Pet Insurance Blog - Dog Photo

The holidays are a welcome time to relax, but unfortunately it’s not always free of those unexpected pet illnesses. Last year, Erika T. of Jefferson City, Mo.* spent a tense New Year’s Day at the emergency animal hospital when her dog, Karma, began to vomit blood.

For about a month prior, Karma was getting sick a few times a week though he still was happy and active as ever.

“I figured Karma’s sickness was from too many table scraps or the new kibble he was eating,” Erika said. “But that morning, I knew something else had to be wrong, so I rushed him to the animal hospital.”

At the hospital, the veterinarian did an ultrasound and blood test on Karma. Thankfully, the results came back normal. The veterinarian advised Erika to feed Karma a bland diet and monitor him closely, as he likely had the flu.

While Erika was relieved that her dog was OK, she now had an expensive veterinary bill on the first day of the New Year. But we were able to help with some of the costs for this unexpected emergency.

Erika told us: “Thank you, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, for a stress-free claims process and prompt reimbursements!”

As New Year’s rolls around again, we hope you have a happy and safe holiday!

Do you have a story to share? Email me!

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Customer Stories

It’s no secret veterinary practice employees work long hours. That’s why Seventy First Animal Hospital in Fayetteville, N.C., throws an extra special seasonal gathering for its staff—one that’s fit for the entire family.

“This party is something for the kids to get excited about and a way for us to include them in the holiday celebrations,” said Faye Barnes, Client Relation Specialist for Seventy First Animal Hospital. “We’ve hosted this party for three years in a row, and we hope to continue our tradition for many more.”

This year, 15 children, ranging in age from one month to 12 years, attended the event. The families enjoyed a potluck dinner, games, special goodie bags and even a surprise visit from Santa.

For more information about Seventy First Animal Hospital, visit

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

One night in early June, my Border Collie, Sage, alerted me to something in the drainpipe that runs under my driveway. We have a lot of feral cats in the area, so I figured the noise was from some felines. Sure enough, when I got a flashlight and reached into the pipe as far as I could, I was greeted by two sets of kitten eyes.

I’ve always found it impossible to ignore that vulnerable look I recognized in those kitten eyes staring back at me. Like many of my colleagues at the Hartville Group, I’ve made it my personal and professional mission to help animals as much as I can. That’s been my goal in the eight years I’ve worked at Hartville, and when I moved to Florida, I got involved with a local rescue group that spays and neuters feral cats. So I assembled one of the group’s humane traps that I have on hand to try to help those little kittens.


A few hours later, I caught one of them and arranged for the kitty to spend the night in our garage. I set a second trap but, unfortunately, it was still empty in the morning. 

Meanwhile, my husband and I brought the first kitten into the house for a bath and check-over.  He was just a little guy, about 8 weeks old. Despite how scared he was, he was still very sweet, and he purred while I picked fleas out of his fur, cleaned his ears and trimmed his nails. 

It was only a few days before we named him Oliver and made him a permanent place in our home. Oliver quickly adjusted to his life on the inside, and his new feline siblings, Ranger and Jetta, readily accepted him. 

Over the next few months, I often saw a gray kitten sitting on our back porch, and I knew it was the second kitty from the drainpipe. I fed him and tried to catch him several times, but with no success.

Sadly, one Sunday morning in October, Oliver died suddenly. We learned he had a rare congenital heart defect. We were absolutely heartbroken. In his honor, we created a “cat café” outside so the feral cats can have a constant supply of fresh water and food.


Two weeks after Oliver passed away, I finally caught the other gray kitten I’d been feeding.  At this point, he was 6 months old and almost completely wild. After we neutered and vaccinated him, we moved him into our spare bedroom. We borrowed another Charles Dickens name and called him Fagin, which also means “joyful.” 

Poor Fagin was lucky to have even survived six months outside as his belly is a roadmap of scars where another critter attacked him. He’s also had a few medical complications from a chronic infection that resulted from the attack. But, as I slowly work to heal his infection, I’m also trying to socialize him. 

It’s possible that Fagin may have the same heart defect as Oliver, but I’m not going to worry about it. Instead, I’m focusing on giving Fagin the best life I can for however long he is with us!

Jaclyn Carrington, Hartville Group’s Veterinary Services Manager, volunteers with a rescue group that spays and neuters feral cats in Florida.

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Hartville Group News & Info

Pet Insurance Blog - Holiday Plants and Your Pet

Last year, the ASPCA® Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) received 8,000 calls from pet parents with questions about potentially poisonous plants and flowers. To help, the ASPCA experts have the following guidelines for pet parents to follow when decorating with holiday plants this season.

• Flowers such as lilies may cause kidney failure in cats if eaten. Also, while roses are not toxic, the stem’s prickly thorns could be harmful if your pets get a hold of them. 

• The more traditional plants such as holly and mistletoe can be dangerous for felines and dogs alike, causing gastrointestinal upset or, in rare cases with mistletoe, cardiovascular issues. Instead, try non-toxic decorations like wood, fabric or pinecones.

