Lend a Helping Hand

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®.

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Pet First-Aid Prep

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.

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Fire Safety Advice

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.

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How’s your dog’s hearing?

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.

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How to Prevent and Treat Dog Deafness

We previously covered 5 signs your dog might have a hearing issue, and here’s more on the causes, treatments and prevention of dog deafness. 

What causes dog deafness?
Hearing issues can be caused temporarily by wax buildup or other obstructions in the ear canal. Injuries, ear infections and other illnesses can result in permanent deafness. 

Which dogs are more prone to deafness?
Some breeds, like Poodles, have narrow ear canals that make them more susceptible to wax buildup. Breeds with furry ears, such as Cocker Spaniels, can be more likely suffer from hair and wax blockages. Deafness can also be an inherited problem, which is common in Dalmatians.

How can it be treated?
If your dog’s deafness is caused by wax or hair buildup, your veterinarian should be able to clean the ears and restore hearing. Ear infections can be treated with medication. Permanent hearing loss can’t be reversed, but deaf dogs can learn to respond to hand signals and have good quality of life.

How can I prevent it?
You can help avoid hair and wax blockages by keeping the fur around your dog’s ears trimmed and clean. Be sure to contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect an ear infection. You should also take your dog to the veterinarian annually for a full wellness exam, including an ear check-up. 

Yearly exams are covered by our wellness options. Get a free quote or view your plan details.

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How to Give Your Pet a Pill

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.

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3 Easy Tricks for Good Dog Behavior

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

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How to Tell Your Pet’s in Pain

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.

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Cat laying on wooden floor

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.

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Cat in litter box

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.

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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, 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.