Pet Insurance Blog

Monday March 30, 2015

Learn the Signs of Lyme Disease

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Lyme disease is a bacterial infection whose primary carrier is the deer tick (aka blacklegged tick). The parasitic feeder, commonly found in the eastern and northern Midwestern United States, is not to be confused with the bear tick of the West Coast. The tick feeds on rodents early on and later attaches to a dog or human and transmits the disease-causing bacteria.

According to our friends at the ASPCA®, clinical signs of Lyme disease include:

•  Depression
•  Swelling of the lymph nodes
•  Loss of appetite and fever
•  Lameness
•  Swollen, painful joints
•  Renal failure

If your dog is exhibiting any of these signs, you may want to visit your veterinarian for tests that may include a physical examination, blood tests and possibly radiographs.  Quick treatment, typically a round of antibiotics, can have your dog feeling better in 48 hours.

Many parasite prevention options that treat fleas also kill ticks, and our friends at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) offer some great advice on how to put those preventative products to use safely. You can also help ensure your dog is safe from infestation by mowing your lawn regularly, removing tall weeds and covering garbage to keep out rodents.

Be sure to check out 101 Things You Didn't Know Could Harm Your Pet for more tips and information!


Sunday March 29, 2015

Customer Story: An Expensive Palate

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“I was preparing a dish for a party and had a pound of very expensive, fancy cheese in a cellophane wrapper. I walked away to grab something and found Violet, a rescue dog not known for counter surfing, had eaten the cheese—wrapper and all!

During an all-day stay at the veterinarian’s office, they tried to induce vomiting three times but ultimately let Violet pass the cheese on her own.

Violet is fine now, and we watch the counters more closely. I truly appreciate our ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan!” –Alice R., Provo, UT

We'd love to hear if we've helped your pet. Share your story, and it may be featured on our blog.


Wednesday March 25, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Sam

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Sam's idea of a perfect day starts with a car ride so he can feel the wind in my fur, followed by a long walk with mom and dad so he can smell and pee on everything. Next, he will act super cute until he is fed me a cube of cheese. His day would end with a tummy rub on the couch until he falls asleep.


Monday March 23, 2015

How to Housebreak Your Puppy

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The keys to successfully housebreaking a puppy are positivity, patience and consistency. According to our friends at the ASPCA®, pet parents should follow a couple main guidelines: 

•  Prevent indoor accidents through confinement and close supervision
•  Take the puppy outside on a frequent and regular schedule and reward him for eliminating where you want him to go.

Once your puppy has hit the 12-week mark, they should have developed bladder and bowel control and be ready for potty training. Some puppies train quickly, but others may take up to age 1 to get the hang of it fully–this is where patience becomes very important.

  1. Maintain a consistent feeding schedule. This means no food between meals!
  2. Make bathroom breaks routine–think morning, noon, night and bedtime. It is also wise to adhere to the 15-minute rule. After your puppy eats, drinks, exercises or wake up, give him a chance to go to the bathroom.
  3. Know where your puppy is at all times and learn the signs he needs a potty break. Indicators may include pacing, whining, circling, sniffing or leaving the room.
  4. Confine your pup to a crate or a small room with the door shut or blocked by a baby gate when you are not able to watch him. Gradually give him freedom over the coming days or weeks.
  5. Praise, treats, playtime or walkies are all wonderful rewards for when your puppy eliminates outdoors as intended.
  6. If you catch your puppy mid-mistake indoors, clap loudly twice to distract him and then quickly run him outside, encouraging him to ‘come’ the whole way.

It’s important to note that, on average, a puppy can usually only hold his waste for the same number of hours as his age in months. For example, a 4-month-old pup should not be left alone for more than four consecutive hours.

If your puppy continues to have house soiling issues, a visit to your veterinarian may be in order to rule out any medical causes.


Sunday March 22, 2015

Customer Story: A Shark Tale

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“We took our Poodles, Frank and Alice, to the vet for X-rays after we found them chewing on a shark mandible. We left the mandible on the table after visiting with some friends. We walked out of the room for a second and came back to Frank gnawing on it!

