Pet Insurance Blog

Wednesday October 14, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Dakota

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Dakota, a Pointer mix, is a uniquely vocal pup. He tends to growl at his reflection, and his snoring sounds as though there is a microphone nearby. His favorite pal is his dog sister Amelia, and his favorite place to sleep is on top of his people.


Monday September 7, 2015

The Back-to-School Blues

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Fall can bring with it a major shift in routine if your family includes school-age children or an education professional. Such a change may trigger separation anxiety in your dog, who misses the lively daytime companionship. Here is some information to help you better understand and identify this affliction, and some tactics to help your pet cope with your new routine.

Causes

There is no conclusive evidence as to why dogs develop separation anxiety, but the loss of an important person or group of people is believed to lead to it. Less startling changes can also be trigger separation anxiety.

• Living Arrangements

Moving to a new house, being surrendered to a shelter or joining a new family can bring about separation anxiety.

• Schedule

Going from spending all day with humans to being alone for six more hours at a time, such as when kids return to school, can be jarring.

• Household Membership

Death, divorce and adult-age children leaving the nest can transform a dog’s daily life in an upsetting way.

Symptoms

Dogs with separation anxiety may exhibit symptoms such as those listed here.

• Urinating and Defecating

This typically occurs when the pet is left alone, and should be distinguished from instances that occur in front of you.

• Barking and Howling

This type of vocalization is normally persistent, and the trigger doesn’t appear to be anything except being left alone.

• Chewing, Digging and Destruction

Self-injury, broken teeth, cut paws and damaged nails can all result from destructive behavior exhibited towards inappropriate items such as doorways, window sills and household objects.

• Escaping

Dogs with separation anxiety may attempt to escape by chewing through doors or windows when his pet parent is away.

• Pacing

Some dogs walk or trot in a fixed pattern, such as in circles or back and forth in a straight line when left alone.

• Coprophagia

This occurs when a dog defecates and then eats all or some of their waste. If a dog does so because of separation anxiety, he probably doesn’t do it in the presence of his pet parent.

Treatment

Basic counterconditioning may help reduce or resolve the problem if your dog’s separation anxiety is mild. Such counterconditioning employing coping tactics (see below for ideas) to make your dog associate good things with his time spent alone rather than fear or anxiety.

• Hide treats around the house for your pet to find during the day.
• Give your pet a treat-filled or interactive toy to keep busy.
• Consider leaving the TV or radio on to soothe a lonely pet.
• Hire a pet sitter or dog walker to break up the day.
• Schedule at least one fun activity with your pet a week.

Easing your pet into the transition, if you are able, can be very helpful. You can try leaving your pet alone for 15 minutes and gradually extend the absence for longer periods.

If your pet is really stressed out by the change, you may start noticing a compulsive behavior, like excessive licking or pacing, and a call to your veterinarian may be in order. Get the facts on these behaviors and coverage for them.

Information courtesy of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®).


Monday August 31, 2015

5 Ways to Keep Cats Happy

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Happy cat, happy life… or something like that.

Regardless, cat parents know that a happy cat is less likely to exhibit destructive behaviors and is more likely to live a long, healthy life. Emotional health is just as important to our feline friends as it is to humans.

We’ve compiled a list of ways cat parents can keep their cats happy, in addition to lots of love and cuddles.

1. Regular Veterinary Visits

Annual checkups are very important for cats, who are well-known for hiding symptoms. These clues can also help you tell if you should take your cat to the veterinarian for an exam.

2. Well-Balanced Diet

Cats should be fed an appropriate amount of food that matches their size and energy output. It is OK to pamper your cat with a special treat now and again, like one of these homemade snacks.

3. Stimulating Environment

Mental stimulation and physical exercise are key components to pets living happy, healthy lives. Cat parents can encourage activities such as bird watching or paper bag exploration in addition to providing ample toys.

4. Sleeping Accommodations

Cats sleep 70% of their lives, so having a variety of slumber spots can be important. Prime locations features the most sunlight and heat available, such as window sills, a warm bed or next to a fireplace.

5. Feline Friendship

Though they may seem aloof at times, cats love socializing—especially with other cats. Adopting a second pet can seem a bit daunting, but these tips will help make the introductions go smoothly.

Share a photo of your happy cat with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Tips courtesy of the ASPCA®.


Monday August 24, 2015

Back-to-School Nutrition for Pets

Have you studied up on your pet’s nutritional needs? These tips on how to feed your dog or cat can help keep your pet in top shape while you settle back into your hectic school year schedule.

1. Two Square Meals a Day

The ASPCA® suggests most pets get two square meals a day. Offering portioned servings at specific times, rather than letting your pet graze freely, can also help prevent obesity.

