Over the last couple of decades, veterinary medicine has become more sophisticated and technically advanced. While this is good for patients, it’s not always great for pet owners’ wallets. The single biggest reason pets don’t get optimum care or their owners deny care altogether is financial cost. But pet insurance can make that obstacle go away.
Pet insurance is obviously a huge benefit in the case of an unforeseen emergency, but even if a pet never suffers from a costly accident or illness (which is highly unlikely), pet insurance covers a wide variety of additional services. It also provides peace of mind for the pet owner, as well as the veterinarian, who is also deeply saddened when a pet’s life is lost because of financial restrictions. There really is no downside to pet insurance and it provides a huge advantage to pet owners. It helps pet owners pay for treatment, but veterinarians and owners still have total control of what care pets receive. It simply removes the obstacle of finances, ensuring that pet owners will almost always be able to afford optimal care, no matter what the cost.
There is an abundance of pet insurance companies and options. However, the first step to deciding which pet insurance is the right fit is to determine exactly what you want out of an insurance plan – coverage of routine wellness care, coverage of a pre-existing or hereditary condition, etc. Once you’ve established why you’re buying the insurance, talk with your vet about your options. The vet is a neutral party who is not compensated for making a recommendation and has a lot of experience dealing with insurance companies. They also hear feedback from their clients, so they will likely have a good feel for the companies that get good ratings. Next, there’s just no substitute for good research. Shop around, talk to a variety of insurance companies, read the policies to understand what is covered, and make sure to get your questions answered. Important questions include: Are there limitations or caps on what the insurance company will pay out in a year or a lifetime? What’s the co-pay and deductible? Is there a discount for multiple pets? What’s the payout process for a claim? Pet insurance companies typically payout through a reimbursement system, that is the pet owner pays the vet and the insurance company reimburses the pet owner. Only after you’ve done this research should you look at the premium. Human nature is to look at the premium first, but this should be the last step to determining if the plan is the right fit.
Pet insurance can be purchased for as little as $1 per day, but the general cost varies widely depending on what it covers. If it includes pre-existing conditions it will be more expensive. This is one benefit to insuring a pet when they’re young; they often have no pre-existing conditions. Including wellness care will also likely increase costs. However, many pet owners don’t need coverage for wellness care because it’s an anticipated expense that can be factored into the budget. Unanticipated events are where you often run into thousands of dollars for catastrophic illnesses and major medical care. If, for example, a cat has cancer or is hit by a car, it will be sent to a specialty hospital, where it’s not unusual to come out with thousands of dollars in bills. Almost every pet at some point is going to have a major, expensive health issue and if a pet has just one accident, the insurance pays for itself.
Ultimately there is no real downside to pet insurance, so it’s hard to understand why so many pets are still uninsured. Pet owners often don’t think about it until it’s needed, and then it’s too late. Please, don’t wait.
About Pets In Need:
Pets In Need, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, is committed to helping pets stay healthy and together with the people who love them. Pets In Need provides low-cost veterinary care and food for pets from homes in which income is at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. The clinic is the only resource of its kind in Greater Cincinnati and currently serves cats and dogs from hundreds of low-income households. To learn more about Pets In Need and the services it provides, please visit http://pincincinnati.org .
Healthy oral hygiene is important for our pet for multiple reasons. Clean teeth are not only cosmetically pleasing; they also promote good smelling breath and better long-term health.
If poor oral health causes an infection in our pet’s teeth or gums, it can spread to their kidneys. This is especially true in cats. Older cats often suffer from kidney failure, which can be caused by an oral infection spreading to kidneys. Valvular heart disease can also be caused by poor dental hygiene. Bacteria from a pet’s mouth can travel to its heart valves, causing them to change shape and become leaky.
Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine
When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.
But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.
At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.
So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.
When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.
We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth: The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.
Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.
“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.
So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:
“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.
Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.
The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”
Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.
Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress
The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( Thundershirt.com )
Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.
Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.