Just Food for Dogs First Recall Ever

January 15th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

Recall notice provided by Just Food for Dogs…

Dear Friends, Customers, Veterinarians, Partners and Staff,

Honesty. Transparency. Pet advocacy. These are three of the Core Values that make JustFoodForDogs who and what we are. Most days, living up to these standards is pretty easy. We use only the best ingredients; we open our kitchens to the public; we treat every dog as if he were one of our own; and we regard every pet parent as family.

Today is more challenging than that. Today, sadly, I announce the only recall in the history of our company. And, in keeping with our core values, we will be providing the maximum (as opposed to the minimum) amount of information and guidance on this matter.

As of yesterday afternoon, we have confirmed that one batch of our Turducken special (made in our West Hollywood kitchen and code dated WH 11/18/18) tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. We found it because one of our diligent customers reported that the food had made her dogs sick for a day with diarrhea and vomiting. (The dogs affected have made a full recovery after switching their food to one of our daily diets; they did not receive veterinary care). To be clear, this was the only case of illness reported, and severe illness in dogs by Listeria is rare. When we get reports from customers or veterinarians about potential food-caused illness in pets, we always take them seriously and follow up with the appropriate action, including lab testing. In almost eight years, we have never, not once, had a sample come back positive for pathogens. This one was different and we wanted to immediately let all of our Turducken customers know about it. It should also be noted that this form of Listeria can be harmful to humans if consumed.

If you are in possession of Turducken from West Hollywood with the above date, please email or call us at support@justfoodfordogs.com or 1-866-726-9509 and we will provide an immediate refund. While we have no reason to be concerned that other batches of Turducken were affected, we completely understand if you have this product and would like to return or exchange it for any reason.

Today we are notifying all Turducken customers who may have been affected and we are simultaneously conducting a series of additional tests to better understand the situation – the results of which we will share with all of our customers in less than 72 hrs from now.

As I sit here writing this memo with our executive team, it dawns on me that every recipient of this letter and all of us in this room have one very important commonality – we love our dogs and would always do what is best for them. Please know that, starting with my own Albert and Evelyne, we all continue to feed JustFoodForDogs with confidence. If you have any questions or concerns that have not been answered here please do not hesitate to email us at support@justfoodfordogs.com or 1-866-726-9509. If you prefer, you can reach me on my personal cell phone at (949) 378-2927. Or, if you would like to talk to our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Oscar Chavez, BVetMed, MRCVS , he can be reached on his personal cell at (714) 206-8751. Alternatively, if you would like to speak with our CEO, Carey Tischler, he can be reached on his personal cell at (847) 942-2692.

We sincerely apologize for any concern or burden this may have caused you. Despite this unfortunate incident, we want to assure you that everyone at JustFoodForDogs is, as always, 100% committed to helping pets Iive longer, healthier lives.

Shawn Buckley
Founder, JustFoodForDogs

And follow up message from Just Food for Dogs…

This week has been more challenging. A few days ago, a diligent customer reported that our Turducken special made her dogs sick with vomiting and diarrhea. The dogs made a full recovery after a day, once switching their food to one of our daily diets; they did not receive veterinary care. Less than 72 hours ago, after the returned food confirmed positive for Listeria monocytogenes, we informed our Turducken customers about the only recall in the history of our company. Since then we have worked tirelessly to conduct extensive testing and a thorough investigation to establish the root cause of this issue. We promised an update.

This is that update.

It is genuinely heartbreaking to report that we have just received preliminary test results that suggest our human grade green bean supply was sent to us contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Healthy dogs may experience no signs but some, including elderly or weakened dogs, may experience vomiting and/or diarrhea. Severe disease from Listeria in dogs is rare. Listeria monocytogenes is more concerning in humans, if consumed. The health of your dogs is always our primary concern. For this reason, and based on the preliminary results, we are proactively and voluntarily taking the following actions:

• Expanding the Turducken recall to all batch dates
• Recalling our only two other recipes that contain green beans: Beef & Russet Potato and
Fish & Sweet Potato
• Notifying the FDA as this likely affects a broader human food supply of green beans

If you have fed these recipes and your dog is not currently experiencing any problems, do not worry. If you have any of the food listed above, please dispose of it and do not feed it to your dog. We will provide an immediate and unconditional credit to your account for all purchases made of these recipes between November 1st, 2017 and January 14th, 2018, upon request.

