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Pet health special: Top 5 doggy tips

Posted on: February 8th, 2012 by

A dog with pet health insurance is ready to play

By: Judy Luther
Certified Professional Dog Trainer
For Pets Best Insurance

By now, unfortunately, most people have given up on their new year resolutions. But this is a great time to focus on pet health instead! Here are some good habits to develop and keep for your dog.

# 1 Resolve to keep up with your dogs’ veterinary care
Regular visits to the veterinarian are incredibly important to help your dog live a long healthy life and having pet health insurance may help you afford the best care. Some pets are not so keen on going to the vet. You can help your pet enjoy it by showing your dog the vet office is a fun place to visit. Take plenty of yummy treats and ask the vet staff to give them to your dog. This will help your pet make a good association with their vet. Take your dog to the vet just to visit, have him hop on the scale for a quick weigh in, get a treat from the receptionist, etc. Make these trips short and stress free for our pet.

#2 Establish a daily exercise plan for your dog or puppy
Take your dog for daily walks to ensure great pet health! You can play ball and use interactive toys. Set aside some time each day to spend quality time with your pet. Just letting your dog hang out in the yard doesn’t count. You and your dog need to spend time having fun together. And you will also benefit from extra exercise! Playing with your dog not only build a great bond between you and your pet, but it also mentally stimulates your dog.

# 3 Train your dog
Regular training sessions help to keep your dog mentally stimulated. Dogs can learn at any age, so whether you have a puppy, an adult or a senior dog, keep up the training. Many trainers offer fun, unique classes, including canine good citizen, tricks, frisbee, agility and K9 nose work just to name a few. Remember always use positive, force-free training methods.

#4 Educate yourself about dog food
Feed your dog the best quality food you can. High quality food will help extend your dogs’ life and keep him healthy. Visit www.wholedogjournal.com to learn more about pet foods and treats.

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# 5 Adopt your next pet from a shelter or rescue group
There are many wonderful pets waiting for a family to adopt them. If you are not ready to adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue, consider fostering a pet. Giving a pet a warm happy home while they await their permanent home, will help it adjust to a new home easier and reduce shelter-induced stress and anxiety.

These a simple tips should continue for the life of your pet. Your dog will thank you because you will give him a great life, and you will have a happy family pet.

For more information about pet health or to learn more about cat and dog insurance, visit Pets Best Insurance.

Pet health special: Cat bite abscesses

Posted on: February 6th, 2012 by

Cat bites are a pet health concern for these two fighting kittens.

By: Dr. Jane Matheys
Associate Veterinarian
The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance

As a veterinarian, there’s no pet health condition I love treating more than cat bite abscesses, and we see a lot of these in our practice. In fact, it’s a standing joke around our clinic that every Saturday that I work I seem to end the day by treating an abscess!

Many of these abscesses are fairly superficial and easy to cure, but in other cases the cat can become seriously ill and may need extensive surgery to clean up the abscess. Here are some things you need to know about cat bite abscesses.

Cats are highly territorial and often fight when they encounter other cats outdoors. When a tooth from another cat punctures the skin, it injects bacteria deep into the underlying tissues. A cat’s skin has the ability to heal very quickly, so the bacteria become trapped under the skin in a warm, moist environment where they thrive and multiply. The body sends out many white blood cells to help fight this infection, and the white blood cells and bacteria accumulate to form a painful pocket of pus just beneath the skin. This collection of pus is an abscess, and it generally appears about two to five days after the initial bite.

Cat bite wounds are almost always sustained when cats face off or when they run. Consequently, puncture wounds and abscesses are commonly found on the face, neck and forelimbs, or on the tail, rump and backside. Detecting bites can be difficult because cats often appear to look fine after a fight, and their fur often hides the bite wounds.

Apart from local soreness, your cat may not show ill effects from the bite wound for several days. However, as the cat health condition worsens, fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy may be noticeable as the bite becomes infected. Many cats are taken to the veterinarian at this stage, where the abscess typically appears as a soft, painful swelling. In most of these cases, lancing and flushing the abscess plus antibiotics may be all that is required.

