Pet Insurance Blog

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.


Monday July 6, 2015

Sweating Out the Summer

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Everyday activities can be risky for pets when it's hot out. Since pets can't sweat like people do, they can be more susceptible to heat-related issues.

For instance, we recently saw a claim for an English Bulldog who suffered from heat stroke – just while he was resting in the shade. He was in the hospital for two days, and the veterinary bill was more than $1,200. In another claim, a Black Labrador suffered from heat stroke after joining his pet parent on a jog.

What are the symptoms?

Excessive panting and a bright red tongue can be initial signs of heat stroke. Other symptoms can include restlessness, agitation, drooling and lethargy.

What should you do?

Take your pet out of the heat and into a shady or air-conditioned place. Offer water, and try cooling your pet with a wet towel. Contact your veterinarian immediately.

Which pets are at risk?

All pets are at risk – even indoor cats, especially if they don't have access to air conditioning. Some pets may be at higher risk, like those with health issues or dogs with short muzzles. Ask your veterinarian about your pet specifically.

Can you still have fun?

Just because it is hot outside doesn’t mean your pet can’t enjoy the sunny weather. Be sure to keep an eye out for warning signs and make sure to keep plenty of water within paw’s reach. Considering a day at the beach? Check out these tips.

What about road trips?

While traveling, think twice before leaving your pet in a parked car – even if you crack the windows and are gone for just a few minutes. This chart illustrates how fast your vehicle can heat up on a seemingly cool day.

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Hopefully, your pet will keep cool this summer. But if your furry friend does have trouble in the heat, our accident coverage can help you manage the costs of care. Get a free quote today!


Wednesday July 1, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Tanner

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Tanner is extremely loving. He hash a huge heart and is very cuddly with both his pet parents and his feline siblings. Tanner is a little uncoordinated and has extra long tufts coming out of his paws. It is quite entertaining to watch him try to run and slide around on the wood floors! 

Tanner also has a very strange interest in sneaking nuts. He, unfortunately, got on top of the fridge and ate almonds a few years ago which made him very sick. We have to continually make sure that all nuts and nut products are put away or he manages to always find them.


Monday June 29, 2015

Take the Fear Out of Fireworks

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While many of us ‘ooo’ and ‘aww’ at fireworks displays, who hasn’t jumped at an unexpected boom or bang? Every loud explosion is unexpected and scary for our pets, especially if that pet already has a fear of noises. That’s why it is so important to keep pets at home in an escape-proof room while you enjoy the festivities. 

Sometimes, however, that’s still not enough. Here are some ideas to help keep your pet calm during holiday celebrations.

· Keep comfortable.

Keep your pet safely tucked away in a familiar room or, even better, their crate with the A/C on.

· Get a workout.

Take them for a walk, play fetch, just do any safe activity to tucker them out beforehand.

· Divert attention.

Give your pal a new bone or toy to help distract them from the festivities going on outside.

· Drown it out.

Shut all windows, blinds/curtains and doors, and leave the TV on to help mask the noise.

Companionship can make all the difference. If you can stay home, try petting your nervous pal from head to tail in a long, slow motion and talk to them in a calming voice. Just like babies, some smaller pets may respond positively to a reassuring swaddling too – but do not try to force them if they are not up for it. A Thundershirt may work well for larger pets or pets left at home alone.

Also, make sure all cats and dogs are wearing proper fitting collars with tags in case they do escape. This goes for all pets, even those with a microchip!

For more information on holiday dangers, check this out.

Don't forget to pin our infographic for easy reference!

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Wednesday June 24, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Kirra

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Kirra loves people as much as treats. She especially likes carrots and swimming, and she is the kind of best friend everyone dreams of--fun, loyal and smart.


Monday June 22, 2015

Top 10 Pet-Friendly Honeymoon Destinations

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Pets are becoming an integral part of wedding ceremonies for deeply devoted pet parents across the country, and many more cannot imagine leaving their furry pals at home while whisking away on honeymoon. It is for these faithful folks that we’ve teamed up with our friends at GoPetFriendly.com for a list of the top pet-friendly vacation spots.

We’ve also tossed in two hidden gems that double as great spots for a destination wedding!

The List:

10. Rapid City, S.D. – Tropical beaches may be the first thing that comes to mind for many people when discussing honeymoons, but camping trumps this white sand beach dream for many dog lovers. And, it’s for those people that we recommend the Black Hills.

9. Savannah, Ga. – Nestled on the South Carolina-Georgia line, Savannah’s 22 parks/squares and quaint riverfront are perfect for strolling leash-in-hand-in-hand. The pedestrian-only City Market is bustling with life, from local artists to restaurants and the like.

