Does Your Pet Have Allergies???
Allergies have been a commonly identified, yet frustrating, part of veterinary medicine for a very long time. We all know what we feel like when allergies strike, but what about our four-legged friends?
Allergy symptoms can begin at any time in a pet’s life, and they do not necessarily present following a change in lifestyle or food. The symptoms present themselves when your pet’s immune system recognizes an otherwise harmless, and often daily-encountered substance, as dangerous. Allergens can affect your pet’s immune system when they are inhaled, ingested or contact your pet’s skin. The symptoms that develop are the effect of the immune system’s attempt at removing these substances, and can manifest as primary skin, digestive and/or respiratory diseases.
What does this look like?? Your pet might experience some of the following:
- Red, moist, warm, scabbed skin
- Itching/scratching/licking at skin
- Red, swollen eyes with discharge
- Biting/scratching at base of tail
- Red, itchy, smelly, infected ears
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Biting/licking at paws
Allergic pets will often have secondary infections, due to the excessive licking/biting/scratching, which might require antibiotics or antifungals to control the infection(s).
But what is my pet allergic to??
Anything, and everything, can trigger an allergic reaction. A few common offenders include:
- Pollen from weeds/grasses/trees
- Dust mites
- Cigarette smoke
- Fleas- for a pet that is allergic to fleas, it just takes one flea and one bite to trigger a response that can go on for weeks, and other parasites
- And the list goes on and on….
If you suspect your pet has allergies, please call our office to schedule an exam. Preventative measures should be taken to eliminate some of the more common causes of allergic disease- PARASITES. Monthly flea, tick and heartworm prevention is the cornerstone of preventative care, please stop in for advice on the best prevention for your pet. A blood test can, in some cases, be used to more definitively identify the source of your pet’s allergies, which then allows us to order allergy shots specifically formulated for your pet. Alternatively, we can talk to you about oral antihistamines and fatty acid supplements, as well as topical medications/shampoos/conditioners that are safe to try with your pet in an attempt to mitigate the clinical signs associated with allergies. If a food allergy is suspected, a food elimination trail can be done. During this trial, your pet will be fed a hypoallergenic diet only; no other flavored treats, toys or table scraps should be offered. This can help us better determine which food items are contributing to the allergic disease.
It is important to note that allergies are never cured, but they can and need to be managed so as not to put more pressure on your pet’s hard working immune system. Call or stop in with any questions, we are happy to help improve your pet’s comfort and quality of life!
Did you know May is Microchip Month?
A microchip is an integrated circuit placed under the skin of the animal that contains a permanent ID. The chip is about the size of a grain of rice and most of the time you can never see or feel it. It is inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades using a syringe device. When an animal is found and brought to a shelter, rescue or hospital they use a universal microchip scanner to check the pet for an implanted chip. If there is a chip, the scanner will beep and pick up the code which is usually a combination of numbers and letters. We can then go to an online database with that code and find the pet owner’s information. Usually reuniting the pet with its owners is just a phone call away! For more information on Microchips and how they work visit this link: http://public.homeagain.com/how-pet-microchipping-works.html
Many breeders, shelters and rescues will have a pet microchipped prior to adoption. It is highly important that after the adoption you re-register the pet’s microchip with your personal information. If the chip is not re-registered with your contact information, often times it becomes difficult or impossible to reach the owner. When pets are scanned for a microchip, the contact information related to that particular chip ID is what is utilized to reunite the pet with their owner. Thus, having up to date contact information is imperative.
An additional benefit of micro-chipping your dog is you are eligible for a life-time license. By state law, dog owners are required to have their dog licensed every year. When you apply for a lifetime license you pay one fee and never have to renew for the entire life of your dog. This saves you money and time.
Why not microchip all of your pets for peace of mind?
Pet first aid awareness
1. To determine if your pet is dehydrated, pull up on the skin between the shoulder blades. It should spring right back; if it slowly goes back or stays in the pulled position this is a sign of dehydration.
2. Signs of pet poisoning may include: Dilated pupils, drooling, foaming at the mouth, seizures, abnormal mental state and strange behavior. (Contact your veterinarian if you see any of these signs in your pet.)
