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

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 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 September 8, 2014

Prevent Cat Falls

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As summer heat wanes, you may be more likely to open a window rather than crank the A/C. But remember to take care that your cat doesn’t tumble out.

Even a fall from a 1- or 2-story home can cause injuries like a shattered jaw or punctured lung. Help keep your cat safe by making sure window screens are secure. 

Visit 101 Things You Didn’t Know Could Harm Your Pet for more pet safety tips.


Tuesday September 2, 2014

How's your dog's hearing?

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With Dog Deaf Awareness Week this month (9/21-27) , it’s a great time to check on your dog’s hearing. Signs of hearing loss can include:

1. Turning the wrong way when called
2. Not responding to commands
3. Excessive barking or head shaking
4. Discharge from the ears
5. Pawing at the ears

If you suspect your dog is having problems hearing, contact your veterinarian. And don’t miss these tips to prevent and treat dog deafness.


Monday August 4, 2014

3 Easy Tricks for Good Dog Behavior

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As kids start heading back to school, what better time to teach your pooch a new trick? Here are 3 fun tricks you can teach your dog that also reinforce good behaviors.

Trick #1: Hand Targeting
Training your dog to touch his or her nose to your hand is a neat trick and very handy when you need to lead your pup somewhere.

1. Hold an open hand near your dog’s nose
2. As soon as nose touches palm, say, “Yes!”
3. Offer a treat with your other hand
Tip: Keep practicing until you have a dog magnet on your hand.

Trick #2: Ready-Set-Down!
Work on your dog’s ability to obey even when excited with this trick. It’s also a great way for both of you to get some exercise.

1. Have your dog sit, then say, “Ready, set, go!”
2. Run together, then yell, “Ready, set, down!” and stop
3. If your dog lies down, offer a treat. If not, lure your dog down with a treat
Tip: Take a brief rest and do it again until your pet gets the hang of it. 

Trick #3: Hide and Seek
Remember playing hide and seek as a kid? Now you can play it with your dog! It’s a fun interactive game that gets your dog thinking and moving.

1. Start by having your pooch sit or stay
2. Then hide and say your dog’s name once
3. When your pup finds you, celebrate!
Tip: Keep your hiding places easy at first, so your pet won’t get distracted and stop playing. Then increase the difficulty as your dog gets the hang of it. If you have children, get them involved too!

What kind of tricks have you taught your pet? Tell us in the comments below or share them on Facebook


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 28, 2014

Common Skin Problems in Cats

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The state of a cat’s skin can be a great indicator of her overall health, which is why it is important to visit your veterinarian at the first sign of any abnormality. Signs there may be a skin problem include excessive scratching, chewing and/or licking.

Common causes of skin irritations for cats include:

Ringworm
Fleas
Parasites, such as ear mites and lice
Seasonal allergies
Food allergies
Grooming products
Seasonal changes
Environmental factors, including certain chemicals and fabrics
Bacterial or yeast infections
Tumors
Stress or anxiety

Our friends at the ASPCA® have some great tips for skin care that could help your cat avoid many issues.


Monday July 21, 2014

Common Skin Problems in Dogs

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A dog’s healthy skin is a great indication of his overall health, and it is important to visit your veterinarian at the first sign of any abnormality. Keep an eye out for excessive scratching, chewing and/or licking, as they may be signs of a skin problem.

Common causes of skin irritations for dogs include:

Fleas
Ringworm
Parasites, such as ear mites and lice
Seasonal allergies
Food allergies
Bacterial or yeast infections
Sarcoptic mange
Grooming products
Stress or boredom
Metabolic or hormonal problems
Seasonal changes

Our friends at the ASPCA® have some great information about allergies, mange and hot spots.


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 June 30, 2014

Q&A: Why does my cat knead his paws?

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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 knead his paws?

A: Taking so many naps is hard work, and for some cats, kneading against the floor is like a nice stretch after a well-earned rest. They may also do it to mark territory, comfort themselves, as an instinct to start a mother’s milk or, if the kneading is done on your lap, as a sign of affection. For females, it can also indicate that they’re in heat and ready to look for a suitable mate. 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 June 23, 2014

Q&A: Why did my cat go to the bathroom outside the litter box?

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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 did my cat go to the bathroom outside the litter box?

A: Litter box issues can be a sign of a medical condition, like a problem with the urinary bladder or kidneys. Be sure to check in with your veterinarian just in case. However, it also may be as simple as the litter box needs to be clean or moved to a more private location. It could also be a behavioral issue caused by stress or anxiety related to a new baby or guests in the home, for instance. Learn more 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.