8. Jackson, Wyo. - America’s least populous state happens to be home to one of it’s most beautiful national parks. The Grand Tetons is ideal for any pair of pet lovers looking to get away from it all after the excitement a wedding brings.

7. Geneva, N.Y. – At the top tip of Seneca Lake, the western-most member of the Finger Lakes, sits the college town of Geneva. Grab a local craft brew or glass of wine off the Seneca Lake Wine Trail and cuddle up on the banks of the calming waters of this renowned region.

6. St. Augustine, Fla. – The oldest city in the United States features a couple prime honeymoon must-haves: beaches and beautiful weather. A unique shortlist addition for any couple with their whole future ahead of them, the Fountain of Youth!

5. Portland, Ore. – The locals may advocate to “Keep Portland Weird,” but we would like to add a line about staying pet-friendly, too. In addition to the sights and sounds of this inland Pacific Coast city, there’s plenty of nature to explore.

4. Austin, Texas – Say ‘Austin’ and someone will inevitably respond with ‘SXSW’, but there’s so much more to this capital city. For instance, businesses on Rainy Street encourage canine companions. There’s even a fenced dog park in one of the beer gardens!

3. Victoria, B.C. – Simply, a place so lovely our pals at GoPetFriendly.com had a hard time putting it into words. Check out their photo tour to see what we mean. Learn what its like to cross the northern border with your pet here.

2. Provincetown, Mass. – Looking to make once-in-a-lifetime memories? Check out the dog-friendly whale and dolphin watching excursions setting sail right off the tip of Cape Cod. The beaches even offer off-leash hours for those looking to show off their doggy paddle.

1. Sonoma, Calif. – So many sites on our list tout beautiful views, unique lodgings and a variety of activities, but the real standout for us is near the heart of California’s Wine Country. Sonoma wineries host events especially for dogs and many have a stock of treats right next to the wine behind the bar.

BONUS:

- Carmel, Calif. – Halfway up the California coast and just a stone’s throw from Pebble Beach is Holman Ranch. Vineyards, views and away from the noise of a big city, this venue comes highly recommended by some of our four-legged friends. 

- Asheville, N. C. – Looking for a historic locale with old world charm? Check out the Biltmore Estate! Not only are the grounds of this French-style chateau dog-friendly, but kennels available so pet parents can explore the grounds while their pals take a nap.

Before you hit the road, get prepared with help from these tips for your traveling with your dog! Also, don’t forget pets with ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plans can visit any licensed veterinarian in the US or Canada. Use our Vet Clinic Finder to find one near you.

Special thanks to Amy Burkert and GoPetFriendly.com for assistance compiling this list!


Wednesday June 17, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Otis

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Otis LOVES playing in water, whether it's in the water dish, shower or sink. He is also a champion cuddler, typically laying on his pet parents' faces, chests or heads. He is always climbing on or into things and is a good swimmer as a result, as he always falls in the bathtub!


Monday June 15, 2015

Doggone Delicious Wedding Cake

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Pets are playing prime parts in weddings nowadays, from proposals to engagement photos to even walking down the aisle. So, shouldn’t they also have their own place at the dessert table?

This simple dessert will have your four-legged wedding party drooling… more than usual.

Ingredients

Cake

· 1 c. whole wheat flour

· 1 t. baking soda

· 1/4 c. peanut butter

· 1/8 c. vegetable oil

· 1/2 c. applesauce

· 1/2 c. pumpkin puree

· 1 egg

Frosting

· 1 c. low-fat cream cheese

· 1 T. honey

· 1 T. low-fat yogurt

Decoration

· Bananas, sliced

· Strawberries

· Blueberries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Lightly grease a 9-in. cake pan
  3. Sift flour and baking soda into large bowl
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  4. Add remaining ingredients and mix well
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  5. Pour batter into greased pan
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  6. Bake for 30 min. or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
  7. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting
  8. Blend cream cheese, honey and yogurt in a bowl
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  9. Use an icing spatula or butter knife to frost
  10. Slice fruit and decorate
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Bonus Tips!

· If you don’t plan on sharing this treat with your pet, you can use their favorite treats as decoration.

· Planning a full pet-friendly spread? Here are a few more recipes to try:

            · Frozen Appetizers

            · Turkey Feast

            · Apple + Carrot Treats

Bon appétit!


Monday June 15, 2015

5 Clues to Detect Cat Illnesses

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It can be hard to tell if a cat is sick, since our notoriously independent friends may mask or hide their symptoms. These clues can help you tell if you should take your cat to the veterinarian.

Clue #1

Messy Coat Some cats stop grooming when they don’t feel well and may have a dull or oily coat. Over-grooming can also be a sign of anxiety or illness causing bald patches and red, irritated skin.