3. If your pet has a seizure, make sure he/she is in a safe place. Do not restrain your pet. Keep your hands and things away from the animal’s mouth. The pet can be disoriented and can bite not realizing what it is doing during the episode.
4. In times of extreme heat, keep pets inside where it is cool. Signs of heat stroke and or heat exhaustion include collapse, a rectal temperature over 103 degrees, vomiting, blooding diarrhea, trouble breathing, increased heart rate, and excessive panting.
5. If your pet is bleeding, apply pressure to the area. Keep gauze on hand to use to apply to bleeding areas. Continue to apply pressure while on your way to the veterinarian.
We want to encourage pet owners to have a pet first aid kit at their home. Some things to include should be: Gauze, digital thermometer, hydrogen peroxide, a leash, eye dropper, and emergency phone numbers including primary veterinarian, local emergency veterinarian, and poison control for pets. Most of the listed items are self explanatory. If you live in a place where natural disasters can and do occur you may want to alter your list or have an emergency bag for your pet(s) to take with you if you need to vacate your home.
If you have questions about other things that you should have in your first aid box for your pets ask your primary veterinarian.
Theresa N. Klales
Preventing Lyme disease
Preventing Lyme disease
The best way to prevent Lyme disease in your dog is to use a good preventive product every month all year round, and second is to give them the Lyme vaccine every year.
The prevalence of Lyme disease in the canine population depends on the location in which you live. Here in Chester County it is extremely high.
What is Lyme disease by definition? Lyme disease is a bacterial disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. It is passed to dogs by the bite of deer tick. The Borrelia burgdorferi barteria is passed through the saliva of the tick as if feeds off your pet.
Lyme disease can be a serious illness. Most common side effects include lethargy, limping and lack of appetite. If left undetected and untreated, it can become more serious and lead to things like kidney disease and heart disease.
It is standard practice for veterinarians to perform what is called a “snap” test once a year on dogs. This is testing for heartworm, Lyme disease and two other common tick-borne diseases. If your pet is positive for Lyme or any tick-borne disease the most common and effective treatment is Doxycycline, an oral antibiotic. Not testing your dog and treating when needed, can lead to the more serious issues with the kidney and heart.
The best things you can do as a pet owner to prevent infection is to apply a good topical preventive to your dog once monthly all year round. Some products include: Frontline, Advantix, Parastar and now they have an oral product called Bravecto. The second thing you can do is give your dog the vaccine. Dogs should get the vaccine every year. While the vaccine is not a guarantee against being infected it greatly reduces the dog’s chances and severity of the infection. Often dogs that have been vaccinated are non-symptomatic if they are positive.
If you have questions about protecting your dog against Lyme or other tick-born diseases, contact your primary veterinarian.
Why do cats purr?
The bottom line is there is not one reason cats purr. There are many reasons for a purr. Reasons for a purr are not always positive. If you were to look online or check a well stocked library on the subject, you would be surprised to find there is little on the subject at all. Here is some of what we do know about the purr and why cats do it.
The definition of a cats purr is simply a low continuous vibratory sound usually expressing contentment. The reality is cats can purr for a variety of reasons. We know they will purr if they are happy and content but did you know they will purr if they are nervous, scared or sick? There is research suggesting that purring has healing qualities to it. That cats purr when they are sick and injured because it helps them heal and get better faster. This research also suggests that purring can heal bones and wounds, build muscle and repair tendons, ease breathing and decrease pain and swelling.
Purring is sound produced as a part of communication and self healing. The mother cat and kittens using purring as a form of communicating before the eyes of the kittens are open. The mother will also purr to sooth the kittens.
Did you know other animals purr??? Other animals that purr include cougars, gorillas, raccoons and even elephants!
So while we know cats and kittens can purr to communicate and will purr when happy and content perhaps we didn’t realize they will do this in times of pain and distress. Although there is minimal research on the purr I am sure it will continue to be a topic of great debate.
The next time you hear your cat purring you may wonder what they are feeling or expressing.
