Top 10 hottest pet gifts to buy this season

A Christmas dog with pet insurance plays with a decoration.

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

As pet lovers and pet insurance enthusiasts, you’re probably planning to get your kitty or dog a little something for the holidays. But did you know that over 50% of pet owners in the US will buy presents for their pets this year? The average family allots just under $50 to purchase toys, treats and food, bedding, clothing, grooming products and leashes and harnesses for their pets during the holidays. With Black Friday just around the corner, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten most awesome and unique pet products that for the dog or cat that has it all!

1. Pet Observation Porthole
This contraption is a plastic, submarine-like porthole that when attached to a wooden fence, allows pets to see the action on the other side. It helps keep your pet safe, but lets them sneak a peek when their curiosity gets the best of them!

2. DJ Cat Scratch Turntables
This unique product looks like a DJ’s set of turn tables, but is actually a scratching post! DJ kitty will love to and scratch this funny cat gift.

3. Tug-Preventing Dog Trainer
This ingenious gadget attaches to the leash and emits a non-painful ultrasonic tone which is irritating to dogs, ultimately training them to not tug on the leash.

4. Float-a-pet
This is a float collar for pets that live with swimming pool access or that like the lake. When the pet is submerged, this floating collar will keep their heads above water. Much like a doggie life jacket, this is a great gift for any pup who loves the water.

5. Heated pet bed
For the pampered pet, or the pet that spends time outside, this is a nice way to keep them comfortable and cozy in the winter months.

6. Doggy Treadmill
Yes, this really exists! For the owner who is unable to walk his four-legged friend, or for a pet that requires physical therapy, an indoor doggy treadmill is a great way to provide controlled exercise.

7. Edible Christmas cards (Bone Idle Cards)!
Just for dogs, this is a fun and tasty way of saying ‘I love you’ this Christmas to your best friend. He probably won’t read the card, but he’ll sure enjoy munching on it.

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8. Cat Genie Cat Box
Sick of cleaning the litter box every day? This gadget frees up some the responsibility and can wash, sanitize and dry the box without you having to do anything. This is a great gift for the busy cat owner!

9. RoamEO Pup Collar
This GPS tracking device connects to your dog’s collar and can track where they are. Not only is this great for the escape artist, but it would also make a good gift for dogs that go camping or hunting with their owner.

10. And number ten! The ultimate gift that keeps giving! Drumroll please… dog and cat insurance! Giving your pet the gift of pet health insurance will allow them the necessary veterinary care, should they fall ill or have an accident. Pets Best Insurance offers great coverage for your dog or cat. For more information about the best pet insurance, visit Pets Best Insurance.

Dogs and Holiday Visitors: 3 Common Issues and How to Help

A dog with dog insurance sits near a Christmas tree.

By Liam Crowe, Bark Busters CEO and guest writer for Pets Best, a pet insurance agency for dogs and cats

For many families, December holidays bring a change in routine and lots of extra commotion to the household— which can be stressful for your dog. Although you may be versed in pet health and behavior, with all the extra commotion, your pet many begin to exhibit unusual or undesirable behaviors like stealing food, jumping up on people, or growling or snapping at visitors.

Although it’s a good idea to have pet insurance in case of an accidental illness or injury during the holidays, the following tips can help keep your dog calm, happy and safe in your home this season.

1. Front door behaviors
Whether your dog perceives it as exciting or alarming, a knock on the door can be a stimulating and potentially dangerous event. It is natural for him to want to find out who the visitors are and to determine if they are friendly or not. However, a dog that behaves in an out-of-control manner at the sound of the doorbell is not only annoying, but unsafe. Your pet could harm himself by escaping out the door or getting underfoot and becoming a trip hazard. Your dog could also hurt others by knocking elderly visitors or children down, or even becoming aggressive to the visitors.

What to DoRead More…

Winking Dogs and Dog Lice

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

The first question comes from Drew, who asks, “Why does my dog sometimes wink, and is that normal?”

This is probably completely normal. Dogs will blink or wink to remove debris off the eye or if hair gets in there. If it’s constant, or if the dog is squinting or you’re seeing discharge, that might be an indication of a problem, but just a normal wink here and there probably doesn’t mean anything.

The next one is from Mary Ann, who asks, “Is there a home remedy for chewing lice?”

Dogs can get their own type of lice, just like people can. I’m going to recommend that you go to a veterinarian to get this treated. There are some things that you can do at home but probably the guidance of a professional is going to be helpful.

You can use some type of an insecticide shampoo. Make sure that it’s a shampoo that’s meant for the animal you’re using it on. For example, cats are especially very sensitive to topical shampoos. If it’s a dog, make sure you use dog shampoo. Usually the flea and tick shampoos will actually help with lice as well.

You’re going to need some type of a topically-applied medication, such as Frontline or Revolution, that are generally prescribed by a veterinarian. Those typically need to be done in a series of three to four treatments every two to three weeks apart.

These are all things you’re probably going to need to work with a professional about. The environment’s really important as well. You’re going to want to wash all the bedding or throw it away. You might even consider, in a large infestation, getting an exterminator.

