Pet Insurance Blog

Wednesday April 22, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Spanky


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


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


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.”


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.


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.


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


“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


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


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


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.


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


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.


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


“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


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.

Sunday April 5, 2015

Customer Story: Beyond Expectations


“My dog has liver issues, and her pet insurance plan is a big help when it comes to covering her annual procedures. The customer service is above and beyond any I have experienced. What other company calls just to ask how your dog is doing? All my claims are processed quickly, and I never have issues getting answers to my questions.” –Liz K., Hartford, CT

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


“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


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


“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.