Yesterday, we quizzed your knowledge of spaying and neutering benefits.

Here are a few more points to consider:

5. Spaying or neutering affects personality.
False: Spaying or neutering won’t change a pet’s core personality traits like friendliness, playfulness or curiosity. However, it could reduce some unwanted behaviors, like frequent urination in females (to attract males) spraying in male cats (to mark territory).

6. You should spay or neuter your pet earlier rather than later.
True: You should talk to your veterinarian about the best age to spay or neuter your pet, but there are advantages to having it done while your pet is young. Younger pets may be less likely to experience complications from surgery. Shelters often spay or neuter pets as young as 6 weeks to 8 weeks old to help ensure that they don’t contribute to pet homelessness.

7. Pets who get “fixed” get fat.
False: Spaying or neutering does not necessarily mean your pet will pack on the pounds. The major culprits of obesity are inactivity and poor diet. Spayed, neutered or neither, your pet should eat a well-balanced pet food, go easy on the treats and get enough exercise to stay fit and trim. Ask your veterinarian for specific diet and exercise recommendations for your pet.

Want to know more about spaying or neutering? Check out this article in our Pet Health Library or read the Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet at the ASPCA’s website.

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ASPCA Happenings

Spaying and Neutering Benefits That May Surprise You

As a pet parent, you’ve probably heard about the importance of spaying or neutering your pets to avoid unwanted pregnancies and reduce the number of dogs and cats without good homes. The ASPCA® estimates around 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide each year, and about  3 million to 4 million are euthanized. Spaying or neutering also offers health and behavioral benefits for your pet that may surprise you.

Check your spaying and neutering smarts with this true or false quiz. Ask your veterinarian for advice about your pet.

1. Spaying or neutering is risky and painful.
False: Like any surgery, spaying or neutering can have complications, but it’s a routine procedure and the risks are relatively low for healthy pets. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia, so there shouldn’t be any pain during the operation. Your veterinarian can tell you more about the procedure and give you specific instructions for post-surgery care.

2. It can help prevent cancer.
True: Spaying a female pet prevents ovarian and uterine cancer and reduces the risk of breast cancer. Neutering will keep a male from getting testicular cancer and decrease his risks of developing prostate cancer. Spaying or neutering can also help your pet’s health in other ways by reducing the urge to roam and fight with animals that could pass on contagious diseases.

3. Spaying or neutering is expensive.
False: Spaying or neutering doesn’t have to be costly, and the significant health and behavior benefits can outweigh the expense. Plus, it’s an important step in reducing pet overpopulation and homelessness. Both Level 3 and Level 4 cover spay or neuter surgery. The ASPCA has a searchable database that can help you locate a low-cost spay/neuter program in your community.

Stay tuned for more spaying and neutering truths and myths over the next few days!

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ASPCA Happenings

In the News: Snuggling with Pets in Bed Could Be Bad for Your Health

Do you allow your pets to sleep in bed with you? If you do, it may be bad for your health, according to a study published in the February issue of the CDC’s journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The study details examples of people who contracted health problems, like parasites, meningitis and even worse diseases by sleeping in the same bed with their pets. For instance, in one case, a boy developed the plague after he shared his bed with his flea-infested cat, as fleas are  notorious for carrying this disease. Another case details a 60-year-old British woman who got meningitis after kissing her dog.    

This could be a problem for many pet parents. An estimated 21% to 33% of the 60 million pet dogs in the US sleep on or in their family’s beds and 60% of the 75 million cats do the same, as reported in a recent Los Angeles Times article.

But before we start kicking Fido and Fluffy out of our beds, veterinary experts weighing in on the issue reassure pet parents that while there is a risk, the likelihood of contracting a bad disease is extremely rare.

In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) President Dr. Larry Kornegay tells MSNBC, “I’ve been in practice for 40 years and I see the bond between people and their pets and the positive effects pets can have on humans, which I believe outweighs any risk, whether you sleep with a pet or not.”

The AVMA doesn’t have a formal recommendation when it comes to pets sleeping in human beds. Instead, the association advises pet parents to take their dogs and cats to the veterinarian for regular wellness exams, vaccinations and dental care. The association also encourages pet parents to wash their hands often, especially after handling feces and before preparing food.

What do you think of this study? If you share your bed with pets, will you stop doing so based on these warnings?

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Pet Health Insurance Headlines

All through the year, we get flooded with emails and letters from ASPCA Pet Health Insurance pet parents who tell us about times when their pets suffered sudden illnesses or unexpected accidents. Even in the midst of worrisome situations, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance was there to help with part of the veterinary bills.

As we ring in the New Year together, let’s take a look back at a few of the top stories we received in 2010. They’re a touching reminder of the loving bond between pet parents and their pets, and we’re so glad we could be there to protect the furry members of these families.

Because Accidents Happen
“My Bullmastiff, Beatrice, is very inquisitive so I was careful to remove all potential hazards from the house–or so I thought! But one day I came home to find the living room covered with pillow stuffing. Beatrice had demolished three throw pillows. She started vomiting, and I rushed her to the veterinarian who recommended X-rays. I knew it would be costly, but I went ahead anyway. Luckily, Beatrice didn’t have an obstruction, only a belly full of stuffing that passed without surgery. I submitted a claim, and it was promptly covered. Truly, anytime I’ve had to file a claim, it was a breeze. Your staff is very caring, and getting ASPCA Pet Health insurance was one of the best doggie decisions I made.”
—Sara S., Henderson, Nev.

A Helping Hand when Illness Strikes
“We have a lively 3-year-old Calico cat named Tess, who has been covered since we brought her home from a local shelter. One day she got very sick, so we took her to the veterinarian. Over the next few weeks, Tess had more tests and X-rays than we could count, but we wanted to do whatever the veterinarian recommended so we could help her. I’ll admit that each time we entered the veterinarian’s office, I said a silent ‘thank you’ that we had your insurance. Tess is now her energetic self again, and we’re so grateful to our veterinarians and ASPCA Pet Health Insurance!”
—Elizabeth O., Fisherville, Va.

Keeping Pets in Good Health
“Our Westie, Dorothy, hasn’t had any major medical problems, but ASPCA Pet Health Insurance has been extremely helpful with the costs of her check-ups, special visits to the veterinarian for infections, sprains, and itching as well as needed medications.  You make it very easy to file a claim, and replies are prompt and clearly explained. We also feel that Dorothy is not simply a numbered client, but someone whose health you’re genuinely interested in. We’re certainly glad we chose ASPCA Pet Health Insurance.”
—Bob K., Flint, Mich.

In Case of Emergency
“I have an adopted cat named Licorice who’s almost 9. I knew I had to protect her after she ingested a piece of material from a chair, and I had to pay for an expensive surgery to remove it. I’m glad I signed her up because just six months later, she swallowed a small bolt that came off a cat scratcher. I had to bring her to the emergency animal clinic late at night for yet another surgery. Then she suffered from an infection after I took her home. All of this added up to almost $3,000. If it hadn’t been for your insurance paying a portion of my bills, I don’t know how I would’ve cared for Licorice. But she’s happy and healthy today thanks to the emergency veterinarians and ASPCA Pet Health Insurance!”
—Allison P., Philadelphia, Pa.

Do you have a recent story to share? Email me!

 

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Customer Stories

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

WELCOME,
PET PARENTS!

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, a 7-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.