Pet Insurance Blog

Monday January 26, 2015

Pets & Cancer

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According to the Animal Cancer Foundation, roughly 6 million dogs and a similar number of cats are diagnosed with cancer each year. Cancer is a scary word, but new treatments and preventative tactics are helping us win the fight against the disease.

Early detection is key and knowing the symptoms can make all the difference. Be sure to keep an eye out for:

  • • Lumps
  • • Swelling
  • • Persistent sores
  • • Abnormal discharge from any part of the body
  • • Bad breath
  • • Listlessness/lethargy
  • • Rapid, often unexplained, weight loss
  • • Sudden lameness
  • • Black, tarry stools
  • • Decreased or loss of appetite
  • • Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating

For more information about cancer in pets, visit our friends at the ASPCA®.


Monday January 5, 2015

Bath Time Tips

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Bath time doesn’t have to be a battle. Use these tips to make the cleansing process more fun for both you and your furry friend!

  • Temperature- Just like Goldilocks, you’ll want to find a lukewarm temperature that’s just right for your pet.
  • Toys- Rubber duckies aren’t just for children! Bath toys can help keep your dog entertained while you concentrate on the task at hand.
  • Treats- Hand out a small snack before, during and after a good scrubbing to help your pet associate tub time with fun time.

Want more? Check out our friends at the ASPCA® for further information about bathing your dog and cat.


Monday December 22, 2014

5 Boredom Busting Winter Activities

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If your pet is showing signs of cabin fever, try these fun activities to brighten the day.

  1. Offer a treat-filled puzzle toy
  2. Arrange a pet play date
  3. Play fetch or chase inside
  4. Set up a treat hunt around the house
  5. Go on an outing to a pet store

Check out even more fun ideas here!


Saturday December 20, 2014

Beat the Winter Doldrums with Indoor Fun

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The snow and cold have arrived. If you are looking for fun winter activities for you and your pet, these ideas will chase Old Man Winter away:

  • • 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 warm up on a cold day – a good, long cuddle with your furry friend.


Monday December 15, 2014

7 Safety Shortcuts for a Happy Holiday

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With so much going on this time of year, it’s not always easy to keep your pet safe and sound. Here are a few shortcuts to help make your holidays vet visit-free.

  1. Give a Special Treat – With all the festive foods around, why not make something special for your pet? Check out this recipe for Apple + Carrot Dog Treats.
  2. Avoid Harmful Sweets – Speaking of holiday goodies, remember to keep your pet away from troublesome treats, like chocolate and desserts sweetened with Xylitol.
  3. Raise Your Glass – Place glass ornaments and fragile decorations out of paws reach so your pet can knock them down or bat them around and break them.
  4. Enlist a Helper Elf – If you’re the host, ask a trustworthy guest to keep an eye on your pet. This way, your furry friend will be safe while you focus on the festivities.
  5. Provide a Respite – Parties can make some pets anxious or uncomfortable. Set up a warm and quiet spot out of the way where your four-legged friend can retreat.
  6. Lift the Gifts – Is your pet nosy? Put the presents atop a sturdy table. You can also help satisfy your pet’s urge to open with a treat-filled gift of his or her own.
  7. Wind Them Up – Holiday light cords can be troublesome for pets. Consider tucking them away in a cable box or winder, which you can buy at a hardware store.

If your pet does get into trouble during the holidays, an ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan can help you manage the costs. Get a free quote.


Monday December 8, 2014

How Cold is Too Cold?

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There’s a chill in the air, and you may be wondering if it’s safe to take your pet outside. While cats should never be put out in the cold, many dogs can handle low temperatures. Just keep these tips in mind.

  • • Always supervise dogs during super cold temps and don't let them stay out too long even if they’re having a ball.
    • Is your pooch the shivering sort? A cozy jacket or sweater might help. Dog boots can also be useful to keep paws warm and injury free.
    • Puppies and small breeds may need to stay inside on very cold days. Consider placing a training pad near the door until it warms up.

Read more cold weather tips here.


Monday December 8, 2014

Frosty Outside? These Cold Weather Pet Tips Can Help!

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It's cold outside, but these tips can help keep your pet healthy and safe in spite of the chill.

For cats:

  • • Keep your cat inside if possible, since felines can freeze, get lost, or suffer injuries outdoors in the cold.
    • Antifreeze has a sweet taste cats tend to like. Help avoid an accidental poisoning by cleaning spills or leaks.
    • Cats love sleeping in warm places. Prevent burns by protecting your cat from fireplaces, stoves and heaters.

