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Top 12 ways to celebrate National Puppy Day!

Posted on: March 23rd, 2012 by

A puppy with pet insurance plays tug of war.
By: Dr. Fiona Caldwell
Idaho Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance

Animal lovers and pet health insurance enthusiasts everywhere can celebrate March 23rd, which is the sixth annual National Puppy Day, by adopting one of the many homeless puppies currently at your local animal shelter! This unofficial national holiday is designed to encourage us to consider adopting from shelters, rather than buying from pet stores or puppy mills.

If you’re not in the market for a new dog, or if you already have a canine family member, there are still plenty of ways you can help honor this holiday.

Here are 12 ways you can celebrate National Puppy Day:
1. Visit your local animal shelter and consider opening your home to an animal in need.

2. Volunteer at the local shelter, helping with paperwork, walking or grooming the animals, or helping with cleaning the kennels and runs.

3. Make a donation to the animal shelter in your dog’s name.

4. Give your unused or old towels and blankets to the shelter for the animals to use.

5. Consider getting your dog the gift of pet health insurance.

6. Help to raise awareness about the negative aspects of pet store purchases and puppy mills by posting to social media sites like facebook.

7. Treat the dog you have at home like a king or queen for the day.

8. Have an impromptu photo shoot with your dog.

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9. Schedule a grooming appointment so your dog looks the part!

10. Plan a puppy party and invite friends with dogs to get together at the local dog park for a picnic.

11. Approach an elderly neighbor with dogs and offer to walk them.

12. Make sure your dog is up to date on veterinary care and schedule a wellness appointment with vaccinations if needed.

Dogs give us so much and ask so little in return. Without a voice, it is up to us to be advocates for their welfare. Let’s take the time on March 26th to celebrate puppies, young dogs, old dogs, and everything in between!

For more information about dog health care and dog insurance, visit Pets Best Insurance.

A simple tool can make you a better dog owner

Posted on: March 21st, 2012 by

A couple walk their dog who has pet insurance.

By Chryssa Rich
For Pets Best Insurance

Pet owner or not, you’ve likely tracked dog poop into your car, your office and probably even your home. And for that reason, it’s quite possible that society’s top complaint about dog owners is that we don’t always clean up after our pets. “I always pick up my dog’s messes!” you may say. But until we all do, every single time, we’re all guilty.

In addition to being a smelly nuisance, there are real pet health as well as human health reasons we need to pick up after our dogs every time:

Dog feces can harbor bacteria like Salmonella and parasites including hookworm and tapeworm.
Unlike cow manure fertilizer, which has been composted and aged for six months, dog doodie won’t add anything good to your yard
Unscooped poop will eventually make its way through the ground and to our water sources, along with its bacteria and parasites

Furthermore, for pet health reasons it’s important we keep tabs on our dogs’ business. Any change in color, texture or frequency can signal illness.

Last year I came across a great little contraption in the pet store and immediately wondered why all dog owners don’t use it. It’s cute, cheap, lightweight, easy to refill and extremely convenient: the doggie duty bag dispenser. It only weighs a couple of ounces, contains a whole spool of bags and attaches to practically anything. Mine lives on the handle of Jayda’s leash.

The holders are available in a variety of colors and shapes. I’ve seen monkeys, giraffes, tie-dyed bones and dog houses, to name a few. They can be bought at pet stores, grocery stores and drug stores. Dollar stores carry refill bags, or for a little extra, you can opt for biodegradable bags to show our Earth a little more love.

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Pick up a few of these bag dispensers, attach one to each of your dog’s leashes and leave one in each vehicle. You’ll never be caught trying to scoop your dog’s mess with dead leaves or cover it with rocks again. You’ll never find yourself in a crowded park with a guilty look, trying to explain to passersby that “My dog already pooped once, I brought a bag, I swear!” You’ll also be doing your part to keep floor mats and carpets smelling clean and fresh across America.

Have you been caught bagless? Tell us in the comments how you cleaned or concealed your dog’s unexpected mess!

For more information about pet health or to learn more about pet insurance visit Pets Best Insurance.

Time to spring clean… your pet

Posted on: March 19th, 2012 by

A dog with pet health insurance gets ready to spring clean.