Clue #2:

Weight Change Cats who start turning their nose up at their food bowls may be sick. Sudden weight gain can also be a sign that something is up. What looks like extra pounds could actually be abdominal swelling. 

Clue #3

Eye and Ear Issues A cat’s eyes and ears can reveal a health issue. The eyes should be bright and clear with no cloudy film, and the ears shouldn’t show any signs of discharge or inflammation.

Clue #4

Mouth Trouble Do you cringe at your cat’s breath? That could be a sign of a problem. Very stinky breath or discolored gums can be a symptom of gingivitis or tooth decay, which can lead to infection.

Clue #5

Behavioral Problems If your typically social kitty has suddenly become shy and irritable, you may have a sick feline on your hands. Litter box issues can also point to a problem, like a bladder infection or blockage.

If you detect any signs of sickness in your cat, be sure to call your veterinarian. Need to find a veterinarian for your cat? Our Vet Clinic Finder can help you locate one in your area. Also, if your cat isn’t covered, you can learn more about our plans.


Wednesday June 10, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Jake

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Jake's full name is “J&S Faithful Jake”, and he is the son of a famous competition Super Retriever Series Champion. He is daddy’s best friend, and a bed hog, taking everyone’s covers.


Monday June 8, 2015

6 Tips for Perfect Engagement Photos with Pets

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Engagement photos are one way to showcase different aspects of your unique love story. For many pet parents, their dog or cat plays a special part in this tale of true love, so it makes sense that they want their four-legged friends included in their photos.

While working with pets can sometimes be a challenge, professional photographer and dog parent Amanda Ellis has shared with us these secrets of the trade for capturing the perfect shot.

  1. Primp and Prep

You wouldn’t roll up to your engagement session with bedhead, and the same should go for your pet! Depending on the breed, a quick brushing may suffice. Otherwise, a trip to a groomer may be in order to make sure your pet is looking sharp.

  1. Work It Out

A nice long walk or a good game of fetch are perfect ways to tire out your dog, so they are less likely to be overly excited and running in every direction during the session. This tip is especially important for young or high-energy pets.

  1. Keywords are Crucial

Do certain words make your dog get really excited or focused? For example, ‘treats’ and ‘car ride’ grab the attention of many pets. Let your photographer know the words that pique your pet’s interest so they can put them to use at key moments.

  1. Bring the Bestie

Some of our favorite photos feature a pet’s head cocked to one side, and these are the result of someone squeaking their favorite toy just off camera. Proper utilization of your pet’s best stuffed pal will help ensure their personality shines.

  1. Food for the Win

If your pet is more food driven, be sure to pack their favorite treats. This way the photographer can easily bribe them into sitting, staying and laying down on command.

  1. Safety Above All

The safety of your pet should be the highest priority for your photographer. Pets should remain leashed during the session, especially if you are shooting in an open field or at a park. Also, costumes should be free of choking hazards like loose buttons, sequins or pearls. Accessories like bow ties and hats should fit snugly, but not so tight as to restrict movement or hinder breathing.

Bonus Tips!

We know it can be challenging to photograph pets with black fur, but there is no such thing as an un-photogenic pet. These tips will help you capture your raven-haired beauty’s best side.


Monday June 1, 2015

Little Ways to Show Your Pet You Love Them

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What do you give somebody who offers you full and unconditional love?

We asked around and came up with this list of not-so-obvious-ways to show your pet how much they mean to you. It’s the little things that count after all!

· Cook them breakfast.

Periodically adding a cooked egg to your dog’s morning meal can help keep their coat shiny.

· Be courteous.

Simple phrases like please, thank you, good morning and good night may mean the world to them.

· Visit the veterinarian.

Caring for a pet means caring for their health, too. Don’t forget to schedule an annual checkup!

· Plan a spa day.

Pamper them with a good brushing, bath, nail trimming, teeth brushing and ear cleaning!

· Write a poem.

Pets can interpret tone of voice, and what sounds more loving than a poem?

· Take an adventure.

Go for a car ride. Take a new route around the neighborhood. Wander through the woods. Just explore.

· Use positive reinforcement.

Every animal, be it dog, cat or human, loves praise and adoration for a job well done.

· Get on their level.

Love is built on trust, and getting down on all fours to play reassures pets of your affection.

· Make a present.

Store-bought toys are fun, but handmade gifts inherently have that little something special.

· Be supportive.

They’re always there for us, which is why we owe them cuddles, care and a leg to lean on.

Have a suggestion for the list? Tweet us at @ASPCAPetIns!