To read more about this visit this link: http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/catspurr.html
Theresa N. Klales
March is National pet poison prevention month
Household plants are very common and can be very appealing to dogs and cats. We encourage every home owner with pets to research a particular plant before bringing it into the house. Many typical house plants are very toxic to dogs and cats. Even if you receive an arrangement as a gift be sure to keep it in a place where your dogs can’t reach it and your cats can’t get to it. For example, Lilies are especially poisonous to cats. Just one or two petals can be fatal. The truth is cats love plants. They sniff, rub and nibble them. Dogs are also curious and will snack on plants. We encourage you to research any plant or flower before bringing it home to ensure the safety of your four-legged friends. Please follow this link for a list of the most common poisonous plants to pets. http://www.care2.com/greenliving/24-common-plants-poisonous-to-pets.html/2.
Are things out of reach? While most pet owners know many things are not safe for their pets to ingest, sometimes accidents happen. The best way to decrease this probability is to pet proof your home. Keeping things out of reach for dogs and cats can be much more of a challenge then say for a baby. Dogs and cats can jump on counters and can surprise us in their creativity in order to get into things. We have heard stories of dogs and cats that can open cabinets, doors, or the fridge. They are smart, clever and have time on their hands. The first thing is to make sure you are familiar with where the dangers are and how to get those items out of reach or locked away. Something as common as coming home and putting your purse on the table can be a habit you may want to change. If your dog or cat gets into your purse and ingests nicotine products, gum, or over the counter pain medication you’re going to have a very sick pet that will need veterinarian care right away. Keep things like cleaning supplies, batteries, medications up high or in a secure cabinet. There are many common foods we enjoy that can be toxic to your pets as well. Follow this link for a list of foods you should not give to your pets. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets. Another very helpful thing is having a trash can with a pet proof lid.
So what do I do if my dog or cat does ingest something? Most pet owner’s first instinct is to call their primary veterinarian. This is not necessarily the wrong thing to do. Depending on the situation and what the pet ingested, your veterinarian will most likely direct you to contact pet poison control. Pet poison control has specialists on staff and readily available information on all kinds of toxic items and how to best treat them. When toxic ingestion occurs time is important. Poison control will be able to tell you what needs to be done and what to expect. They also contact your veterinarian and explain what kind of treatment is best depending on what was consumed. We encourage you to keep animal poison control’s phone number in case it is needed. They do charge a fee, however, in a state of emergent ingestion they are the experts and need to be contacted. Pet Poison Control hotline 1-855-764-7661.
For more helpful information in identifying things around your home that may be hazardous to your pet please visit this link. http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/2012/03/remember-pets-during-poison-prevention-week-march-18-24/.
Theresa N. Klales
February is dental health month for pets!
How do I know if my pet needs a dental cleaning or is having problems? Animals hide pain and discomfort very well. Annual exams with your veterinarian are very important to proactively find any medical issue that your pet might be having. It is common to find tartar, gingivitis, halitosis, oral abscesses and gum recession upon exam. It is important to address these issues in order to keep your pet comfortable and eating well. We often hear from clients that their pet has been acting normally and eating fine even when we find significant issues within their mouth. Professional cleaning by your veterinarian can be extremely beneficial. While a professional cleaning can be costly, it can greatly improve your animal’s quality of life. We often encourage owners to put money aside for when their animal will need to come in for a cleaning. Please see this helpful article on dental care in pets by vetstreet; http://www.vetstreet.com/care/dental-cleaning-for-dogs-and-cats.
What is involved in having a professional cleaning? Every veterinary hospital is different, but we will explain the process we have at Ludwigs Corner Veterinary Hospital to give you an idea. We treat dental cleanings the same way we handle surgical procedures. Your pet is put under anesthesia for ultrasonic cleaning of the teeth. Anesthesia can be a very scary concept for many pet owners. There is always some risk when an animal is under anesthesia for any kind of care. Here at Ludwigs Corner Veterinary hospital we do everything possible to ensure your pet is in good health. We take pre- anesthetic blood work, this is to ensure your pet’s liver and kidneys are functioning well enough to absorb and process the anesthesia. While the procedure is being preformed your pet is attached to monitors that allow us to continually check heart rate, breathing rate and other vitals. The surgical assistant is monitoring your pet while the doctor performs the cleaning. In addition to ultrasonic scaling and polishing of the teeth, oral x-rays and extractions may be preformed. We have state of the art equipment to make these determinations. Oral x-rays allow us to see the tooth and root below the gum line. The veterinarian can then see how healthy or intact a tooth and its root are and whether it should be extracted. When the procedure is done your pet is closely monitored as they wake up from anesthesia. If any extractions or other uncomfortable procedures were done your pet receives pain medication immediately post-op and sometimes gets sent home with additional medications. Your cat or dog is here for most of the day and will not be sent home until they are fully awake.