To make it easiest on you and to avoid waiting on hold, simply email us at support@justfoodfordogs.com with the first and last name on your account. We will process your credit and reply with the confirmed amount within 72 hours.

We know that many dogs rely on and love these recipes. Therefore, we are immediately preparing Beef & Russet Potato and Fish & Sweet Potato recipes without green beans. We expect to have these available by Wednesday at all locations. Our veterinarians ensure us that this is an appropriate temporary solution. In the meantime, we have plenty of recipes available that are made without green beans, including:

Balanced Remedy 
Shepherd’s Pie
Chicken & White Rice 
Turkey & Whole Wheat Macaroni
Joint & Skin Support 
Venison & Squash
Lamb & Brown Rice 
All Veterinary Support Recipes

These recipes are not covered by the recall and may continue to be fed to your dogs.

I am deeply sorry for this outcome. I spoke to one of our wonderful customers on Friday and she told me something that stuck with me – “we don’t expect JustFoodForDogs to be perfect Shawn, just perfectly honest.” Good or bad, you have our word that we will always be entirely transparent with our customers.

We founded JustFoodForDogs to increase the length and quality of life for as many pets as possible. While this issue may not be our fault, the safety and efficacy of every meal is our responsibility. As we work with our restaurant supplier, we will be implementing greater controls to prevent this from happening in the future. If you would like to speak to any member of our executive team, please feel free to reach us directly on our emails or personal cell phones (listed below).

• Amy Dampier, Vice President Retail Sales, amyd@justfoodfordogs.com
or cell 619-540-3484
• Ben Stickney, Vice President Operations, bens@justfoodfordogs.com
or cell 757-635-7660
• Dr. Oscar Chavez, BVetMed, MRCVS, Chief Medical Officer,
drchavez@justfoodfordogs.com or cell 714-206-8751
• Carey Tischler, Chief Executive Officer, careyt@justfoodfordogs.com
or cell 847-942-2692

Or you can reach me at shawnb@justfoodfordogs.com or cell 949-378-2927.

Shawn Buckley
Founder, JustFoodForDogs

Primal Dog Food Recall – December 2017

December 23rd, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation

Primal Dog Food Recall | December 2017

Fundamentals of Shaping Behavior

December 9th, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation

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Shape, Rattle and Roll – Fundamentals of Shaping Behaviors

Excerpted from Jane Killion’s book When Pigs Fly! Training Success with Impossible Dogs

In this chapter you are going to learn a fun and effective way to teach your dog new skills using a process called “shaping”. Shaping involves slicing the behavior you want your dog to do into tiny pieces, successively clicking and treating each “slice,” until you have built up the finished behavior you want to train.

Here is how shaping works. Imagine you are looking at a frame-by-frame motion picture of your dog picking up a tennis ball. What would the first frame be? Probably turning his eyes towards the ball. Then maybe a direct stare at the ball. Then lowering his head towards the ball. Then about six more frames where his head gets progressively lower and lower. Then touching his nose to the ball, then opening his mouth, then putting his mouth around the ball, then closing his mouth around the ball, then lifting his head for about six more frames. Each of these “frames” is called an approximation – a little step towards the finished behavior or picking up a ball. If you want to teach your dog to pick up a ball by shaping it, you progressively click and treat all of the “approximations” that I have described above in this way:

  1. The first step is the dog turning his eyes towards the ball. After you have clicked and treated that glance toward the ball couple of times, your dog will start offering it. By “offering it”, I mean he will deliberately glance towards the ball in an attempt to make the clicker go off.
  2. Once your dog is firmly and deliberately offering the glance towards the ball, you can hold out and not click it. Your dog will keep trying the glance, and then, when he sees that it is not paying off, he will offer “improvements” on that behavior, like a bit of a head turn in that direction. Voila! You have frame number two, the head turn, which you can start click and treating.
  3. Again, once your dog is firmly and deliberately offering the head turn, hold out for any tiny lowering of his head. Click and treat that a few times, and then, when you are sure he is offering a bit of a head bob, hold out for a bigger head bob. Again, when reinforcements are not forthcoming, your dog will offer different “improvements” on the head bob, which will eventually included lowering his head toward the ball more than he had before. You continue this way, reinforcing and then holding out for more through the rest of the “frames” of the “movie” of your dog picking up the ball.