2. Safe Fruits and Veggies

There are plenty of fruits and vegetables you can offer your pet as healthy snacks. For instance, apples, carrots and sweet potatoes are all safe for dogs and cats. Cut them into smaller pieces to make them easier to eat and avoid choking.

3. Tasty Treats

Pets love treats, but don’t go overboard. Treats can be packed with sugar and fat, and too many can lead to obesity. As an alternative, you can make homemade dog treats or tasty cat snacks in your own kitchen. They’re simple and healthy!

4. Water, Water Everywhere

Good old H2O makes up 60 to 70% of an adult pet's body weight making it the most important nutrient for your pet. It’s even more important than protein! Always make sure there's always plenty of fresh water in reach.

5. People Food No-no's

Cookies can be harmful to your pet, especially if they contain chocolate, raisins or nuts. Also, avoid feeding your pet fatty or spicy foods, which can cause tummy upset. And never offer real bones, since they can splinter and hurt your pet. 

If your pet does eat something poisonous, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435. A consultation fee may apply, part of which can be covered by an ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. See your plan options.

Don’t miss these tasty ideas for pet-friendly after-school snacks!

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Reminder: Treats such as these should not make up more than 10% of a pet’s caloric intake. Also, stomach upset may occur in pets who do not tolerate dietary changes well.


Wednesday August 19, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Raven

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Raven is the true definition of a Velcro dog, as she follows her pet parents everywhere. Her favorite game is keep away, and her favorite toy is anything she shouldn’t have. She’s bright and friendly and loves treats.


Monday August 17, 2015

3 Simple Homemade Cat Treat Recipes

Get your cat’s motor running with these easy-to-make homemade cat treat recipes. They’re made with simple ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.

Tasty Tuna Crackers

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What cat doesn’t go wild for tuna? Whip up these crackers and give your feline a special treat.

Ingredients

• 6 oz. undrained tuna

• 1 c. cornmeal

• 1 c. flour

• 1/3 c. water

Directions

Mix ingredients together. Roll into 1/4-inch pieces. Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 350° for 20 minutes. Cool and let your cat dig in!

Chicken Rollovers

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Your cat will get the protein they crave, and you’ll sniff the benefits of breath-freshening parsley.

Ingredients

• 1/2 c. ground chicken

• 1/3 c. oat flour

• 1 T. parsley, minced

Directions

Stir ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Spray a non-stick baking sheet. Roll ingredients into ½-inch balls and place 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes, and let cool before serving.

Cheesy Cat Treats

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Calling all feline cheese connoisseurs! These cheesy delights will make your cat come running.

Ingredients

• ¾ c. shredded cheddar cheese

• ¾ c. whole-wheat flour

• ¼ c. plain yogurt

• ¼ c. cornmeal

• 5 T. grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Combine ingredients into a dough. Roll it out to about 1/4 inch. Cut into one-inch pieces and bake on a greased cookie sheet at 350° for about 25 minutes.

Looking for other healthy cat snack ideas? You can try offering your cat these safe fruits and veggies.

Reminder: Treats such as these should not make up more than 10% of a pet’s caloric intake. Also, stomach upset may occur in pets who do not tolerate dietary changes well.


Friday August 14, 2015

Get the Facts on Behavioral Conditions and Coverage

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Just like people, pets can get stressed out when their routines change. It’s not always easy for our four-legged friends to adjust to a new home, the arrival of a noisy baby, or shifting schedules during back-to-school time.

Pet’s who are anxious can start showing unwanted or compulsive behaviors such as:

 • Destructive chewing
 • Excessive licking
 • Harmful scratching
 • Nonstop barking
 • Pacing back and forth
 • Spinning in circles
 • Tail chasing
 • Going outside the litter box

What should you do?

If your pet has a behavioral condition, set up an appointment with your veterinarian. The doctor can check to see if there are any underlying medical or physical issues, like an allergy, parasite, or infection, which might be causing the behavior.

Once these are ruled out, your veterinarian can recommend ways to help stop the behavior. It might be as simple as giving your pet time to adjust to the new situation or medication to reduce anxiety. Increasing the amount of mental and physical stimulation you’re pet is getting can also be helpful.

Can behavioral issues be covered?

Behavioral conditions can be harmful to pets and disruptive to families. That’s why we include behavioral coverage with Level 3. It can reimburse you for consultations, exams, lab testing, and medications to diagnose and treat these conditions—and help get your pet back to his or her happy-go-lucky self!

 


Wednesday August 12, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Ace

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Ace has a great sense of location, especially on trips to grandma’s house. He’ll perform almost any trick for a treat, but if you don’t have one, you can forget about it. Ace loves to burrow under legs when people are sitting down, and he licks himself clean like a cat.


Monday August 10, 2015

3 Simple Homemade Dog Treat Recipes

These healthy and easy-to-make homemade dog treats are a great alternative to the store-bought kind, which can be packed with fat and sugar. They’re sure to make your dog’s tail wag!