How do I prepare for my pet’s cleaning procedure with my veterinarian? You should first have an exam. The veterinarian will be able to give you an idea of how much work needs to be done. So basically, does your pet just need a cleaning or will there need to be x-rays and possible extractions? This will help you get a better idea of cost as well. X-rays and extractions are an added cost that would not be included in a basic polishing and scaling. Your pet will be fasted the night before the procedure. This means no food after midnight the night before they come in for the cleaning. Offering water is fine. We have the client come early in the morning; they meet with one of our technicians to do admitting paperwork. They then leave and wait for us to call them later in the day letting them know how everything went and when their pet will be ready for pick up. We usually call the next day and check up on the patient to make sure everything is going well.
What can I do to keep my pet’s mouth healthy? The first thing is having professional cleaning by your veterinarian when needed. If you own dogs there is a wide variety of products for them to chew on in between cleanings. Canines that chew often on the appropriate items are more apt to break down tartar build up naturally. Ask your veterinarian what they recommend for chew items as there are many things that can damage your dog’s teeth. Brushing is the best way to keep your dog and cat’s teeth healthy. Studies show you must brush at least four times a week to make an impact. You must use toothpaste made for pets, not human tooth paste. Dog and cat toothpaste is flavored and safe for them to swallow where as human toothpaste if swallowed can be harmful and toxic. You can use a special pet made toothbrush or a regular toothbrush. You only have to brush the outer portion of the teeth that come in contact with the gums. Many pet owners brush with water and give the flavored tooth paste as a reward, which is fine. There are even food companies that make a special diet for tooth health. Hill’s makes a food called “T/D”. The kibbles in this food are large so that your pet has to bite into it. Thus the kibble will scrape some of the tartar off through the action of chewing. The T/D food can be given as a sole diet or as treats. See more information on T/D food at the following link: http://www.hillspet.com/products/pd-canine-td-canine-dental-health-dry.html.
If you have questions regarding your cat or dog’s dental health or what products might help care for them, please consult your veterinarian.
Hairball facts and prevention tips
If dogs are man’s best friend what does that make cats? Some say cats are woman’s best friend. Male or female, people love cats more and more. While cat adoptions through rescues and shelters are always far fewer then dogs, many of us have beloved felines at home. As cat owners, most of us have had the experience where we are going about our day and we hear “hack hack hack.” You discover the source of the strange sound is your kitty throwing up something on your floor or wherever they were perched. If the present your cat left for you is not food, it is most likely a hairball. So what exactly is a hairball?
A hairball is a collection of hair that is swallowed when your cat grooms itself. Most of the hairs pass through the digestive track but some stay behind within the stomach. The hairs that are left in the stomach accumulate, and the only way for them to exit the body is through the act of vomiting. Because the hairball passes through the esophagus they usually have a tubular shape. In short, hairballs are a result of your cat’s grooming routine. Regular grooming is a sign of a healthy cat. When your cat is bathing, tiny hooks on their tongue catch loose and dead hairs which are then swallowed. Please see the Wikipedia for more details on what hairballs are. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hairball)
Long-haired breeds, such as Persians and Maine Coons, are more likely to have hairballs. Cats that compulsively groom or shed a lot tend to swallow more fur and thus tend to have more hairballs. Kittens and senior cats tend to have less hairballs because they are often more lax with their grooming.
Symptoms of hairballs include hacking, vomiting, retching, gagging, lack of appetite, lethargy, constipation and/or diarrhea. Not sure if your cat is sick or having hairball issues? Consult your veterinarian and schedule a visit. There can be other reasons for your cat to be lethargic or vomiting that are more serious then hairballs and having a veterinarian examine your furry friend is the best way to find out.
