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Purebred Dog Cancer

Posted on: January 5th, 2011 by

A Golden Retriever, who is prone to purebred cancer, would benefit from pet insurance.

Dr. Fiona is a guest veterinarian blogger for the highly rated pet insurance provider, Pets Best.

Cancer is epidemic in the human population, with millions of dollars set aside annually for research to help treatment and diagnostic efforts. Most people have been touched by this disease in some way, either themselves, or by a loved one. But did you know that the cancer rate in dogs is similar to that of people?

One in three dogs will contract cancer in their lifetimes. This statistic cites the overall dog population, the statistic for cancer in pure bred dogs is even higher.

Uncovering this genetic predisposition towards cancer has the promise of providing a tool for researchers to better understand how genes affect cancer rates. The canine genome has already been decoded; scientists are hopeful that learning how traits in purebred dogs relate to cancer can help aid the diagnosis and treatment of human cancers.

In breeds most susceptible to cancer, this rate of cancer is generally found across most lines and pedigrees. This indicates that the genes that code for cancer were present in the earliest start of that breed’s creation. Most purebreds are essentially inbred, thus their genes are concentrated over time. Specific desirable characteristics are bred for again and again, perfecting the breed.

Golden Retrievers are a great example of a cancer prone breed with a very specific genealogical lineage. A Scottish Land Baron in the 1860’s crossed a yellow flat coated retriever with a water spaniel in the 1860’s to create the Golden Retriever. The breed was recognized by the UK’s Kennel Club in 1911, and ALL purebred goldens are theoretically descended from this line.

There are some undesirable genetic or inherited problems in dogs that have been successfully reduced by careful breeding. For example, early detection of orthopedic issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia, and certain eye abnormalities have helped breeders deselect these dogs. Cancer is a difficult disease to deselect for, because most dogs obtain cancer after their most reproductive years and have may already birthed many litters prior to becoming ill, thus inadvertently passing these genes onto their offspring.

While in general pure breeds are most prone to cancer, some breeds are even more susceptible than others. Some studies indicate that about 60% of Golden Retrievers, for example, will die from some type of cancer. Other susceptible breeds include the Boxer, Rottweiler and Bernese Mountain Dog. Breeds with some of the lowest risks of cancer include the Beagle, Miniature and Standard Poodle, Collie and Dachshund.

The most common dogs cancer include osteosarcoma; a bone cancer, lymphoma; a disease of white blood cells, mast cell tumors; a cancer that generally manifests as a tumor on the skin and hemangiosarcoma; a cancer of blood vessels. There are many new promising treatments in the field of veterinary oncology, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Some cancers can be managed giving pets additional months or even years of time.

There are some things you can do to help keep your dog healthy. Experts generally agree that mixed breed dogs, while not exempt from cancer, live about 10% longer than there purebred counterparts. Adopting a mixed breed dog can be one way of lessening your pet’s chance of developing cancer. In addition, keeping your pet fit and lean is very important. Obesity has been linked as a predisposition to a whole slew of health problems in dogs, including some cancers. It’s also a good idea to bring your pet in to your veterinarian for annual wellness and routine care exams. Some dog insurance companies, like Pets Best Insurance, will even help to pay for a portion of wellness care if the optional Wellness plan has been added to the policy.

The field of veterinary oncology and genealogy is in a position to prove of great value, not only for the benefit of companion animals, but for human cancer studies as well. Learning to better treat, prevent cancer and extend the lifespan of our canine counterparts has the exciting possibility of translating into better human medicine as well.

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How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Posted on: January 5th, 2011 by

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. I’d like to talk to you today about the importance of dental health and the proper way to brush your dog’s teeth.

Did you know that infected teeth can not only be painful, but a source of bacterial infection for the rest of the body? Bacteria can actually gain access to the bloodstream and travel to the liver or even the valves of the heart.

Keeping your dog’s mouth healthy is an important job of their overall health. Brushing the teeth might be a two-person job; someone to hold or comfort the dog while the other person uses the toothbrush. You’ll want to use a toothbrush that has a small head, or if you have a larger dog, an old toothbrush of yours should be fine. Be sure to use a special canine-formulated dog toothpaste as fluoride can be toxic to dogs.

You’ll want to aim the toothbrush along the top of the gum line and try not to neglect the molars and using a gentle motion on both sides. What that will do is help eliminate plaque which turns into tartar.

