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Keeping cats healthy

Posted on: February 22nd, 2011 by

A cat with cat insurance eats a snack.

Keeping your cat healthy can help them live a longer, healthier life, and there are several things you should consider to keep your cat healthy.

While cat insurance can help you provide the best veterinary care for your cat, Al Townshend, DVM, of Wellpet, offers several tips to keep your cat healthy at home.

First, focus on your cat’s nutrition. It is important that your cat eats a quality cat food that includes ingredients like probiotics and Omega fatty acids. These ingredients will give your cat a shiny coat and increased energy.

You should also ensure that your cat is adequately exercised. Feline obesity is one of the top pet health concerns when it comes to cats. Obesity can lead to diabetes, hip and joint problems, and heart issues.

Many people don’t realize that cats need to be socialized. Your cat should be socialized from the time they are a kitten. Socialize your kitten as much as possible—pick him up, hold him, pet him, and introduce him to new people. Socialization will allow your cat to be a part of the family.

It is important to ensure that your cat is in a safe environment. Avoid using chemicals around your cat because they are more sensitive to the ingredients found in these types of products. Air fresheners and cleaners can also lead to asthma. Keeping your cat’s environment as safe as possible can help eliminate unnecessary pet illnesses and injuries.

Cancer in dogs, common but treatable

Posted on: February 21st, 2011 by

A dog with pet insurance sits outside.

February is Responsible Pet Owners Month, and dog owners should be aware of the cost savings pet insurance provides in the event of a common dog ailment.

Lymphoma is the most common cancer in dogs, according to “When the Diagnosis is Canine Cancer,” a January, 2011 article in the Times Herald-Record of Middleton, NY.

The article reports that Canine Lymphoma can affect just one organ, or spread throughout the body, just like human cancer. Most commonly, it attacks the lymph nodes. Other common areas affected are the liver, spleen, and gastrointestinal tract. The cause of the disease is not known, but the treatment includes expensive chemotherapy. Because of the high rate of this cancer, pet insurance is recommended to help pay for both wellness exams to catch potential cancer early, and to help pay for treatment.

At the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, chemotherapy for dogs involves a 25-week course that costs $180 per week on average. Chemotherapy is the most effective treatment for Canine Lymphoma; remission occurs in 70%-90% of dogs treated, and some dogs are cured completely. Golden Retrievers are at the highest risk of developing Lymphoma, and other dogs in the high-risk pool include Beagles, Boxers, and Rottweilers. However, any dog can develop this common cancer.

Dog owners concerned about treatment costs can ease their fears with pet insurance comparison. By researching pet insurance online, responsible pet owners can find the best plan for their budget, their dog’s breed, and health risks.

Dental disease in pets

Posted on: February 18th, 2011 by

A dog with pet health insurance waits for a dental check up.

“Gum disease is the most common disease affecting dogs and cats, according to the Veterinary Oral Health Council.”

This dog and cat dental health fact was published by the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in a November, 2010 article titled, “Brush Up on Preventing the Most Common Disease in Dogs and Cats.”

According to the article, bad breath, gingivitis, and periodontal disease can cause pet health problems in the rest of the body when bacteria travels through the blood stream.

Symptoms, if there are any, could include loss of appetite, dropping food while eating, bleeding gums, and loose teeth. Any of these symptoms presented by a dog or cat should result in a veterinary exam.

Many pet insurance companies include cat and dog dental insurance in their plan options. This coverage can help pet owners pay for routine dental cleanings performed by veterinarians.

During February, Pet Dental Health Month, pet owners can help their pets’ overall health by taking them in for a dental exam and teeth cleaning. Owners should also begin an oral care routine at home.

This might include daily or weekly tooth brushings with pet-formulated toothpaste, the use of water additives, and introducing tartar control treats. While gum disease might be the most common disease for dogs and cats, it is also one of the most preventable.

