Archive for the ‘Medical Issues’ Category

Dementia in Senior Dogs

Sunday, November 3rd, 2019

Stages of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

From www.dogdementia.com

More Pet Insurance Policies Are Being Sold. But Are They Worth the Cost?

Monday, January 7th, 2019
FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES, JANUARY 4, 2019

YOUR MONEY ADVISER

The New York Times

By Ann Carrns Jan. 4, 2019

Americans are increasingly treating their pets as members of the family, feeding them gourmet food, paying for day care and throwing them birthday parties. Family sleepwear sets sold on PajamaGram.com even include matching jammies for the dog.

So it’s not surprising that an increasing number of “pet parents,” as they are known in the pet care industry, are seeking sophisticated medical treatments for their animals.

Enter pet health insurance, marketed as a way to help defray rising veterinary expenses and avoid “economic euthanasia” — the necessity of putting a pet down because the owner can’t afford treatment. More than two million pets in the United States and Canada (most of them in the United States) were insured at the end of 2017, up about 17 percent from the year before, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.

But consumer advocates say that pet owners should make sure they understand how the policies work before buying them.

More than two-thirds of households in the United States own a pet, according to the American Pet Products Association. Americans spent about $70 billion on pets in 2017, including purchases of animals, food, veterinary care, medicines and other services.

“People are much more inclined to think of their animals like children, and treat them accordingly,” said James Serpell, a professor of ethics and animal welfare at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance with the Consumer Federation of America, said pet owners should bring a healthy skepticism when shopping for pet insurance. Purchase of the product is “often motivated by a combination of love and fear,” he said. “So the buyer may be particularly vulnerable.”

Details vary by insurer and policy, but premiums for pet insurance typically depend on factors like the cost of veterinary care where you live and the age and breed of the pet. The average annual premium for “accident and illness” coverage was $516 per pet in 2017, while the average claim paid was $278, according to the pet health insurance association.

Jeff Blyskal, a senior writer with Consumers’ Checkbook, a nonprofit group that rates services in major urban markets, said pet owners should compare policies with a critical eye. When years of payments are taken into account, he said, buying insurance could end up being more expensive for some pet owners than going without it, if their animal doesn’t require much care.

Pet policies typically don’t cover pre-existing conditions, Mr. Blyskal said, so premiums are generally lower when your pet is young and healthy. Even if you start early, though, you may end up paying more over time, he said, because some policies raise premiums as pets get older. This can increase costs substantially, he said, and cause owners to drop their policies as the animals get older — just when they are more likely to need the coverage. Industrywide, the average pet policy is maintained for three years or less, according to an insurer regulatory filing in 2016 in Washington State.

The expenses tied to pet health coverage usually include not only a regular premium but also other out-of-pocket costs, like a deductible — an amount that you must pay before insurance begins paying. Insurance may cover less than 100 percent of costs after the deductible, so you’ll still have to pay for part of the treatment. Some policies may cap payments, so ask if there’s a limit.

Rob Jackson, chief executive of Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, said insurance could protect against budget-busting events costing thousands of dollars. (Healthy Paws said a pet’s age affects premiums at initial enrollment, and also as the pet ages.) The Healthy Paws website cites examples like Fridgey the Bengal cat, who had a $4,600 hip replacement, and Lupa the German shepherd, who needed $52,000 in treatment for tetanus exposure.

One way to pay lower premiums, and possibly get broader coverage, is to buy pet insurance through your employer. Eleven percent of employers in the United States offer pet health insurance benefits, according to a 2018 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, up from 6 percent in 2014. Typically, companies offer pet insurance as a “voluntary” benefit. It’s uncommon for employers to contribute to the cost of premiums, as they do with human health insurance. But insurers may give employees a break on premiums, or offer better coverage, because their marketing costs are lower.

Employees at Ollie, a specialty dog food company, receive a 15 percent discount on premiums from the insurer Healthy Paws, said Gabby Slome, a co-founder of Ollie. (Ollie also offers workers benefits like “pawternity” leave when they take a new dog home.)

“We had a strong belief that pets are a part of one’s family,” she said.

Scott Liles, president and chief pet insurance officer with Nationwide, said half of Fortune 500 companies offer their employees pet insurance from his company. Nationwide’s employer-based plans now underwrite by species — canines vs. felines — but not by age or breed, Mr. Liles said. That means, he said, you won’t pay a higher premium if your pet is older, or if its breed is prone to certain illnesses, unlike policies sold in the open market.

