Pet Blog - Dog Photo

Even though the weather outside might be frightful, it’s still important to take your dog outdoors for fresh air and exercise. To help, the ASPCA® experts provide guidelines for pet parents to follow that will keep their dog’s skin and paws in tip-top shape during walks this winter. 

Before the Walk:
• Dress your dog in a sweater to help retain body heat and protect his or her skin from the cold.
• Trim your pooch’s hair to keep ice, salt or chemicals from clinging to it and drying onto the skin.
• If your dog doesn’t like to wear booties, rub petroleum jelly on the bottom of your pet’s feet to protect them from irritation.

During the Walk:
• Keep your dog on grass or snow and avoid salty, slippery sidewalks.
• Carry a towel with you to wipe off your pet’s paws, if needed.
• Remember, if it’s too cold outside for you, it’s probably too cold for your furry best friend. Try short, frequent walks instead of one long walk.

After the Walk:
• Wash and towel dry your dog’s feet to remove any salt or chemicals. Don’t forget to clean in between your dog’s toes!
• Brush your pet’s hair to stimulate overall blood circulation.
• Make sure your pooch has plenty of water to drink, which will keep his or her skin hydrated.

For more suggestions, read ASPCA’s Top Ten Winter Skin & Paw Care Tips or Cold Weather Tips.

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pet parents

As you think about your own resolutions for 2011, add a few for your pets! Even small changes can have a big impact on their lives.

Here are some suggestions from our friends at the ASPCA.®

1. Schedule a check-up. An annual visit to the veterinarian can help prevent illness. Our wellness coverage on Levels 3 and 4 covers an annual exam.

2. Brush up on dental health. Check your pets’ teeth and gums at least once a week, and talk to your veterinarian about good dental care.

3. Exercise with them. Play chase or fetch and enjoy some time together. Dogs need 30 minutes of physical activity twice a day, while cats require at least 15 minutes of interactive playtime a day.

4. Watch their diets. Overweight pets can be at risk for health problems. Extra weight on a pet can be comparable to a human carrying an extra 30 to 50 pounds. Cut down on treats and use a well-balanced pet food.

5. Pamper them. Give your pets some extra love, like a good long scratch or a warm cuddle. It’ll make you both feel good!

From all of us at ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, we wish you and all the furry members of your family a healthy and joyous New Year!

This content is not intended to provide advice on individual pet health or behavioral matters or to substitute for consultation with a veterinary doctor.

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ASPCA Happenings

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!

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

Senior Cat Blog Photo

With aging comes a general slowing down. This is true not only for people, but for our pets as well.

Generally speaking, small dogs and cats may reach senior status at around 7 years old, while large dogs may qualify as senior citizens as early as age 5. However, even though Fido or Fluffy may not be as physically fit as their former selves, there’s always a bit of frisky puppy or mischievous kitten ready to come out and play.

One of the best ways to keep your pets in top shape as they get older is to schedule regular annual exams with your veterinarian. The ASPCA recommends that you ask your veterinarian whether you should bring in your senior pets for more frequent exams. This will help you and your veterinarian stay ahead of many of the health issues associated with aging. Also, remember that once you’re enrolled with ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, coverage will never be cancelled because of your pets’ age.

Here are 4 more senior pet tips from our friends at the ASPCA:

Senior Dog Blog Photo

Tip #1—Dedicate playtime: Even moderate play sessions are a great outlet for senior pets’ animal instincts as it keeps their minds occupied and senses sharp. "Wrestling" and "keep away" are two fun games to play with your older dog as they allow you to dictate the duration and intensity level. Meanwhile, crafty felines adore interactive toys that require your participation to make the objects come to life. Wave and dangle a wand toy or throw a sponge ball to get your cat up and moving. Cats also love to explore, so gather a variety of everyday items like cardboard boxes, paper shopping bags with the handles removed and packing materials, then introduce them at different times to keep your kitty intrigued!  

Tip #2—Watch what they eat: Older pets appreciate set routines, but when it comes to their food schedule, a few changes may be helpful. Consider feeding your pets smaller, more frequent portions to help with digestion. Talk to your veterinarian about switching to food formulated for senior pets as they will require a diet that is low in fat but still has adequate amounts of protein and fiber. In any case, speak to your veterinarian about specifics.

