Pet Insurance Blog

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!


Wednesday May 6, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Zyra

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Zyra got her name from the "League of Legends" video game. Her favorite spot in the house is on her pet mom's bed, and she "has more energy than the Energizer Bunny". She must have lost a sock in the dryer because she only ever wears three. Kidding! She has three white paws and one black one.


Monday May 4, 2015

Moving with Your Pet

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Have you found a new place to call home? Congratulations! Moving can be an adventure, especially if you have pets, but these tips will hopefully make the process a smooth one.

Packing

When packing with pets, safety should be a top priority. It is important to keep packing peanuts out of paw’s reach and check boxes for sleeping cats before taping. You should also know which box contains veterinary records in case of an emergency.

Your pet may also need some time to adjust to this big change. Try bringing in moving boxes early and keep your pet in a familiar room that you plan to pack up last. Later on moving day, give your pet some quiet space in a room with a door that shuts or at a friend’s house. Doing this will help to keep your pet calm and avoid any attempted escapes through propped-open doors while the truck is being loaded.

Traveling

If your pet hasn’t spent much time in crates or cars, gradually acclimate them to their crates in the weeks or months leading up to the big trip. Our friends at the ASPCA® recommend first placing your pet’s food inside an open crate and eventually having them eat their meals in it with the door shut. Also, practice carrying your pets around the house in the crate or taking a short drive.

Dog owners should help their canine pals burn off some energy with a brisk walk around the block or a rousing game of fetch in the backyard before hitting the road. In addition to making for a much calmer ride, this will give your dog a chance to relieve himself one last time too. More tips for traveling with you dog are available here.

Once you’re packed up, use a crate or a harness to keep your pet safe in the car. If your pet is the excitable type, a treat-filled puzzle toy can help provide a distraction.

Settling In

It may be tempting to let your pet loose in your house right away, but this may be overwhelming for them. Take it one room at a time, allowing them to adjust slowly. Try establishing a “home base” that includes their favorite toys, treats, water and food bowls, and litter box for cats. Your cat’s litter box can be slowing moved to a different room if need be.

You should also make it a priority to find a new veterinarian, especially if you have a pet that requires specialized care or is accident-prone. Our Vet Finder can help you locate a licensed veterinarian or ask around—it can be a great way to meet neighbors!

As you prepare for exciting and sometimes overwhelming undertaking, we wish you the best and don’t forget that you can use any licensed veterinarian in the US or Canada with our pet insurance. Get your free quote now.


Sunday May 3, 2015

Customer Story: Hook, Line and Sinker

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“My little Scooter was doing his thing and getting into everything while we were cleaning the garage. All the sudden he let out a scream when he came in contact with a treble hook hanging off of a fishing pole. It hadn’t hooked him, but it did scratch him and draw a good deal of blood. I took him into the kitchen to cleanse and pack the scratch with flour to stop the bleeding. After a trip to the veterinarian, where painkillers were prescribed, he spent a week with his ear bandaged up.” –Anika T., Baton Rouge, LA

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


Wednesday April 29, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Lucy

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Lucy, a Golden Retriever/Chow mix, is always sporting an ear-to-ear grin, sometimes even when she's napping. She is happiest exploring hiking trails or winning a great game of tug-of-war. Lucy loves to snack on Brussels sprouts, green beans and bits of banana.


Monday April 27, 2015

Kids and Pets: A Perfect Pairing

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In case you missed it, this past Sunday was National Kids & Pets Day. According to pet lifestyle expert Colleen Paige, who created the special day: “National Kids & Pets Day is dedicated to furthering the magical bond between children and animals, to help bring awareness to the plight of pets in shelters awaiting new homes and educating the public about safety between children and pets.”

Having a pet in the family is a personal choice, of course, but children can benefit from pets in many ways. In addition to being lots of fun, pets can also:

Provide a source of emotional and physical comfort
• Help boost a child's confidence and self-esteem
• Support a connection to nature and a respect for living things
• Promote exercise with walks outside or interactive games
• Teach responsibility, especially to older kids who can help care for a pet

Health Benefits

In addition to the love and joy pets bring into our homes, did you know they can also improve your health? Over the years, studies have found that pets can boost our health in measurable ways.+

Stress Relievers

Nothing melts away the stress of a day like a warm snuggle from your pet. But it may be more than psychological relief. Research has revealed that pets can help lower blood pressure and anxiety levels.

