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Older Pet Health – Incontinence and Weight Loss

Posted on: May 31st, 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 Amy. She asks, “Is there anything that can be done for older dogs that start having accidents during the night? We’ve been letting our dog sleep with us for 11 years and now we keep waking up to accidents. We’re unaware that she needs to be let out because she’s doing this in her sleep.”

This is a great question and there are some things that you can do. There are three things that come to mind that can cause this. First is that older dogs, especially females, can start to lose some of the tone in their urethra. This can cause them, without knowing it, to void their urine while they’re sleeping. There are some drugs that can be taken to help treat and prevent this but you would need to see your veterinarian for it.

In addition to that, urinary tract infections and some things that can sometimes make older dogs drink more water and therefore have more urine in their bladder can possibly cause this. I would say a great place to start would be to take your older pet to the veterinarian, have them look at a urine sample, and they can help you go from there.

The next question comes from Cindy. She says, “What do I do when my older cat is slowly losing weight for no known reason? How much does she have to lose before I get concerned about things like fatty liver? In her case, they ran blood tests and everything was fine. Changing her food is difficult as she free-feeds dry food and the other cat is overweight. Neither cat likes canned food.”

This is really common in old cats. They tend to start to lose some weight. Generally, it’s related to an underlying problem. I can’t comment on the blood work that was done beforehand, but make sure that your older cat is tested for thyroid disease and that a really good screening panel is done.

In older cats, there are three things that come to mind for me as specific diseases that can cause weight loss; an overactive thyroid, diabetes, and kidney disease, although there are other things that can do this, too. Make sure that the blood work that they’re running screens for these diseases. If you’re still unhappy, you can consider going to another veterinarian and getting another opinion, or you can go back to your veterinarian and tell them that your pet is still losing weight and see what tests can be done to make sure they recognize any underlying cause.

Top 4 tips for good cat parenting

Posted on: May 30th, 2011 by

A kitten with pet insurance sits in a food dish.

Posted by: H.M.
For Pets Best Insurance

In the U.S., there are 16 million more pet cats than pet dogs, according to the Humane Society of the United States. While 39% of households have dogs and only 33% of households have cats, most cat owners have two or more cats while most dog owners have just one dog. Less than 1% of all all cats and dogs in the US have pet insurance.

Cats are popular pets for many reasons. For many, it’s their ease of care. Their independence means owners needn’t worry when away from home. Most cats are just as content with company as without most of the day. As long as they have all the necessary cat essentials within paw’s reach, cats are mostly self sufficient. More and more cat owners are also starting to see the benefit of pet health insurance for their cats– and with pet health insurance cat owners can ensure their cats are in best possible health they can be in.

Attention and Affection
May 30 is Hug Your Cat Day, but that doesn’t mean you should refrain any other day of the year. While many cats are independent, many are not, and almost all cats love affection sometimes. Like a child, any pet can become destructive out of boredom if not paid attention and shown appreciation.

Toys, Toys, Toys
Cats have a deep-seeded desire to hunt, which equals play and exercise inside the home. According to a publication by the University of Maine, “Even when fed regularly by people, a cat’s urge to hunt remains strong.” Cats instinctively chase almost anything that moves, be it a real or play mouse, a fly, or their owner’s shoestrings and feather dusters. While almost anything can be used as a cat toy, from a sock to an empty paper towel roll, pet safety should always be of concern. Like dogs, cats often ingest things they are attracted to, and this can lead to an emergency vet visit or worse.

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Proper Pet Health Care
The fact that cats have an easy-care reputation doesn’t mean they are a “get it and forget it” pet. Annual vet visits and pet health insurance can help with the plethora of health concerns that can arise for cats, from spaying and neutering, to that emergency visit for an ingested piece of string, to potential issues like diabetes or periodontal disease. Pet insurance cost is also at its lowest if attained early in the cat’s life.

Perches and Scratching Posts
Cats love to scratch; it’s another instinctive and natural behavior. According to a video by the veterinary experts at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, cats scratch to mark their territory, groom their claws, and to stretch and build their muscles. Declawing is an elective surgery that is not covered by pet plan insurance, and diverting scratching to posts is a more humane and cost-effective solution. Scratching posts that are also perches—cat trees and condos—offer exercise and a place where cats can climb to and feel safe.

To Fix or Not to Fix?

Posted on: May 26th, 2011 by

A cat is attended to by a veterinarian.

It’s estimated that one dog or cat is put down every eight seconds in U.S. shelters, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

When Leigh Peterson of Ohio found herself posting ads trying to find homes for four puppies, she struggled with guilt.

“I felt like I was killing a dog in the pound every time someone came to see our puppies rather than go to a shelter,” said Leigh.

In the past, she had always preached how important spaying and neutering, vaccinating and investing in pet health insurance was. She volunteered at an animal shelter and considered herself fairly knowledgeable on pet health. “But when I started dating my boyfriend,” Leigh said, “he refused to get his dogs fixed.”

