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Boo! Pet health and safety this Halloween

Posted on: October 25th, 2011 by

A dog with pet health insurance is ready for Halloween in a festive sweater.

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

Halloween is a spooky fun time for the whole family– but there are some things to remeber when keeping your furry family members safe during this October holiday. Having a dog or cat insurance policy is one of the best things you can do for your little goblin– in the event of a Halloween mishap. Here are some tips for your pet’s safety:

While scary costumes and ringing doorbells door-to-door can be fun for kids and adults, this can be stressful for some dogs and cats. Stress related colitis can occur with continual ringing of the doorbell and strangers coming and going. Try to keep your pet in a quiet safe place during treat-or-treating hours.

Halloween pranksters can occasionally be cruel, so be sure to keep all pets inside during the festivities of Halloween day and night. Black cats tend to be targeted for mean pranks on Halloween night, so be sure to keep a close eye on your kitty. Some humane societies won’t even allow adoptions of black cats around Halloween for this exact reason.

Another thing to consider is your scary costume! While these are Halloween staples, pets may become frightened, or even fearfully aggressive if they don’t recognize you or your children when you’re wearing something unfamiliar. Never assume that your dog will be comfortable with disguises. Talk in a low soothing voice to let him know it’s you. Another idea is to allow your pet in the room while you change into your costume or put your mask on.

Pet costumes are universally adorable and can be very tempting to put your pet in. But it’s important to be cognitive that most pets won’t like these and costumes can be stressful or uncomfortable for them. In addition, if there are tassels, fringe or strings on the costume, these can be ingested and cause serious intestinal problems or even blockage, which can require surgery to correct. Investing in pet health insurance is one of the best ways to be sure you can give your pet the best care in the event of a Halloween accident. Some pets might chew on the costume and ingest parts of the fabric, also causing problems. Never leave your dog unattended in a Halloween costume.

Carving pumpkins is a time honored tradition, but it’s important to keep your pet from eating the pumpkin innards. While not poisonous or toxic to dogs, pumpkin seeds in excess can cause gastritis, and subsequent vomiting and diarrhea. This can be a spendy trip to the vet without pet health insurance. So be sure to watch that pup or kitty around the carved leftovers.

After the pumpkins are carved and displayed, be sure to protect animals from the candles inside, which can pose a fire hazard if knocked over, or can cause serious burns or stomach upset if ingested.

Trick-or-treating always results in yummy candy! Most pets love the taste of candy, but shouldn’t be allowed to eat it. As many pet owners know, chocolate candies can be toxic to dogs and too much candy can cause inflammation of the pancreas, or pancreatitis, which can require hospitalization and intensive treatment. Because there tend to be more accidents of this kind around the Halloween holidy, it’s important that you have pet insurance for your four-legged friend.

Some sugar-free candies and gum contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is very toxic to dogs and can cause dangerously low blood sugar. This can lead to seizing, coma and can even be fatal. Be sure to keep these kinds of candies out of reach from your pet.

If your dog is comfortable in a costume and will go trick-or-treating with you, consider reflective collars or reflective additions to the costume in order to provide more visibility on busier streets in the dark.

With just a little extra forethought, Halloween can be a fun time for the whole family. If you are concerned that your pet has eaten candy it shouldn’t, or part of its costume, call your veterinarian immediately. Please watch out for animal cruelty as well, and contact the local authorities, or shelter if you suspect this.

Happy Halloween!

My dogs loves the vet and yours will too!

Posted on: October 24th, 2011 by

A vet holds a pet with dog insurance.

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

Throughout your pet’s life, you will make many trips to visit their veterinarian. Hopefully most of these visits will be for routine check ups, but unfortunately at one point or another, these visits may be due to illness or emergencies– this is when dog insurance will come in handy. When going to the vet, your pet may show signs of anxiety and stress. This may be magnified as a result of not feeling well or suffering from pain and discomfort. Proper socialization at the veterinary office is critical to help you pet feel comfortable and safe during visits. It is never too early (or too late) to start this socialization process.

When you first get your new pet, aside from purchasing pet health insurance, the next thing you will want to do is take them to the vet for a visit. Your vet will want to do a health and wellness exam, to rule out any medical issues and to get your pet off to a good start. Many pet insurance companies, like Pets Best Insurance, even offer a wellness care option. This should be a stress free visit, think of it as a fun experience meeting new friends. Bring lots of yummy, healthy treats, and ask the receptionist, vet techs, vet assistants and of course, the vet to give your pet treats. Food changes the chemical makeup in the brain and the emotional state of the animal.

After this initial visit, you’ll want to continue to make visits to the vets office about every 6 months or as instructed by your vet. Ask the receptionist when the slowest time of the day tends to be and plan to visit during those times. Make your visits are short and happy. Even visits as simple as having the receptionist give your pet a treat, or having your pet weighed can help your pet get acclimated to the vet office. Many vet clinics have scales in the waiting room, so you will not have to interrupt the staff. This is also a great way to keep an eye on your dog’s weight.