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If not discovered in this early stage, the abscess will continue to swell and the infection can begin to do significant damage to the tissue beneath the skin. The abscess may spontaneously rupture, leaking foul-smelling pus onto the fur. These types of wounds almost always need surgical management in addition to antibiotics. Under anesthesia, the wound is trimmed of the dead flesh (debrided), and the infection is flushed out with copious amounts if disinfectant solution. If the wound is large, sutures may be required to partially close it. Typically, a small portion of the wound is left open to allow continued drainage for a couple of days. In the most severe cases, a temporary drain needs to be placed at the bottom part of the wound to allow any future pus or fluid to escape. Drains are removed after 2 or 3 days and the wound is allowed to continue healing on its own. Surgeries like this can cost around $400-$500, so investing in pet health insurance while your cat is young and healthy can help you afford excellent medical and surgical care for your cat with these unexpected emergencies.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and rabies can all be spread by bites. If your cat goes outside, he or she should be vaccinated against FeLV and Rabies. Follow-up testing for FeLV and FIV should be done about 8 weeks following a bite to be sure transmission has not taken place.

The best prevention of cat bite abscesses is to keep cats indoors and prevent them from roaming and fighting. Supervise outdoor access by teaching cats to tolerate a harness and walk on a leash or provide them with a safe and sturdy outdoor enclosure. If cats insist on going outside, make sure they’re back in the house before nightfall since so many more fights seem to take place after dark. Neutering will also reduce a male cat’s desire to roam and get into fights.

For more information about pet health, visit Pets Best Insurance.

Your top pet dental questions answered

Posted on: February 3rd, 2012 by

A dog with pet insurance holds a toothbrush in his mouth.

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

Pets need their teeth cleaned too and February is pet dental month! Are Fido’s kisses getting a little stinky? In addition to causing stinky breath, periodontal disease in pets can cause more serious underlying problems, even heart disease or infections of internal organs. That’s why veterinarians and pet health care workers team up every month of February to remind us to have our pet’s teeth examined by a veterinarian.

Here are some of the more common questions regarding your pet’s teeth:

Why should I brush my cat’s or dog’s teeth?
Removing plaque daily is important, as it is the precursor to tartar or calculus. Plaque is basically a film of bacteria that can irritate the gums. Tartar can’t be brushed off once it forms, and will eventually lead to further infection, loosening the tooth and eventually destroying it. In addition to loose teeth, infection under the gumline can spread to the liver, kidneys, and heart.

How can I possibly brush Fido’s teeth?
With a little patience, creativity and praise, teeth brushing can become a regular part of your pet’s routine. Use a soft-bristled, or finger toothbrush. Use animal specific tooth paste (Don’t use human toothpaste! It can be toxic to animals). Be patient and go slowly.

How often does my pet need to have teeth professionally cleaned by the veterinarian?
This depends completely on the degree of plaque and tartar accumulation. Try examining your pet’s teeth monthly; look for an accumulation of yellow or brown material at the area where the tooth meets the gumline. If you are uncertain, call and schedule an appointment for your veterinarian to examine.

The intervals between professional teeth cleaning procedures will depend on how often you can brush your pet’s teeth. Once or twice daily cleaning is optimum for good pet health, but anything is better than none!

Can I just take my fingernail and scrape off the calculus? Or can I have the groomer do a good brushing without anesthesia?
No! Dental disease occurs below the gum line as well. Pets need to be asleep in order for the insides and backs of the molars to be adequately addressed. Even the nicest dog won’t sit still enough for a thorough periodontal treatment. Also, if the tooth surface is scraped, this can leave small defects in the enamel that will exacerbate the problem, causing more plaque and tartar to form.

Does my pet have to anesthetized?
Yes, anesthesia is completely necessary when performing a proper teeth cleaning. Anesthesia provides three important functions: immobilization in order to clean below the gum line, pain control if a tooth needs to be extracted, and the ability to place a tube into the windpipe, to protect the respiratory system from bacteria.

Is anesthesia safe though?
Veterinarians will always take every precaution to provide safe anesthesia. Make sure your veterinarian runs a blood panel prior to anesthesia and uses up-to-date monitoring equipment. Most veterinary clinics should have the ability to monitor blood pressure, respiration, heart rate and rhythm, and oxygenation status, similar to a human hospital.