Service Dogs

Posted on: February 18th, 2011 by

A service dog waits for a command.
By: Dr. Fiona Caldwell
For Pets Best Insurance

I met an inspirational canine the other day named Maggie*, a 14 year old german shepherd. She came to me unable to walk due to a degenerative nerve disease common in older German Shepherd dogs and couldn’t use her back legs. She also had a serious heart problem called A-V block, where her atria (the top chambers of the heart) don’t communicate with her ventricles (the bottom chambers of the heart), causing a dangerously low heart rate.

The owner knew Maggie’s days were numbered, but was having a hard time letting her go. Maggie was a highly trained search and rescue dog, and a cadaver dog, meaning she visited scenes of crimes helping people to locate missing bodies. She was top notch in her day and was even sent to New York on 9/11 to assist rescue crews. She had retired a number of years ago, and her owner considered her family.

Search and rescue dogs aren’t the only time of ‘working’ dogs out there. A ‘working dog’ refers to a dog that isn’t just a companion, but also performs some other job. One well known example includes dogs trained to become guide dogs for the visually impaired. Service dogs can actually help with a variety of human handicaps in addition to the blind. Service dogs also assist hearing impaired people, people with mobility limitations by opening doors or bringing objects, and can even be trained to detect seizures in people, warning them before the seizures occurs. This allows the person to take precautions, such as sitting down, prior to seizuring.

Dogs have been given jobs for hundreds of years, as long as they have been domesticated. Herding dogs are still invaluable to sheep and cattle handlers around the world. Modern herding dogs help control cattle and wild geese in parks or goats used for weed control. A well trained herding dog can learn to control many domestic and wild animals alike. Turnspit dogs were used as a source of power; they turned a treadmill connected to a roasting spit, or could help with other household duties, such as churning butter.

Another type of ‘working dog’ are the many trained therapy dogs that visit incapacitated people, either in hospitals, retirement homes or other facilities with limited freedoms. These dogs bring joy and entertainment to people, bring a smile to their faces. There are prison programs for inmates that pair an inmate with a shelter dog to be trained and eventually adopted out. This gives inmates a sense of purpose and responsibility, as well as companionship. This program also helps with overcrowding in humane societies and helps rehabilitate dogs that might otherwise be unadoptable.

Often the trainer or handler that works with these highly trained dogs becomes extremely attached. The bond between service dog and its owner is usually deep. Even after the dog is ‘retired’ from their job, they continue to provide love and joy. Maggie hadn’t worked for years, but her owner was just as committed to her as when she was highly sought after for her services. Maybe she felt that now was her time to give back to Maggie, who had given so much when she was younger. By helping Maggie through this time she was able to say thank you for all she had done for others earlier in life.

If you are interested in becoming a service dog trainer, or want to learn more information, visit Canine Companions for Independence or Canine Assistants on the web.

*Names have been changed

Human Glucosamine for Dogs and TPLO Failure

Posted on: February 15th, 2011 by

Hello, my name is Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. Today I want to answer some Facebook questions at home for you

The first question I have is, “Can I give my dog human glucosamine?” This is a great question. Glucosamine is a supplement that’s meant to help with arthritis conditions in dogs. The dog-formulated and people-formulated glucosamines are basically the same, so the answer is yes, you can, but it’s important that you contact your veterinarian to know what dose is appropriate for your dog before you just purchase it over-the-counter.

The next question is, “Can a TPLO fail after the bone has healed?” A TPLO is a specific type of surgery that’s meant to correct a cruciate tear in a dog’s knee, just like an ACL tear in a person.

TPLOs typically have a pretty good success rate. After the bone is healed, there’s probably less incidence of failure versus when the bone is actually healing and the dog is a little bit more vulnerable at that time. But if your dog is acting differently after the surgery or starting to favor the leg, it could be a cause for concern and you should contact your veterinarian.

If you have a question for me, head to the Pets Best Facebook page and post your questions there.