PB&Y[ogurt] Balls

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Any dog who loves peanut butter will live for these tasty, protein-rich and easy-to-make treats. 

Ingredients

• 2 c. flour

• 2 T. peanut butter

• 12 oz. plain yogurt 
(with no artificial sweeteners, which can be toxic to dogs) 

Directions

Combine ingredients and let set for five minutes. Form small balls and place in a muffin pan. Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes. After they cool off, let your dog dig in.

Pumpkin Nibbles

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The high fiber content found in pumpkin can help promote good digestive regularity in dogs.

Ingredients

• 1 lb, lean ground turkey

• 1/2 c. pumpkin puree

• 1/4 c. parsley, minced

Directions

Cover baking sheet baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir ingredients together in a mixing bowl, and roll ingredients into 1-inch balls. Place on baking sheet and indent with thumb. Bake at 350° 15 minutes, and let cool before serving.

Carrot and Apple Treats

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Carrots and apples are packed with healthy vitamins and make delicious homemade dog treats.

Ingredients

• 1 c. whole-wheat flour

• 1 c. grated carrots

• 1 egg

• 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce

Directions

Mix it all together, and roll dough into small balls. Press down gently to make treats about 1/4 inch thick. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes. Let them cool, and let your pup have at ‘em!

You can also offer your dog these safe fruits and veggies as a healthy snack.

Reminder: Treats such as these should not make up more than 10% of a pet’s caloric intake. Also, stomach upset may occur in pets who do not tolerate dietary changes well.


Wednesday August 5, 2015

How to ‘Work Like a Dog’

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Work Like a Dog Day (8/5) exists to recognize the hardest work among us. For us, many of these individuals are literally dogs.

Lucy (Golden Retriever/Chow Chow) and Melo (Newfoundland) are two such ‘working dogs’ that put their snouts to the grindstone as members of our Department of Cuteness. Here is a typical day-in-the-life of these dedicated employees.

• 8 a.m.

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Lucy always starts the day off right with a healthy breakfast.

• 9 a.m.

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Melo gets a jumpstart on the morning by returning a few phone calls and emails.

• 10 a.m.

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A mid-morning constitutional always helps to get the blood flowing!

• 11 a.m.

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Time for a team meeting!

• 12 p.m.

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A nutritious lunch gives Lucy the energy she needs to keep working hard.

• 1 p.m.

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Melo finds an afternoon power nap helps restore her mental alertness.

• 2 p.m.

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Lucy has put together a standout presentation for the higher-ups.

• 3 p.m.

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A tasty snack helps Melo avoid the infamous 3 p.m. slump.

• 4 p.m.

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Entertaining visitors is a top priority for the Department of Cuteness.

• 5 p.m.

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It’s important always to be home in time for dinner with the family!


Wednesday August 5, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Miss Kitty

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Miss Kitty’s very characteristic and adorable floppy ear is the result of an ear hematoma that she had to have surgery to correct. Ever the devoted sister, she taught her brothers how to scratch on the scratching post rather than the furniture, and she will often bring her gray, tattered mouse toy as a gift.


Monday August 3, 2015

Birthday Recipes Fit for Fido and Fluffy

Even the most pampered pet deserves an extra-special treat on their birthday, and these treats will have your four-legged friends dancing in circles for more—our office pets can attest!

DOGust Cake

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The universal birthday for shelter and rescued dogs is celebrated on August 1, a.k.a. DOGust.

Ingredients

Cake

• 1 c. whole-wheat flour

• 1 t. baking soda

• 1/4 c. peanut butter

• 1/4 c. plain applesauce

• 1 t. vanilla

• 1/3 c. honey

• 1 egg

Frosting

• 1 c. peanut butter

• 1 T. honey

Decoration

• 1/2 c. carrot shavings

• 1 apple, sliced

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix together flour and baking soda, and mix in remaining ingredients. Pour the mixture into greased 9-inch cake. Bake for 40 minutes and let cool. Combine frosting components and spread atop cake with butter knife or spatula. Decorate with carrot shavings and apple slices before serving.

Kitty Kupcakes

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Never to be overlooked, these cupcakes will have your feline friends purring loudly for more.

Ingredients

Cake

• 1 can tuna, drain water

• 1/4 c. shredded cheese

• 1/4 c. oat flour

• 1 egg

Frosting

• 1/2 c. plain mashed potatoes

Decoration

• Handful of favorite treats

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Break up tuna with a fork, and mix together cake ingredients. Fill 2-3 cups of a greased muffin tin with mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes and let cool. Spread mashed potatoes atop each cupcake, and decorate with treats.

Looking for healthy snack ideas you can share with your pet regularly? Check out these safe fruits and veggies.