There are many things a pet owner can do to decrease the frequency of hairballs. Brushing your cat regularly or having them professionally groomed can decrease the amount of hair they consume. There are many food brands that offer a hairball formula or indoor formula to help with the digestion of hair. These specialized foods support healthy skin and coat to reduce shedding and fiber to aid in digestion. There are also hairball lubricants that help increase the passage of hair through the digestive system. You can read about Laxatone, the brand we carry, at the following link: http://www.drugs.com/vet/laxatone-for-cats.html.
With daily brushing and an indoor or hairball formulated food, many owners can get their cat’s hairballs under control. Contact your primary veterinarian if you have any questions regarding hairballs and how you should treat your cat for them.
Training tips and helpful hints for dogs
Training has several benefits. It enhances your pet’s life, bonds the two of you, and can assure their safety. Dogs are eager to please and want to learn. Communication and consistency are crucial. Proper training can also prevent unwanted behavior from your pet. Dogs by nature have the tendency to jump up, bark, and beg. Good training can often eliminate these sometimes annoying canine habits.
How do I start?
If your pooch is a puppy, look for basic classes offered in your community. Often these classes are once a week and are held with a group of other puppy owners. In most classes for puppies, there are basic commands that will be reviewed. You are not just training your dog; you are training yourself to be the teacher. Basic starting commands include sit, stay, down, come, and walking on a loose leash. The other wonderful benefit is it allows for early socialization. Your pup should be fully vaccinated prior to being around other dogs. We recommend you check with your veterinarian.
If your dog is older, there are still classes available in the community. People that adopt an older dog also need a training routine. In this case depending on the dog a beginner obedience class is also very helpful.
Is my dog too old to start training?
While there is research stating that dogs pick up things better at a young age, it is never too late to start. You can teach old dogs new tricks.
Things you should do at home:
Reward behaviors you like. Again, dogs want to please you! Let them know when they are doing something well. Make sure behaviors you don’t like are not rewarded. Many people think a reward is just a treat. In reality even acknowledging them or touching them while behaving badly can be perceived as a reward. Your dog may think “Oh if I bark non-stop mommy will come over and cuddle with me or give me a bone to chew on.” Start with basics. Ask your veterinarian who they recommend as a trainer. Talk to friends, co-workers and neighbors. Often other pet owners have very helpful information to share.
Every pet’s needs are different. Whether they just need some basic training or are having problematic behaviors, there are many options available. Be consistent with your training routine and work at it every day for short periods of time. Most training fails when people lives and routine get in the way. They don’t have time to work with their pet every day or get lax about being consistent.
If you currently have a puppy and want some helpful information on potty training here is a nice link to read. http://www.cesarsway.com/dog-care/housebreaking/Housebreaking
Assistive training items for your pooch:
We love the gentle leader system. This training tool slides over your pup’s head and muzzle and gives you better control. It helps manage dogs who like to pull when walking. We sell them at our hospital and have found our clients to have great success with them. Follow this link for more information on the gentle leader. http://www.petsafe.net/media/manuals/gl-gentle-leader-headcollar-manual.pdf.
If you are working with a trainer, they may have their own system they prefer to use. No method is wrong. The key is to understand how your dog learns and use something that will work for him or her.
Ludwigs Corner Veterinarian offers puppy/beginner obedience training classes at our office every Thursday night. For more information please contact us at 610-458-8567.
January is National Walk Your Dog month
Whether you already walk your dog(s) regularly or are just starting, here are some reasons why it is so good for them. Dogs are full of energy! The amount of energy a dog has can be different based on breed, age, health and personality. They all need an outlet for this energy and what better way than a walk. If your pet doesn’t have a healthy outlet for his or her energy, they can show undesirable behavior. Boredom can lead to chewing on things they shouldn’t, being too rowdy with children and even exhibiting separation anxiety. Walking can also help you train your dog. Expending energy results in a calmer more submissive dog, and then they listen better to commands. Using time on walks for training is also great for bonding. In addition they get to explore. Give them time to stop and smell the roses or snow piles. Dogs are curious and enjoy opportunities to see and smell things outside of the house. This also allows for physical and mental stimulation. The stimulation for the walks can leave you with a more relaxed and fulfilled dog once you are home. If you have more than one dog, while it may not be easy, walking them together can be a good thing. Walking in pairs or groups can increase the bond between the dogs and decrease problem behaviors between them. Likewise, if you only have one dog, taking them out for walks can be wonderful for socialization. Taking them out in the community or to dog parks allows them to be around other dogs. Dogs like people don’t like everyone they meet. Be sure to read your dog’s body language and the other dogs to make sure it will be a safe and friendly meeting. Also ask the owner of the other dog if it is ok to approach. For more tips and information on dogs meeting other dogs follow the link: (http://www.pet360.com/dog/behavior-and-training/how-to-meet-and-greet-strange-dogs/AymEMAbzb0CHgwoMHIz4ug).
