Pet Insurance Blog – Pets Best Insurance
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Snake Bite Vaccinations and Sunscreen for Dogs

Posted on: May 17th, 2011 by

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

The first question comes from Lee, who asks, “I heard recently about a local vaccine clinic holding a snake vaccination clinic for dogs. What’s this about? I’ve never heard of it. Is it new?”

This is a great question. The vaccine that you are referring to is the rattlesnake vaccine. The way that this vaccine works is it helps keep your dog safe if it were bitten by a rattlesnake. If you live in an area or have the type of lifestyle where you may come in contact with a rattlesnake while you’re hiking or that type of thing, it’s a good idea to think about this vaccine.

It’s given yearly. After the initial dose it has to be given a month later. It is not a substitute for veterinary care if your dog was bitten by a rattlesnake and has had this vaccine. You still need to seek treatment. It just helps them to ensure that they would get better from a rattlesnake bite.

The next question has to do with sunscreen. It comes from Jasmine and the question is, “Is it safe to use sunscreen in the summertime on my dog?”

This is a great question. Dogs with fair skin or with white hair can absolutely get sunburned, just like people can. They can even get skin cancer, just like people can. Sunscreen is safe. You’d probably want to use one that is meant for children or is a more gentle formula. Sprays are really nice, rather than the lotion which can kind of gum up the hair a little bit. Be sure to avoid getting it in the eyes. You want to apply it just like you would for yourself before you go out into the sun.

Keeping pets healthy

Posted on: May 16th, 2011 by

A dog with pet insurance selects healthy foods.

Pets are wonderful companions and considered members of the family. As a responsible pet owner, your job goes beyond feeding, sheltering and ensuring they have pet health insurance. Your pet relies on you to make good decisions as a key component of good pet health care.

Proper Feeding
Your vet can advise you about proper nutrition for your pet, but other resources and your own common sense can guide you, too. Feeding human food to pets is not a good idea. Their digestive systems are not made to deal with our diet. Certain foods like chocolate are toxic to pets, so being diligent about what goes in your pet’s mouth is extremely critical for their safety. Having pet health insurance is also a good idea, in case of accidental ingestion.

Pets also have different water consumption needs than we do. Make sure your pet has clean, fresh water several times daily if necessary. This is especially important if your dog or cat will be outside for any length of time.

Proper Handling
It should be a no-brainer that dogs need to be leashed at all times when outside on walks unless they have access to a fenced dog park. An unleashed dog can disappear in an instant if an interesting distraction, like a squirrel, runs by.

Statistics tell us that cats that have outdoor access have a high rate of injury and death. It’s a myth that cats need to go outside to hunt for food. If properly fed, there is no nutritional value to hunting.

Be Prepared
Regular vet care is important for healthy pets. But vet healthcare costs can be hard on pet owners’ budgets. Considering a pet health insurance plan can help defray some of those costs.

Is your dog in pain?

Posted on: May 16th, 2011 by

A Poodle with pet insurance relaxes on a blanket.

Posted by: H.M.
For Pets Best Insurance

When dogs go gray around the muzzle and start slowing down, it’s easy to brush off a lot of things and attribute them to the aging process. But did you ever stop to wonder whether these senior dogs are uncomfortable, or even feeling pain? I’m sure no one wants to think, especially after providing top-notch dog health care his entire life, that he might be in pain every day.

One of the great things about dog health insurance is that pet owners who have it are more likely to take their dog in for annual or bi-annual check-ups.

These owners know that almost anything that is found will be covered, which makes each visit less intimidating. And the wonderful thing about these vet visits is that tests and x-rays can tell us things about pet health that our dogs can’t.

Arthritis is often spotted in x-rays. When the vet tells you your dog is likely in pain due aching joints, hip dysplasia, or a fused spine, then you might realize why he’s been climbing the stairs less often or has been reluctant to go outside in the morning. Your vet might prescribe a pain killer like Rimadyl®, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) made specifically for dogs.

According to the Rimadyl® website, one in five dogs are diagnosed with arthritis, and there is no cure outside of joint replacement. A dog that is suffering from arthritis will be less active and could gain weight, either of which may only worsen arthritis.