Reminder: Treats such as these should not make up more than 10% of a pet’s caloric intake. Also, stomach upset may occur in pets who do not tolerate dietary changes well.

 


Wednesday July 29, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Duncan

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Because of his chocolate coloring, Duncan got his name from Duncan Hines Company. He weighs almost 100lbs. and acts like a lap dog. Duncan also snores exceptionally loud, so loud that it periodically wakes up his pet parents. His favorite game is tug-of-war, and he adores his sister Bailey, a Pit Bull.


Monday July 27, 2015

Keeping Cool with Pets

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Summer is starting to sizzle, but the rising temperature doesn’t have to get in the way of you and your pet having fun in the sun! Here are some fun ideas to beat the heat and important tips to keep everyone safe.

For Dogs

• Freeze chicken or beef broth in an ice cube tray.
• Fill up a plastic kiddie pool just for your pup.
• Cover your pal with a damp towel while they nap.

For Cats

• Give your cat a few ice cubes to bat around the house.
• Fill a hot water bottle with cool water for your cat to lie on.
• Turn on a small fan next to your cat’s favorite place to nap.

For All

• Provide plenty of water and shade away from direct sunlight.
• Limit exercise on hot, humid days to early morning or evening.
• Know the signs of heat-related issues and what to do next.

Additionally, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Be sure to check out these pet first-aid basics just in case your pet does get injured or ill and don’t forget to get a free quote!


Wednesday July 22, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Bertie

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Bertie has never met a snack she didn’t like, including napkins and socks. She likes to ride in the car and go places, and she also likes to lean on everyone or everything. Her nickname is "wildebeest" because she sometimes forget her size when excited.


Monday July 20, 2015

Pet First-Aid Basics

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Nobody wants to get caught off-guard by an emergency. Luckily, we have the information you need to be better prepared for when the unexpected happens.

Set a plan

Ask your vet about an emergency protocol, especially if your clinic isn’t available 24/7.

Be careful

Handle an injured pet with caution. Even the sweetest dog or cat can act out when hurt.

Stay calm

Try to keep your cool, so you can think clearly and avoid upsetting your pet even more.

Make a kit

Have a pet first-aid kit ready. See below for a full list of what you may need according to ASPCApro.

Get insured

Our plans cover injuries, like broken bones, swallowed objects, car accidents and bite wounds.

For more advice on potential dangers, visit 101 Things You Didn’t Know Could Harm Your Pet and don’t forget to get a free quote!

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Wednesday July 15, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Thunder

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Thunder doesn't realize he is small in stature and loves to play with dogs of all shapes and sizes. He loves to go on road trips, and the office is his second home. He will sleep all day on his pet parent's office chair, cuddled up behind her. His personal theme song is AC/DC's "Thunderstruck"!


Monday July 13, 2015

Pet-Friendly Summer Fun

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Are you and your pet getting a little bored of the same old games of fetch and tug-o-war? Try livening up your playtime with these fun activities.

Outdoor Games:

Synchronized Swim– If your pet's a swimmer, go for a dip in the pool or a lake together. Do some laps or see if you can come up with a routine that rivals the Olympic swim dancers.

Bubbles Chase– Blowing bubbles may sound like child’s play, but dogs and cats love chasing bubbles too. You can even buy pet bubble soap that smells like bacon or chicken!

Bob for Toys– Drop a few toys in a kiddie pool and let your pet knock them around. Just be sure to keep a towel handy and supervise this activity at all times.

Indoor Games:

Living Room Slalom– Set up an obstacle course by tossing pillows on the floor or moving the furniture around. Then encourage your pet to bob and weave through the course in a fast game of chase.

High Jump– Get your pet jumping up high by holding a tasty treat or favorite toy in the air. Gradually move it higher to see how far your friend can fly—the records for dogs is 68 inches, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Treasure Hunt– Hide your pet’s favorite treats around the house. Show your pet the first hidden gem and then encourage him or her to find the rest. Your pet may need some help at first, but should eventually catch on.

Looking to add more purpose to playtime? Why not try chasing a few world records!

• The most separately thrown flying discs held in a dog’s mouth at one time is 7.
• The loudest purr ever recorded hit 67.7 decibels, nearly as loud as an electric shaver.
• A Jack Russell Terrier managed to pop 100 balloons in just 44.49 seconds.
• One dog walked 100-meters while balancing a can on her head in 2 minutes and 55 seconds.
• How many dogs do you think can skip rope at once? The answer is a record-setting 13!

Tweet us (@ASPCAPetIns) to let us know which activity your pet likes best!


Wednesday July 8, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Odessa

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Odessa, a.k.a. Dessi or Doodles, loves to wrestle with her older brother Trouser. Odessa won’t eat until Trouser has finished his dinner. And, she enjoys carrying her food bowl upstairs to her pet parents’ bed to eat her food, dropping a food trail the whole way up the stairs.