For more advice on training impossible (and not-so-impossible) dogs, purchase Jane Killion’s When Pigs Fly! Training Success with Impossible Dogs from Whole Dog Journal.

Dr. Jean Dodds – Dog Vaccine Protocol

December 9th, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation

The following vaccine protocol is offered for those dogs where minimal vaccinations are advisable or desirable. The schedule is one I recommend and should not be interpreted to mean that other protocols recommended by a veterinarian would be less satisfactory. It’s a matter of professional judgment and choice.


9 – 10 weeks of age

Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV
e.g. Merck Nobivac (Intervet Progard) Puppy DPV

14 – 15 weeks of age
Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV

18 weeks of age
Parvovirus only, MLV
Note: New research states that last puppy parvovirus vaccine should be at 18 weeks old.

20 weeks or older, if allowable by law
Rabies – give 3-4 weeks apart from other vaccines
Mercury-free (thimerosol-free, TF)

1 year old
Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV
This is an optional booster or titer. If the client intends not to booster after this optional booster or intends to retest titers in another three years, this optional booster at puberty is wise.

1 year old
Rabies – give 3-4 weeks apart from other vaccines
3-year product if allowable by law; mercury-free (TF)

Perform vaccine antibody titers for distemper and parvovirus every three years thereafter, or more often, if desired. Vaccinate for rabies virus according to the law, except where circumstances indicate that a written waiver needs to be obtained from the primary care veterinarian. In that case, a rabies antibody titer can also be performed to accompany the waiver request. Visit The Rabies Challenge Fund for more information.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Dr. Jean Dodds – Feline Vaccination Protocol

December 9th, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation

2013-2016 FELINE VACCINATION PROTOCOL – W. JEAN DODDS, DVM

Approximately seven years ago, the American Association of Feline Practitioners(AAFP) sponsored and conducted a groundbreaking study on feline vaccines. The panel – which included Dr. Dodds’ colleague, Dr. Ron Schultz – divided the vaccines into core and non-core. Just this year, the AAFP published updated feline vaccination guidelines. Dr. Dodds agrees with the panel’s findings, with the exception of giving feline leukemia vaccine to kittens that will be kept strictly indoors. She also prefers a more minimal and delayed vaccination schedule to offset potential adverse vaccine reactions and feline vaccine injection site-associated sarcomas. Additionally, Dr. Dodds considers factors such as presence of maternal immunity, prevalence of viruses or other infectious agents in the region, number of reported occurrences of the viruses and other infectious agents, how these agents are spread, and the typical environmental conditions and exposure risk activities of companion animals.

2013-2016 Feline Vaccination Protocol
Note:
 The following vaccine protocol is offered for those cats where minimal vaccinations are advisable or desirable. The schedule is one Dr. Dodds recommends and should not interpreted to mean that other protocols recommended by a veterinarian would be less satisfactory. It’s a matter of professional judgment and choice.

8-9 Weeks Old:
Panleukopenia (feline parvovirus), Calicivirus, Rhinopneumonitits Virus (feline herpesvirus-1)
(FVRCP)

12-13 Weeks Old:
Same as above

24 Weeks or Older (if required by law):
Rabies (e.g. Merial Purevax™, recombinant)

1 Year:
FVRCP booster (optional = titer)

1+ Year:
Rabies, same as above but separated by 2-3 weeks from FVRCP

Perform vaccine antibody titers for panleukopenia virus every three years thereafter, or more often, if desired. Vaccinate for rabies virus according to the law, except where circumstances indicate that a written waiver needs to be obtained from the primary care veterinarian.  In that case, a rabies antibody titer can also be performed to accompany the waiver request. Visit Rabies Challenge Fund.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

DARWIN’S PET FOOD RECALL

December 9th, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation

Darwin’s Natural Pet Products of Tukwila, Washington, has notified its customers that it is recalling 2 lots of its Natural Selections raw dog food products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.

To learn which products are affected, please visit the following link:Darwin’s Dog Food Recall of December 2017

Please be sure to share the news of this alert with other pet owners.