Luckily, Frank a very efficient chewer and they only found very small fragments in his stomach. Claire was also clear.” –Alexa G., Sacramento, CA

We'd love to hear if we've helped your pet. Share your story, and it may be featured on our blog.


Wednesday March 18, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Duke

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Duke keeps his nose to the ground while on patrol in the yard, and his heart on his sleeve when cuddling on the couch. He will also eat ANYTHING he can sneak. He once ended up in the emergency room after hooking himself on a fishing lure.


Monday March 16, 2015

10 Dangerous Pills for Pets

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In recognition of Poison Prevention Awareness Month, we want to share with you this rundown of the top 10 most common human medication complaints as received by our friends at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. This article originally appeared on AVMA.org.

Anyone who takes medication prescribed for someone else puts themselves at risk of illness or even death - and this applies to your pets, too! Although there are many medications used in both animals and people, the effects, doses needed, and other things aren't always the same.

About one-quarter of all phone calls to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) are about human medications. Your pet can easily ingest dropped pills or may be given harmful human medications by an unknowing owner, resulting in illness, or even death, of your pet.

The APCC provided us with the 10 most common human medication complaints they receive. Here they are, in order based on the number of complaints:

  1. Ibuprofen – Ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) is the most common human medication ingested by pets. Many brands have a sweet outer coating that makes it appealing to pets (think "M&M," but a potentially deadly one). Ibuprofen can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.
  2. Tramadol – Tramadol (Ultram®) is a pain reliever. Your veterinarian may prescribe it for your pet, but only at a dose that's appropriate for your pet – never give your medication to your pet without first consulting your veterinarian! Too much tramadol can cause sedation or agitation, wobbliness, disorientation, vomiting, tremors and possibly seizures.
  3. Alprazolam – Alprazolam (Xanax®) is prescribed as an anti-anxiety medication and a sleep-aid. Most pets that ingest alprazolam can become sleepy and wobbly; however a few will become very agitated instead. These pills are commonly ingested by pets as people put them out on the nightstand so they remember to take them. Large doses of alprazolam can drop the blood pressure and could cause weakness or collapse.
  4. Adderall® – Adderall® is a combination of four different amphetamines and is used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. This medication doesn't have the same effect in pets as it does in people; it acts as a stimulant in our pets and causes elevated heart rate and body temperature, along with hyperactivity, tremors and seizures.
  5. Zolpidem – Zolpidem (Ambien®) is a sleep-aid for people. Pets commonly eat pills left on the bedside table. Zolpidem may make cats wobbly and sleepy, but most pets become very agitated and develop elevated heart rates.
  6. Clonazepam – Clonazepam (Klonopin®) is used as an anticonvulsant and anti-anxiety medication. It is sometimes also prescribed as a sleep-aid. When animals ingest clonazepam they can become sleep and wobbly. Too much clonazepam can lower the blood pressure, leading to weakness or collapse.
  7. Acetaminophen – Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is a very common pain killer found in most households. Cats are extremely sensitive to acetaminophen, but dogs can be affected too. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage. It can also cause damage to your pet's red blood cells so that the cells are unable to carry oxygen – like your body, your pet's body needs oxygen to survive.
  8. Naproxen – Naproxen (Aleve®, Naprosyn®) is an over-the-counter pain reliever. Dogs and cats are very sensitive to naproxen and even small amounts can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.
  9. Duloxetine – Duloxetine (Cymbalta®) is prescribed as an antidepressant and anti-anxiety agent. When ingested by pets it can cause agitation, vocalization, tremors and seizures.
  10. Venlafaxine – Venlafaxine (Effexor®) is an antidepressant. For some unknown reason, cats love to eat the capsules. Ingestion can cause agitation, vocalization, tremors and seizures.

As you can tell from this list, a medication that does one thing for people does not necessarily do the same for our pets. And although this may be the list of the medications about which the APCC receives the largest numbers of complaints, remember that any human medication could pose a risk to your pets – not just these 10.