Fleas in the wintertime? You bet.

Two cats with cat insurance cuddle under a blanket.

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

I live in a dry Western state, and when I moved here a year ago, my colleagues told me that fleas are not much of a problem in our area because of the low humidity. Imagine my surprise, then, with the cases of heavy flea infestations that I’ve seen over the past month. Given the right conditions, fleas can be plentiful! Since some pet insurance companies will even help to cover a potion of flea prevention with their wellness plans, it’s a good idea to inquire.

Fleas are not just a summer issue, like you might think. While fleas won’t survive a good frost outside, they can be a year-round problem inside your home. The most common flea in the US which feeds off both cats and dogs is called Ctenocephalides felis, or the cat flea. The primary determining factor of populations is humidity, so fleas can be worse from one area to another and can vary seasonally from year to year. We had a wet spring this year, so that probably accounts for the more numerous infestations that I’ve been seeing.

While many pets live with fleas and show minimal signs of infestation, some develop a pet health allergy to flea saliva which causes them to scratch excessively or develop other skin disease. The painful itching can be so bad that the poor animal may scratch herself raw in seeking relief. The cat flea can carry the larval stage of the tapeworm Dipylidium caninum. Pets can then be infested with these worms by eating fleas during grooming. Fleas have the potential to transmit other infectious agents causing diseases such as Haemobartonellosis which is a serious form of anemia. Adult fleas feed on animal blood. In young kittens and puppies this can cause weakness, anemia and death. Cat fleas can also cause itchy bites on sensitive humans, typically around the ankles.

While you may see actual fleas on your pet, the most common sign is flea dirt, which is actually flea feces. It is black pepper-like granules in the coat, especially on the rump and groin area. It is found by either parting the fur or using a special “flea comb” with narrow spaced teeth. To determine if what you find is flea dirt, which has digested blood in it, place the granules on a moistened white paper towel. Rub them gently; if the paper towel turns red-brown, your pett has flea dirt.

Within 2 days of finding a home on your pet, the mature female flea starts to lay eggs at a rate of about 50 a day. The eggs fall off the cat’s coat together with flea dirt. This flea dirt provides food for the hatching flea larvae. Eggs and larvae can be found anywhere your cat or dog has been, but are particularly concentrated in bedding or in areas where your pet spends a lot of time. The larvae dislike light and move deep into the carpet or soft furnishings. The larvae develop into pupae, each encased in a sticky cocoon. An adult flea develops within the cocoon and awaits a sign that there is an animal or person close by. It does this by detecting pressure, noise, heat, carbon dioxide or vibrations. The new flea can emerge and attach to the host within seconds. Fleas can lie waiting in the cocoon for up to 2 years. However, in the right conditions, the whole life cycle can be completed in 15 days. Because prevention is always best, it’s important to purchase a wellness plan from a pet health insurance company that will reimburse a portion for preventing fleas.

Once there is a flea infestation it is important to treat all the animals and the house. There is a vast and confusing array of flea treatments on the market, and it is important to follow your veterinarian’s advice for the best and safest results. Never use products labeled for dogs on cats, as they can be toxic. In particular, the insecticide permethrin can be safely used as a flea treatment for dogs, but is highly toxic to cats and may even cause death. Always consult your veterinarian first!

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The older generation of flea control products (flea powders, flea collars and dips) are now completely obsolete. The latest treatments are the topical “spot-ons” which are much safer for both pets and humans. These are applied to the skin, usually at the back of the neck, and disperse through the skin’s oils. Most topicals are labeled for once-a-month application. I like Advantage, Frontline and Revolution. If a pet is heavily loaded with flea dirt, I recommend a cleansing bath first, followed by one of these topical products after the animal is dried completely.

Treatment of the house is also necessary. Vacuum your entire house paying particular attention to corners, dark crevices, under furniture, under beds, pet beds, rugs and especially around baseboards. Dispose of vacuum bags/contents to prevent collected immature flea stages from continuing to develop in the house. Wash all bedding thoroughly.

Treat your house to eradicate fleas at all stages of their development. Choose an insecticide that contains an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR). Spray all carpets, rugs, floors, soft furnishings and places your pet sleeps with an aerosol, flea bomb or fogger that kills flea eggs, larvae and emerging adult fleas. Make sure that you spray into every nook and cranny and pay special attention around baseboards and under rugs and furniture, including under beds. Aerosols are best for getting these hidden spots. Read and follow directions carefully when using insecticides.

While the fleas are in the pupae stage (in their cocoons) they are not affected by insecticides. The cocoons are watertight and protect the developing flea. This is why you may see a new flea infestation about 2 weeks later as new fleas emerge from these cocoons. If this happens you may need to treat your house again.

Continue to treat your pet monthly with one of the topical products for several months minimum to be sure the flea infestation is resolved. Periodically flea comb your pet to monitor the progress.

Once adult and immature fleas have been completely eradicated from the household, reassess whether further treatment is necessary. If your pett goes outside, consider using one of the topical products in a preventative manner.

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

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