Mike Sagman, Editor
The Dog Food Advisor

P.S. Not already on our dog food recall notification list yet? Sign up to get critical dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. There’s no cost for this service.

Training Tip from the Whole Dog Journal

November 11th, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation

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Slow Down Your Tasmanian Devil

You contemplate taking your dog for a walk with mixed emotions. You love the idea of going for a companionable stroll through the neighborhood together, but when you pick up his leash he becomes the Tasmanian Devil.

Here are suggestions for turning this potential disaster into the enjoyable outing you dream of. Exercise first. Spend 15-20 minutes tossing a ball for your dog in the backyard, or providing intense mental exercise with a heavy duty shaping session. You’ll take the edge off his excitement, reduce his energy level, and make leashing-up and walking more relaxed and enjoyable for both of you.

Pick up his leash throughout the day. He gets amped up when you touch his leash because it always means the two of you are going for a walk. If you pick up his leash numerous times throughout the day, sometimes draping it over your neck and wearing it for a while, sometimes carrying it from room to room, sometimes picking it up and putting it back down, the leash will no longer be a reliable predictor of walks, and he won’t have any reason to get all excited about it.

Use negative punishment. Not a bonk on the head. It means setting up the situation so that doing the behavior you don’t want causes a good thing to go away. If, when you pick up the leash, he goes bonkers (the behavior you don’t want), say “Oops!” in a cheerful tone of voice (what’s known as a “no reward marker,” it simply tells him no reward is forthcoming), set the leash down, and walk away. When he settles down, pick the leash up again. You’re teaching him that getting excited makes the opportunity for a walk go away; staying calm makes walks happen.

For more information on how to reform a puller into a more pleasant walking companion, purchase Whole Dog Journal’s ebook Walking Your Dog.

AAHA’s Canine Vaccination Guidelines – 2017

November 11th, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation
AAHA’s Canine Vaccination Guidelines

From the American Animal Hospital Association

Top 10 things you need to know about AAHA’s Canine Vaccination Guidelines

Vaccination is one of the easiest and most important ways to protect your dog’s health. Yet in this age of “overvaccination” scares and “Dr. Google,” some pet owners are hesitant to vaccinate their dogs—even when it’s in the best interest of their beloved pooch.

To provide fact-based leadership about this issue, AAHA published the 2017 Canine Vaccination Guidelines, a regularly updated online educational resource for veterinary teams and the clients they serve. Here are the top 10 things you need to know about these guidelines:

  1. Get a rabies vaccine for your dog—it’s the law. Rabies is a fatal—and preventable—disease that can be spread to humans by contact with saliva, so it’s mandatory in all 50 US states. Your veterinarian is bound by law to give your dog a rabies vaccine to protect you as well as your pet; if an unvaccinated dog is scratched or bitten by a wild animal, it can lead to your pet being quarantined or euthanized. Learn the specifics about the rabies laws in your state at rabiesaware.org.
  2. Not all dogs need every vaccine. Your veterinarian will ask you questions about your dog’s lifestyle, environment, and travel to help tailor the perfect vaccination plan for him. AAHA’s Lifestyle-Based Vaccine Calculator uses factors such as whether your dog visits dog parks, groomers, competes in dog shows, swims in freshwater lakes, or lives on converted farmland to help you and your veterinarian develop your dog’s individualized vaccination plan.
  3. There are “core” and “noncore” vaccines. Vaccinations are designated as either core, meaning they are recommended for every dog, or noncore, which means they are recommended for dogs at risk for contracting a specific disease. However, your veterinarian may reclassify a “noncore” vaccine as “core” depending on your dog’s age, lifestyle, and where you live—for instance, in a region like New England where Lyme disease is prevalent, that vaccine may be considered “core.”