You can keep your pets safe by following simple common sense guidelines:

•  Always keep human medications away from pets unless you are specifically instructed by a veterinarian to give the medication;
•  Do not leave pills sitting on counter or any place a pet can get to them;
•  Do not leave pill bottles within reach of pets (You'll be surprised how fast your dog can chew through a pill bottle.);
•  If you're taking medications out of the bottle and you drop any of it, pick it up immediately so you know your pet won't be able to eat it;
•  Always contact your veterinarian if your pet has ingested any medication not prescribed for them;
•  Never give your medication (or any medications prescribed for a two-legged family member) to your pet without first consulting a veterinarian.

...and last, but not least, always keep the number for your veterinarian and the APCC handy. You don't want to be looking for it in an emergency situation! Feel free to print this page, cut out the box below, fill out the info, and put it in a handy place (or maybe a few handy places).


Monday March 9, 2015

Gettin’ Crafty: Upcycled Pet Food Storage Container

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A perfect project for pet parents who want a durable and adorable—not to mention environmentally friendly—place to store their pet’s food! 

Supplies

•  An empty popcorn tin or small metal trash can with a lid
•  A can of spray paint (any color)
•  A self-adhesive chalkboard label
•  Chalk

Steps

  1. Wash, rinse and dry your container.
  2. Turn the container upside-down in well-ventilated area like on the lawn or in an open garage atop a painter’s tarp or old towel.
  3. Spray paint the outside of container and it’s lid, and let it dry.
  4. Adhere chalkboard label to side of the container.
  5. Identify the contents by writing on the label with a piece of chalk.

Personalize your container by decorating the label with different colors of chalk, maybe even adding a cute paw print design, and getting a new food scoop to match your newly revamped container.

 


Sunday March 8, 2015

Customer Story: A Frightful Tale of Ingested Plastic

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“I was scared when my cat swallowed a bit of plastic, and we took him to the veterinarian. It wasn't just the anesthesia, X-rays and other procedures that scared me, it was the price tag as well. Our ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan covered a lot of the claim, and everyone there was truly concerned about my cat's health. They asked about his health every time they called to go over the claim. It was really sweet, and they made it so much easier to deal with such a scary experience. Thank you!” –Jeni R., Dublin, OH

We'd love to hear if we've helped your pet. Share your story and it may be featured on our blog.


Wednesday March 4, 2015

5 Tips to Handle a Pet Poison Emergency

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In our March customer newsletter, we listed three common pet toxins for Poison Prevention Awareness Month. While you can’t always prevent a poison accident, these tips can help you manage the situation.

  1. Avoid the urge to panic. Your pet needs you to think clearly and act smartly. Plus, if you’re calm, it can help your pet stay calm.
  2. Be careful handling a sick pet. Even the sweetest cats or dogs can react in an unpredictable manner when they are in pain, scared or upset.
  3. Seek medical help. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435) right away. Poison Control may charge a $65 consultation fee, but a portion of that may be covered if your pet is enrolled with ASPCA Pet Health Insurance.
  4. Have useful information handy. When you call the ASPCA APCC, you may be asked to provide your pet’s breed, age and weight as well as details about the incident.
  5. Don’t try to treat your pet yourself. It’s best to consult a professional first. If you try to treat your pet on your own, you could get hurt or cause further harm to your four-legged friend.

If your pet is exposed to a toxic substance, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance can help cover the costs of treatment. Need coverage? Start with a free quote now. Already covered? Visit the Member Center to see your plan details.


Sunday March 1, 2015

Customer Story: Surgery Required for Thumbtack Removal

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“Buckley, our young Bichon, saw a piece of paper dangling from the wall and grabbed it before anyone could stop him. He then swallowed the thumbtack that fell with the paper. We rushed Buckley to the veterinarian for X-rays. He had to have surgery to remove the thumbtack and spent several days at the vet before returning home. As a result, we no longer keep anything close to the floor!” –Abby W., Staten Island, NY

We'd love to hear if we've helped your pet. Share your story and it may be featured on our blog.