Author Archives: Patricia Dean

Dog at Doctor

The Pros and Cons of Pet Health Insurance

Pet insurance is something I have contemplated through out the years.  I have had my amazing 13-year-old pit bull since he was 8 weeks old and never got him on a pet insurance plan.  I’ve since lost track on how much I have spent on vet bills (for him and my other pets who came along after him but have now passed).  I recently adopted a new dog and still have opted out on getting pet health insurance. I am neither rich nor poor, so yes it can get expensive – but I knew that when I decided to take responsibility of another living being’s life.

Don’t get me wrong – any surgery or illness that came any of my pets’ ways, I have dished out whatever it cost to get them well again.  Maybe I should have gotten the insurance in the first place, but the following cons outweighed the pros in my opinion.   If you are wondering whether or not to get pet insurance for your pet, take a look at the pros and cons here…

PROS

Saves you money in emergencies…

The best benefit to pet health insurance is if your pet is hit with a large, expensive health problem. All it takes is one emergency, such a being accidentally poisoned or a caner diagnosis, to rack up thousands of dollars in vet bills. Trust me, I’ve been through it all – with out pet insurance!

Routine check-ups and care…

Plans that cover routine care, such as yearly shots and physicals, and medications are sometimes a better deal.

Age…

The younger your pet, the cheaper the insurance will be.  However, it’s when our beloved pets grow old is most likely when they will need coverage most.

CONS

The plan may cost more than it’s worth…

Pet health insurance is a business. It assumes that more money will be paid in insurance premiums than will be paid out for benefits. This means that most likely you’ll pay more in the long run, especially if your pet lives a long and healthy life with few to no problems. It is up to you whether you take that risk or not.

Limitations and restrictions…

Just like human health insurance, pet insurance plans have limitations.  Some of them are – not covering pre-existing conditions, hereditary defects, or older animals.

Out-of-pocket costs…

Most pet insurance plans requires have you pay costs upfront and then file a claim to get reimbursed.

Some companies set age limits…

Pet insurance may sound good when your pet is young, but some companies have reduced coverage or won’t even cover your pet as they become a senior.

Here are some questions you should ask when considering pet health insurance:

  • “Can I choose my own vet or do they have to be part of your in-plan network?”
  • “Do you cover:”
  • Genetic conditions (hereditary/congenital)?
  • Alternative therapies (chiropractic, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, etc.)?
  • Pre-existing conditions?
  • Breeding, whelping, pregnancy?
  • Prescription drugs or food?
  • “How is reimbursement calculated?” (Actual vet bill vs. average rate for service)
  • “Can I customize my plan such as choosing my own deductible or adding/removing benefits?”
  • “Are there policy payout limits? If so, what are they and are they based on per incident, annual, or lifetime basis?”
  • “Do you exclude dogs that are fed raw food diets from your coverage?”
  • “Are there any multi-pet rates, military discounts or any other offers available?”

Source: BarfWorld

Summer Safety Tips for Pets

In my house we consider our pets as our children. When it comes to their safety and well being, my husband and I make sure we do everything we can. Here are some very helpful and crucial tips for your pets when it comes to the sweltering summer months.

Basic Summer Safety Tips

1. Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.

2. Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing— or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.

3. Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. Ingestions can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets. Never use fireworks around pets! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.

TIPS FOR DOGS

Heat Hazards
Heatstroke and death can occur within minutes in warm temperatures.Don't Be Cruel - Alex

1. If your dog is outside on a hot day, make sure he has a shady spot to rest in. Doghouses are not good shelter during the summer as they can trap heat. You may want to fill a child’s wading pool with fresh water for your dog to cool off in.

2. Also, NEVER leave your dog in a closed vehicle on a hot day. The temperature inside a car can rise to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes.

3. Always provide plenty of cool, fresh water. 4. Avoid strenuous exercise on extremely hot days. Take walks in the early mornings or evenings, when the sun’s heat is less intense. 5. Try to avoid prolonged exposure to hot asphalt or sand, which can burn your dog’s paws. 6. Dogs that are brachycephalic (short-faced), such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Japanese Chins,and Pekingese, have an especially hard time in the heat because they do not pant as efficiently as longer-faced dogs. Keep your brachycephalic dog inside with air- conditioning.

Beach Tips
Dogs, especially those with short hair, white fur, and pink skin, can sunburn. Limit your dog’s exposure during the day and apply pet sunblock to his ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside.

1. Check with a lifeguard for daily water conditions. Dogs are easy targets for sea lice and jellyfish.

2. Running on the sand is strenuous exercise. A dog that is out of shape can easily pull a tendon or ligament, so keep a check on your dog’s activity.

