Top 5 Dog Travel Concerns

June Pets Best Newsletter – In this issue:
5 Reasons to Promote Pet Dental Health
For a Healthier, Happier Life … Every Pet Deserves Oxyfresh

It’s summer! Keep your dog safe and happy when you hit the road

For many of us summer is travel season; a time when the entire family finally has some precious time together for rest, relaxation and recreation. Of course, if you are a pet owner and lover like me, your dog is likely to be traveling with you. So don’t let poor planning for your dog’s travel turn your vacation into a disaster. Here are some pet travel basics to follow and pitfalls to avoid:

Top 5 Dog Travel Concerns

1. Anxiety: Dogs can be scaredy cats on the road

Some dogs get all excited at the prospect of a car ride. They jump eagerly into the car and watch happily out the window. Others are afraid. They have travel anxiety. These dogs must be dragged into the vehicle and they pant, tremble and stay crouched down for the entire trip. Different feeding times, a strange bed, long car rides, lots of commotion and unfamiliar faces can all be stressors for your pet that can have a wide range of side effects — from having an accident in the vehicle to getting aggressive. Consider a safe and natural supplement to calm your pet. Although supplements are not covered by your Pets Best policy, your small investment could help to make your dog more comfortable.

2. Dehydration: Quench thirst to avoid medical issues

Dehydration in dogs is common during warm weather, travel or any time your dog doesn’t have access to water for an extended period of time. Signs of dehydration range from excessive panting and dry mouth to loss of elasticity in the skin, sunken eyes and exhaustion. Dehydration can occur quickly as a lot of moisture is lost when pets pant from either anxiety or summer heat. Plenty of fresh cool water is essential to maintain proper hydration and organ function and avoid possible heat stroke. Pack water in a sealable container — and don’t forget the bowl.

3. Pet Odors: Never Pleasant on a Trip

If you have had problems with noxious pet odors in your vehicle, you know that getting rid of the odor is very difficult. Traveling in the close confines of an automobile exaggerates odors from pets. Dogs often find unpleasant things to roll in at parks and rest stops and a soiled crate quickly diminishes the air quality. And it’s not just the nasty odor. Pet feces and urine can pose a real health danger to you and your family. Be sure to pack deodorizers and cleaners to keep your pet and your family safe, clean and fresh.

4. Digestive upset: Calm his topsy-turvy tummy
Travel or motion sickness is caused by movement in different directions, particularly when the animal is sitting or standing still in a moving vehicle. It can also happen when there is a loss of visual contact with the outside horizon or due to pressure changes through elevation changes. These events may cause changes in the balance center of the inner ear, leading to fatigue, nausea, dizziness and even vomiting. Your dog is experiencing enough changes during travel season, so try not to alter his normal diet. And include healthy snacks to keep him energized and happy.

5. Emergencies: Be prepared for the unexpected
Medical problems and injuries can be even more difficult to deal with when you are on the road. Be sure to have a pet first aid kit, medical records, your veterinarian’s number and a pet poison control phone number with you at all times. Next, be sure every family member knows where these things are at and that they are readily accessible.

Small efforts in organizing and preparation can pay large dividends for both you and your pet during your next travel. Tips like ensuring access to an online vet locator can help make sure you are prepared for any pet emergencies. Plan ahead for pet-friendly locations and if one of your destinations does not allow pets be sure to have scouted out a nearby boarding facility you are comfortable with and make reservations well in advance.

Now that you are ready, get out and have fun!

-Article submitted by Boyd Harrell, DVM – Oxyfresh Pet Consultant

Too Many Homeless Pets: What Can We Do?

I found another stray dog today. He was wandering my neighborhood with no collar and no identification. He’s the third one this year! I usually walk them around the neighborhood, ask the neighbors if they look familiar, then take them to the local animal shelter. I hang “found dog” signs if I have time.

I hope that their owners will find them or they’ll get adopted; I’d keep them all if I could.

It made me wonder how many dogs and cats end up in US animal shelters or rescue shelters. Estimates vary a lot—there could be anywhere from 6 to 12 million every year, according to my research.

Many of these are lost or homeless pets, but there are also plenty who are surrendered by their owners. Why? Good question. A government study I read gave some of the major reasons:

  • 11% of cat owners say “There are too many pets in our home.”
  • 7% of dog owners and 8% of cat owners give up pets because they are moving
  • 8% of cats are relinquished because of allergies
  • 6% of both dog and cat owners say that their landlord won’t allow the pet
  • For 5% of dogs and 6% of cats, owners say it costs too much to care for them

The study went on to say that 25% of the dogs are eventually adopted and 16% are reunited with their families. Almost all of the rest are killed. Adoption statistics are almost the same for cats, but nearly 71% end up getting euthanized.

Want to help this sad situation? Here are a few things to think about:

  • If your pet is lost, check your local shelters right away.
  • Make sure your pet always wears a collar with current identification.
  • Thinking of getting a new dog or cat? Save a life–consider pet adoption first!
  • No room for a new pet? You can help by donating your money or time to a local shelter. They might also appreciate old towels, blankets, pet food, cat litter, etc. Call them and ask what they need.
  • Make sure all your pets are spayed or neutered. There are too many cats and dogs as it is, and too many wasted lives.

Cats: More Popular But Less Insured?

Did you know that cats are the most popular pets in the nation? It’s true. The estimated number of pet dogs in the US is only around 75 million, while the number of pet cats is closer to 90 million!

Clearly, Americans love their cats. So it’s hard to explain the reason why, when it comes to pet health insurance, we have adopted an attitude that says our canine companions need more care than our feline friends. For one example, the pet health insurance policies that US pet owners purchase for their dogs vastly outnumber those for cats.

