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Pet health: When your pup’s breath isn’t so sweet

Posted on: March 10th, 2011 by

Posted by: HR
For Pets Best Insurance
A puppy with dog insurance lifts a paw.

Do you sometimes joke about your dog’s “puppy breath?” It’s fun to joke about, but proper pet health care should include dental health, too. Remember how your dog’s breath smelled when he was a puppy?

One of my favorite quotes about dogs is from Thomas E. Catanzaro, DVM (better known as Dr. Tom Cat), a veterinary consultant who practiced all over the world: “Of all the things I miss from veterinary practice, puppy breath is one of the most fond memories!”

Despite all the treats and kibble that claim to clean our dog’s teeth, after a few years puppy breath can still go from sweet to sour. This odor can signify potential bigger problems, like periodontal disease and an infection that can travel through the bloodstream from the gums to other areas of the body. But cleaning a dog’s teeth doesn’t need to be difficult!

Having dog insurance can make annual or bi-annual vet visits and teeth cleanings more affordable when routine care coverage is added. In between those visits, yummy doggie toothpaste often means brushing your dog’s teeth isn’t hard. Watch the video by Dr. Fiona Caldwell for a quick doggie tooth brushing demonstration.

Teeth cleanings performed by your vet can often begin with an appointment for a simple scraping and polish, and then become a surgical extraction of bad teeth performed under anesthesia. This surgery may be necessary to keep your dog healthy, but pet insurance with wellness coverage can help keep costs down and tails wagging.

Making the Switch from Puppy Food and Dog Soft Spots

Posted on: March 9th, 2011 by

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

The first question is, “At what age should I switch my young dog from puppy food to dog food?” I like this question because every dog is a little bit different. If you’ve got a bigger breed dog, like a Great Dane or a Labrador, or something that grows really quickly, it’s pretty important that they be switched earlier than you might think.

Growing too fast with rich puppy food can sometimes cause some orthopedic problems in these bigger dogs so switching as early as four, five, or six months of age in the really fast growing breeds can be safe. A smaller breed dog, like a Chihuahua or Shih Tzu, can typically stay on puppy food longer, but remember that they stop growing quicker than big dogs do and so will likely need to be switched to adult food before one year of age.

The next question is, “My Chihuahua has a soft spot on the top of her head. She’s almost four years old and it doesn’t seem to bother her. Is this common and can it be problematic?” This is really common in Chihuahuas. We’ve bred them to have this sort of cute, domed forehead. Unfortunately, that makes them predisposed for the plates of the skull to not come together 100%. Most of the time it doesn’t cause a problem. If it’s small it should be fine, but do know that the soft spot is basically an area where there’s a little less bone covering the brain so it is important to make sure it’s protected as best you can that from trauma or anything like that.

Dog Heartworm Prevention and Cat Hair Loss

Posted on: March 8th, 2011 by

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 is, “What’s the best defense against heartworm for those living in the South?” This is a great question because heartworm disease is really prevalent in the South or anyplace that has a lot of mosquitoes. The best defense is going to be going to your veterinarian and get a prescription heartworm medication. Generally, these medications are given once a month and are really quite effective at preventing heartworm disease. Over-the-counter products or mosquito repellents are not going to be as effective.

The next question comes from Sarah. She asks, “My 13½-year-old cat had his teeth cleaned last weekend and now he has lost hair above his right eyebrow. He still has his lashes but I thought this was odd. Should I be concerned?”

It’s hard to say without seeing your cat, but I would bring it up to your veterinarian. Sometimes when there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the mouth, the head may be positioned in such a way that it possibly rubbed on the table or came in contact with something. Call your veterinarian and see if they’ll do a follow-up. A lot of times veterinarians are happy to follow up after a procedure to make sure everything went smoothly.

Pet health: Brush their teeth to keep them healthy

Posted on: March 8th, 2011 by

A dog with pet health insurance gets his teeth brushed.

Brushing your pet’s teeth is an important step in maintaining proper pet health. A daily tooth brushing is the first line of defense against dental disease. Dental disease is a common health concern with an estimated 80% of dogs and 70% of cats having some form by the age of 2.

Take the steps to help your pet avoid this common health issue by including pet dental care into your daily routine. Some pet insurance companies, like Pets Best Insurance, will even help with the costs of annual teeth cleaning with their wellness plans.

You may be thinking that brushing your pet’s teeth is impossible. At first, your pet may not like having their teeth brushed, but you can make it a tolerable experience. The key to success in dog and cat dental care is having the right tools for the job and taking your time when brushing.

Make sure that you have the appropriate sized toothbrush. If you have a cat or small dog you will want to choose a small sized toothbrush. Choose toothpaste formulated for pets. Pet toothpaste comes in many flavors such as bacon or liver—choose a flavor that you think your pet will enjoy.

Once you have your pet’s toothbrush and toothpaste, you are ready to brush their teeth. If this is the first time, take it slowly. Begin by brushing their teeth in circular motion until you have brushed the entire surface of each tooth. Take breaks if your pet needs them. Keep the experience a positive one by offering treats and praise when you are finished.

Pet Insurance tips: The well-behaved dog

Posted on: March 8th, 2011 by

A dog with pet insurance waits for a treat.

Did you adopt your dog with visions of having a perfectly trained pooch that obeyed your every word, only to realize three years later that all you had taught him was sit? Making sure a dog is well-trained and listens to you can help save his life just as much as dog insurance and vet visits can.

Why not spend some time training and teaching tricks? Not only is it easy, as most dogs learn cues quickly, it’s also mentally stimulating for the dog—which is excellent for pet health care—and a wonderful bonding activity.

My favorite way to start training a dog is with the Nothing in Life is Free method. And it only requires a slight change in the dog-owner’s mindset. That is, the dog gets nothing for free. Don’t we teach our kids to “ask nicely?” The same should be taught to your dog. From now on, he doesn’t get fed for free, pet for free, or let outside for free. When a dog realizes that he has to look to you for everything he wants or needs, he’ll start paying closer attention.

If your dog knows “sit” and “stay,” you can start this method today, or you can use any trick or command your dog understands. Just ask your dog to do something before you give him anything he wants. Meal time? He has to sit before you put down the bowl. Walk time? He has to sit and stay before you open the door and invite him out. And he doesn’t get to bolt out ahead of you. Is he giving you the cute “pet me” eyes? You can pet him—as soon as he sits.

That’s it! Just change your mindset and stick with this method from now on, and people will be commenting on what a well-behaved dog you have. Your dog will learn to watch you when he wants something, rather than run towards whatever he wants to devour or trample. Good boy!

Combine this easy method with the best pet insurance and canine health care, and you get an A+ in responsible dog ownership! Good dog owner!