Wednesday May 27, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Milo

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Milo loves to wrestle with his twin brother Otis and chase his two older feline siblings too. He plays with his fishing pool so incessantly that he ends up panting like a dog. His favorite places to nap are on clean laundry and in laundry baskets. Milo is also quite the notorious cuddle monster and curls up next to everyone in the house, including the dogs!


Monday May 25, 2015

Making Friends: Introduction & Socialization Tips

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Are you adding a pet to your home? Maybe you’re moving in with a new roommate, combining households with a spouse or giving your current pet a furry brother or sister. Whatever the reason or combination of pets, these tips can help make the transition less hairy.

Introducing Adult Pets

Dog Meet Dog

When introducing two dogs, keep the initial interactions short and sweet, and never leave the dogs unsupervised. Watch for signs of aggression, like low growling, and separate them at the first sign of trouble. Offer plenty of praise and rewards when they get along well together.

Cat Meet Cat

For two cats, a staged approach is best. Start by keeping them in separate rooms so that they can get used to the sounds and scents each other. Then let them spend time a little time together in the same room, but only under your supervision. You can continue to let them interact more if that works out well.

Cat Meet Dog

With this combination, it’s best to do everything to make the introduction as calm and stress-free as possible for everyone involved, especially the cat. For example, you may want to tire the dog out with a long walk beforehand, and use a leash during the first encounter. Let the cat set the pace, and never force interaction.

It can take time and patience, but even cats and dogs have been known to live happily ever after. If you have any issues or concerns, don't hesitate to talk with your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist who can offer advice on your specific situation.

Socializing Puppies

Adult pets are one thing, but bringing puppies into the home can bring with it a whole new set of adventures. Whether your dog is expecting a litter, you’re bringing home a newborn puppy or you’re fostering puppies for a local shelter, these tips can help you take care of newborn puppies and socialize them as happy members of the family.

Still Nursing

During the first few weeks, new puppies can’t do much more than suckle and sleep, but it’s a good idea to keep visitors to a minimum. Some mother dogs can get aggressive when they feel their little charges are being threatened. Give mom and her pups lots of space and quiet time.

Recently Weaned

When the puppies reach 3 weeks old, they’ll be mobile and alert. This is a great time for them to start getting to know people of different sizes, ages, sexes and ethnicities. Keep these meetings calm at first to avoid overwhelming the puppies. You can expose them to more activity and handling as their comfort level increases.

If the mother dog is still showing aggression during this stage, you should put her in another room when visitors or potential adopters arrive. This will help keep the peace and avoid teaching the new puppies that aggressive behavior, like growling, is acceptable.

Orphaned

Puppies shouldn’t be taken away from their mom and siblings until they’re at least 8 to 10 weeks old, if possible. However, if you’re taking care of an orphan puppy, you’ll need to help your puppy learn about life as a dog.

For instance, puppies in a litter get pushed and stepped on by their siblings, which helps teach them how to deal with frustration. You can help your pup learn these lessons by throwing a few minor bumps in the road, like pulling away the bottle for a moment during feeding.

You can also introduce your puppy to a healthy female dog who may step in and correct your puppy’s manners with a little motherly advice. In addition, you can help socialize your puppy by arranging puppy “play dates” or signing up for a puppy socialization class in your area.

We wish you the best of luck with your growing household and encourage you to keep in mind that you may be eligible for a 10% discount for multiple pets from ASPCA Pet Health Insurance! Get your free quote now.


Wednesday May 20, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Major

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When he’s not napping, Major is a champion ice cube chaser. He spends his breaks at work outside playing with Sammie, a fellow office dog and German Shepherd. Major enjoys being around children, munching on carrots and riding in the car.


Monday May 18, 2015

Gettin' Crafty: No-Sew Pet Bed

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Do you want a comfy, cozy new bed for your best pal, but don’t want to spend too much money? This simple (no sewing involved!) idea may just meet your needs!

Supplies:

•  1-2 yds. of fleece material
•  2-4 lbs. Polyester Fiberfill
•  Scissors
•  Ruler/Measuring Tape

Steps:

  1. Double-up material and measure desired bed size, adding 8 in. all around.
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  2. Cut 4 in. squares out at each corner and cut fringe 4 in. deep and 1 in. wide around all four sides.
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  3. Tie 3 sides together, strip-by-strip, using double-knots.
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  4. Fill with stuffing to desired firmness.
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  5. Tie-off remaining side and give to your favorite furry friend!
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A few fun ideas to personalize your pet bed include using different material for the top and bottom portions and substituting a cotton sheet if fleece material is too heavy. Also, check out non-skid, self-adhesive pads to attach to the bottom. These will keep the bed from sliding on wood or tile floor.