One day, when her boyfriend was out of town, he called and asked how everyone was. Leigh started to say how the dogs were fine and playing in the back yard, which was completely fenced-in. When she went to the window to look outside, she was shocked to find a strange male dog in the yard with their dog Abby. The two were mating.

“I stood there watching, telling him over the phone what was happening and resisting the urge to say I told you so,” said Leigh. “Even I had started to believe it was OK not to spay because I knew we were responsible pet owners. But this stray dog wanted in to our yard and found a way in.”

Sure enough, puppies were soon on the way. Leigh had to swallow her guilt and take control. She was releived they had purchased dog health insurance for their own dog, but now she had to focus on finding the best homes for the new pups.

The only thing in Leigh’s control now was making sure that these puppies didn’t further contribute to pet overpopulation. All the puppies were spayed and neutered before leaving her care. Although spaying females and neutering male dogs does not come without risk, it does offer some pet health benefits and reduces the urge to roam, like the male dog who found his way into Leigh’s fenced-in yard.

To help ensure that the puppies found good homes, the ads stated that the puppies would be fixed and an adoption fee was set at $50 per puppy. She screened all adopters and was able to keep in touch with them all, receiving pictures as the puppies grew.

When her boyfriend’s older dog developed a large tumor on her uterus, she was spayed, too. It was then his turn to feel guilt, as he could see that the surgery was much harder on a senior dog to recover from than it was for the puppies. From then on, he became a proponent of spaying and neutering, as well.

California pet insurance and your pet

Posted on: May 26th, 2011 by

Posted by: H.M.
For Pets Best Insurance

La La the Chihuahua watch dog looks out the window.

California has strict laws for bringing pets into the state. So if you will be traveling to California or moving to there with your pet in tow, you should familiarize yourself with the entry requirements. It’s also a good idea to become familiar with pet insurance– and if you will be moving, it may be a good idea to tell your pet health insurance company that you need to be transitioned to California Pet Insurace.

The reason for this is because some pet insurance companies base their premiums on the age of the pet, the breed of the pet and where the pet is located.

Cats and Dogs
Cats: All domestic cats must be healthy, with no sign of communicable diseases. A certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CV), which is a pet health certificate, is recommended. Cats entering California are not required to have proof of rabies vaccination, but must be vaccinated against rabies in the California.

Dogs: All dogs must be healthy, with no signs of disease. All dogs over four months of age must have a pet health certificate of current rabies vaccination. A Certificate of Veterinary Inspection is recommended.

Exotic Pets
California is rather strict on the private possession of exotic animals. Certain animals require a permit. The laws “cover importing, transporting and possessing ‘Live Restricted Animals’ as well as listing animals that are restricted species in the State of California. This list includes birds, mammals, amphibians, fish, reptiles, crustaceans, slugs, snails and mussels. According to this State Code, anyone wishing to possess, transport or import live restricted animals, as defined in this code, must have a permit to do so, issued by the California Department of Fish and Game.”

Remebering all these things when traveling or moving to California with your pets will help to ensure a smooth transition into The Golden State.

Tear Stains on White Dogs and Dog Food Refusal

Posted on: May 24th, 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 Jennifer. “Any recommendations to help clear up tear stains?” Tear staining is really common in the small, white breed dogs. More of the tears actually spill out from the eyes and cause a rust-colored stain on their white fur. Using a product that’s meant for tear staining can be effective, something like Angel Eyes, which has an antibiotic in it. It’s a mild antibiotic call Tylosin that can be used somewhat long-term and sometimes provides some relief from this.

If you’re really careful you can use a really small toothbrush and actually brush the hair. Protecting the fur from the tears would be another thing you can try. If you spray a little hairspray on that toothbrush and then use that to coat the hair, sometimes that can help. Obviously, be sure to avoid getting any products in your pet’s eyes.

There is an old wives’ tales of using parsley. You could try it. It might not work but it certainly isn’t going hurt. You want to use either dried or fresh parsley, probably about a half-teaspoon or so, sprinkled on the food. Some people say that works really well.

The next question comes from Pam, who says, “I have a very spoiled 1½-year-old Border Collie/Lab mix that was diagnosed with a knee problem which resolved, but the anti-inflammatory medications messed up her appetite. I made her human meals using hamburger and grilled chicken to get her to eat and now she refuses her dog food. I’ve tried several different kinds, wet and dry. Any suggestions?”

This is really common. Dogs are smart, especially Border Collie-type dogs. These guys are really smart and they know that if they refuse their dog food, eventually you’re going to cave in and give them people food. What I would I have you do is get your resolve together. She’s not going to starve herself. I would put her dog food down and if she doesn’t eat, pick it up and feed it to her for dinner. I would do this for at least 48 hours. If she doesn’t eat anything in 48 hours, you might contact your veterinarian about what to do next and to make sure that there isn’t something else going on with her medication that’s causing a serious problem. Most dogs will eat when they’re hungry.