Most importantly regular walking can lengthen your pet’s life and improve quality of life. Not only is it good for them, it is good for you too. So while it may be cold outside, make an effort to maintain or start a walking program with your pooch. Check out this ASPCA link about dogs and exercise.
Winter Safety Tips
In our area and many others, winters can bring very cold temperatures and dampness. Pet owners should take extra precautions during the cold weather to keep pets safe and healthy. Below we have some useful information and helpful tips.
Has your pet had a preventative care exam? Cold weather can worsen some medical conditions such as arthritis. Now is as good a time as any to have your pet examined to see if he or she is as healthy as possible for the winter season. Contact your veterinarian to make an appointment.
As temperatures drop and winter storms roll in, it is best to keep pets indoors as much as possible. For short haired pets, very young pets, and senior pets it is recommended to supervise them while outside. Since exercise is important, short-haired pets will feel more comfortable and protected by wearing a coat or sweater while strolling through the neighborhood.
No matter the temperature outside, wind chills can be a threat to animals. Pets can be at risk for frostbite and hypothermia. The exposed skin on your pet’s nose, ears and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage. While many pets won’t tolerate booties, they can be very beneficial along with other protective outer wear. Check out Amazon for winter gear for your furry family members..
What if your dog or cat spends most of its time outside? If your pet is outside for much of the day be sure to provide shelter. The best shelter for pets should be large enough for them to stand and lay down but also small enough to keep in their body heat. Elevating the shelter a few inches off the ground is also advised to keep out moisture. Insulation such as straw and cedar shavings is often used. It is ideal to have the entrance of the shelter covered with burlap or heavy plastic to keep wind and snow out as much as possible. There are also heated water units for outdoor shelters that prevent drinking water from freezing. These are very helpful as your pet should have access to water at all times. Pets also require more calories to keep warm; thus if your pet is outside many hours during winter days provide food in their shelter as well. Follow this link for a helpful video on how to build a winter shelter for cats outside. .
Snow and salt can be damaging to your pet’s skin and paws. When your furry friends come in from doing their business, be sure to immediately remove any snow or salt from their paws. Frostbitten skin can be red or gray and may slough. Apply warm, moist compresses to thaw out frostbitten areas slowly until skin is flushed. If you see signs of frost bite, you should contact your veterinarian right away.
Snow removal products should always be kept in a safe place away from pets’ access. Many products are toxic to animals. It is advised to get pet safe salt which is available on the market. This type of ice melter contains no salt, it is environmentally and pet friendly.
The best advice is to keep your pets indoors with you during harsh or cold weather. Happy dogs are taken out regularly for exercise and fresh air but should be inside the rest of the time.
What you should know about pet insurance
In this article we will address several things regarding pet insurance. Should I have pet insurance for my pet? How does pet insurance work? Is it worth it financially? How to choose the right provider for pet insurance? What kinds of things are covered by pet insurance? Pet insurance is still in its infancy in the United States. Many pet owners are unsure about it or have not even considered it. At Ludwigs Corner Veterinary Hospital and Coventry Animal Hospital we feel every pet should have coverage. We have seen it make a difference in our practices and thought we might share some helpful and useful information.
Should I have pet insurance for my pet?