3. Do not let your dog drink seawater; the salt will make him sick. 4. Salt and other minerals in ocean water can damage your dog’s coat, so rinse him off at the end of the day.

Water Safety
Most dogs enjoy swimming, but some cannot swim, and others may hate the water. Be conscious of your dog’s preferences and skills before trying to make him swim.

1. Never throw your dog into the water.

2. If your dog begins to paddle with his front legs, lift his hind legs and help him float. He should quickly catch on and keep his back end up.

3. Don’t let your dog overdo it; swimming is very hard work and he may tire quickly.

4. If swimming at the ocean, be careful of strong tides.

5. Never leave your dog unattended in water.

Heatstroke
Heatstroke can be the serious and often fatal result of a dog’s prolonged exposure to excessive heat. Below are the signs of heatstroke and the actions you should take if your dog is overcome.

Early Stages:

1. Heavy panting.

2. Rapid breathing.

3. Excessive drooling.

4. Bright red gums and tongue.

5. Standing 4-square, posting or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance.

Advanced Stages:

1. White or blue gums.

2. Lethargy, unwillingness to move.

3. Uncontrollable urination or defecation.

4. Labored, noisy breathing.

5. Shock.

If your dog begins to exhibit signs of heatstroke, you should immediately try to cool the dog down:

1. Apply rubbing alcohol to the dog’s paw pads.

2. Apply ice packs to the groin area.

3. Hose down with water.

4. Allow the dog to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water.

5. Offer Pedialyte to restore electrolytes.

Check your dog’s temperature regularly during this process. Once the dog’s temperature has stabilized at between 100 to 102 degrees, you can stop the cool-down process. If you cannot get the dog cooled down and you begin to see signs of advanced heatstroke, take the dog to the veterinarian immediately.

Grooming
Keeping your pet well groomed will help her hair do what it was designed to do: protect her from the sun and insulate her from the heat. If your pet has extremely thick hair or a lot of mats and tangles, their fur may trap too much heat, so you may want to cut/trim their fur.

Anti-Freeze Hazard
Hot weather may tempt your pet to drink from puddles in the street, which can contain antifreeze and other chemicals. Antifreeze has a sweet taste that animals like, but it’s extremely toxic. When you’re walking your pet, make sure she doesn’t sneak a drink from the street.

TIPS FOR CATS

How to Help Your Cat Avoid Heatstroke
Don't Be Cruel - ChewiYou can help your cat survive extremely hot weather by keeping him indoors in a cool interior room. Rubbing him down with a damp towel will help; so will immersing his feet in a tub of cool water. Wrapping a cold compress under the cat’s neck will also help cool him off. Early symptoms of heat stroke and the accompanying dehydration are: panting, anxiety, possibly demonstrated by pacing, increased heartbeat, respiratory distress or hyperventilation (breeds with flat noses may exhibit this earlier because of compromised airways) dark red gums, lethargy, and/or increased internal body temperature . Your cat’s internal temperature should be between 100.5° and 101.5° F. A temperature of 104° or more is a definite warning sign. Here’s how to take your cat’s temperature.

Provide Fresh Cool Water
Make sure your cat has several bowls of cool water available. However, cats affected by external heat may refuse to drink water, making the problem of dehydration worse, so you may want to “force” water by using an eyedropper or syringe. Be careful not to shoot the water down his throat as it can enter his lungs and/or cause choking. Just dribble a drop or two at a time in the corner of his mouth, which will help hydrate him and draw his interest to drinking on his own. If your cat exhibits any of the signs above that lead you to think he is suffering heat exhaustion, cool him down as quickly as possible by immersing him in cool water, and then wrapping him with wet towels. Then get him to the veterinarian immediately. This is a serious, potentially fatal condition.

Sunburn
White cats, or cats with white ears and faces, are particularly susceptible to sunburn. Over a period of time, repeated exposure to the sun can cause squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer found most often on the tips of the ears and nose. Early signs are a sore that does not heal, or that bleeds. White cats should be kept out of direct sun as much as possible, and if they must be in the sun, you can help them prevent sunburn by using a sunscreen on their ears and noses. Your veterinarian can recommend one which will not be harmful if ingested.

Check out CPR & other life saving tips for your pets HERE

Disclaimer: Patricia Dean is not a veterinarian, just an animal lover. This article is meant only to share some important tips to keep your pets safe during the summer. If you have any questions or concerns always contact you veterinarian. There is no such thing as a stupid question and better safe than sorry!

Sources: About.com, AKG.org