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 Make Homemade Cat Toys

If you’ve ever lived with cats, you probably know how much fun they can have with a paper bag. Here is a list of some of the other common household items that make excellent cat toys.

•   Plastic Eggs- Fill them with unpopped popcorn kernels, peppercorns, dry beans, grains of dry rice or coins. These are great for visually impaired cats, and all cats love the sounds.
•   Empty Cardboard Rolls- Pull treats or toys through the opening or place them inside the roll. Your cat will have fun chasing the rolls or swatting at the toys inside. 
•   Crinkled Tin Foil- Crumple up a sheet of tin foil to provide an interesting change in texture and sound from a cat’s usual ball toys.
•   Rope/Cable/Tubing- To make string-like toys that are safe for unattended play, use materials that are thick and short, such as mountain climbing rope, bicycle break cables (with caps on the ends) and flexible plastic tubing. 
•   Drinking Straws- Look for straws in colors that contrast your flooring. Brightly colored straws are very popular with kittens!
•   Driftwood/Firewood- Both are excellent, natural scratcher options that can last for decades. 
•   Corks- Corks are loads of fun to chase, and they also absorb scents. Store them in a bag of catnip for a few weeks to make them an even more enticing toy.
•   Tissue Boxes- Place toys or treats in side to make these recyclable options irresistible to curious cats. Most pet supply stores carry studier, ready-made holey boxes.
•   Finger Puppets- These toys are especially fun when filled with catnip and sewn shut. Be sure the puppets don’t have loosely attached beads, buttons or other baubles. Also, painted features should only contain non-toxic paint or fabric dye.
•   Wrist Watches- Offer your cat your old, broken watch before throwing it out. Cats love them because your scent is on the band.
•   Pom-Pom Balls- It is important to select balls that are too large to be a choking hazard. You can store pom-pom balls in catnip for an extra treat.

What other toys have your cats found around the house? Share with us in the comments or on Facebook!

Find more ideas about homemade cat toys here.

This blog post was written by guest blogger Kari Kells, a professional pet sitter and pet parent to Raggedy Andy, Emma and Rumi. Read more tips and advice from Kari on her blog.


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Orange cat playing with a toy

Has your cat put on a little extra weight during these cold winter months? We’ve found some tips to help you get your kitty back on track.

Your Cat is Not Alone
Nearly 58% of cats are obese, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). When determining whether your pet is overweight, the best way to judge is on a scale at the veterinarian’s office, but you can use points 3 & 4 from our friends at the ASPCA® to assess your pet at home.

Visit Your Veterinarian
Any time your cat is dealing with obesity, consult with a veterinarian first to rule out any medical conditions such as hypothyroidism or other disorders. Your veterinarian can help you gauge your cat’s body condition and create an approved weight loss program for your cat.

Practice Patience 
A cat’s diet should not be changed drastically overnight, and you should be sure to follow your veterinarian’s nutrition recommendations. A staged food transition could take approximately two weeks. To help your furry family member adjust and accept his new meal plan, try to spice his chow up by adding ketchup or salmon juice.

Get Moving
Unlike our canine pals, cats aren’t the perfect companions to take along for a morning jog or swim. They’re more of the relaxing type. One great motivator to get your cat moving is to use their mealtime as exercise time. Try walking around the home with their bowl for a few minutes before giving them a portion of the meal. See if you can stretch mealtime out to 20 minutes with this tactic.

As with humans, cats also need some motivation to lose weight. These cat toy ideas from our friends at the ASPCA may be useful to help your cat get and stay active. 


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two dogs playing with a soccer ball

Enrolling your dog in daycare is a fantastic way to keep him from getting lonely or bored when you’re away from home. For large dogs living in small homes, daycare facilities are often a great way to ensure that dogs release their energy in healthy, non-destructive ways.

That said, not every dog is a good fit for daycare situations and every daycare facility is unique., It's worth looking at daycare facilities, if you have a playful, well-behaved dog who enjoys socializing at dog parks. Since there is no one-size-fits-all answer, be patient as you evaluate the options for your individual dog.

Finding the Right Fit

How do you know if your dog would do well in doggie daycare? Generally speaking, a daycare situation might be a good fit if your dog behaves well at dog parks and enjoys playing with other dogs. Of course, not all dogs are social, and not all social dogs are comfortable in every social situation. Personality plays a big part.

Ideal candidates for doggie daycare are:
   • Healthy
   • Spayed or neutered
   • Vaccinated
   • Well-socialized
   • Energetic

Dogs who are not usually well suited for daycare situations are:
   • Possessive about toys or food
   • Panicky
   • Shy
   • Constant barkers
   • Aggressive
   • Herders who are too pushy
   • Anxious when separated from owner
   • Fearful, tense or anxious around other dogs
   • Under-socialized

Learn more about doggie daycare and alternatives here

This blog post was written by guest blogger Kari Kells, a professional pet sitter and pet parent to Raggedy Andy, Emma and Rumi. Read more tips and advice from Kari on her blog.


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close up of cat's eyes

There’s nothing like the bright eyes of a cat to catch your attention. But what if your cat’s eyes become crusty or cloudy? Our friends at the ASPCA® have some great tips to keep your cat’s eyes healthy.

These symptoms may indicate something is amiss:

• Discharge
• Watering
• Red or white eyelid linings
• Crusty gunk in the corners of the eye
• Tear-stained fur
• Closed eye(s)
• Cloudiness or change in eye color
• Visible third eyelid

As always, check in with your veterinarian for any questions about your feline’s eye health.


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pet parents

cat playing with computer mouse

Technology can make our lives easier, but electrical cords can be a hazard to our pets. Check out these tips to keep your pets from chewing something they shouldn’t.

Here are some more safety tips from the folks at Dogtime:

• Protect wiring with tough plastic cable covers, aluminum foil tape or double-sided tape.
• When not using them, place electronics well out of a pet’s reach.
• Use a tough protective cover on outlets.
• Never place gadgets near your coffee cup or other liquids.


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pet parents

The holiday season can be a dangerous time for pets. In fact, we’ve found that claims for chocolate and candy ingestions spike around this time of year. Check out this handy, printable pet-proofing infographic to help keep your pets safe during this hectic time of year.

Click here for a printable PDF!

6 Simple Tips to Help Pet Proof Your Home

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pet parents

little dog in a plastic jackolantern

In addition to keeping your pet away from harmful treats, like chocolate and candy containing xylitol, here are a few more safety tips from our friends at the ASPCA®:

• Be careful your pet doesn't scoot out when you answer the door for trick-or-treaters. You may want to keep him or her in a separate room during peak hours.
• Consider using battery powered "candles" to light up your jack-o-lanterns. Curious pets can get burned or knock real candles over and start a fire.
• Pumpkins are considered non-toxic, but they can still cause tummy upset if your pet takes a bite. Keep them safely out of pet's reach.

Read more safety tips on our website

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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, 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.