Here are some questions and answers about pet health insurance:

Do some animals cost more to insure than others?

Cats are generally less expensive to insure than dogs. The average accident and illness premium in 2017 was about $45 a month for dogs and $28 a month for cats, according to the pet health insurance association. Because some purebred animals are prone to certain health problems, some insurers may charge higher premiums for them.

What if I can’t afford pet insurance?

Local animal shelters may offer basic services, like rabies vaccinations or spaying and neutering operations, at a discounted rate. The Humane Society of the United States lists groups that can help owners who can’t afford medical care for their pets.

Another option is to put money away each month — perhaps the amount of the premium you would pay — into a dedicated savings account so you will have some funds available for pet care if you need it.

What if I’m unhappy with my pet insurance policy?

Insurance products are generally regulated by state governments, so you may want to contact your state insurance commissioner about your concern. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers information about pet insurance and links to regulatorsin each state.

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article, using information supplied by Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, misstated how a pet’s age affects premiums for the company’s policies. The pet’s age affects the premium at the time of enrollment and as the pet gets older, not just at enrollment.

Bloating in Dogs Treatable with Gastropexy

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

Courtesy of the Whole Dog Journal

If you have a bloat-prone breed, consider a gastropexy, a surgical procedure that can prevent stomach torsion.

[Updated December 26, 2018]

It was a beautiful fall day, and I was at a dog show. In the ring was a gorgeous veteran Greyhound – strutting his stuff in one of those peacock moments that transport gray-faced show dogs back to their youthful selves, with nothing but time and promise before them. A short time later, I heard a commotion from the parking area, and then the awful news: The handsome old dog was bloating.

Thankfully, this was a group of highly experienced dog people, and the dog’s handler immediately ran to her van to procure the bloat kit that she always traveled with. As several people helped hold the dog, she inserted a tube down his esophagus to help expel the trapped gas that was causing his ribs to expand like barrel hoops, taped the tube in place, and sped off to the nearest emergency vet. I heard through the grapevine later that the dog had, mercifully, survived.

old great dane

There’s good reason why veterinarians call bloat “the mother of all emergencies.” It can come on suddenly and, if left untreated for only a handful of hours, can spell a death sentence for a dog.

Symptoms of bloat, which is incredibly painful for the dog, include pacing and restlessness; a distended abdomen; turning to look at or bite at the flank area; rapid, shallow breathing; retching without actually vomiting up any food, and excessive drooling.

Bloat is a two-part disorder, telegraphed by its formal name: gastric dilatation and volvulus. The first part, gastric dilatation, refers to an expansion of the stomach due to the presence of gas and/or food. The second part, volvulus, is the fatal blow: The distended stomach begins to twist, cutting off the blood supply and causing its tissue to die off. As if that wasn’t trouble enough, the enlarged stomach may press on the blood vessels that transport blood back to the heart, slowing circulation, creating cardiac arrhythmia, and sending the dog into shock.

Once the stomach has torsioned, emergency surgery is required to restore it to its normal position, and to evaluate whether so much tissue has died off that the dog has any hope of surviving.

This was precisely the scenario that the quick-thinking Greyhound handler had sought to avoid: By inserting the bloat tube down the esophagus and into the stomach, she not only created an avenue of escape for the trapped stomach gases, but also ensured that the stomach could not twist while the tube was inserted. As you can imagine, this is not something that most dogs entertain willingly, and, indeed, on the ride to the veterinarian, the dog struggled and the tube was dislodged. Still, it bought enough time for his survival.

Many owners, however, don’t have the inclination or the fortitude to stick a tube down their dog’s throat, even if he is bloating. And for those who have breeds that are at a higher risk for bloat, the constant stress of worrying “Will she bloat?” after each meal is enough to prompt them to consider gastropexy, a preventive surgical procedure where the stomach is sutured to the body wall. While gastropexy won’t prevent a dog from dilating, it does greatly reduce the likelihood that the stomach will flip – which is the life-threatening “volvulus” part of gastric dilatation and volvulus.

Dog Bloat Risk Factors

Owners who are determined to prevent bloat nonetheless want to understand its causes before submitting their dogs to an elective surgery like gastropexy. The problem is, veterinary science is still unclear about precisely what triggers an episode, and instead can only offer a long and varied list of risk factors.

