Pet insurance, Should you or Shouldn’t you?

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The majority of our clients who have pet insurance are happy that they have it.  Depending on the type of policy as well as which company/pet insurance you choose, pet insurance can be worthwhile.  Like any type of insurance it is in place to make sure that when an emergency or something unforeseen occurs it will help cover the costs.  When an unexpected illness, accidents or emergency occurs you may be faced with hard choices due to financial considerations.  Insurance helps eliminate some of those choices.

“While you can’t predict when accidents or illnesses will happen, a pet health insurance plan will help you deal with unexpected veterinary costs, and you’ll know you’re providing the best possible protection for your pet.”  Not only will you be protecting your pet but potentially protecting yourself from making heart wrenching decisions based on finances

But like health insurance for humans, pet insurance can be complicated.  Depending on the policy that you choose, some policies will not cover older pets or genetic conditions that certain breeds are known to have, such as hip dysplasia in retrievers.  It is very important to check as well as compare various products that different companies offer to find one that will meet your needs.

Some people may be more comfortable putting aside money every month for their pet in a “Pet savings account” to cover the unexpected.  By putting money aside to pay for future work you may be covered for the unexpected veterinary care.  However you must be diligent about putting the money aside.  But what happens if the “future” turns out to be in a couple of months from when you initially started your savings plan?  That would not be so good.  For example, your puppy is playing with a red rubber ball, accidentally chews it up and swallows it.   Not good.  Or… your cat somehow swallows a needle, Yikes.  Sounds unlikely, true, but it happens more than you would think.  All are unexpected accidents.

The Steinway Court Vet recommends a few different companies based on how pleased our clients are regarding ease of reimbursement and of course the amount of that reimbursement.

Nationwide Pet insurance

Embrace Pet Insurance

http://trupanion.com/pet-insurance

http://www.petsbest.com/

http://www.akcpethealthcare.com/

http://www.gopetplan.com/

There are many others.  Please get free price quotes from these and any other company.  Compare apples to apples when you receive your free quotes.

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Feline Urinary Issues/Dangers

Cat on the Toilet

Do you notice that your cat is straining in the litter box, vocalizing or crying out when urinating?  Showing an increase in the frequency of urination?  Has a loss of appetite or is vomiting?  Blood in the urine? These may be signs that your pet may be developing or has a urinary obstruction.  Urethral obstruction or FLUTD (obstructive feline lower urinary tract disease) is a common occurrence in male cats.  One of the causes can be sterile cystitis or an inflammation for the bladder wall.  Debris in the urine may also plug the urethra.

What may cause the inflammation of the bladder is unknown, but it may be due to a stress response or even an insufficient amount of water being taken in by your kitty.  Believe it or not your cat can associate painful urination with the litter box as well and stop using it.

However, increasing water consumption for your cat is something that can easily be accomplished with some simple steps.  Firstly, providing multiple water bowls throughout your home filled with fresh water that are large enough to accommodate your cats whiskers so that they will not touch the sides of the bowl can aid water consumption.  Additionally, some cats prefer drinking water from a moving source.  In that case we would recommend a pet water fountain rather than leaving the faucet dripping.  Perhaps if needed you can also add small amounts of tuna water to the water bowl, making it more palatable for our finicky friends.

Decreasing stress is another way we can help prevent/manage FLUTDS and bladder health problems.  Keep to a routine, i.e. feeding your kitty at the same time, even spending time playing with your kitty while you are at home can help alleviate stress.  In addition,  leave them with toys or a kitty condo so they can romp around when you are out and about.  The litter box should be placed in a quiet, well ventilated place and changed frequently as most cats may be hesitant to enter a litter box that in their eyes is unattractive.

If you cat is NOT urinating freely it is imperative that you bring him/her in immediately as it may be life threatening.

Summer Heat and How to Protect our Pets

Bull dog on pool floatSummer is almost here.  Hooray!  After this past winter, the summer heat is almost welcome. Here are some tips to keep your pets happy and healthy during the summer.

Never ever leave your dog in a closed vehicle on a hot day. The temperature inside a car can rise to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes.  Even if the windows are open.