If you have an older dog that has had a bad experience at the vet, or just does not like the vet’s office, short visits will help your dog feel less anxious when he has to go for a medical procedure. As pets age they can develop new fears and anxiety, so continue to make visits throughout your pet’s life.

If you take these steps now, your pet will look forward to their next veterinary visit, and the veterinary staff will appreciate a dog that is less stressed during the visit.

For more information about pet health and pet health insurance visit www.petsbest.com.

Cat insurance special: Those darn hairballs!

Posted on: October 21st, 2011 by

Cancer in Goldens and Post-Pancreatitis Diets

Posted on: October 21st, 2011 by

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

The first question comes from Barbara, who says, “I would like so much to have another Golden Retriever but we’ve lost two at an early age to cancer. Any opinion?”

Barbara, I’m so sorry for your loss. Golden Retrievers can be really prone to cancer. I know they’re really sweet pets, so I can see the lure of wanting to get another one.

Some options for you might be to try a Golden Retriever mix, something that’s mixed with that Golden Retriever so you still get that sweet disposition but maybe less of those potentially inherited cancers. Another option for you, if you really want a purebred, is to do some really good research on breeders. See if you can find a breeder who follows their line and can give you a guarantee that as that line ages they have less cancers, since there is such a hereditary component.

The next question comes from Aidan, who asks, “What’s the best food for your dog after pancreatitis?”

This is a great question. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, which is an organ that secretes digestive enzymes into the stomach. It’s actually a pretty common disease for dogs and it typically stems from eating something rich. Usually, but not always, the classic dog gets into the trash or there’s a barbecue and they’re getting gristle and steak and hot dogs, and then they’ll develop pancreatitis.

Some dogs will have chronic pancreatitis where it will intermittently come and go. These are the ones that really need to be closely regulated in terms of their food. The current thought it that the best food for dogs with chronic pancreatitis or that have had pancreatitis flare-ups is a low-fat food that’s high in fiber. A prescription diet would probably be the most recommended, so you want to talk to your veterinarian about specific brands and diets that you could use.

You could try a commercial low-fat/high fiber diet. Make sure no treats, real bones, Beggin’ Strips, and those kinds of thing; all the yummy things that a dog likes. You really want to stay off those because it’s those rich treats that can really give them a flare-up. No people food, either.

Sometimes it’s really hard to cut these things out but it’s going to be a lot healthier for your dog. Alternatives that you can use are things like apple slices or carrots, and ice cubes are the ultimate low-calorie treat. These types of things are low in fat and they’re going to be a lot safer for your dog.

www.petsbest.com

All I want is a normal puppy

Posted on: October 17th, 2011 by

A Border Collie puppy with dog insurance bites at a cloth.

By: Judy Luther
Certified Dog Trainer
For Pets Best Insurance

As a pet health insurance enthusiast and certified professional trainer, I often get phone calls from pet owners complaining about their dog or puppy’s behavior.

Just last night I received a call from a woman who owns a 6-month-old Border Collie puppy. She complained that when she walks through the kitchen in the morning, her puppy bites at her robe and wants to tug on it. She said it was so bad she could not make coffee without the puppy hanging onto her robe, biting at her feet and even barking and growling at her. Her biggest fear was that the puppy was showing some signs of aggression.

After discussing this behavior with the pet owner, it was clear to me this puppy was just behaving like a normal puppy. My interpretation was that each morning the puppy, who has been sleeping all night, was just happy to see his owner and wanted to play.

After a long night, the puppy awakes full of energy, happy to see his family members, and is ready for a fun game of tug. When the tug game does not happen, he tries harder to engage his family in play, by doing what puppies do; he bites at his owners toes and starts barking. In a sense, he is just begging for someone to give him much desired attention and help him burn off some of his puppy energy. If the owner starts telling him to stop and dances around to avoid the little puppy teeth, the dog interprets this as the interaction and play he was looking for.

So what is a puppy owner to do? There are some very easy solutions to this playful puppy issue. First, before anything, take your puppy out for a potty break. Next, while the coffee is brewing, take a few minutes to give your puppy some much needed attention. Play with him for a few minutes. Next, fill a food-dispensing toy with your puppy’s breakfast. Give him this food-dispensing toy and let him enjoy his breakfast while burning some of that puppy energy. These types of toys give the puppy that much needed mental exercise.

Just like children, puppies need a lot of attention and playtime can be a very important learning experience. Because puppies are naturally curious and full of energy, it’s a good idea to look into dog insurance to help protect your pup from potential puppy accidents and illnesses. Good dog health care will be essential throughout your puppy’s life.

Play training games, hide and seek and crate games with him. These games will help your puppy learn that his crate is a fun place to go. Hide and seek can help teach that coming when he’s called is wonderful. All of these exercises will help your puppy to grow up to be a well-rounded adult dog.

Oh, and about the above mentioned client; her puppy WAS acting like a normal puppy. Now this puppy owner better understands how to control that excessive puppy energy and has reduced the early morning puppy antics!

For more information about dog health care and pet insurance visit www.Petsbest.com.