Heart Helpers

Pets can have positive effects on our hearts. Studies have reported better survival rates for heart attack patients with pets and improved heart rate variability, which is an indicator of heart health.

Mental Boosters

Our furry pals may also combat depression. In studies, pet-assisted therapy helped reduce depression in chemotherapy patients, and pets reduced stress for people caring for loved ones with dementia.

Training Benefits

It is important for pets to receive consistent messaging during potty and obedience training. Which is why training time is also a perfect opportunity for your children to both contribute to your pet’s care and learn about leadership and bonding.

A fun game like hide-and-seek can help bolster your with your pet’s recall while teaching your child how to give a common command. Here are a few fun suggestions:

• Create a pet playground with discarded gift boxes and wrapping paper.
• Play hide-and-seek with your pet by hiding treats around the house.
• Practice a new trick, like speaking, shaking hands, or rolling over.
• Give your pet a treat-dispensing toy to knock around the house.
• Throw a small ball across the room for a good old-fashioned game of fetch.

And don't forget one of the best ways to bond — a good, long cuddle!

Not sure what type of pet you should add to your family? Check out this short video.

+ Sources: K. Arhant-Sudhir, R. Arhant-Sudhir, K. Sudhir, Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, 2011; C. Westgarth, BMC Veterinary Research, 2007; M. Orlandi, Anticancer Research, 2007; S. Lupien, Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2010


Sunday April 26, 2015

Customer Story: Britta’s Accidental Swim

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“We let Britta out early in the morning for bathroom duties. We live in farm country, and it was quite dark at that time. A neighbor had his septic tank cover off and in Britta had stumbled. A deaf dog, Britta didn’t hear my cry out in warning. I also have a disability that made it hard for me to reach in and retrieve Britta, but that smart dog got up on a ledge of sorts and I was able to grab her. My fiancé took her to the groomer for a bath, and the groomer recommended a vet visit. Turns out, Britta had an ear infection that required treatment.” –Kathleen B., Vineland, NJ

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


Wednesday April 22, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Spanky

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Spanky's favorite thing is to jump from the floor to the top of the doors and balance while screaming erratically. He also likes to bring his pet parent his very worn and tattered pink mouse as a gift of his ongoing love and appreciation. In Spanky's mind, he may be partially bird. He would love to be carried around on his pet parent's shoulder every day if possible.


Monday April 20, 2015

Everything You Need to Know About Hairballs

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Hairballs, a scourge known most cat parents and some fluffy dog parents, are the messy consequences of a pet’s personal grooming hygiene routine.

Causes:

Quite often, loose fur is inadvertently swallowed, passes through a cat’s digestive system and collects in the stool. Some hair, however, remains in the stomach or small intestine and results in the hacking/gagging/retching noises that play like an all-too-familiar symphony to a pet parent’s ears. A hairball is then regurgitated and left for discovery.

Long-haired cats and cats who compulsively groom are most prone to hairballs. According to our friends at the ASPCA®:“In some cases, frequent vomiting of hairballs may indicate an underlying gastrointestinal problem, such as inflammatory bowel disease or cancer.”

Symptoms:

The most telling sign a cat has a hairball is when they repeatedly make a hacking cough-type noise. Periodic vomiting of food or mucus may occur prior to the release of the hairball, as well as a decrease in appetite and constipation or diarrhea.

Treatment:

Many times the situation will work itself out, but a veterinarian should be consulted if symptoms continue for more than 24 hours. It is rare, but sometimes hairballs can get lodged in the esophagus or cause intestinal blockages that may require surgery.

Prevention:

Cats are great self-groomers, but brushing them daily and wiping away loose hair with a clean cloth can greatly help decrease the formation of hairballs. Enthusiastic groomers can often be distracted from their favorite task with a new toy or game to play. See below for a few fun suggestions.

Hairball remedies or lubricants, which help hair pass through the intestinal tract, can be found at your local pet supply store. There are also a number of cat foods available that are specifically formulated to reduce hairballs. They do so by improving skin coat health, reducing shedding and increasing your cat’s fiber intake.

Game of Chase:

Try attaching a string to your belt loop or use a treat to start a game of chase, running from room to room with your cat close behind. You can also tie a cat toy securely to a ruler and move it up and down for your cat to jump after. Be careful your pet doesn't chew apart and swallow any toys or strings after you're done!

Go Exploring:

Create a pet playground with discarded gift boxes, wrapping paper, empty paper bags or cardboard boxes. You can also crumple up newspaper and throw it for your cat to pounce on and bat all around the house.