Tip #3—Teach new tricks: Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? In fact, senior dogs are more calm and focused, which means they actually learn much faster than puppies. Since they most likely know a few of the basics—like sit, stay or fetch—try teaching them how to play hide and seek. Learn how to teach this game to your pet here. Cats are also quick learners and, with a little creativity and patience, can be taught to wave, fetch, sit, stay and even come when called. According to the ASPCA, “persuasion, not punishment, is the key to training your cat.” Find useful feline training tips here.

Tip #4—Ask questions: Finally, to get the most out of a veterinary visit, have accurate information and recent observations on hand to share about your older pets’ health and behavior. And don’t hesitate to voice any concerns. Here are some questions you can ask:

• Are there any routine tests that should be done to monitor my pet’s health?
• What can I do to make my pet more comfortable?
• What changes should I make to my pet’s diet?
• Are there any preventive treatments I should consider at my pet’s age?
• How can I tell if a change in behavior is a result of the aging process vs. a warning sign of an illness?
• How long should we have playtime every day?
• Is there anything I should watch out for or adjust during grooming sessions?

Read more tips about taking care of an older dog or cat:

This blog entry is not intended to provide advice on individual pet health or behavioral matters or to substitute for consultation with a veterinary doctor.

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ASPCA Happenings

Pet Insurance Blog - Cat Photo

November is the ASPCA’s Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month!

If you’re thinking about adding a furry member to your family, consider a senior dog or cat. Here are a few (of the many!) reasons why, from our friends at the ASPCA:

Reason #1: Match personalities.
Dogs and cats in their golden years have fully developed personalities, which makes it easy to determine whether they’ll mesh with your household’s current inhabitants.

Reason #2: Skip stressful housetraining.
Unlike kittens that sleep or play in their litter boxes, older cats only use it for its intended purpose and are more fastidious about grooming afterward. Likewise, older dogs often know how to ask to be let outside and are less likely to have an accident.

Reason #3: Keep household items protected.
Senior pets have calmer temperaments and are less destructive around the house. They’ve been around long enough to learn the difference between what is, and what isn’t, acceptable to chew, shred or bury in the backyard.

Reason #4: Gain an instant cuddle buddy.
While a young dog or cat’s high energy levels demand lots of activity and exercise, senior pets often prefer cuddling with their pet parents. Although playtime is still a must, the best part of the day is naptime, and they're often more than willing to share the experience.

Reason #5: Save a life!
While older dogs and cats still have plenty of love to give, they are often overlooked in favor of puppies or kittens. Check with your local shelter as many waive adoption fees for pets in their golden years.

Additionally, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance wants to help keep your new senior companion healthy and happy. That is why we offer coverage for older pets.

For initial enrollment in Levels 2, 3 and 4, we accept dogs age 12 and under and cats age 14 and under. That only applies to initial enrollment—we’ll never cancel your pet’s coverage because of age.  All pets at least 8 weeks old are eligible for Level 1 accident-only coverage.

For more information about our coverage, please call 1-866-861-9092.

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ASPCA Happenings

New York City event celebrates the significant role that animals play in human lives by honoring heroic deeds

Canton, OH (PRWEB) November 10, 2010—The Hartville Group, Inc., a leader in the US pet health insurance industry, is sponsoring this year’s ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) Humane Awards Luncheon.

Read more

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Hartville Group News & Info

pet insurance pets

Keeping your pets safe on Halloween doesn’t have to be tricky.

Our friends at the ASPCA® offer these 5 tips to help pet parents keep their pets safe while celebrating this October. If your pet does ingest something poisonous, 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.

Tip #1: No Sweets for Your Sweetie.
Several popular Halloween treats are toxic to pets, such as candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol and chocolate, especially baker’s and dark chocolate. Symptoms of chocolate ingestion may include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased thirst and urination, heart rhythm abnormalities, and even seizures.

Tip #2: Watch out for those wrappers.
Cats love to play with candy wrappers, but ingesting aluminum foil or cellophane can cause intestinal blockage and vomiting.

Tip #3: Careful with costumes!
If you dress up your pet for Halloween, make sure the costume does not limit your pet’s ability to move, hear, see, breathe or drink. A smart alternative is a simple, festive Halloween bandana.

Tip #4: Decorations can be dangerous.
Re-think putting candles in Jack-O-Lanterns. Pets can easily knock them over and start a fire. Also, prevent your pets from having access to wires and cords from holiday decorations. If chewed, a wire can damage your pet’s mouth or deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock.

Tip #5: Trick-or-treating is for kids, not pets.
During trick-or-treating hours, it is best to keep pets in a room away from your front door or else they may escape during the flurry of activity. Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with tags and/or is microchipped.


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.