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Spaying and neutering: SNIP helps put an end to killing healthy animals

Posted on: January 25th, 2011 by

Diane Ayres of SNIP holds two small dogs.
By: Diane Ayres
SNIP for Pets Best Insurance

Imagine the day when no healthy animals are killed in shelters. This goal can be accomplished in our life time. There are four very important elements to this solution.

High volume spaying and neutering, adoption , education and working together toward our common goal. Today we will introduce an organization that is aggressively tackling the spaying and neutering portion.

According to the Humane Society of the United States 4 million dogs and cats are killed each year in the United States. That’s an alarming 10,959 a day or 457 an hour. The reason is because there are just not enough homes for all these animals. The producing of puppies and kittens must halt to stop the killing. The only way to stop the production is by spaying and neutering both females and males.

Spay Neuter Idaho Pets (SNIP) is an all volunteer 501 c3 non-profit animal welfare group. Collaborating with the Idaho Humane Society Auxiliary and the Idaho Humane Society, SNIP was instrumental in creating the SPOT low cost spay and neuter programs at the Idaho Human Society in Boise, Idaho in early 2008.

The SPOT clinic opened in April of 2008 and after just a month it was obvious to a handful of volunteers that more low cost spay and neuter programs were needed in the valley to solve the pet overpopulation problem. At this time SNIP was formed with the determination to tackle the pet overpopulation problem head on. By providing low cost spay and neuter programs, education, strong community support and encouraging animal rescue groups and shelters to work together, the problem can be solved in our lifetime.

In just over 2 years SNIP is planning to open the first high quality, high volume, low cost spay and neuter clinic in Idaho. This spay and neuter assistance program will perform a minimum of 35 spays and neuters a day by a paid professional staff. Along with the spaying and neutering services for dogs, domestic and feral cats, low cost vaccines will be available at the time of the surgery. Transportation will be provided for animals if the owners are unable to get to and from the clinic.

SNIP is working with the Humane Alliance team from North Carolina to open this lifesaving clinic the spring of 2011. The Humane Alliance’s team of facilitators has trained and mentored 86 organizations in opening and operating high-volume, high-quality, low-cost spay/neuter clinics all over the country since NSNRT’s (National Spay Neuter Response Team) inception in 2005. These clinics are reducing the killing of healthy animals in shelters by at least 5% a year. Since 2005, more than 1,000,000 companion animals have been surgically sterilized at these new clinics.

Each animal rescue group, each animal shelter, each individual doing what they do to help the animals is an important part of the solution. This is why SNIP believes that together we will end the killing of healthy animals in our lifetime!

The animals thank you.

For more information about SNIP, visit www.snipidaho.org.

Pet insurance: Some symptoms seem scarier than they are

Posted on: January 24th, 2011 by

A dog with pet insurance displays odd pet health symptoms.

It seems like every month I’m typing a new symptom into search engines that my dog or cat has displayed. I try to stay on top of cat and dog health care so that I can speak confidently to the vet about what I observe.

There’s nothing better than breathing a sigh of relief when what I thought would surely result in a new dog insurance claim turns out to be nothing.

About once or twice a week, my 10-year-old Catahoula Leopard dog was snorting backwards, seemingly uncontrollably, for up to a minute at a time. I didn’t know if he was having an asthma attack, gasping for breath, choking, or trying to clear himself of post-nasal drip. It didn’t take much searching to find video of other dogs suffering from similar attacks, and find out that this phenomena is called “reverse sneezing,” or “paroxysmal respiration.”

The condition is called reverse sneezing because air is being rapidly pulled in through the nose, the opposite of a sneeze.

“Although it can be alarming to witness a dog having a reverse sneezing episode,” wrote Ernest Ward, DVM, “it is not a harmful condition and there are no ill effects.”

Of course, if a dog does display reverse sneezing too often for comfort, a veterinarian may test for nasal polyps, respiratory issues and collapsing trachea; tests that will likely be covered by pet health insurance, which is why it’s a good idea to ensure you have cat or dog insurance for your pet.

While Dr. Ward claims there is no exact known cause for reverse sneezing, “this problem seems to be exacerbated by allergies and environmental odors such as smoke, potpourri, and perfume.”

Should your pet display any symptoms you are not familliar with, seek the advice of your veterinarian, as Google Video and Pets Best Insurance blog posts should never be substituted for your veterinarian’s expert opinion.

Pet insurance for your indoor dog this winter?

Posted on: January 21st, 2011 by

A dog with pet insurance stays warm in the winter.

We like to think our dogs are resilient in the winter, with their thick fur coats and padded paws. Long haired dogs do have extra protection in the winter, and outdoor dogs grow a fuller coat as the weather cools.

However, that doesn’t mean a domesticated, pampered house pooch can handle extreme elements as well as a fully adapted wild dog or a trained sled dog. While pet insurance companies exist to protect your furry family all year long, even owners who have dog insurance should use common sense during the winter.

“An indicator that it’s too cold for your dog is: if your nose gets cold when you are walking them, that is how cold their feet are getting,” said Rachel Sentes, a former writer for Pet Rescue Magazine in Edmonton, AB, Canada.

Dogs are safer staying home in the winter as opposed to taking car trips, especially if the dog will be left in the vehicle for any period of time. While cars become ovens in the summer as they trap heat, they become refrigerators in the winter, and keeping the car running poses the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning unless the windows are open.

According to Dr. Justine Lee, a Minnesota veterinarian who has worked with Alaskan sled dogs, in certain cases cold winter temperatures can cause added pet health issuse such as stress, which can be taxing on pets.