By: Dr. Fiona Caldwell
Idaho Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance

Animal lovers and pet insurance enthusiasts alike have probably noticed that the days are finally getting longer, which can only mean on thing. Spring is finally here! So put that extra sunlight to good use by doing some spring cleaning that involves your pet!

Instead of standard dust bunny clearing, mopping, and scrubbing the bathroom, what about spring cleaning your pet? Here are some ways to do just that, while keeping your pets safe and happy.

Spring clean by focusing on your pet’s outsides AND insides. Grooming can be a regular part of getting spring-ready, but even if your groomer will brush your pet’s teeth, this generally isn’t enough. Pets need to have their teeth professionally scaled and polished regularly, just like we do, in order to prevent periodontal disease. Consider making an appointment with your veterinarian to determine if your cat or dog should have this important procedure performed this spring.

A good springtime wellness exam with a veterinarian should be an annual part of your routine wellness care. A physical exam can uncover potential underlying disorders you weren’t aware of. Most veterinarians agree that having your pet’s internal function ‘examined’ as well by performing blood work should be a routine part of a senior pet’s annual care. Some pet health insurance companies, like Pets Best Insurance, even offer a wellness care package, to help make the best care more affordable.

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This can help your veterinarian get an early start treating such disorders as chronic kidney insufficiency and other diseases common in aging animals. Having a cat or dog insurance policy in place early on, may help with the associated pet health costs.

Annual pet spring ‘cleaning’ should also include any vaccinations due and deworming as well. Did you know that many canine and feline internal parasites can be transmissible to people? Especially in households with young children, at least annual deworming should be performed to keep your pet and your family healthy.

This spring, take the time during your annual cleaning to include your furry family members and consider their health. This can mean using pet safe cleaning products around the house, and important annual pet health check ups.

Feline Asthma – All About Asthma in Cats

Posted on: March 16th, 2012 by

Hello, I’m Dr. Jane Matheys from The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital and Hotel in Boise, Idaho. I’ll be answering some questions today from the Facebook page of Pets Best Insurance.

I had several people write in about asthma in cats so we’ll tackle that one first. Cindy wrote in and she says, “My cat has been diagnosed with asthma. He is on theophylline and prednisolone but still is hacking and I can hear his breathing. It sounds raspy. I have an inhaler and I’m going to try it but if that doesn’t work what else can I do to make him more comfortable?”

Asthma in cats is pretty similar to asthma in people. There’s inflammation in the airways in the lung and that makes the cats cough. Cindy’s cat is on prednisolone which is a steroid. It works against the inflammation. Theophylline is what we call a bronchodilator. It opens up the airways and helps the breathing become more easy.

For most kitties that’s really all it takes to keep the asthma in check, but in Cindy’s case, that’s not enough for her kitty. She does have some options besides that regiment that the kitty is on right now. There are a couple of other more potent, stronger steroids that can be used in place of the prednisolone, and sometimes that’s all that needs to be done.

Another option is to use a steroid inhaler. This is very similar to the inhalers that people use for their asthma. We know that cats do not have opposable thumbs and they can’t hold the inhaler up to their mouths, so there’s a specially designed inhaler made for the kitty cats. It’s more like a little mask that is held over the cat’s face and there’s a small tube and the medication, the actual inhaler, is attached to the end. The inhaler is puffed into the tube there and that medication sits in that little tube. It’s called a spacer. The owner puts the mask over the kitty’s face, gives a couple of puffs, and then that mask is just held into place while the kitty takes about eight to ten breaths.

This is a perfect solution for Cindy’s cat because the steroid is getting right down into the lungs where it needs to be. That can be very effective versus the oral steroids that he’s on right now. Hopefully, after she tries that it will work really well for her cat.

Overall, kitties handle steroids very well. There are very few side effects, but sometimes you can see some such as diabetes. To reduce the risk of those side effects, if we can use the inhaler that will be better off for the cat in the long run.

We don’t know exactly what causes asthma in cats, but sometimes there does seem to be an underlying allergic component so an air purifier may be helpful. A good website that I’ve referred my clients to in the past is FritzTheBrave.com. It is a very nice website that give owners who have kitties with asthma a good education about exactly what asthma in cats is, how to treat it, and what to expect along the way. It’s written by the family who owned a cat named Fritz who had asthma, and despite his disease he lived a nice, long, fairly healthy life. Take a look at that so you can get an idea as to what to expect for your kitty cat.

