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Cat Peeing Where it Shouldn’t; Dog hiccups

Posted on: March 3rd, 2011 by

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

The first question comes from Chrissy. She asks, “My 14-year-old female cat suddenly started peeing on the bathmat and anything in the bathroom about three months ago. She sometimes pees on the puppy’s rest blankie and potty grass. Is this behavioral or medical? It’s not constant; she uses her litter box, too.”

This is a great question and one of the probably more frustrating things about owning cats. I do think it’s important for you to make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out a medical cause for her inappropriate urination, such as a urinary tract infection or even something more serious, like stones.

Once that’s been ruled out, then you’ve got a behavioral issue. It sounds like you’ve got a new baby in the house. That could possibly be a trigger for her inappropriate urination. Your veterinarian might suggest feline pheromones. Cats are actually really quite sensitive to pheromones and they have a calming effect. It sounds kind of hokey but some people swear that they work really pretty well.

Make sure you’ve got litter boxes in more than one area of the house so that she doesn’t feel like she doesn’t have a place to go. Make sure there’s privacy. Sometimes cats are finicky about the location or even the type of litter. Make sure you haven’t changed the type of litter or suddenly gone from an open litter box to a covered litter box. These are all little things that can sometimes make cats not want to use their box as much.

The next question comes from Emily and she asks, “My 1½-year-old male neutered Shih Tzu get hiccups a couple times a day ever since he was a puppy. What causes this and is there anything I can do to eliminate these hiccup spells for him?”

I love this question. It’s a great question. Puppies do get a lot of hiccups. Hiccups are from irritation to the phrenic nerve, which is the nerve that innervates the diaphragm. No one really knows exactly what it is about puppies that makes them have this irritation, but most outgrow it, usually by about 18 months of age, which is right about where you’re at with your Shih Tzu.

I would venture to say in the next couple of months you’ll probably be seeing less and less hiccups. There’s probably not much you can do to help shorten the duration of the hiccups, but know that they’re not harmful to him and they’re not painful, and they will go away.

Pets Best Insurance tips for cabin fever

Posted on: March 3rd, 2011 by

Two dogs with pet insurance wait for warm weather inside.

By: Chryssa Rich
For Pets Best Insurance

While the weather slowly warms, many pet owners find themselves with some pretty serious cabin fever this time of year. Even though the ground has started to thaw, the sun is still setting early and trails and backyards can still be muddy. What’s a dog owner to do? Pets Best Insurance has a few ideas to tide you and your pet over until spring.

Hide and Seek with Kibbles
When space is too limited for physical exercise, opt for cognitive exercise instead. Feed your pup his dinner in a food-dispensing toy, or put half in his dish and use the other half for games, like catch or hide-and-seek. Put your dog in another room while you hide kibbles around the living room, then let him out to hunt. Bonus: he’ll be busy hunting for more long after the last one has been eaten.

It’s important to reserve some of your dog’s normal food portion for games (instead of giving an extra serving), because pet health can be compromised by weight gain.

Teach New Tricks
Teaching your dog new tricks takes lots of time and patience – perfect for cold nights when you’re stuck in front of reality TV. If your dog has mastered the basic sit/stay/shake commands, opt for something more entertaining, like “high 5”, “dance” or “roll over”. Even if your dog doesn’t get it right away, you’ll both have fun practicing.

Training tip: To avoid confusing your dog, help her do the desired action and then say the command, followed by lots of praise or a treat. This is much more effective than saying “Roll over! Roll over!” while your dog stares at you.

Tug of War
From meat-flavored rubber toys to ropes and squeakers, find what your dog likes best and tug away. In order to avoid dental problems in dogs, however, be sure you don’t tug too hard. Provide just enough resistance to satisfy your dog without damaging any teeth. Some pet insurance companies, like Pets Best Insurance, provide coverage for accidents, just in case.

Make Room to Run
If Fido is bouncing off the walls and really needs to run, move couches, the coffee table or the kitchen table to create a larger space to play. It’s no dog park, but it’s safer and more fun than trying to navigate furniture while chasing a toy.

Daycares and Play Dates
Give your dog a vacation day by dropping her off at a doggie daycare for a few hours – some places even offer discount rates on their least popular days. Or, partner up with dog-owning friends and take turns hosting doggie play dates. Lots of energy can be burned wrestling and chasing.

Here are a few unique games shared by the Pets Best Insurance Facebook friends:

Ninja – If your dog likes to fake you out, this is perfect. Throw a toy and try to catch him as he runs back to you.

Blankie Monster – Throw a blanket over your dog and let her bite her way out.

Monkey in the Middle – Grab a kid, a ball and play keep-away (letting Spot win every once in a while, of course.)

Pet insurance and nutritious food, what kitty needs

Posted on: March 3rd, 2011 by

A cat with pet insurance eats a meal.

Pet owners across the country, make it obvious in online pet forums that they each have their own agenda when it comes to pet health care and pet health insurance.

They run from obvious, “Good food and annual vet checkups,” to cute, “I give them lots of love,” to impassioned. Many readers began to convey strong opinions on what pets should eat. Some feed kibble, some swear by raw, others feed vegan, and others serve homemade foods. And most feel very strongly about their cat insurance.