The mother of all bloat studies was done two decades ago by Dr. Lawrence T. Glickman and his colleagues at the Purdue University Research Group, and is still being discussed and quoted today. The 1996 study and its follow-up research found that many food-management practices that were initially believed to help reduce the risk of bloat – like feeding from a raised food bowl, moistening dry food before serving, and restricting water access before and after meals – actually increased the odds of a dog bloating.

Other risk factors include eating only one meal a day; having a close family member with a history of bloat; having a nervous or aggressive temperament; eating quickly; being thin or underweight; eating a dry-food diet with animal fat listed in the first four ingredients, and/or eating a moistened dog food, particularly with citric acid as a preservative.

Not surprisingly, certain breeds were found to be at high risk for bloat, particularly large or giant breeds. Topping the list were Great Danes, followed by St. Bernards and Weimaraners. The study found that breeds with deep and narrow chests – like the Greyhound that started this story – are also at higher risk for bloating, as are males and older dogs.

Also according to the Purdue study, the risk of bloat was more than twice as high in dogs seven to 10 years old compared to dogs two to four years old, and more than three times as high in dogs age 10 and older.

Reducing the Risk of Bloat

While not a guarantee that your dog will avoid experiencing an episode of bloat, these steps can help lower the risk.

1. Feed several smaller meals per day.

Feeding a large, once-a-day meal can extend the stomach and stretch the hepatogastric ligament, which keeps the stomach positioned in the abdominal cavity. Dogs that have bloated have been found to have longer ligaments, perhaps due to overstretching.

2. Slow down fast eaters.

Some theories suggest that air gulping can trigger bloat. To keep your dog from gobbling down his meals, invest in a slow-feeder bowl, which has compartments or grooves to require dogs to pace themselves; there are several brands available. For a low-tech version, try placing a large rock in the middle of your dog’s food bowl, which will force him to eat around it. (Of course, make sure the rock is large enough so it can’t be swallowed.)

3. If you feed kibble, add some variety.

Dogs that are fed canned food or table scraps have a lower incidence of bloat. If you feed kibble, try to avoid food with smaller-sized pieces, and opt for brands that have larger-sized pieces. While some raw feeders maintain that feeding a raw diet prevents bloat, there are no studies to support this, and raw-fed dogs are not immune to bloating.

4. Don’t go for lean and mean.

Studies show that thinner dogs are at greater risk for bloat; in fatter dogs, the extra fat takes up space in the abdomen and doesn’t give the stomach much room to move. While no one is advocating that you make your dog obese, keeping a bloat-prone dog on the slightly chunkier side might have some merit.

5. Reduce your dog’s stress.

Easier said than done, of course. But if at all possible, opt for a house sitter instead of taking your dog to a kennel. If you have multiple dogs, feed your bloat-prone dog separately, to avoid the stress (and resultant gulping) from worrying that his meal might be snagged by a housemate.

6. Don’t eat and run.

Veterinary experts recommend that you avoid giving your dog hard exercise one hour before and two hours after he eats. Many give the green light to walking, however, as it does not jostle the full stomach and in fact can help stimulate digestion.

Assembling a Bloat Kit

Because bloat strikes when you least expect it – often at night, when most veterinary practices are closed, and the nearest emergency vet might be a distance away – a bloat kit can be a literal lifesaver.

Some dog-care sites sell pre-assembled bloat kits. (One option is available from A Better Way Pet Care.) Most include clear vinyl tubing (the kind sold by aquarium stores); a wooden mouth block, to keep the mouth open while the tube is being inserted (a piece of PVC pipe can work in a pinch), and water-soluble lubricant.

Ask your vet to show you how to measure the tubing so that it is the correct length, how to insert it, and how to tell if you are passing the tube down the trachea rather than the esophagus.

Remember that a gastric tube is not a treatment for bloat; it is a first-aid measure. If you are unsure of how to use the kit, or if you are alone and don’t have someone to transport you while you work on the dog, make getting to the vet your first priority.

dog bloat emergency kit

Deciding on Surgery

If your dog bloats and her stomach has torsioned, surgery is the only recourse if you want her to survive. And if you get to the vet in time, the odds are with you: In a retrospective study of 166 cases between 1992 and 2003, researchers found that short-term mortality resulting from bloat surgery was a relatively low 16.2 percent.