How much does a tooth cleaning procedure cost?
It is nearly impossible to determine how much the procedure will cost since most pets will not allow a thorough oral exam and certainly won’t allow for dental radiographs to examine the health of tooth roots.

Are there things other than brushing that I can do at home?
In a word, YES!

-Formulated dental diets typically will have ingredients that help repel plaque, and a crunchy texture that can help scrape the teeth as your pet chews. Diet alone will not control plaque, but it will help.
-Bones, hoofs and ears are not recommended. If the object is harder than teeth, they can lead to fractures. Bones in generally can cause GI problems, even dangerous obstruction and perforation of the bowel and are not recommended. But dental formulated chews with ingredients to help fight plaque can be helpful!
-Dental rinses can disinfect plaque, much like doggie mouthwash, and are sometimes more tolerated that brushing.
-Water additives can also help stop plaque from forming, and can be a part of a complete dental health program.

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How can I tell if my pet is suffering from periodontal disease?
The most common sign is halitosis, or bad breath. Dogs and cats should not give stinky kisses… Bad breath comes from infection. If your pet’s breath does not smell like roses, have a veterinarian create a treatment plan for you.

When should I start worrying about dental problems with my pet?
As soon as puppy or kitten teeth emerge, it’s time to start brushing. Although baby teeth are replaced with adult teeth, the puppy or kitten gets used to the brushing procedure as a part of its normal routine, which should continue for life.

What can be done if my pet has periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease occurs when tooth support structures are affected by infection. In advanced cases, either periodontal surgery or extractions are generally necessary. Veterinary dental specialists are available to perform root canals and crowns, but generally if the tooth is diseased, it will need to be removed.

My pet had to have lots of teeth extracted, can she still eat her normal food?
Yes! Most pets will do great when the infection causing tooth pain is cured by removing the diseased tooth. Some pets will even eat better than they did before.

Let’s have the month of February be a friendly reminder to take care of our pet’s teeth too. Just think how much more enjoyable those sloppy doggy kisses will be!

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

Pet insurance comparison sites: What to ask

Posted on: February 2nd, 2012 by

A cat with pet health insurance plays with a computer.

By: Chryssa Rich
For Pets Best Insurance

At Pets Best Insurance, we understand that most pet owners will do quite a bit of research before choosing the best plan for themselves and their pets. Perhaps for this reason, pet insurance comparison websites are growing in popularity. Shoppers can compare pet insurance plans, fill out a form and receive quotes from multiple pet insurance companies at once. It sounds easy, but are they too good to be true? Maybe.

One concern for us has been the inaccurate Pets Best Insurance information we’ve seen on some third party websites. It can take weeks or months to get our information corrected, and meanwhile, pet owners see incorrect information that we can’t control. If it’s happening to us, it’s probably happening to other pet insurance companies you’d like to compare.

If you’re thinking about using a website to get multiple pet insurance quotes at once, here are 5 things you must ask before you proceed.

1. Will you receive actual pet insurance quotes?
Many comparison sites simply share your information with pet insurance companies who will then send you a link to get a dog insurance quote or cat insurance quote. So, you still have to enter all your pet’s information in multiple places before knowing your pricing options. If this is the case, it may be faster to compare pet insurance by visiting individual company websites.

2. How accurate is the information?
We offer a variety of deductible levels, plan levels and optional routine care coverage. Most of the comparison sites we’ve seen, however, show only a fraction of what we really offer. If they’re shorting you on Pets Best Insurance info, you’re most likely not getting the full picture when it comes to our competitors.

Here’s one way to check the accuracy of the site you’re using: visit www.petsbest.com in one browser window, and compare the third party site’s info in another window. If the information doesn’t align, move on. Here’s another: look for publication dates on the website’s content. If the content is more than 90 days old or there’s no date shown, choose another site.

3. Is the website maintained by an active webmaster?
The truth is, most websites exist to make money. Some entrepreneurs build websites, create spaces for ads, then walk away. Look for the site’s Contact Us section and send a quick email to see if you receive a response. If you can’t find contact information or are redirected to a different site, you may want to steer clear. You should only do business with a company that is easy to contact and will stand behind the information it provides.

