased weight bearing on the ‘good’ knee while the dog is lame, combined by the fact that the knees are generally symmetrical. Thus, an underlying predisposing problem in one knee will undoubtedly be present in the other.

There are basically four ways of treating a torn or ruptured cruciate ligament, three of these are surgical and can be quite costly; dog health insurance can often help to reduce these costs. Non-surgical treatment is only ever considered in pets weighing less than 15 pounds. Even in these smaller pets this is generally unrewarding and typically fails. About 50% of cats and 20-to 25% of dogs may respond to strict cage rest, weight control and pain relievers.

There are several companies that are making orthopedic knee braces for dogs. Although some dog insurance companies might cover the cost of these types of braces, most people agree that they are cumbersome to put on and difficult to keep on the patient. They also are not a long term solution, as the amount of stability provided isn’t sufficient for healing.

A permanent surgical correction is a better option, although braces may be suitable for post-operative rehabilitation. The majority of pets need to have surgical correction to provide return to normal function of the leg. Surgery is generally expensive and dog health insurance can often come in handy.

There are three main types of surgical repair. Your veterinarian should help you decide which is appropriate for your pet.

A Lateral Stabilizing procedure, also called a ‘Tight Rope’ or ‘Fishing Line’ procedure is generally less costly and can be a good choice for dogs weighing up to 40 or 50 pounds. This implant approximates the position and plane of the torn cruciate, providing stability. In people a graft can be used to replace the ligament, but this doesn’t provide long term stability in dogs and has fallen out of favor. Success rate is about 85% with surgical correction.

A TPLO, or Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy is another common type of surgical repair. Smaller dogs may not be good candidates for this type of surgery due to the size of the surgical implant. This surgery is different from the lateral stabilizing surgery because it changes the biomechanics of the knee, negating the need for the cranial cruciate. It alters the slope of the top of the shinbone (tibia) to neutralize the forward motion of the shinbone in the absence of an intact cruciate ligament.

A TTA, or Tibial Tuberosity Advancement, has a similar goal to alter the biomechanics of the knee, and can be another excellent choice for surgical repair. Studies show that regardless of the surgery type, the TPLO or TTA surgeries appear to be associated with better results and less degenerative joint disease in very large dogs than the Lateral Stabilizing procedure.

There are some things you can do to prevent this type of injury. If you have a larger dog, or any pet for that matter, consider having dog insurance prior to any problems occurring. Don’t let your pets become obese, monitoring treats and people food is essential. Regular check ups with your veterinarian can help you to determine if your pet is getting too heavy.

If you are concerned your pet may have a torn cruciate ligament, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

*Pets Best Insurance does not cover cruciate injuries within in the first 12 months of coverage. After 12 months, regular benefits will apply to cruciate injures that develop after the first year of coverage.