If you ask any of the staff at Ludwigs Corner Veterinary Hospital or Coventry Animal Hospital the answer is “yes.” Have you ever brought your pet in for a check-up and they needed significant dental work? Have you ever had to take your dog or cat to the veterinarian for vomiting or diarrhea? These are just examples of when pet insurance comes in handy. As veterinary medicine becomes more advanced, and offers medical/surgical treatment options comparable to human medicine, the cost of care has increased. It is impossible to provide optimal care to your pets at minimal cost. Costs in the veterinary field are growing as a result of increased costs of medications, laboratory testing, diagnostic studies, medical equipment, facility requirements and training. Pet insurance helps by supporting some of the financial burden of top notch care. For the client who wishes to be able to provide optimal care and/or to seek veterinary care whenever an issue arises, pet insurance can definitely relieve worry about costs.
How does pet insurance work?
Although there are many different companies and policies to choose from, they all work in generally the same fashion. Pet insurance is a reimbursement system. You pay your veterinarian in full at the time of service. You then submit your invoice and summary of the issue to the insurance company for review. Based on your pet’s policy, you will then receive a reimbursement amount. It is similar to car insurance in that you are paying monthly to have coverage in the event an illness or accident occurs. Few if any insurances cover wellness or preventative care services. Everyone hopes they are never in a car accident and everyone hopes their pet never gets ill, but if it happens you have your insurance to back you and your wallet up.
Is pet insurance a financial benefit? Is it worth it financially?
Many say it depends on the animal’s general health and how the owners feel about what kind of care they want to provide. There are many folks who feel they will spend whatever it takes to give their pet the best medical care possible. However this doesn’t mean they have the financial means to do so. At the current level of technology in veterinary medicine many pets not only have a general veterinarian but also have an Ophthalmologist, Cardiologist, Dermatologist, or Neurologist that they see for specialized care. In today’s world bringing your pet in for an upset stomach, limping, lethargy and/or not eating can be a couple hundred dollars per visit depending on your geographical area and what care is needed at the time. This is when pet insurance can be greatly beneficial. While companies and policies vary, they generally pay a certain percentage after the office visit fee. This means that medications, laboratory testing, and other diagnostics would be reimbursed to you. Again, everyone hopes they never need to use their insurance, but if something does happen you will be glad you have it. As pets get older medical needs increase. The key to making your pet insurance worth it is getting a policy early. Many companies will raise your premium if your pet has “pre existing” conditions. See this link for information on pre-existing conditions as defined by healthy paws http://www.healthypawspetinsurance.com/Frequent-Question/Pet-Insurance/What-is-a-pre-existing-condition. Insure your pet while they are healthy, and any condition moving forward will be covered. There are many times in the veterinary field where an animal can be cured or treated for something but due to cost the owners elect to euthanize. Our goal is for this situation to be decreased, if not eliminated, by clients utilizing and having insurance coverage for their four-legged family members.
How do I choose a pet insurance provider?
While the pet insurance industry is new in the United States, there are still many options for providers. An insurance provider should be chosen based on your needs, your budget, and those things that you would like covered. Some of the largest and best known companies are Trupanion, VPI Petplan, Healthy paws and Embrace. We recommend that you shop around or ask your veterinarian who they recommend. Things to consider include: 1. Does the carrier provide a clear explanation of the policy details? These details should include any limitations and exclusions. 2. Does your pet’s premium change or increase as they age or if you relocate? 3. Are there add-on options for specific things such as travel coverage and/or dental coverage? 4. How do they handle pre-existing conditions? 5. Are there any breed limitations? Some groups consider certain breeds to be high risk and will not offer them coverage. 6. Are there any discounts for multiple pets? Remember to read the exclusions carefully so that if your claim is rejected you won’t be surprised.
What kinds of things are covered by pet insurance?
While providers and polices can range, the general reasons for pet insurance are for accidents and illnesses, not for annual or preventative care visits. Coverage typically includes medications, diagnostics including radiographs and lab work, surgical treatments, emergency care and hospitalization. Some of the most expensive conditions paid for include but are not limited to torn knee ligament/cartilage, foreign body ingestion surgery, stomach torsion/bloat, broken leg, and laryngeal paralysis. Look at each provider’s guidelines and services covered before picking a plan that is right for you. If you have questions regarding service or what things you might need under your coverage, consult your veterinarian.
By Theresa Klales
Did you know that Turkey is toxic to dogs and cats?