“If a dog has underlying hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) or a medical condition where he can’t regulate his temperature normally, I wouldn’t recommend it at all,” said Lee of leaving a dog inside a car during the winter.

Lee also warns of possible side effects from breathing in cold air for extended periods of time.

“Some rare dogs have cold-induced asthma/bronchitis, and can’t exercise as well in cold weather,” said Lee, author of It’s a Dog’s Life…But It’s Your Carpet. “Signs would be coughing, shortness of breath, and exercise intolerance.”

When any changes occur in a pet while exposed to harsh elements, having pet insurance for your dog will ensure that your best furry friend can be quickly evaluated, treated, and sent home warm and cozy.

Top 3 things to do when caring for a stray kitten

Posted on: January 20th, 2011 by

New born kittens with pet insurance drink from a bottle.

I don’t know if I smell of catnip or if word has gotten around to the local cats, but I am one of those people who always seems to find the strays and lost kittens in the neighborhood.

I’ve repeatedly exclaimed, “the kitten can stay – but just for tonight,” only to find myself with a growing number of lifelong family pets.

While new born kittens can be slightly more intense than the needs of adult cats, taking in and taking care for a newly rescued stray kitten isn’t so complicated if you keep a few things in mind.

1. A stray kitten will almost certainly have fleas, and may also have worms. Fleas carry parasites, so if your kitten has ingested any fleas while grooming herself, she’s probably taken in a few parasite hitchhikers.

You can purchase a flea control agent and medication, especially for de-worming kittens, at most pet stores. Be sure you buy the type intended for your kitten’s size and weight. Adult dosages can be toxic to small kittens. Dawn dish washing detergent is a gentle and effective kitten flea shampoo. Any stray kitten should be washed immediately if brought into the home to prevent an indoor flea farm.

2. Spaying and neutering is an important part of responsible cat ownership, as is purchasing a pet insurance policy for your beloved feline. A kitten may be sterilized as young as 8 weeks old, so contact your local rescues and research and see if you can find a spay neuter assistance program. Sibling kittens will mate earlier than expected if not fixed.

3. Pet health insurance is an excellent investment for your new kitten. Not only will you pay very low pet insurance premiums due to your kitten’s young age and presumable lack of pre-existing conditions, but many cat insurance policies also offer wellness and routine care packages.

Not all pet insurance companies are equal

Posted on: January 19th, 2011 by

The founder of pet insurance in the US, Dr. Stephens, sits with his pets.
By: Dr. Jack L. Stephens
Pets Best Insurance President

To help assist pet owners in choosing a pet insurance provider and in selecting the best coverage, I am initiating the new “What to look for in pet insurance” series.

My aim is to provide helpful tips for pet owners to avoid unforeseen pitfalls and traps in choosing a pet insurance plan. This series will also help pet owners understand what they should expect from their pet insurance provider in terms of service and reimbursement.

Becoming a veterinarian and later starting my own practice was a dream come true. I worked hard throughout my years at college and veterinary school. After graduation I even took a second job (at night) operating an emergency pet clinic to help fund my own hospital.

Treating pets was something I had always been passionate about. But one day I came to the realization that I had to do something more. I wanted to help pets and their owners receive medical care even if they couldn’t afford it.

The turning point for me was after I met one small, sick pet that I was forced to euthanize because the family couldn’t afford the treatment costs. It was around then I was determined to change my career path from treating pets to starting the very first successful pet health insurance company in the United States.

I ultimately left my practice and pioneered the concept of pet health insurance so that more pet owners could afford unexpected veterinary care for their pets by using insurance principals of risk sharing. My goal was to provide an alternative for pet owners who did not want to euthanize a beloved pet because of their financial situation. With dog and cat insurance, owners would not have to raid their savings, pay high interest on credit cards or seek lesser care for their pet.

After working with the initial company for a good number of years, I left to start another pet insurance company in 2005— Pets Best Insurance, because I wanted to do things differently.

For many years the company I pioneered in 1982 was the only choice for pet owners. But today there are a dozen or so, pet health insurance providers in the United States and there will likely be many more to come.

Overall, the many options for pet insurance is a good thing for pets, their owners and even the pet health insurance industry as a whole. Competition breeds industry growth by providing more awareness and more attractive options for the consumer.

However, I have noted over the last few years that with more competition comes more confusion. Pet owners seem confused over coverage, about the reliability of the many different companies, and over which company will provide a greater value to them. Pet owners are also confused about which companies are more likely to pay their claims without hassle and which pay their claims timely.

While I may be biased towards Pets Best Insurance, there are many other fine options in the marketplace. (Visit www.naphia.org for members of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association)

Selecting the best pet insurance company is not an easy feat, since circumstances vary widely. Pet owner expectations, budget and cost of pet care must be carefully considered. Optimum coverage for a pet will vary by species, breed, age and the pets’ current health. And of course, price will also vary. Underinsuring only becomes a concern if you have a large veterinary bill, while over insuring can drain monthly resources.

Making the right choice becomes easier with knowledge and through experience. But experience can be hard earned and costly. After 12 years of practicing small animal medicine and 30 years of forming and operating pet health insurance I know I can provide you with the knowledge to buy the right coverage to fit your needs and budget. I will use my experience to help you avoid insurance “traps” you might never expect. I will also show you the “trade offs” that you can make in your choice of pet insurance by demonstrating value to price.

I will attempt to be unbiased; given my position and being the founder of Pets Best Insurance. I will not utilize company names or specific plans, but give you the tools to understand the long term value of different options available. Ultimately you the reader will be the judge if I accomplish this goal. But I know you will be more savvy in getting the best value for your pocketbook and in protecting your pet with the information.