• Christmas tree water likely contains fertilizers and bacteria, so your pets could suffer from an upset stomach if they drink it.

• Finally, a long-held holiday myth suggests that the poinsettia plant is toxic to pets. In reality, poinsettias cause only mild to moderate gastrointestinal irritation. Keeping this plant out of your pets’ reach is still a good idea, but there’s no need to get rid of it altogether.

If any of your pets ingest something hazardous, the APCC can help at 1-888-426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may apply, 80% of which is covered by ASPCA Pet Health Insurance.

Pet Insurance Blog - Puppy Photo

We hear from a lot of pet parents who decided to insure their pets after an earlier unexpected illness or injury brought financial worry on top of emotional stress over a sick or hurt pet.

Sadly, this is what happened to Michael B. from Athens, Ga.* He recently told us his story about why he now views pet health insurance as a necessity. We’re glad we can be there to help his Golden if she ever needs it!

“My Golden Retriever, Chloe, got sick and I was unable to afford the aggressive treatment that was required to keep her healthy. When she passed away, not only did I lose my pet, but I lost my companion. A few years later, my daughter surprised me with a Golden Retriever puppy named Kaylee for Christmas! I immediately bought ASPCA Pet Health Insurance because if something ever happens to her, I want the freedom to be able to explore all the medical options available. As I have health insurance for the human members of my family, it only makes sense to have it for the furry ones as well!”

The best time to enroll is when your pet is a puppy or a kitten so you can be prepared for the unexpected. That’s why we offer coverage for pets as young as 8 weeks old!

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Customer Stories

If you’re looking for a unique gift for that special someone on your list (furry ones included!), here are some fun products from the ASPCA®’s online store:

Frisky Kitty Toy

For the Frisky Kitty:
FroliCat Bolt Laser Toy

For the Fashion-Forward Pet:
Initial Pet Tag

For the Animal-Loving Child:
Amazing Pet Tricks Children’s Book

For the Vocal Pet Lover:
ASPCA Message T-Shirt

Find more ideas by visiting the ASPCA online store.

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ASPCA Happenings

Pet Insurance Blog - Holiday Cat Photo

‘Tis the season for holiday celebrations! But before you decorate the house or serve a feast, remember these safety tips from our friends at the ASPCA® to help keep pets protected while celebrating this time of year.

Do keep your pet on a regular diet, as well as a normal eating schedule, throughout the season’s hustle and bustle.

Don’t offer your pet raw or undercooked meat, which may contain salmonella bacteria. Also, keep animals away from raw bread dough, as their body heat can cause the dough to rise within their stomach. This could lead to vomiting or bloating and potentially a life-threatening emergency.

Do firmly anchor your decorations so they don’t fall and hurt your pet. For Christmas trees especially, a secured tree will help keep trunk water from spilling. Drinking the water could give your pet an upset stomach if he or she drinks it.  

Don’t decorate with tinsel as the shiny strips can be a choking hazard for your feline. In addition, avoid using holly and mistletoe as each can cause nausea if your dog or cat ingests it.

Do give your pet an interactive game that will keep him or her occupied while you’re busy entertaining guests! For kitties, fill a treat dispenser with dry food (try the Funkitty Egg-cercizer from the ASPCA online store) and for dogs, stuff kibble into a puzzle toy (try the Squirrel Dude from the ASPCA online store).

Most important, if your pet does ingest something hazardous, the ASPCA® Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) can help at 1-888-426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may apply, 80% of which is covered by ASPCA Pet Health Insurance.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Dr. Kelly Thompson of Hanson-Meekins Animal Hospital and her husband have pledged to shave their heads if the community raises $5,000 for FOCCAS by mid-December

An Oregon veterinarian has promised to shave her head in exchange for some serious cash—$5,000 to be exact.

But it’s not on a dare. Dr. Kelly Thompson of Hanson-Meekins Animal Hospital in Coos Bay, Ore., is raising the funds for a local charitable group, Friends of Coos County Animal Shelter (FOCCAS), that provides support and medical services for animals in need.

Dr. Thompson regularly encounters pet parents who bring their pets into the animal hospital with curable conditions but can’t afford the necessary treatment. To help, Dr. Thompson suggests the pet parents relinquish their dogs or cats to her. She then transfers the animals to FOCCAS, a local group with which she’s formed a personal relationship. FOCCAS treats the pets and finds them a new home.

After Dr. Thompson recently sent more than 10 pets to FOCCAS for extensive surgeries, she wanted to raise some money for the organization to deal with this growing demand. So she came up with the “Shave a Vet, Save a Pet” fundraiser.

If they can raise $5,000 for FOCCAS by Dec. 18, Dr. Thompson and her husband will shave their heads during the group’s weekly adoption event at Pony Village Mall in North Bend, Ore. Whoever makes the largest donation gets to be the first to use the clippers shaving Dr. Thompson’s head.

While Dr. Thompson admits she’s not anxious to sport a bare head this winter, she said, “I can deal with being bald for a while if it means that I raise awareness about homeless pets and FOCCAS, which is a really good charity.”