Core Vaccines

Noncore Vaccines

  • Rabies
  • Combination vaccine:
    • Distemper
    • Adenovirus-2
    • Parvovirus
    • +/- Parainfluenza
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
    • +/- Parainfluenza
  • Leptospira
    • 4-serovar
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)
  • Influenza (H3N8 and H3N2)
  • Crotalus atrox (Western Diamondback Rattlesnake)

 

  1. Titers, or quantitative antibody testing, can help determine your dog’s protection from some diseases. Titer testing can be useful when a dog’s vaccination history for distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus is unknown—a positive result typically means he is considered protected. However, no test is 100% accurate, so in areas where these diseases run rampant, your veterinarian may still recommend vaccinating. While titer testing for rabies is available, the law still requires that the dog be vaccinated since this is a fatal, zoonotic (i.e., can be spread to people) disease.
  2. Some vaccines only need boosters every three years. For example, the distemper vaccine, a combination of distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus vaccines that protects against very serious diseases, can be given every three years after a dog has completed his initial series of inoculations. However, a dog’s immunity is as individual as he is, so if you want to have more certainty that he’s protected, have a titer performed to measure the amount of antibody response he has to these diseases.
  3. Protect at-risk dogs annually from certain complex diseases. If your veterinarian believes your dog is at risk for Lyme disease, leptospirosis, influenza and/or Bordetella (kennel cough), you’ll want to vaccinate him every year instead of every three years because of the differences in how a dog’s immune system responds to these specific germs.
  4. Serious vaccine reactions are rare. The risk of contracting a dangerous disease by not vaccinating a dog outweighs the potential for vaccination side effects. Still, seek veterinary attention if your dog begins vomiting and scratching, develops bumps (hives), facial swelling, or has difficulty breathing within a few hours of being vaccinated. Long-term side effects, like behavioral changes, immune-mediated diseases, and other complex conditions, have not been formally linked to vaccinations. Studies continue on this topic.
  5. Don’t administer vaccines to your dog by yourself. While vaccines are available through sources other than your veterinarian, they may not protect your pet against disease unless they are properly stored, handled, and administered. Your veterinary team is trained to do this correctly. It’s important to note that in many states and provinces, it is against the law for anyone other than a licensed veterinarian to give a rabies vaccine.
  6. AAHA’s Canine Vaccination Guidelines are based on science. A task force of five expert veterinarians created them, along with 18 contributing reviewers, based on practical clinical experience and 123 references to scientific evidence. The guidelines also underwent a formal external review process.
  7. Communicate any concerns to your veterinarian. You and your veterinary team should have the same goal: to provide the best possible care for your pets. If, say, you are worried about a puppy or small dog receiving too many injections in the same visit, ask if there are noncore vaccines that can be postponed. Your veterinarian will offer a recommendation based on knowledge of your dog’s specific circumstances and veterinary medicine.

Questions to ask your veterinarian:

  1. Why are you recommending these vaccines for my dog? What risk factors does he have that lead you to those recommendations?
  2. Can you discuss the risks and benefits of titer testing with me? How accurate is it?
  3. Is the vaccine less expensive than the titer test?
  4. How often does my pet need to be vaccinated for rabies by law?
  5. What additional side effects should I watch for after my pet is vaccinated?
  6. Will you please document the injection site and vaccine type in my dog’s medical record?
  7. My dog is small. Is there a vaccine we could delay until a later time or is now best?
  8. When will my dog need a booster to stay protected?

Tips for How to Pick the Right Pet Insurance

October 21st, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation

From Top Dog Tips (www.topdogtips.com)

Since 2009, the number of pet health insurance companies in North America has exploded, and more pet owners today than ever before are in search of great companies and the best coverage plan. But what makes a coverage plan the “best” for you and your pet?

The goal of having pet health insurance is to save money on your vet bills. However, picking the best pet insurance plan can become complicated when you’re not sure what to look for, and the wrong option can cost you more in the end. With so many pet insurance choices available today, doing the research and comparing all available plans can save you hundreds of dollars every year. So here’s what you must know before you set out to pick the right type of plan and provider for your dogs and cats.

Pet Health Insurance Tips

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Pet Health Insurance Facts and Tips
How to Pick the Right Provider and Coverage Plan?

