Pet Insurance Blog

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.


Sunday April 19, 2015

Customer Story: Whiskey, Chocolate and Dogs Don’t Mix

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“I came home from work to find that my dog Stella and another canine friend had gotten into a bottle of bourbon whiskey and several large bars of dark chocolate. We thought we had placed it all high enough for this not to happen, but we were wrong.

We called poison control and induced vomiting, but just foam came up. The next morning, Stella was still vomiting, and we took her to the veterinarian for a thorough check-up. Thankfully, she was alright.

As the lighter of the two dogs, the situation could have become very serious for her if she would have eaten a large amount of the chocolate. Instead, she must have been suffering from a hangover of sorts. Both pets are fine now.” –Marianne G., White Plains, NY

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


Wednesday April 15, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Lincoln

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Though now he is just the "boring old man" around the office, Lincoln used to do a variety of tricks from shake to speak and roll over in addition to going for daily runs.  He is everyone's best friend, especially if you're a child or have treats! Want to make Lincoln grin from ear to ear? Offer him a taste of your popcorn or oranges.


Monday April 13, 2015

Top Outdoor Pet Safety Tips

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Does your pet love to spend time outside in your yard? While it’s great to let your pet enjoy the fresh air, it’s important to pet-proof the area around your house. These outdoor pet safety tips can help you keep your four-legged friend safe.

  1. Look for pet-friendly products. Use lawn and gardening products that aren’t harmful to pets whenever possible and follow the instructions carefully.
  2. Avoid cocoa bean mulch. The smell and taste of this mulch can be very tempting to pets, but like chocolate, it contains theobromine, which is toxic for dogs and cats.
  3. Put tools away. When you’re done working on the lawn or in your garden, store rakes, trowels and other tools safely so your pet can’t step on them and get hurt.
  4. Consider a cat enclosure. If your feline longs to go outside, you can set up a secure cat enclosure, which is safer than letting your kitty roam free.
  5. Watch the grass eating. While eating a few blades is typically safe, your pet could get an upset tummy from ingesting too much grass. Also, keep your pet away from grass treated with chemicals.
  6. Remove hazardous plants. Make sure your yard is clear of toxic plants, like lilies and daffodils. Some mushrooms can be harmful, too. Watch out for them, especially after heavy rains when they tend to pop up.

Also, remember to check your pet for ticks, which can carry Lyme Disease, after a good romp outside.


Monday April 13, 2015

Traveling with Your Dog

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Spring has arrived, and nothing helps to shake off winter’s icy chill like a relaxing weekend away with your favorite furry friend! Taking your dog on a trip can be an unforgettable experience, and we’re here to help make sure every moment is memorable.

Road Travel

Before hitting the road, have your dog burn off some energy with a brisk walk around the block or a rousing game of fetch in the backyard. In addition to making for a much calmer ride, this will give your dog a chance to relieve himself one last time too.

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

Air Travel

Our friends at the ASPCA® urges pet parents to think twice about flying their pets on commercial airlines, especially if they plan on checking them in as cargo. But, if you have already committed to air travel, these top tips can help make the journey safer.

Lodging

There are thousands of motels, hotels and campsites across the country that accepts guests with pets.

Hotel

Look into the hotel's policy before you book. Some require a deposit or non-refundable fee. Others won't allow pets to be left alone in the room, even when crated. Bring along a favorite blankie or toy to help your pet feel at home.

Campsite

Just like when booking a hotel, you will want to check the campsite’s pet policy. Almost all will require your dog to be leashed and supervised at all times for safety’s sake. Additionally, you shouldn’t leave food in the bowl when your dog is not eating because it can attract wild animals. Collars with tags, flea/tick protection, a first-aid kit and plenty of water are must-haves for any outdoor stay!

Don’t forget to also looking into doggy daycare and boarding facilities in the area, just in case you’d like to see some sights that do not permit four-legged visitors.

What to Bring

Take a look at our list below for items you will want to be sure to pack in your dog’s suitcase whether you are staying in a cozy suite or roughing it the great outdoors.

Pet Travel Essentials Checklist

✔ Collar and ID tags
✔ Leash and harness
✔ Crate or safety harness
✔ Vaccination records (airlines/hotels may require them)
✔ Pet first-aid kit
✔ Any needed medications
✔ Food/water bowls (collapsible ones travel well)
✔ Food, water and treats
✔ Litter box or waste bags
✔ Grooming supplies
✔ Favorite blankie and toys
✔ Recent photo (in case your pet gets lost)

The phone number of a veterinarian or emergency clinic near your destination will also be important to keep handy, so you know who to call in an emergency. Our Vet Clinic Finder can help you locate one nearby.

Happy trails!


Sunday April 12, 2015

Customer Story: Caring Counts

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“I've had ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plans for our three dogs for a long time. When one of them has a problem, I choose the best thing for them and not just the cheapest treatment. Also, the customer service staff is amazing every time I call! They call to check on our pet, not our payment! They actually have concern for our furry family. Has your insurance company ever called to check on your welfare? Doubt it. I recommend them to friends all the time.” –Maggie N., Carson City, NV

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


Wednesday April 8, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Weston

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Weston loves to be outdoors, go for long runs and is happiest when playing with his four-legged friends. He met his pet parents at a pet supply store during an adoption event. They were shopping for fish food but just couldn’t resist Weston’s charm.