Since Nov. 5, the community has donated more than $3,000. The funds will support FOCCAS’s spay and neuter procedures, vaccinations, medications and other veterinary care.

If you would like to donate to the “Shave a Vet, Save a Pet” fundraiser, visit

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

Our friends at the ASPCA® recently launched a sweepstakes called “Fixin’ to Win” in an effort to encourage New York City residents to spay or neuter their pet at an ASPCA Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic.

Pet parents who have their dog or cat spayed or neutered from now until Dec 22 at an ASPCA mobile clinic location will receive a special ASPCA gift, as well as the opportunity to win several other prizes, including movie tickets, an autographed copy of Magic Johnson’s new book and a Dyson vacuum cleaner.

According to the ASPCA, 40,000 homeless pets enter New York City shelters every year. Spaying and neutering can have a direct impact on reducing this number. In 2009, the ASPCA spayed or neutered 31,000 cats and dogs in its mobile clinics.

“’Fixin’ to Win’ is the ASPCA’s way of giving back to New York City’s responsible pet owners and helping them enjoy the holiday season, while providing their pet with health and behavior benefits that last a lifetime,” said Kim Harris, Manager of Special Events and Outreach for the ASPCA Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinics, in an ASPCA statement. “Many pet owners don’t know that spaying and neutering their pet can prevent certain types of cancer and can reduce nuisance behaviors, such as spraying and roaming.”

In addition, each week the ASPCA will award a qualified adopter in each of the five boroughs with a free dog adoption at Animal Care & Control of New York City plus a $500 voucher for free services at any veterinary practice of the winner’s choice.

For detailed information about the clinic events, visit

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ASPCA Happenings

Pet Insurance Blog

The holidays can be a confusing time for companion animals. The house is filled with smells of food they are not allowed to taste, a tree they are not allowed to climb and a collection of brightly wrapped boxes they are not allowed to chew. It’s enough to put even the best-behaved pet onto the naughty list!

While there are things you should watch out for to keep your pets safe during the holidays—such as tinsel and sweets—you can also include your feline and canine loved ones in pet-friendly variations of the season’s most time-honored traditions.

Here are 3 tips from our friends at the ASPCA® about how to include your pets in the holiday fun.

Tip #1: Deck the halls with chew toys and catnip.
With all the presents being exchanged, it only makes sense that your dog or cat receives a gift of their own. Get creative this year and make a homemade present to keep them busy! Follow these DIY instructions from the ASPCA to make a catnip toy for your cat. For dogs, you can make biscuits they’re sure to love. If you’re not the DIY type, some safe holiday options include puzzle toys stuffed with healthy foods for pooches and interactive cat dancers and stuffed catnip toys for kitties. Read more holiday safety tips from the ASPCA.

Tip #2: Include the party animals!
If you’re having a seasonal soirée, let your pets mix and mingle with your guests. While you’re busy with hosting duties, designate a close family member or friend to keep track of your pets to ensure they are getting the attention they need and avoiding any trouble spots like the tree. If your pets are not social butterflies, give them a spot of their own to relax in that is away from all the commotion. Stock the area with food, water, familiar toys, a litter box for cats and a comfortable place to sleep.

Tip #3: Bring your pets along for the ride.
They say home is where the heart is, but in the case of your loyal feline or canine companions, home is where you are! Consider bringing your pets along with you on your holiday visits, rather than boarding them. Follow these car travel trips from the ASPCA® experts:

•  Bring along a piece of home, like your pet’s favorite floor cushion or toy, to make the trip more comfortable.

•  Three to four hours before hitting the road, serve your pet a light meal to hold them over until you arrive at your final destination.

•  Make sure your pet is wearing a collar and an ID tag with your usual contact information. Also, consider adding a temporary travel tag to their collar that includes your cell phone, destination phone number or any other relevant details.

•  Take plenty of bottled or tap water from home for your pet as drinking water they are not used to could result in an upset stomach.

•  Make sure your cat is in a safely secured carrier. Dogs will need to be in a crate or secured with a safety harness if they’re riding in a seat.

Traveling by air? Check out these tips for safe air travel with your pet.

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ASPCA Happenings


As we’re dedicated to making a difference for pets, we want to keep you informed about pet health topics and your ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. Our blog will provide you with fresh, interesting and informative topics—from pet health tips and customer stories, to the latest industry news and a Pet Parent Q&A column. Most of all, we encourage you to share comments and join the discussion!

Meet the Author

Julia H.

Social Media Coordinator

Pet Parent to:

Lucy, an 8-year-old rescued Golden Retriever/Chow Chow mix

Blog Guidelines

While we’ll strive to present all viewpoints on this blog, comments will be reviewed before posting. Offensive or inappropriate language, off-topic remarks and comments containing personal policy information will not be featured.

Also, conditions discussed in this blog aren’t necessarily covered by every ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. For full coverage terms, conditions and exclusions, please refer to your plan.

As always, if you have a question about your plan, call us at 1-866-204-6764.

*Note: While these testimonials may include examples of recent claims payouts, reimbursement is subject to the terms and conditions of your plan. Identifying information has been changed.