Pet Insurance Blog

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 April 21, 2014

Q&A: Why does my dog roll around in stuff that smells?

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Our pets can do some quirky things, but even the strangest behaviors may have reasons behind them. Here are explanations of some common pet behaviors. Does your furry friend have any of these habits? Tell us about it in the comments!

Q: Why does my dog roll around in stuff that smells?

A: A popular theory is that your rolling dog is trying to get rid of other scents. Canines have a more sensitive sense of smell than humans, and a strong fragrance may drive your poor pooch crazy. To cover up the troublesome odor, your dog might dive into your dirty clothes or garbage. If you find your dog rolling in feces, it could signal a behavioral issue that you should discuss with your veterinarian. Learn more

Note: Please consult your veterinarian if you have any questions about your pet’s specific behavior. Your veterinarian can give you advice about your individual pet's needs and rule out any potential medical issue.


Monday April 14, 2014

Q&A: Why does my dog want to eat gross stuff when he's on a walk?

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Our pets can do some quirky things, but even the strangest behaviors may have reasons behind them. Here are explanations of some common pet behaviors. Does your furry friend have any of these habits? Tell us about it in the comments!

Q: Why does my dog want to eat gross stuff when he’s on a walk?

A: To us, garbage lying on the ground is nasty. To your pet, it’s a tasty investigation. There’s a whole mess of reasons why this might occur. If your pet is overly anxious, bored or just plain curious, a piece of trash might appear to be a snack. Another reason might have to do with a lack of nutrients, primarily vitamin B1. Learn more about coprophagia (eating feces) and pica (eating things that aren't food) from our friends at the ASPCA®.

Note: Please consult your veterinarian if you have any questions about your pet’s specific behavior. Your veterinarian can give you advice about your individual pet's needs and rule out any potential medical issue.


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.

 


Monday March 10, 2014

Q&A: Why does my cat cover his food?

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Our pets can do some quirky things, but even the strangest behaviors may have reasons behind them. Here are explanations of some common pet behaviors. Does your furry friend have any of these habits? Tell us about it in the comments!

Q: Why does my cat cover his food?

A: When cats cover their food, they’re taking a cue from their ancestors (a practice referred to as “caching”). It’s their way of hiding the scent of their tasty meal from scavengers—or in a housecat’s case, other pets. Finicky cats may also cover their food to let you know they’d prefer something else to eat. Learn more

Note: Please consult your veterinarian if you have any questions about your pet’s specific behavior. Your veterinarian can give you advice about your individual pet's needs and rule out any potential medical issue.


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.


Saturday March 1, 2014

Pet Poison Safety Twitter Party!

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Learn important poison safety tips for your pet and get 3 chances to win at our Pet Poison Safety Twitter Party. The party will be held on Wednesday, March 26 from 7-8 pm EST. Use the hashtag #PetSafety to join the conversation and play our trivia contest.

Tips for joining a Twitter party:

   • Sign up for a Twitter account 

   • Follow the party hosts. For the Pet Poison Safety party, make sure you’re following ASPCA Pet Health Insurance and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

   • Twitter parties are easiest to follow if you’re using a dashboard like TweetChat, TweetDeck, or TweetGrid

   • Use the party hashtag (#PetSafety) in every tweet to be a part of the conversation.

No purchase necessary. See official rules.


Monday February 24, 2014

Tips to Help Your Cat Shed Those Pounds

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Has your cat put on a little extra weight during these cold winter months? We’ve found some tips to help you get your kitty back on track.

Your Cat is Not Alone
Nearly 58% of cats are obese, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). When determining whether your pet is overweight, the best way to judge is on a scale at the veterinarian’s office, but you can use points 3 & 4 from our friends at the ASPCA® to assess your pet at home.

Visit Your Veterinarian
Any time your cat is dealing with obesity, consult with a veterinarian first to rule out any medical conditions such as hypothyroidism or other disorders. Your veterinarian can help you gauge your cat’s body condition and create an approved weight loss program for your cat.

Practice Patience
A cat’s diet should not be changed drastically overnight, and you should be sure to follow your veterinarian’s nutrition recommendations. A staged food transition could take approximately two weeks. To help your furry family member adjust and accept his new meal plan, try to spice his chow up by adding ketchup or salmon juice.