When common ailments like arthritis keep your dog from living comfortably and happily, the best pet insurance can help you pay for medications that could make a big difference.

The Chihuahua

Posted on: May 13th, 2011 by

A Chihuahua with pet insurance licks food.

A great companion dog, the Chihuahua breed is not without some challenges – one being a number of pet health issues. If you consider this breed, researching and purchasing pet insurance is a good idea.

We often see celebrities carrying Chihuahuas around as if they were fashion accessories. This has likely contributed to the breed’s current popularity, but hasn’t been the best PR for this small, sweet-tempered dog.

In the toy class, the Chihuahua is tiny with a rounded head, short muzzle and large round eyes. Their ears are large and look almost disproportionate to the head. Their coats are short or longer and wavy. The coat colors include white, fawn, silver, chestnut, sand, sable, steel blue, black, black and tan and parti-color.

They are great companion dogs who enjoy affection. They are also very lively and adventurous. This breed ranges in height from 6 to 9 inches and 2 to 6 pounds in weight.

For such a little dog, the Chihuahua can be very strong-willed without the proper pack leadership from his owner. But they are intelligent, quick learners who respond to training. They are very loyal and attached to their owners. Wary of strangers, they will remain close to their owner.

The breed is not recommended for children, especially if the dog has assumed a dominant role. Many of the issues with this breed’s temperament are a direct result of people treating them like babies. Because of this “cute, little dog” approach, their bad behavior will often not be addressed by the owner.

Chihuahuas tend to not be walked as often because they are seen as so active. But they need exercise just like larger dogs and walks also provide socialization and mental stimulation. If not getting sufficient exercise, they tend to be snappy, yappy and untrustworthy around kids and adults they don’t know.

Pet Health Issues
Chihuahuas are prone to rheumatism, colds, gum problems, and eye issues due to their protruding eyes. Because they are so small, toxic products that are ingested are even more dangerous. This breed can gain weight very easily. Having pet health insurance if you have this breed may come in handy. The Chihuahua is also very susceptible to stress, especially when owners treat them like babies. The dog needs to know that the pack leader is in charge.

Avoid perpetuating the stereotype if you are considering this breed. Don’t get a Chihuahua because you want a cute, tiny, “baby” dog. Choose them because they are wonderful, loyal companions, and be sure to investigate pet insurance as well.

Puppy “Pre-School”

Posted on: May 12th, 2011 by

A puppy with pet insurance chews a toy.

Posted by: H.M.
For Pets Best Insurance

While newborn puppies don’t typically start out with behavioral problems, it’s an unfortunate reality that many pets are abandoned or euthanized because of their behavior. But research in the field of veterinary behavioral medicine has assisted pet owners and their dogs with problematic behaviors.

Behavioral Medicine
Because of these advances in animal behavioral science and with early intervention, dogs and cats are now being helped. Often, biology causes certain actions, but other times, it’s a neurological or psychological issue. Some vet hospitals even offer special clinics for puppies, dogs, cats, and kittens. And some pet insurance companies, like Pets Best Insurance, offer limited coverage for behavioral issues.

Some behaviors that are addressed include:

• Phobias
• Separation anxiety
• Improper elimination
• Aggression towards humans and/or other pets
• Compulsive behaviors

Behavioral intervention programs differ from taking your pet to obedience school. Those programs are great for socialization and teaching owners and puppies basic training. Most true specialty behavioral clinics are run by veterinary hospitals, a vet specialist in behavioral science or a skilled animal behavioralist.

The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Medical Center has such a program that includes “problem prevention consultations” with pet owners. The program includes detailed interviews with owners, and evaluations of results are used to create a pet health treatment plan. These programs work with puppies, kittens, dogs, and cats, but also focus on newly rescued animals.

“Head Start”
OSU’s program includes a “Head Start” consultation, which is an early intervention by the behaviorist. This type of consult is not meant to treat behavioral problems, but is focused on “problem prevention.” Topics like socialization, normal canine and feline development, and crate training are addressed.

Check with your vet to see if these kinds of programs are offered in your area. Good pet health care starts with you!