Amber also writes in asking about asthma. She’s wondering if her cat has asthma. She says, “I wonder if that’s what’s wrong with my cat. He does the hacking sometimes and I was thinking it was maybe hairballs or allergies. How do I know if it’s asthma?”

Like Amber says, it’s not always easy to tell the difference between the cough from hairballs versus coughing from asthma. They look pretty similar and can be confusing. At the risk of making myself look very silly I’m going to try to demonstrate to you what a coughing cat looks like, because it’s a very specific activity that you’ll see. Usually the cat will be hunched down; the elbows will be kind of out to the side here, what I call little chicken wings; the head will be really extended very far and the little face will be really close to the ground and you’ll hear your cat do something like this: [makes sound]. That’s what it sounds like.

I’m not that good at impressions. FritzTheBrave.com actually has a really nice video of poor little Fritz having a coughing or an asthma attack. Check that out, because a lot of people have never heard a cat cough so they don’t realize what it is.

Of course, the only way to tell whether your kitty has asthma is by taking your cat to your veterinarian. The veterinarian will definitely want to do chest x-rays. The veterinarian will be looking for certain patterns in the lungs that indicate asthma. Sometimes there’s some blood work done to rule out other diseases that could cause some coughing. Sometimes you have to go so far as to get a sample of the cells from the lungs by doing what’s called a tracheal wash when the kitty is under anesthesia. The good news is that if your cat is diagnosed with asthma, with some fairly simple treatments the kitty can go on to live a long and healthy life.

If you have any other cat health questions, please post them on the Facebook page of Pets Best Insurance.

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How to Stop Your Cat from Throwing Up after Eating

Posted on: March 16th, 2012 by


Hello. I’m Dr. Jane Matheys from The Cat Doctor Hotel and Veterinary Hospital in Boise, Idaho. I’m going to answer some questions today from the Facebook page of Pets Best Insurance.

First, we have Steena. She says, “My cat eats too fast and then throws up. How can I get him to slow down? Even buying a special slow-feed bowl didn’t work because he just eats around the protrusions.”

Some cats really do like their food. When I see this type of behavior, where the kitty is eating so fast and so much that they almost immediately vomit, oftentimes it seems to be those cats that as kittens or young cats were strays and outside. They don’t seem to get past this mentality of not knowing when their next meal is. They were out on the streets starving, probably didn’t eat for a number of days a time. Now, even though they’re in a nice home and the food is plentiful, they still have that mindset that they’re going to starve if they don’t eat as much as they can right now. There are other cats, however, who just really love to eat. It doesn’t help that we’ve made our pet food very nutritious and very tasty.

Steena has the right idea as far as, we do obviously want to slow down the eating so the cats can’t fill themselves and get so full that they vomit right away. What I like to have owners try is to feed the kitty from a cookie sheet or other flat tray. That spreads the dry little kibble pieces out so they have to pick up one or two at a time. They can’t shove their face in a bowl and try to take a big gulp.

Another thing that works really well is to try feeding the cat from an ice cube tray that you fasten down. Again, physically they just can’t eat so quickly because they’ve got to put their tongue down into each individual cube and get only a couple pieces at a time.

Typically, something like that is going to solve the problem for you. The other thing you want to think about is multiple small meals throughout the day, and when I say small, I’m talking about maybe an eighth of a cup or so of food. If you’re schedule doesn’t allow for that, you can purchase automatic self-feeders where you can program them to open up at certain times of the day. Then you can measure the amount that you put in each compartment at that time.

Finally, the last thing you can try is perhaps using what we call a food ball or a treat ball. You can get these from most of the pet stores. It’s just a little plastic ball with some small holes in it that will only allow a few pieces of food to fall out. You open it up, put the dry food inside, and close it back up. Again, he can only eat a few kibbles at a time. Usually the kitty has to either roll the ball or tip it so that he has to work to get his food released so not only are we hopefully solving the problem of him eating too much too quickly, you’re also going to give him the mental and physical stimulation that’s really important for our cats, especially if they’re indoor cats only.

If you have any other cat health questions, you can post them on the Facebook page of Pets Best Insurance.

www.petsbest.com