For dogs:

  • • Wipe off your dog after being outdoors to remove salt and other chemicals that can be harmful if licked and ingested. Also consider using pet-safe de-icing salt.
    • Trim longhaired dogs to avoid ice and salt clinging to them, but don't go too short or they might get chilly.
    • Consider a coat or sweater, especially for shorthaired pups, to help retain body heat and prevent dry skin.

Also, be sure to offer a nutritious diet with plenty of protein to help make sure your fluffy friend's coat and health are in top shape.


Monday November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Safety

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As you plan your family’s Thanksgiving menu, keep in mind what to leave off your pet’s plate. Here are 5 expensive examples of commonly swallowed objects.+

Swallowed Object Approx. Claim Amount
Turkey Bones $2,600
Cornhusk $4,500
Plastic Baggie $4,800
Ribbon $4,270
Almonds $4,570


We’re thankful we could help these pets get the care they needed. Visit 101 Things You Didn’t Know Could Harm Your Pet for more holiday safety tips.

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Monday November 10, 2014

Tips for Photographing Black Cats & Dogs

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It can be challenging to take good photos of 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. 

Staged Setting- Choose light colored background, avoiding stark white and dark backdrops.
Soft Lighting- Bright lights wash your cat out, and they’ll only disappear in the dark.
Tight Focus- Your cat’s expression should be the focal point, not the surrounding clutter.
Creative Approach- Try out different colors, lighting and angles to find the rest combination.

Bonus Tip: Use photo editing software to brighten and sharpen photos.

Check out our Top 3 Pet Photography Tips infographic for more help coaxing out your pet’s inner supermodel!


Monday November 3, 2014

Lend a Helping Hand

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Of course, the best way to help a shelter pet is adoption. But if that’s not possible, you can still lend a hand in other meaningful ways.

Volunteer – Give some of your time to help a shelter organize events or care for animals.
Fundraise – Organize a fundraiser, like a bake sale, and donate the proceeds to a shelter.
Donate – Ask a local shelter what supplies they need and gather donations from friends.

If you have kids, you can also get them involved and give them a great lesson in caring for animals.

Want do more? Check out this list of the “Top Ten Ways to Help Your Local Shelter” from our friends at the ASPCA®.


Monday October 27, 2014

Top 3 Halloween Safety Tips

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These tips can help your pet have a happy Halloween without a scary accident:

1. Spooky Lighting– Make jack-o’-lanterns glow with battery lights, not candles, to prevent accidents.
2. No Quick Tricks– Watch that your pet doesn’t scoot out the door when you open it for trick-or-treaters.
3. Ghoulish Treats– Keep chocolate, candy with Xylitol and other toxic foods out of paw’s reach.

Learn more about why chocolate is so dangerous for your pet.


Monday October 13, 2014

Pet First-Aid Prep

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Do you know what to do if your pet has an accident? These tips can help you be better prepared.

Set a plan – Ask your vet about an emergency protocol, especially if your clinic isn’t available 24/7.
Make a kit – Have a pet first-aid kit ready with gauze, non-stick bandage pads and tape, saline eye flush and other useful items.
Be careful – Handle an injured pet with caution. Even the sweetest dog or cat can act out when hurt. And try to stay calm, so you can think clearly and avoid upsetting your pet even more.

For more advice on what to do in an emergency, visit 101 Things You Didn’t Know Could Harm Your Pet.


Monday October 6, 2014

Fire Safety Advice

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Are you prepared for a fire emergency? Here are a few tips to help get you ready.

Watch those flames – Always keep an eye on your pet around open flames, like candles, fireplace and fire pits.
Pet proof your home – Address issues, like unsecured electrical wires, that can sometimes cause pets to inadvertently start a fire.
Have an exit plan – Hang a collar and leash near both the front and back doors in case you need to evacuate quickly.

You should also affix a pet rescue alert sticker where it can be seen by emergency responders, so they’ll be aware of any pets in your home.

Get one free through the ASPCA®’s website.

For more pet safety tips, visit 101 Things You Didn’t Know Could Harm Your Pet.


Monday August 25, 2014

Treats for Furry Friends

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These cool treats are the perfect way to show your pet you care. Not to mention they are easy to make!

For dogs: Pour low-sodium chicken broth into a plastic bowl and add a small cube of cheese. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and freeze it.

For cats: Put a scoop of your feline’s favorite we food (the wetter the better!) into a plastic bowl. Mix in a few soft cat treats, cover and freeze.

After the treat is frozen, run a little hot water over the bottom of the bowl to slide the treat out. Then offer it to your pet to enjoy!


Monday August 4, 2014

How to Give Your Pet a Pill

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Many pets will eat anything—except their medications. Our friends at the ASPCA® have some tips for what to try if all else fails. Here are some tricks to try first.