There are several reasons for this, like the fact that owners of indoor cats think their pets are not at risk for disease or injury. Also, cats tend to hide their illness symptoms more than dogs do, and are generally more independent. These traits can lead owners to think they don’t need the level of care that a dog does.

Whether you are planning adoption of a new cat or already own several, there are plenty of reasons to consider pet insurance for your cats:

  • Cats are at risk for serious diseases such as hyperthyroidism, kidney and heart failure, diabetes and cancer
  • Cats typically live longer than dogs, so old-age health issues are common
  • In general, health insurance for cats costs less than for dogs
  • If you already have other pets insured through Pets Best, the Multiple Pet Discount could save you even more
  • Pet owners with pet health insurance are more likely to take their pets to the vet for routine care, meaning better prevention and early detection of health issues
  • If your cat contracts cancer or some other serious disease down the road, a current insurance policy could mean the difference between holding on to a beloved friend or saying goodbye forever

By insuring and caring for our cats the way we do our dogs, we can give them longer, better quality lives. It’s a great way to tell them you love them!

Warning: Top 10 Winter Dangers for Pets

Posted by Pets Best on 6/9/2009 in Articles from Newsletters

With winter well underway, you’ve probably spent time and energy to winterize your house and your car. But have you thought about winterizing for your pet?

Severely cold weather brings threats to pet health and safety, and many of these might shock or surprise you. Here we have listed some of the most serious threats and what you can do to avoid them:

Killer Wind Chill – Dogs who spend plenty of time outdoors, even if protected by a doghouse, run a risk of death due to the cold. The doorway of your dog’s house should be faced away from the wind or covered. Also, the house should be well-insulated and just big enough for them to stand up, turn around, and lie down inside comfortably. A doghouse that is too big won’t contain your dog’s body heat and stay warm. For multiple dogs, consider a house large enough to let them cuddle together.

Undernourishment/Dehydration – In cold weather, keeping warm requires a lot of energy. If your dog or cat spends a lot of time outside, you’ll want to increase their supply of food, particularly protein, to keep them—and their fur—in tip-top shape. Also, outdoor pets may become dangerously dehydrated if their water freezes solid. A good heated water bowl prevents this problem.

Severely Dry Skin – The air in most houses becomes dry during the colder months, depleting moisture from dog skin and fur. A dog whose skin is dry and itchy may habitually scratch or bite at their skin, possibly creating sores or “hotspots.” To improve skin, coat and circulation, brush your dog vigorously and regularly. Dogs with dry skin may benefit from fatty acid supplements during the winter. Also, pet shampoos formulated with oatmeal can help soothe dry skin.

Catastrophic Car Trouble – Outdoor cats are often drawn to the warmth of a parked car’s engine, and may cuddle up beneath the car or inside the engine compartment. They run the risk of serious injury or death if the engine is started, so knock on the hood of your car or honk the horn to warn cats away before you turn the key.

Chemical Poisoning – Antifreeze that leaks or spills from your car’s radiator can kill dogs and cats alike. They are attracted by the sweet taste of the antifreeze, which almost always results in death of the pet unless treated immediately. Keep antifreeze containers sealed tight and out of reach, and clean spills immediately. Consider using antifreeze that is free of ethylene glycol, the component that makes antifreeze both sweet and toxic.

Chemicals and salts that are used to melt winter ice on sidewalks and roads can also be poisonous. Dogs and cats can pick them up on the pads of their feet during a walk; afterward, licking their paws could cause stomach upset or illness. It’s best to rinse the pet’s paws with lukewarm water as soon as possible after each outing.

Tongue Injuries – In freezing temperatures, metal bowls and buckets pose a threat. Pets’ tongues can stick to the cold metal, and animals can injure themselves trying to pull away. For safety’s sake, switch to plastic or ceramic-type pet bowls when it’s below 32 degrees outside.

Frostbite Injuries – Even short-term exposure to temperatures below zero can lead to frostbite of the feet, nose or ears. In these areas the skin might appear red, gray or whitish and could peel. Prevent frostbite by removing ice and snow from paws and fur right away. Balls of ice can form in the areas between the toes and toe-pads; you may want to clip the fur between toe pads to reduce the amount of snow that collects there.

Hypothermia Alert – Dogs and cats who lack thick fur coats and have low body fat reserves are generally not suited for cold temperatures. Pets who are old or who have been ill can also be sensitive to winter weather. When it’s frigid outside, it is especially important to keep them indoors or to provide a warm shelter outside the house. Consider dressing Fido in a warm dog sweater or jacket whenever you go for a walk.

Fire Danger – Portable space heaters may be handy, but in homes with active dogs and cats they could be deadly. Every year, numerous house fires start with space heaters knocked over by pets. If you choose to use one, make sure it is the type that will shut off automatically when it is tipped.

Lost Dogs – More dogs are reported lost during the winter than any other season, as canines often lose track of scent trails in the snow and can become disoriented. Dogs may also panic during snow storms and run away. When outside a fenced yard, dogs should always be kept on leash and should wear current identification tags.

Tips for a Newly Adopted Kitten

Kitten-proof accessible rooms. Remove anything that can be knocked over, broken or ingested.

Do not use your hands to play box with the kitten. This gives action gives the wrong message to cats that biting and scratching at the human hand is acceptable behavior.

Initiate object-oriented play. For example, use a feather on a pole. Play mouse by pulling a small toy mouse across the room in short jerky movements. Drag a string across the room.Use a laser pointer to play catch the bug.

Let the kitten choose their favorite game and win about every five minutes by using the toy to lead to a treat.

Begin “gentling process” as early as possible. Use affection and object play in addition to lots of treats as reward for good behavior.

Submitted by Dr. Rolan Tripp of the Animal Behavior Network. Visit for more information.

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