Since the US pet health insurance industry got its first start back in 1982 (Nationwide was the first), it has been growing at staggering rates. North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) has been reporting consistent growth over the years. Here are some current numbers:

  • 1.8 million pets insured in the United States
  • 220,000 pets insured in Canada
  • 4.8 years is the average age of insured pets

Average annual premiums:

  • Accidents and illness plans – $496 per pet
  • Accidents only – $163 per pet
  • Average claim amount paid out – $264

Most popular types of coverage:

  • Accidents and illness insurance – 98%
  • Accidents only – 2%

The growth rate of the pet health insurance industry is nothing short of impressive, too. For example, the total premium volume combined at the end of 2016 was reported at $836.6 million (this is a +21.4% increase from the previous year). Here’s what the last few years looked like:

  • End of 2015 – $688.9 million (+17.1% increase from the year before)
  • End of 2014 – $588.4 million (+17.7% increase from the year before)
  • End of 2013 – $499.8 million

Currently, there are 12 major pet insurance providers in North America, and we’ll discuss those below. The reason for their existence is the expensive pet care that dog owners and cat owners have to deal with, which includes veterinary bills, surgeries, health supplies and preventative treatments. According to data collected by American Pet Products Association (APPA), pet owners spend staggering amounts every year.

Total estimated pet health sales in the U.S. for 2017:

  • Veterinary care – $16.62 billion
  • OTC Medicine – $14.93 billion

This can be broken down into several categories. On average, below is what an pet owner would spend.

Surgical expenses:

  • Dog – $474 per year
  • Cat – $245 per year

Routine health expenses:

  • Dog – $257 per year
  • Cat – $182 per year

Vitamins and supplements:

  • Dog – $58 per year
  • Cat – $46 per year

This is just a fraction of pet care expenses that majority of pet owners in the USA and Canada will encounter. All these numbers combined result in a hefty sum, which explains why pet health insurance is becoming more popular every year, as more pet owners try to provide the best possible care while saving a good chunk of money in the process.

19 Pet Health Insurance Tips to Help You Pick the Best Plan

With so many pet health insurance providers offering different coverage plans it’s becoming increasingly difficult to understand and pick the right one that fits the bill for you and your pet. Here are nineteen questions you should probably ask yourself and the provider before making the final decision.

1. Who’s the Best?

Compare all available pet insurance plans.

Do the research and begin comparing all pet insurance providers and their plans side-by-side to see their costs for premiums, co-pays, deductibles, reimbursements and other vital details.

2. How Old is the Provider?

It’s a clever idea to pick someone with more experience.

The longer pet insurance provider has been around, the more experience and budget they are likely to have, offering better terms. It’s also much easier to find feedback and reviews of an older provider.

3. Are They State Licensed?

Not every provider can legally sell insurance in all states.

When buying pet insurance online, make sure the company is allowed to sell it in your state. Also consider if your pet will be covered in case you move to a different state in the future.

4. Is There a Money Back Guarantee?

This is a wonderful way to test the provider with minimal risk.

Majority of pet insurance providers will offer a money back guarantee period, which is when you get all the paperwork and review it thoroughly. If you’re unhappy, take your money back and move on.

5. Are They Dependable?

Check insurance provider’s reviews and track record.

After comparing plans, go through their reviews online, ask for feedback on forums, and do some research on their track record so you know you can count on them to pay when the time comes.

6. Do They Offer Medical Review?

This is a list of coverage exclusions which can make or break the deal.

Make sure that your provider offers and does the medical review before your money back guarantee expires. That way if you’re unhappy with their exclusions, you can move onto the next one.

7. Can You Pick Your Own Vet?

Some providers may not allow you to pick your own vet.

In most cases, it’s best that you’re allowed to pick your own veterinarian. Company assigned veterinarian may not be close to your location or simply isn’t someone you trust enough.

8. Is Their Customer Support Good?

Great customer services is often worth the extra cost.

There’s nothing more frustrating than having your provider ignore calls or keep you on hold for hours. Before you pick one, call them, email them and check their website to see how they’re doing.

9. What Happens When You Go Out of State?

If you plan to travel with your pet out of state, this is important.

Check if your plan covers any veterinarian or specialist visits when you’re traveling out of state. Most insurance providers offer that, and some even provide coverage for vet visits in foreign countries.

10. Will There Be Restrictions?

Read their plan details in full to know what your pet is covered for.

Go through the provider’s insurance plan in full to know what may affect your pet’s coverage and what exactly is covered. Pay special attention to pre-existing conditions and what may increase premiums.

11. What’s Best for Your Case?

Only pick a type of coverage that will work specifically for your situation.

Read about their different coverage types and consider what’s worth it and what isn’t for your pet. Sometimes just routine wellness coverage is enough while other times you may want full coverage.