Get Moving
Unlike our canine pals, cats aren’t the perfect companions to take along for a morning jog or swim. They’re more of the relaxing type. One great motivator to get your cat moving is to use their mealtime as exercise time. Try walking around the home with their bowl for a few minutes before giving them a portion of the meal. See if you can stretch mealtime out to 20 minutes with this tactic.

As with humans, cats also need some motivation to lose weight. These cat toy ideas from our friends at the ASPCA may be useful to help your cat get and stay active.


Monday February 17, 2014

Q&A: Why does my dog run or bark while sleeping?

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Our pets can do some quirky things, but even the strangest behaviors may have reasons behind them. Here are explanations of some common pet behaviors. Does your furry friend have any of these habits? Tell us about it in the comments!

Q: Why does my dog run or bark while sleeping?

A: Your dog is probably dreaming, just like a person who walks or talks in their sleep. Dogs experience the same stages of sleep as humans, including rapid eye movement (REM), which is the time when we might move around. Older canines spend more than 10% of their time asleep in the REM stage, while puppies are in dreamland for a more considerable amount of time. Learn more

Note: Please consult your veterinarian if you have any questions about your pet’s specific behavior. Your veterinarian can give you advice about your individual pet's needs and rule out any potential medical issue.


Monday January 27, 2014

Is Doggie Daycare Right For Your Dog?

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Enrolling your dog in daycare is a fantastic way to keep him from getting lonely or bored when you’re away from home. For large dogs living in small homes, daycare facilities are often a great way to ensure that dogs release their energy in healthy, non-destructive ways.

That said, not every dog is a good fit for daycare situations and every daycare facility is unique., It's worth looking at daycare facilities, if you have a playful, well-behaved dog who enjoys socializing at dog parks. Since there is no one-size-fits-all answer, be patient as you evaluate the options for your individual dog.

Finding the Right Fit

How do you know if your dog would do well in doggie daycare? Generally speaking, a daycare situation might be a good fit if your dog behaves well at dog parks and enjoys playing with other dogs. Of course, not all dogs are social, and not all social dogs are comfortable in every social situation. Personality plays a big part.

Ideal candidates for doggie daycare are:
  • Healthy
  • Spayed or neutered
  • Vaccinated
  • Well-socialized
  • Energetic

Dogs who are not usually well suited for daycare situations are:
  • Possessive about toys or food
  • Panicky
  • Shy
  • Constant barkers
  • Aggressive
  • Herders who are too pushy
  • Anxious when separated from owner
  • Fearful, tense or anxious around other dogs
  • Under-socialized

Learn more about doggie daycare and alternatives 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.


Monday January 20, 2014

Q&A: Why does my dog tip his head when he hears something?

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Our pets can do some quirky things, but even the strangest behaviors may have reasons behind them. Here are explanations of some common pet behaviors. Does your furry friend have any of these habits? Tell us about it in the comments!

Q: Why does my dog tip his head when he hears something?

A: While incredibly cute, the head tilt may be your dog’s way of trying to hear something more clearly. This position leans one ear forward to better catch the sound. Another theory involves patterned behavior. In other words, it looks cute for a reason. If you tend to lovingly pet your canine after a head tilt, then a sideways look may be a request for affection. Learn more

Note: Please consult your veterinarian if you have any questions about your pet’s specific behavior. Your veterinarian can give you advice about your individual pet's needs and rule out any potential medical issue.


Monday January 13, 2014

Q&A: Why does my cat roll around on the ground?

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Our pets can do some quirky things, but even the strangest behaviors may have reasons behind them. Here are explanations of some common pet behaviors. Does your furry friend have any of these habits? Tell us about it in the comments!

Q: Why does my cat roll around on the ground?

A:  Sometimes cats roll out of excitement or joy, like the way dogs run around when you walk in the door. Other times, they may be seeking attention, and they want to be petted, played with or given a treat. If your cat enjoys catnip toys, it might also be that your frisky feline is feeling intoxicated. Learn more

Note: Please consult your veterinarian if you have any questions about your pet’s specific behavior. Your veterinarian can give you advice about your individual pet's needs and rule out any potential medical issue.