Risk factors for a fatal outcome included having clinical signs more than six hours before surgery (i.e., the longer you wait, the worse your dog’s prognosis), hypotension during any time of the hospitalization, peritonitis, sepsis, and administration of blood or plasma transfusions. Dogs whose tissue damage was so advanced that they required part of their stomach or their spleen removed (partial gastrectomy or spleenectomy, respectively) also had worse prognoses.

But the decisions regarding a gastropexy – essentially, “tacking” the stomach so it cannot torsion – are not as clear-cut. If your dog has never bloated, you’ll need to weigh the risk factors: Is your dog’s breed prone to bloat? (Great Danes, for example, have a whopping 42.4 percent chance of bloating in their lifetime.) Do you know of any siblings, parents, or other close relatives who have bloated? Is your dog nervous, aggressive, or a super-fast eater?

And, most important, has your dog bloated before? Studies indicate that such dogs have a recurrence rate of more than 70 percent, and mortality rates of 80 percent.

Types of Tacks

There are several kinds of gastropexy surgery. Securing the bottom of the stomach to the right side of the body so it cannot rotate during an episode of bloat is the common goal of each type of surgery, but slightly different methods are used to accomplish this. There are no studies that compare the efficacy of the various types of gastropexy, but the general consensus is that there is not a huge difference between them. Most veterinarians will choose one over the others based on their own preference and amount of experience.

Incisional gastropexy is a straightforward procedure in which the bottom of the stomach (the antrum) is sutured to the body wall. It relies on only a few sutures until an adhesion forms.

Belt-loop gastropexy involves weaving a stomach flap through the abdominal wall. Though a relatively quick procedure, it requires more skill than an incisional gastropexy.

In a circumcostal gastropexy, a flap from the stomach is wrapped around the last rib on the right side and then secured to the stomach wall. Proponents of this approach note that the rib is a stronger and more secure anchor for the stomach. This type of gastropexy requires more time and skill to perform; risks include potential rib fracture and pneumothorax, in which air leaks into the space between the lung and chest wall.

Gastropexy is now being performed with minimally invasive approaches such as laparoscopy and endoscopy, which shorten surgery and anesthesia times, as well as the time needed for recovery. Though both use remote cameras to visualize the surgery area, the laparoscopic-assisted approach requires an extra incision through the navel, which allows the surgeon to directly visualize the position of the stomach and make any modifications necessary.

A 1996 study of eight male dogs compared those that had laparoscopic gastropexy with those that had belt-loop gastropexy, and concluded that the laparoscopic approach should be considered as a minimally invasive alternative to traditional open-surgery gastropexy.

Complications from gastropexy are relatively minor, especially for young, healthy dogs who are undergoing the surgery electively, before any incidence of bloat. As always, be sure that your dog has a complete pre-surgical work-up to ensure there are no chronic or underlying conditions that might compromise her ability to successful recover from surgery. And again, while gastropexy isn’t foolproof, Dr. Glickman has been quoted as saying that the risk of bloat and torsion after the procedure is less than five percent – not bad odds at all.

If you do elect to have a gastropexy performed on your dog, many veterinarians do the procedure at the same time as spaying or neutering. That way, the dog doesn’t have to go under anesthesia again, or, in the case of conventional surgery, be “opened up” another time.

In the end, the question of whether or not to have a gastropexy done is arguably tougher for those whose dogs who are not at very high risk: The owner of a Great Dane has a greater incentive for getting a gastropexy than, say, the owner of a Shih Tzu, whose bloat rates are not as comparably high.

A 2003 study that looked at the benefits of prophylactic gastropexy for at-risk dogs used a financial metric to assess the benefits of surgery: Working under the assumption that elective gastropexy surgeries cost about $400 and emergency bloat surgeries cost at least $1,500 – or as much as four times that – the study concluded that the procedure was cost effective when the lifetime risk of bloat with torsion was greater than or equal to 34 percent.

As with any complex decision, assess your dog’s risk factors, as well as your individual circumstances, and then make the choice that seems right for the both of you.

Denise Flaim raises 12-year-old triplets and Rhodesian Ridgebacks, on Long Island, NY.

Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

Pets, Asbestos Exposure, and Mesothelioma

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

From www.mesothelioma.net

For more information and to sign up to receive resources by mail, go to:

https://mesothelioma.net/pets-asbestos-exposure-mesothelioma/

Pets, like their human caretakers, are susceptible to becoming ill from asbestos exposure. Dogs, cats, and other animals can develop mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses, with devastating consequences. As with humans, mesothelioma in pets is an aggressive and deadly type of cancer. The treatment options are even more limited and the hope of survival minimal.