4. Who else will receive your personal information?
Always read the website’s Privacy Policy to make sure your info won’t be sold to other companies. Otherwise you could be bombarded with offers from companies selling everything from chop-o-matics to tile roofing.

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5. Are the discounts legitimate?
Pet insurance pricing and discounting is heavily regulated by state laws – not just anyone can offer a discount. If a third party site is promising special pricing, go directly to the company you’re considering to verify the availability of the deal.

And finally, don’t waste your time with downloadable “free quote” coupons – we don’t know of any company that charges for a quote, and dog and cat insurance quotes are always instant and free at www.petsbest.com.

The actual cost of owning a cat

Posted on: January 31st, 2012 by

A cat with the best pet insurance cuddles in her owners arms.

By: Dr. Jane Matheys
Associate Veterinarian
The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital
For Pets Best Insurance

Cats can make wonderful pets for many people and, in fact, pet cats in the US now outnumber pet dogs, making cats the most popular pets, which is likely why cat insurance has become so popular. While the cost of owning a cat is much less than that of a dog, there is still significant cost and it is most likely much more than the average pet owner thinks.

There is truly no such thing as a “free” kitten. Being a responsible owner of a cat carries with it certain financial obligations. Cost does matter and directly influences both the type and the quality of care that a cat will receive. Each day animals are denied basic care and veterinary treatment because of the failure of owners to recognize that pets cost money. No pet should suffer because of poor financial planning and lack of commitment of the owner. It is essential to consider the expense of owning a cat before adopting one of these beautiful creatures. Researching the best pet insurance options for your cat is also a good idea. Having cat insurance may ultimately help you afford the best possible care.

The first year of a cat’s life can be one of the most expensive, depending upon how you obtain the cat. Pure-bred cats vary in price range from $300-$1,000. Shelter cats are usually around $50-$150. Both costs may sound expensive compared to getting a “free” cat, but most shelters and some breeders have already paid to neuter/spay, vaccinate, deworm and microchip the cat, so the initial cost isn’t expensive when you compare it to paying out of your own pocket for all those services performed on the kitten you got from a friend or relative. Additional initial cost items include supplies such as food and water bowls, litter boxes, grooming supplies, cat carriers, scratching posts and toys. These first year costs may add up to an average ranging from about $900 to $1500.

After the first year, the average yearly cost of owning a cat is estimated to be $1,320. This includes items such as food, cat litter, and annual veterinary check ups. These costs generally increase in older cats due to additional medical costs to treat conditions which may develop as cats age. If you consider that the average lifespan of a cat is around 14 years, this means you will spend an average of around $18,000 on your cat during his or her lifetime.

Are you surprised by the total cost? Keep in mind that these totals do not take into account costs due to accidents, injuries or unexpected health problems. This is where pet health insurance may help you more easily afford vet bills. If you have a cat with a chronic illness, your veterinary costs could triple. Prices could easily be doubled in large metropolitan areas versus smaller urban or rural areas. While some people think they can cut costs on food, litter or veterinary expenses, experience shows otherwise. If you feed cheap food, you may end up with a cat with urinary or intestinal problems and high veterinary bills. If you use cheap litter, your cat may use the living room carpeting instead. The same goes for avoiding routine veterinary care. By cutting corners, you will likely shorten your cat’s life or pay more money in the end.

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For many people, cat insurance is becoming an increasingly attractive option to help manage the cost of owning a cat. Improvements in pet health insurance over the past decade or so have made it more worthwhile than ever. There are more companies offering the service and more policy options available, so you have a better chance of finding a policy that covers what’s important to you and your cat at a price you can afford. Pet health insurance provides the financial help needed to afford excellent medical and surgical care. It’s best to enroll in pet health insurance while your cat is young and healthy and there are no pre-existing conditions. Companies like Pets Best Insurance have very affordable and comprehensive cat and dog insurance plans.

The animal shelters in this country are overflowing with abandoned and unwanted cats and dogs. Millions are euthanized every year, and millions more lead unhappy and poor quality lives with owners that do not meet their basic needs. If you are thinking of adopting a pet cat, make sure you’re prepared financially for the life-long commitment of a furry companion.

For more information about pet health and cat insurance, visit Pets Best Insurance.