How to give your pet a pill:

Get Chewable- If possible, get your pet’s medications in flavored, chewable form.
Mix It Up- If your pet is an energetic eater, try mixing the meds in with his or her kibble.
Try a Disguise- Hide the pill in a soft treat, chunk of hot dog or cheese cube and offer it to your pet.
Use Bait-and-Switch- If your pet chews her treats instead of swallowing them whole, give her a few non-medicated treats first, then give one with a pill followed by one last pill-free snack.


Monday July 14, 2014

How to Tell Your Pet's in Pain

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It’s often hard to tell pets may be in pain since they can’t tell us. For many pet parents, a cat or dog’s discomfort can be hard to spot—unless there are visible indicators like limping or bleeding.

Our friends at the ASPCA® have some examples of common pain indicators:

• Lack of normal behaviors, like grooming or eating
• Loud vocalizations, hiding or abnormal posturing
• Change in reaction to touch
• High heart rate or temperature change

If your pet is in pain or if you are unsure about a behavior change, contact your veterinarian. You can learn more about recognizing an animal’s pain here.


Monday April 28, 2014

Disaster Planning with Your Pet in Mind

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Calamity can strike at any time. Whether it is a flood, tornado, blizzard or heat wave, it is important to keep our pets in mind when making disaster preparedness plans. Our friends at the ASPCA® offer some great advice on how to prepare for a disaster.

It is especially important to keep in mind these top tips:

•   Plan Ahead for Evacuation - Know your exits and keep emergency kits and leashes handy.
•   Find a Safe Haven- Research pet-friendly shelters or emergency animal shelters in your area ahead of time.
•   Update Identification- Be sure to include your telephone number and any urgent medical needs on your pet’s ID tag.


Monday March 31, 2014

How to Read Your Pet's Body Language

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Dogs and cats rely heavily on nonverbal signals to communicate their moods and needs. Their facial expressions, ear position, tail position and movement, as well as their overall body stance convey their feelings. It’s important to understand what a dog or cat is trying to tell you so you can best respect their needs. 

To understand your pet’s nonverbal cues, it’s important to take all of these components into consideration together. After all, one cue can convey different meanings when it’s paired with different nonverbal expressions. For example, dogs wag their tails when they’re feeling aggressive and also when they’re feeling friendly. Cats purr to indicate that they’re nervous and also to tell us that they’re content.

What are some easy ways to read a pet’s mood?

Generally speaking, the position and movement of a pet’s ears and tail are the easiest details to observe from a safe distance. These clues, along with body stance, provide the most information about the pet’s mood. Of course, some types of tails are more expressive than others! For instance, a Black Lab’s long, straight tail moves differently than a Pug’s shorter, curly tail.

Here are some common signs of a friendly, approachable dog:

   • Relaxed face, possibly slow panting
   • Corners of the mouth slightly turned up (smiling)
   • Relaxed body position
   • Tail wagging from side-to-side or in a circular motion
   • Standing: a neutral, happy stance (relaxed with weight evenly balanced) or a play bow stance (front end down, rear end up)
   • Sitting or lying down: one paw folded and tucked under

Here are some common signs of a friendly cat:

   • Eyes half-closed, blinking leisurely with narrowed pupils
   • Ears positioned slightly to a side and forward
   • Tail mostly still    
   • Paws kneading
   • Purring
   • Standing: tail straight up or curled forward at tip, possibly twitching side-to-side

Learn more about dog and cat body language here.

This blog post was written by guest blogger Kari Kells, a professional pet sitter and pet parent to Raggedy Andy, Emma and Rumi. Read more tips and advice from Kari on her blog.

 


Saturday March 1, 2014

Behaviors Not to Ignore

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While some cat and dog behaviors can be quite amusing, others can be cause for concern. Here are four you shouldn’t ignore:

1. Excessive belching– Your pet might suffer a burping spell after drinking too quickly, but a lot of belching can be a sign of acid reflux.

2. Obsessive licking– Constant licking may be due to a simple skin irritation, but left untreated it can lead to sores and infections.

3. Compulsive pacing– Pets sometimes pace or circle when getting ready to sleep, but done obsessively, it can indicate anxiety.

4. Litter box issues– Going outside the box could be your cat’s way of telling you it needs cleaning. However, it can also point to a bladder problem.

Behaviors like these can result in stress for the whole household. That’s why we include coverage for behavioral issues with plan Levels 3 and 4. Get a quote to see your plan options.

And, be sure to consult with your veterinarian if your pet has these or any other concerning behaviors.