Pets may become exposed to asbestos in many of the same ways people are. Older homes with worn and exposed asbestos insulation, for instance, can send fibers into the air that humans and animals alike may inhale. If the owner works around asbestos and brings fibers home on clothing, this too can lead to exposure in pets. Mesothelioma in pets is rare, but it is possible. It is important to minimize exposure risks for people and animals in the household.
mesothelioma in pets

Asbestos Exposure Causes Mesothelioma in Pets

Evidence that points to asbestos as a cause of mesothelioma in humans is already overwhelming. Research into pets with mesothelioma is much more limited, but it does exist. One study, for instance, examined the tissues of dogs that died from mesothelioma. Researchers saw pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial mesothelioma in the population of dogs studied and even some that had cancerous tissues in more than one part of the mesothelium. Most of the dogs in the study were found to have asbestos in the affected tissues, providing a link between the cancer and exposure to asbestos. Dogs in a control group had far fewer fibers.

Stories of animals suffering and dying from mesothelioma are rare, but heartbreaking.  In the United Kingdom there was a case reported of a dog that died from mesothelioma. The devastated owners reported that their dog had sniffed asbestos-containing materials that had been dumped at old building sites in the woods where they regularly walked. After thousands of dollars in vet bills the dog could not be saved.

How Pets May Be Exposed to Asbestos

Although mesothelioma is rare, it is strongly linked to exposure to asbestos so pet owners need to be aware of the asbestos risks and should take steps to minimize any possibility of exposure. One of the most likely ways in which an animal may be exposed is through secondhand contact. If you come home from work with fibers of asbestos on your clothes, your pet is likely to inhale those fibers or even ingest them.

Pets may also be exposed to asbestos that is in the home. Homes built before the 1980s most likely contain asbestos in insulation, HVAC systems, flooring, siding, ceiling materials, and other areas of the house. If that asbestos is disturbed, worn down, or damaged, the fibers can become airborne where they can be inhaled by anyone in the house, including pets.

This risk is especially high during renovation or remodeling projects. This kind of work can disturb previously encapsulated asbestos. The best way to protect animals during home projects is to keep them temporarily out of the home, at someone else’s house or at a kennel or boarding facility. While humans can wear protective gear, animals cannot. Also, dogs may lick things on which asbestos dust has settled.
Like the dog in the United Kingdom that died after being exposed to asbestos on walks, exposure outside of the home is a rare but possible risk for pets, especially dogs. Dogs that go outdoors for walks or spend a lot of time out in the yard may be at risk for exposure from any nearby demolition, construction, or mining.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma in Pets

If your pet has been exposed to asbestos, you may see signs of illness. If you catch these early and have your dog or cat diagnosed and treated, you may be able to extend the life of your beloved pet. There is no way to cure mesothelioma in cats or dogs, but early detection can give you more treatment options and a better chance of giving him or her a better quality of life for as long as is left. Dogs are more likely to develop mesothelioma than cats.

With pleural mesothelioma, a pet may exhibit signs such as labored breathing, rapid breathing, or shortness of breath, and a cough. With peritoneal mesothelioma, an animal may display abdominal discomfort, abdominal swelling, or vomiting. Other symptoms of any type of mesothelioma may include fatigue and lethargy, an enlarged scrotum, and unusual sounds in the abdomen or chest.

Diagnosing and Treating Mesothelioma

If you see any unusual symptoms in your dog or cat, you should take your pet to the vet immediately. If you have any reason to believe your pet may have been exposed to asbestos, inform your veterinarian so that your animal will get a complete diagnosis. As with humans, diagnosing mesothelioma can be tricky. Your vet will begin with a physical exam and likely a blood and urine analysis. From there your vet will probably want to do imaging tests, like an X-ray, to look for tissue abnormalities. The next step would be a biopsy to remove fluid or tissue for examination.

Much of the treatment given to an animal for mesothelioma will be palliative, to keep the pet comfortable. However, there are some cancer treatments that may slow the progression of the disease and give you more time with your pet. In one small study, a specific combination of chemotherapy drugs allowed a dog to go into remission, although other animals in the study did not. Palliative treatments for an animal with mesothelioma include medications for pain and procedures to drain fluid from the abdomen or chest cavity.