Brushing your dog’s teeth can be a challenge, but if you start young as puppies, typically they’ll get used to it, especially if you make it fun. Try shorter periods of time more frequently. The average dog should probably have their teeth brushed every day and we understand that most people don’t have the time to do that, but if you could go for at least once a week or even once a month, it’s better than nothing at all.

If you’ve got concerns about your dog’s breath or you’re seeing changes along the gum or with the teeth, contact your veterinarian. I’m Dr. Caldwell, and that’s how you brush teeth.

Winter dangers for indoor cats

Posted on: January 4th, 2011 by

A cat with pet insurance licks her dry winter coat.
Posted by: H.R.
For Pets Best Insurance

Winter is a time for curling up by the fire with your cat in your lap. While you are enjoying relaxing with your cat, make sure you keep up with your cat’s health care needs, as the winter months can cause added stress for your cat.

There are several inside dangers for your cat during the winter months. Be careful when using space heaters or fireplaces, as cats are curious and can easily get burned if they get too close or rub up against them.

In addition to cats being injured by space heaters, there is an increase in the chance of a cat accidentally knocking them over. A house fire can easily be started if a heater is not equipped with an automatic shutoff when knocked over.

The winter can also bring on extremely dry skin for cats. You can brush your cat daily to help stimulate the natural oils of their skin, which will help reduce the severity of the dryness.

The winter also poses an increased risk for cats getting lost. Cats can lose their sense of direction when the ground becomes covered in snow.

Make sure your cat is happy and healthy this winter by making sure they are covered by pet health insurance. Give Pets Best a call at 866-440-2020 or visit them at to get more information on the best pet insurance for your cat or dog.

Pet health dangers of antifreeze

Posted on: January 4th, 2011 by

A dog that ingested antifreeze is cared for by a vet.

Antifreeze is a sweet smelling chemical that is used to keep a car’s engine from becoming overheated in the summer and freezing in the winter.

The sweet smell attracts dogs and cats and causes them to ingest it.

According to Dr. Justine Lee, associate director of Pet Poison Helpline, “The most important thing to know about antifreeze is you have a really narrow window for treatment.” Dogs must get the antidote within 8 hours of ingestion, while cats must get the antidote within 3 hours.

If the pet receives treatment in time, the recovery prognosis is excellent. The treatment consists of a hospital stay of several days. For a medium sized dog, treatment can easily cost a few thousand dollars. This is one of the many reasons pet owners should have their pets covered by pet health insurance. Not only do companies like Pets Best Insurance offer affordable premiums, but having pet insurance provides owners peace of mind.

Antifreeze poisonings have two stages of symptoms:

• After ingestion, the pet will appear to be drunk with signs including lethargy, uncoordination, staggering, or disorientation. These symptoms will occur approximately 30 minutes to one hour after ingestion and can last for several hours.

• After the initial symptoms subside, the pet may then seem to be better. Symptoms that occur in the second stage can include vomiting and oral and gastric ulcers. During this stage, crystals begin to form in the kidneys. If left untreated, pets will go into kidney failure which will eventually cause death.

Anytime your pet is behaving abnormally or showing signs of pet illnesses, they should be examined by your veterinarian.

Book review: Cat Training in 10 Minutes

Posted on: January 3rd, 2011 by

A small cat plays with string.

Posted by: H.R.
For Pets Best Insurance

With over 22 years experience in animal training field, Miriam Fields-Babineau has finally written a book for cat owners. Cat Training In 10 Minutes is an easy guide to help train your cat to perform simple tricks. The book uses operant conditioning as its cat training method. The cat is trained by the use of a clicker followed by a reward when the desired action is performed. Verbal commands and hand signals are used in conjunction with the clicker training.

Each trick has simple instructions on how to teach your cat. In addition, color photos accompany each trick.
The book is organized into chapters with each being dedicated to a specific command or behavior. The chapters begin with easy tricks and advance to more difficult tricks in later chapters.

The bonus chapters at the end of the book discuss correcting cat behavior problems and movie cat trainers.
The book also features cat training tips for real life scenarios listed in boxes on the sides of the pages. These tips make for some lighthearted reading. Another great feature of this book is the alphabetical index and various appendices.

The book is a fun read that can help you teach your cat some amazing tricks. Impress your friends and family by teaching your cat entertaining skills.