Let’s take a moment to understand the basic makeup of a cat. Felines are obligate carnivores, the strictest form of carnivore. According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, this means that cats “rely on nutrients in animal tissue to meet their specific nutritional requirements.” They need to consume high-protein diets and minimal carbohydrates to maintain proper pet health.

So, apart from vet checkups and cat insurance, the best way to ensure proper cat health is to feed them high protein food with the right amount of all the other nutrients cats need.

Ask ten vets what the best food is for your cat and you are likely to get a few different answers. It’s up to you to find a vet you can work with and whose recommendations you feel confident in.

One veterinarian, Dr. Greg Martinez, wrote an award-winning book called the Dog Dish Diet that he says generally applies to cats, too.

Although some people want to feed their pets what they eat themselves, it’s important for optimal cat health care to remember that cats come from a very different makeup than we do.

“Our ancestors evolved eating plants, fruit, and some meat,” writes Dr. Greg on his website. “Cats and dogs evolved from predators that ate high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets.”

Keep your pet safe from rabies

Posted on: March 2nd, 2011 by

A cat with pet insurance is held by his owner.

Sometimes, when the vet tells us why something is necessary for our cat, we secretly wonder if he’s just trying to scare us into allowing the treatment, test, or shot. That’s what I initially thought when my vet told me that my cat needed a Rabies vaccination. I was so happy I had pet insurance for my cat, because part of the cost was covered.

Many cats roam around their yard or neighborhood occasionally, and even indoor cats can accidentally escape. That’s why Rabies most commonly affects cats. The number of reported Rabies cases has dropped in recent decades thanks to laws in most states that require dogs and cats to be vaccinated. With low-cost vaccination clinics and cat insurance to assist with wellness and vaccination costs, there is no reason cats shouldn’t be vaccinated. Getting pet health insurance for my cat was the best thing I’ve ever done.

However, wildlife, human, and pet health depend on the continued implementation of Rabies vaccination laws. In January of 2011, two family cats from two separate homes in Bryan County, Georgia were euthanized due to Rabies. Neither cat was vaccinated. In Virginia, a cat and 18 other animals contracted Rabies in 2010.

Rabies is a viral infection transmitted by bites, cuts, and scratches. It then travels to the central nervous system and the brain. It is 100% fatal, and there is no treatment. Keeping Rabies at bay is not only important for pet health, but for humans as well. Bites and scratches, even those that appear minor or are caused by new born kittens, can introduce bacteria into the body that spreads and is difficult to kill. Any human bitten or scratched by an animal that could carry rabies will need a series of Rabies shots.

Dog breeds: Scottish Deerhounds

Posted on: March 2nd, 2011 by

Obie with a Mastiff and a Chihuahua.
By: Dr. Jack Stephens
Pets Best Insurance President and Founder

Working as a veterinarian and in the pet insurance industry has allowed me to interact with numerous different kinds of dog breeds. But one breed that stands out among the rest is the Scottish Deerhound.

Recently, a Scottish Deerhound named Hickory won the Westminster dog show. My wife immediately called to tell me– and I was expecting the call since we used to own a dog of the same breed named Obie. Obie was named after Oban the single malt scotch whiskey that we both enjoy on occasion.

We lost Obie last year to bone cancer after quite a fight. We have discussed getting another Scottish Deerhound ever since. Like his breed, Obie was a gentle giant. If you look at the photo of him, Duke and little Torrey you can see both the Scottish Deerhound and English Mastiff are intimidated by Torrey, the Chihuahua.

My wife and I love dogs, which is maybe why we have 10 and continue to foster shelters dogs, rescue them from dumpsters, find them on the street and even bring them back as souvenirs. (During one trip to Mexico we rescued a puppy and brought it to the States.)

Obie, the Scottish Deerhound.

Scottish Deerhounds are not for everyone. Although they are very gentle, they do need lots of space to run. They are truly a sight to behold when they take off, as they were actually bred to run. If you own a Scottish Deerhound, you do have to be careful if you have smaller dogs as well, because they can easily be stepped on by the larger dog. And if you have small dogs it is best if you obtain them as puppies so they are properly socialized.

We got Obie and Torrey at about the same time. Both were puppies and initially they played very well together. Obie would lie on his back and let Torrey climb on him and she would even dart between his jaws as he opened them while playing. This Giant and tiny but strong-willed Chihuahua were the best of friends, until one day Obie accidently stepped on her. Little Torrey let out a scream and came running to me. Obie ran off scared into another room. After about ½ hour he crept back into the room and stuck his nose around the couch to check on her. She immediately bit him on the nose and had nothing to do with him ever again.

For awhile he would try to get her engaged at play, but she would either ignore him or boss him around. Even years later, if Obie was laying by the fireplace in winter and Torrey wanted that particular spot she would run him off! Scottish Deerhounds are wonderful dogs if you have the space and time—although Obie had lots of medical problems—more so than any dog we have ever owned.

Obie the Scottish Deerhound sits with Ashley.

Obie had all kinds of health issues. He had three Gastric Torsions, common for large deep chested dogs. Despite having surgery to tack down the stomach from his first Torsion, he had two more emergency surgeries. He had cuts, stomach ailments, torn nails and finally bone cancer.

Thankfully we had pet health insurance on him, which made a huge difference for us financially. Scottish Deerhounds are not just gentle, but love companionship and want to be in the house with everyone else. They don’t like being left in the yard or dog house, they want to be part of the family! It was great to see one finally win Westminster.