Help Your Pet Live with Mesothelioma

A diagnosis of cancer in a pet is devastating news, especially when the prognosis is not favorable. There are things you can do to make sure your pet lives the rest of his or her days in the most comfort possible. Limiting activity is important, especially for a pet with pleural mesothelioma. Taking slower and shorter walks can give your dog a chance for exercise and fresh air without overexertion, for instance.

Your pet should also be given a quiet and comfortable place in the home to rest. Make this area easy to access, but out of the way of noise or disruption so that he or she can rest as needed. Regular visits to the vet are also important so you can be sure that you are doing the best for your animal and providing all the care that is necessary for maximum comfort. When the time is right you may need to make the difficult decision about letting your pet go, but your vet can help you make that choice. The loss of a pet to a disease like mesothelioma is terrible and the only way to prevent it is to keep your pet safe from asbestos.

 

What You Should Have in Your Pet’s First-Aid Kit

Friday, May 18th, 2018

From the Humane Society

Learn what supplies you’ll need to keep your cat, dog, or other pet safe and healthy

Everyone who shares a home with a pet should have a basic pet first-aid kit on hand.

Keep your pet’s first-aid kit in your home and take it with you if you are traveling with your pet.

One way to start your kit is to buy a first-aid kit designed for people and add pet-specific items to it. You can also purchase a pet first-aid kit from a pet-supply store or catalog. But you can easily assemble your own kit by gathering the items on our lists below.

Pet-specific supplies

  • Pet first-aid book
  • Phone numbers: your veterinarian, the nearest emergency-veterinary clinic (along with directions!) and a poison-control center or hotline (such as the ASPCA poison-control center, which can be reached at 1-800-426-4435)
  • Paperwork for your pet (in a waterproof container or bag): proof of rabies-vaccination status, copies of other important medical records and a current photo of your pet (in case he gets lost)
  • Nylon leash
  • Self-cling bandage (bandage that stretches and sticks to itself but not to fur—available at pet stores and from pet-supply catalogs)
  • Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting (don’t use this if your pet is vomiting, choking, coughing or otherwise having difficulty breathing)

Basic first-aid supplies

  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder or spray
  • Blanket (a foil emergency blanket)
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Gauze rolls
  • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting—do this only when directed by a veterinarian or a poison-control expert)
  • Ice pack
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Petroleum jelly (to lubricate the thermometer)
  • Rectal thermometer (your pet’s temperature should not rise above 103°F or fall below 100°F)
  • Scissors (with blunt ends)
  • Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
  • Sterile saline solution (sold at pharmacies)
  • Tweezers
  • A pillowcase to confine your cat for treatment
  • A pet carrier

Pre-assembled first-aid kits

The hassle of creating a kit for your pet can be reduced by purchasing one pre-assembled.

Other useful items

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), if approved by a veterinarian for allergic reactions. A veterinarian must tell you the correct dosage for your pet’s size.
  • Ear-cleaning solution
  • Expired credit card or sample credit card (from direct-mail credit-card offers) to scrape away insect stingers
  • Glucose paste or corn syrup (for diabetic dogs or those with low blood sugar)
  • Nail clippers
  • Non-prescription antibiotic ointment
  • Penlight or flashlight
  • Plastic eyedropper or syringe
  • Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) to clean the thermometer
  • Splints and tongue depressors
  • Styptic powder or pencil (sold at veterinary hospitals, pet-supply stores, and your local pharmacy)
  • Temporary identification tag (to put your local contact information on your pet’s collar when you travel)
  • Towels
  • Needle-nosed pliers

Common-sense advice

In addition to the items listed above, include anything your veterinarian has recommended specifically for your pet.

Check the supplies in your pet’s first-aid kit occasionally and replace any items that have expired.

For your family’s safety, keep all medical supplies and medications out of the reach of children and pets.

Cushings Disease – Dr. Jean Dodds

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Check out this information on Cushings Disease from Hemopet

 

Please download: https://gallery.mailchimp.com/65fe703d8ce705ddce0e30120/files/0415f5f8-d92b-46d7-9f0c-9ee4459f0af1/HHC_Talks_18_Cushing_s.pdf

AAHA’s Canine Vaccination Guidelines – 2017

Saturday, November 11th, 2017
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

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

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?