Thanksgiving is all about sharing, and of course a large delicious meal. Many pet owners do not realize that the vast majority of veterinarian and emergency visits during the holiday revolve around turkey. So while the holiday is all about eating and sharing, you should not indulge your pets with holiday foods. Turkey and other holiday foods can be hazardous to your pet’s digestive system. Even a small slice of turkey can cause pancreatitis. Don't risk it! Abstain from giving pets anything from the table during the holidays. You can end up with a large veterinary bill or even worse at an emergency center. While even a little bit to “Fido” can be fine, it is not worth it. You could end up with a very sick pet. If you see any vomiting, diarrhea or lethargy you should call your veterinarian right away. Even if you did not see them ingest something, it is possible they helped themselves while you weren't looking or a guest was too liberal with sharing some left overs. For more information on canine pancreatits visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canine_pancreatitis.
Also be mindful to withhold bones. Cooked animal bones can splinter and get stuck in your animal’s throat or digestive tract causing damage. The carcass can also create dangers as it may harbor salmonella, an organism that lives in the turkey’s intestinal tract. The cooking process usually kills all of the bacteria, but occasionally the center of the turkey may be undercooked, especially if it’s large or full of stuffing. Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, listlessness, fever, and loss of appetite. Be sure to take all of the bones and waste from your meal outside of the home so your pet does not raid the trash can.
See the link for information on why bones can be bad for your dog. http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/05/19/caution-bones-can-kill-your-dog-find-out-which-ones-are-safe.aspx
Heartworm Prevention Guidelines For Dogs
Cardiology - General Practice & Preventative Medicine
Canine heartworm disease is a serious parasitic disease caused by a long, thin worm that lives in the blood vessels and heart of infected dogs. The disease is spread from dog to dog (and to cat) by mosquitoes. The mosquito bites a dog with heartworm infection, collects some of the microscopic heartworm offspring and then, after a couple of weeks,passes these on to another dog or cat.
Inside the dog, the microscopic heartworm can grow into a parasite exceeding a foot in length. The life cycle is somewhat complicated. The important thing is to prevent worm development using safe and effective preventative drugs.
Heartworms are present (endemic) in most parts of the United States and in many parts of North America. Mosquitoes are the key – without them the disease cannot spread. The highest rates of infections are found in subtropical climates like those of the southeastern United States, the Gulf states and Hawaii. However, heartworms are also found throughout the central and eastern United States, particularly near oceans, lakes and rivers. Heartworm disease injures the lungs, the arteries of the lungs and the heart. Symptoms include tiring, coughing, weight loss and heart failure. Heartworm infection in dogs is usually diagnosed by a blood test.
Prevention of heartworm disease is simple. In most cases, a once-monthly prescription treatment is all that is needed to effectively protect your pet. These preventatives are only available from your veterinarian, who must first make certain that your dog is not heartworm positive. These"preventatives" kill microscopic larvae that are left behind by mosquitoes when they bite a dog.
Before beginning heartworm prevention, any dog over 7 months of age should first have a heartworm test. Preventatives in heartworm positive dogs can cause severe reactions. Repeated heartworm blood testing every year is recommended even for dogs taking heartworm preventative year round.Previous recommendations were for every 1 – 3 year testing but this changed with the 2005 American Heartworm Society (AHS) recommendations to yearly testing. This is due to concern with breaks of pets on preventatives that still contracted heartworms. Annual testing will ensure that an infection is caught in plenty of time to effectively manage it. Testing is also recommended when a pet owner switches between preventative medications.
The AHS recommends that all dogs in areas endemic for heartworms should take a year-round preventative. If you are not certain about the danger of heartworms in your area, call your veterinarian. Most veterinarians follow the guidelines published by the American Heartworm Society, a group of concerned veterinarians and scientists. As noted above, dogs over 7 months of age should first have a heartworm test. Speak to your veterinarian about administration guidelines.
Some heartworm preventatives also control intestinal or external parasites. The wide range of excellent and safe heartworm prescription products can be explained by your veterinarian.
For more information about the most recent recommendations on heartworm prevention, visit the guidelines posted on the Society's web site at www.heartwormsociety.org