12. What Is Their Bilateral Conditions Policy?

Many providers have restrictions on the bilateral conditions policy.

Health conditions like hip dysplasia or cruciate injuries may not be covered fully with some plans. Make sure you understand what is the provider’s policy on these and other bilateral conditions.

13. How Are You Getting Paid?

Choose the type of reimbursement that fits the bill.

Insurance providers have several ways they calculate reimbursement. Consider if you’re more comfortable with a benefit schedule, percentage of invoice or the UCR structure.

14. How Long Before You Get Paid?

Find out how long you’ll have to wait before you’re reimbursed.

You’ll pay the vet bill out of your own pocket, so after you check the type of reimbursement, make sure you know how long it takes your chosen provider to pay you back. Read reviews to confirm this.

15. Is It Worth It?

Think about the price you pay for the value that you’re getting.

Pet insurance may not always be the best choice for you. If a provider is cheap but doesn’t offer a plan that doesn’t cover what your pet needs, there’s no point in using them. Move onto the next one.

16. How Healthy Is Your Pet?

Try to avoid enrolling your pet when he’s old or unhealthy.

Some providers will either offer only limited insurance, or charge an arm and a leg for older pets or those who already have health issues. In many cases, pet insurance is not worth it for older pets.

17. What About Premium Increases?

Pay attention when and by how much your premiums will increase.

All pet insurance providers will increase their premiums at some point. Make sure you know when and who they do this, and by how much you should expect your premiums to increase. It must be in writing.

18. Did You Negotiate?

It never hurts to ask for discounts or special plans.

After picking several best insurance providers, ask for any possible discounts. Some may offer a reduced price for households with multiple pets, while others will give you a discount simply because you asked.

19. Have You Considered Other Options?

Pet insurance is not always the best choice for every case.

If after all the research you still cannot find an ideal provider to fit your and your pet’s needs, consider skipping pet insurance and simply starting a “pet emergency fund.” Save up for that rainy day.

Comparing Popular Pet Insurance Providers

While the number of pet health insurance providers is growing, we still have only a handful of major providers that are well-known to pet owners in the US and Canada. Here are the twelve companies that have been offering the best pet health insurance plans for dogs and cats over the last decade.

ASPCA Pet Health Insurance

Website: https://www.aspcapetinsurance.com/

Plans available for dogs and cats that are 8 weeks or older, and there is no upper age limit.

Annual coverage limits range from $2,500 to $20,000 depending on plan. There are unlimited options available on certain plans. Choice of deductibles from $100 to $500 and reimbursement levels of 70%, 80% and 90% of the vet bill.

AKC Pet Insurance

Website: https://www.akcpetinsurance.com/

Plans available for dogs 8 weeks and older, and for cats 10 weeks and older; up to any age for accident coverage and before ninth birthday for illness coverage.

Annual coverage limits range from $3,000 to $16,000. There is a lifetime limit per injury or illness of $1,500 to $8,000. Deductibles from $100 to $1,000 and reimbursement up to 80% of eligible charges.

Embrace Pet Insurance

Website: https://www.embracepetinsurance.com/

Plans available for dogs and cats up to the age of 14 years old.

Annual coverage limits range from $5,000 to $15,000. Choice of deductibles from $200 to $1,000 and reimbursement levels of 65%, 80% or 90%.

Figo Pet Insurance

Website: https://figopetinsurance.com/

Plans available for dogs and cats aged 6 weeks and older with no upper age limits.

Annual coverage limits of $10,000, $14,000 and unlimited. Choice of deductibles of $50, $100, $200 and $500 and reimbursement levels of 70%, 80%, 90% and 100%.

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

Website: https://www.healthypawspetinsurance.com/

Plans available for dogs and cats of 8 weeks and up to the age of 14 years old.

There is no annual or per incident caps on coverage and unlimited lifetime benefits. Choice of deductibles range from $100 to $500 and reimbursement levels of 70%, 80% and 90%.

Trupanion Pet Insurance

Website: https://trupanion.com/

Plans available for dogs and cats of 8 weeks and up to the age of 14 years old.

There is only one plan with no payout limits. Deductibles range between $0 and $1,000.

Nationwide Pet Insurance

Website: https://www.petinsurance.com/

Plans available for dogs and cats up to age of 10 years old.

