Pet Insurance Blog

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.


Tuesday May 12, 2015

What to Expect at Your Pet’s Check-up

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A health problem caught in its early stages is more likely to be treated and resolved with less expense, less difficulty and better success—this is why regular check-ups are so important for our pets!

We know these visits can seem a bit scary, especially to new pet parents and their adopted pals. That's why we've mapped out what you can expect at your pet’s annual exam to help eliminate any unnecessary apprehension.

Q&A

Your vet will typically start by gathering information from you about your pet. After all, who knows your pet better than you? Specific questions will vary depending on your pet’s age, breed and medical history. If you have any questions about your pet’s health or care, this is a great time to ask.

Physical Exam

Your pet will be examined from whiskers-to-tail. Your vet will check the eyes, ears, skin and fur, paws, joints, teeth and mouth, stomach, heart and lungs. The doctor will be on the look out for any abnormalities or signs of health problems, such as skin conditions, ear infections or weight gain.

Preventative Care

Depending on your pet’s vaccination schedule, your furry friend may need to get a vaccine or booster shot during this visit. Vaccines are one of the best things you can do for your pet’s health since they can protect against serious diseases. Your vet may also have some wellness care recommendations, such as dental care tips, diet adjustments and exercise ideas.

If you have wellness coverage with ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, an annual exam and vaccines are covered. See your plan details at the Member Center. If you’re considering wellness coverage, you can learn more by starting a free quote.


Monday May 11, 2015

Top 5 Wellness Coverage Questions

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Wellness care is key to keeping our pets happy and healthy. For instance, a regular checkup can help catch illnesses that cats are notoriously good at hiding. It’s also commonly when dog parents stock up on important flea and tick medications, too.

Here are more answers to top questions to help you better understand what wellness coverage is all about.

1. Why is wellness coverage important?

Wellness care can help your pet live a longer and happier life, but the costs for annual exams, vaccines, and other wellness treatments can add up. Wellness coverage is a great way to help manage these expenses.

We even send reminders to use your wellness benefits, which can help you remember to schedule those appointments.

2. How does it work?

With wellness coverage, you get reimbursed a set amount for listed treatments. You don't need to meet a deductible first or satisfy your co-insurance. The list of covered treatments depends on whether you choose our Routine Wellness or Advanced Wellness option.

3. What’s the cost?

Routine Wellness is $10 a month for up to $200 in benefits per year—that’s $80 more than you pay in. Advanced Wellness is $25 a month for up to $400 in benefits per year, which is $100 more than you pay in.

If you have wellness coverage, be sure to send in your claims to take full advantage of your benefits!

4. Which option is right for me?

Of course, that answer depends on your needs. Routine Wellness provides core wellness coverage at a low cost. Advanced Wellness gives you more comprehensive coverage, including dental cleanings as well as flea and tick medication.

5. How do I sign up?

If you don’t have an ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan, you can sign up for wellness coverage when you get a quote and enroll your pet online. Just select the wellness option that fits your needs.

If you’re already a customer, you can add wellness coverage when your yearly policy re-issuance date comes up. You’ll receive an email around that time with a reminder to call us if you’d like to make any changes to your plan.

Want to know more? Check out our May newsletter for additional answers to wellness coverage FAQs!