Pet Insurance Blog

Monday July 6, 2015

Sweating Out the Summer

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Everyday activities can be risky for pets when it's hot out. Since pets can't sweat like people do, they can be more susceptible to heat-related issues.

For instance, we recently saw a claim for an English Bulldog who suffered from heat stroke – just while he was resting in the shade. He was in the hospital for two days, and the veterinary bill was more than $1,200. In another claim, a Black Labrador suffered from heat stroke after joining his pet parent on a jog.

What are the symptoms?

Excessive panting and a bright red tongue can be initial signs of heat stroke. Other symptoms can include restlessness, agitation, drooling and lethargy.

What should you do?

Take your pet out of the heat and into a shady or air-conditioned place. Offer water, and try cooling your pet with a wet towel. Contact your veterinarian immediately.

Which pets are at risk?

All pets are at risk – even indoor cats, especially if they don't have access to air conditioning. Some pets may be at higher risk, like those with health issues or dogs with short muzzles. Ask your veterinarian about your pet specifically.

Can you still have fun?

Just because it is hot outside doesn’t mean your pet can’t enjoy the sunny weather. Be sure to keep an eye out for warning signs and make sure to keep plenty of water within paw’s reach. Considering a day at the beach? Check out these tips.

What about road trips?

While traveling, think twice before leaving your pet in a parked car – even if you crack the windows and are gone for just a few minutes. This chart illustrates how fast your vehicle can heat up on a seemingly cool day.

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Hopefully, your pet will keep cool this summer. But if your furry friend does have trouble in the heat, our accident coverage can help you manage the costs of care. Get a free quote today!


Monday June 29, 2015

Take the Fear Out of Fireworks

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While many of us ‘ooo’ and ‘aww’ at fireworks displays, who hasn’t jumped at an unexpected boom or bang? Every loud explosion is unexpected and scary for our pets, especially if that pet already has a fear of noises. That’s why it is so important to keep pets at home in an escape-proof room while you enjoy the festivities. 

Sometimes, however, that’s still not enough. Here are some ideas to help keep your pet calm during holiday celebrations.

· Keep comfortable.

Keep your pet safely tucked away in a familiar room or, even better, their crate with the A/C on.

· Get a workout.

Take them for a walk, play fetch, just do any safe activity to tucker them out beforehand.

· Divert attention.

Give your pal a new bone or toy to help distract them from the festivities going on outside.

· Drown it out.

Shut all windows, blinds/curtains and doors, and leave the TV on to help mask the noise.

Companionship can make all the difference. If you can stay home, try petting your nervous pal from head to tail in a long, slow motion and talk to them in a calming voice. Just like babies, some smaller pets may respond positively to a reassuring swaddling too – but do not try to force them if they are not up for it. A Thundershirt may work well for larger pets or pets left at home alone.

Also, make sure all cats and dogs are wearing proper fitting collars with tags in case they do escape. This goes for all pets, even those with a microchip!

For more information on holiday dangers, check this out.

Don't forget to pin our infographic for easy reference!

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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.


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 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.


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.

 


Tuesday February 24, 2015

Veg Out with Your Pet

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Vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables can be a healthy way to supplement your pet’s regular canned or dry food diet. Just make sure they’re pet-safe, and always consult your vet before introducing new foods.


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 29, 2014

Top 10 Dog Names

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We’ve got the 10 most popular names for our best canine friends.+ Did your dog’s name make the list?

  1. Bella
  2. Max
  3. Buddy
  4. Lucy
  5. Bailey
  6. Molly
  7. Daisy
  8. Charlie
  9. Maggie
  10. Chloe

We also cover close to 200 Gizmos, nearly 160 Oreos and one Sir Scruffy McDoodle!

Are you planning to adopt a dog this month? Save 10% on each additional pet! Get a free quote to learn more.

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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

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 December 1, 2014

A Pup's Turkey Feast

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Cook up a special Thanksgiving dinner for your dog with this simple and healthy recipe. It's a great way to use up leftovers too!

Ingredients
1 ½lb. cut up turkey (no bones or skin)
½ lb. cooked sweet potatoes, diced
½ c. cooked oatmeal
1 T. cranberry sauce

Directions
Mix all of the ingredients together and portion out at dinnertime. Store the
remainder in the refrigerator for a future meal.


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 17, 2014

To Tell the Truth: Black Cats

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Black cats can make the best companions. To prove it, we’ve compiled some fun facts about our sable-coated friends.

1. Black cats are considered lucky in the UK and Asia.
2. Melanism, which causes their raven fur, may also enhance their immune systems.
3. Their fur goes with everything and won’t show on your little black dress.
Bonus: You can tell everyone you adopted a mini panther!

Having problems getting a good shot? Check out these tips.


Saturday November 8, 2014

Pets Are Bold: Ashley's Story

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We cover bold because we know how adventurous pets can be. Ashley’s dog is one such little daredevil.

“She loves the boat, especially jumping off to go play at the sandbar." –Ashley F.

See more bold pets and share your courageous companion’s story with us here


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.