Annual deductible choices are $100 or $250.

24PetWatch Pet Insurance

Website: https://www.24petwatch.com/us/pet_insurance/

Plans available for dogs of 10 weeks and up to 10 years old, and for cats of 8 weeks and up to 12 years old.

Annual coverage limits range from $3,000 to $20,000 with $100 deductible and 80% reimbursement.

In Summary

Having all the needed information and comparing both the company and their plans can help make the right decision that will not only provide all the necessary pet health insurance coverage for your dog or cat, but also save you plenty of money at the end of the year (instead of doing the opposite).

Who’s your provider, which plan have you chosen and why did you make that decision?

The Myth of the Alpha Dog

October 20th, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation

From the DogStar Foundation:  www.dogstarfoundation.com

 

Pack it in! the myth of the alpha dog

“He’s a alpha dog”, “She’s dominant”, “You have to be pack leader”

I’ve heard all these phrases this week – as I did last week and the week before! You only have to turn on the TV or look at the internet to find them, along with someone telling you that your dog is really just a wolf, needs a firm pack structure and that you have to be in charge otherwise your dog will think he is the pack leader and take over the household with disastrous consequences.

The problem is that all of this is nothing more than pop psychology based on false science. It continues because it is an easy concept for people with little knowledge to grasp and despite being totally disproven, there are enough grains of truth in there that people buy into it – and it is their dogs (and their relationship with their dogs) that suffer.

So let’s debunk this one!

First of all, dogs and wolves are totally different species. Think about humans and gorillas and you can kind of see what I mean! The best knowledge we have now is not that dogs descended from wolves but instead that dogs and wolves both descended from a common ancestor. Dogs threw  their lot in with man and evolved to live harmoniously with us and prosper from our success, while wolves developed as a wild species whose very existence depended on keeping as far from us as possible.

Even if (despite science!) you do still think that pack theory is a thing for dogs, its worth considering that wild wolves do not live in packs where a domineering pack leader constantly keeps everyone in line with displays of aggression and violence while everyone else battles for position (as was originally thought). Wild wolf packs are families. The alpha pair are indeed in charge but that is because they are the parents and all the rest are (quite rightly) guided by them.

Dogs do not live in a pack structure. Left to their own devices away from man and with adequate resources, they form loose social groups but not structured packs.

So for dogs, there is no such thing as an alpha dog – or a pack leader.

As for dominant dogs… The behaviours that most people think of as being ‘dominant’ are generally something totally different. Aggression is one of the behaviours that people categorise as a dog showing dominance. Aggression however is a high risk behaviour designed for one purpose and one purpose only – to make bad stuff go away. ‘Bad stuff’ for dogs are things that make them feel frightened, threatened, worried or stressed.

Dog to human aggression is fear of humans or what they will do
Dog to dog aggression is fear of strange dogs or what they will do
Resource guarding (guarding food or anything important to the dog) is fear of someone taking your stuff away
And sometimes aggression happens because a dog is sick or is in pain.

That means that the dogs that most people say are ‘dominant’ are actually the ones that are the most scared, frightened, worried, or anxious. And the methods used by people who don’t know any better to ‘stop a dog being dominant’ are generally things that make the dog feel even worse. Crazy isn’t it?

So let’s stop using pop psychology to try and understand our dogs, and instead spend time watching and really understanding them. Think about how they feel and how you can make them feel better.i

Don’t try to be a pack leader –  try to be a better guardian.

If you need help with your dog’s behaviour, look for a trainer who uses positive reward-based methods (where the dogs gets rewarded for doing things right, not punished when he does things wrong).

If they mention the phrases ‘pack leader’, ‘dominance’, ‘alpha’ – or suggest equipment that causes your dog pain such as choke chains, prong collars, electric shock collars etc – find another trainer. Your dog is your best friend – make sure you are his.

Carolyn Menteith KCAI (CDA), DipCAPT is a dog trainer, behaviourist and writer about all things canine.

As an internationally renowned dog expert and experienced broadcaster, she will be familiar to many in the UK from her appearances on TV in shows such as Top Dog, What’s Up Dog? and Celebrity Dog School. She is also a regular on radio programmes when a dog expert is needed

Carolyn gives seminars and teaches nationally and internationally on training and behaviour. dogtalk.co.uk