Always provide plenty of cool, fresh water.  On those extremely hot days it is best to take walks in the early mornings or evenings, when the sun’s heat is less intense. Try to avoid prolonged exposure to hot asphalt or sand, which can burn your dog’s paws.  When your dog is outside in the yard on a hot day, make sure he has a shady spot to rest in as well as plenty of water.

Strenuous exercise during extreme heat should be limited or postponed until the weather cools off a bit.  If you have a dog that is brachycephalic (short-faced), such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs to name a few, they may have an especially hard time in the heat.  These dogs are not able to pant as well to dissipate heat like larger dogs.  Keep your brachycephalic dog inside with air-conditioning.  Limit time outdoors to the early morning or late afternoons.

Here are some early warning signs of heat stroke.

  • Heavy panting.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Bright red gums and tongue.
  • Standing 4-square, posting or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance.

If you pet does become overheated immediately move him to a cooler area.  The Humane Society suggests the following steps should be implemented to cool your pet down.

  • Gradually lower his body temperature by applying cool (not cold) water all over his body or soaking him in a cool bath.
  • Place cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, in the armpits, and in the groin area. You may also wet the ear flaps and paws with cool water. Direct a fan on the wet areas to speed evaporative cooling.
  • You may offer fresh, cool water if your dog is alert and wants to drink. Do not force your pet to drink.

If you require more information feel free to contact us at Steinway Court Vet

Traveling by Car with your pet

Dog with car harness

Dog with car harness

Are you thinking of taking your dog or cat with you in the car on your next outing? Here are a few things to keep in mind. One of the first things to think about is keeping your pet safe and secure while driving. Your cat should be left inside their carrier. Your dog should either be crated or harnessed in the car. What you don’t want is your dog to become a projectile object. If you need to stop short by keeping them secure you are reducing the chance of injury to both yourself and your pet. Keeping your pet secure will prevent you from being distracted by your dog roaming around the car. What you might like to do is take your dog/cat on short “test drives” to get them (and you) use to traveling safely in the car.

We recommend that you do not feed your pets immediately prior to travel or while traveling. Even if it seems like a long time between meals. If you feed your pet 4-5 hours prior to travel they are less likely to vomit and get car sick.

We advise that your pet has a collar on with identification as well as a microchip just in case the unthinkable happens and your pet somehow gets away from you. It would also be a good idea to carry a copy of their vaccine status. If you don’t know where to find that information, please give us a call or go to your epethealth record.

Please do not forget frequent bathroom stops that allow your pet to get some exercise and stretch their legs. By releasing some energy at rest stops they will be more likely to be content resting in the car during travel. And lastly, NEVER, EVER leave your pet in the car unattended. On hot days even with a window open the car a parked car can turn into an oven.

Happy travels!

Have we seen your cat lately?

Tabby kittenCats are masters at hiding illness.  If you see any subtle signs of sickness in your cat, it is time for a visit. i.e., inappropriate elimination, changes in food/water consumption, weight gain/loss, changes in grooming habits or vocalization as well as bad breath.  Please do not wait, come on in!

Cats need regular veterinary care, including wellness exams at least once a year. Cats age faster than you do, so an annual exam for them is similar to you visiting your doctor or dentist every four to five years. Prevention is always safer and less expensive than treatment, and why your cat needs to be seen at least once a year by your veterinarian.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners and America Animal Hospital Association recommends a minimum of one annual wellness exam for cats, with more frequent exams for senior and geriatric patients, or those cats with medical or behavioral conditions.

During the health risk assessment, Dr. Glasser will conduct a thorough exam of your cat. Here’s what to expect during the health risk assessment exam:

  • A review of your cat’s previous health records
  • Discuss medications your cat is currently taking, including flea prevention products
  • Note weight and age changes since the last exam
  • Ask about any lifestyle changes in your cat
  • Perform a physical exam including: teeth, mouth, eyes, ears, skin, coat, and paws
  • Ask about any unusual behavior in your cat, such as drinking more water, eating less or more, sleeping less or more,
    or a change in activity level
  • Treat any current condition, such as ear infection or ear mites
  • Recommend dental cleaning, if needed
  • Look for early disease signs and if suspected, recommend further tests
  • Recommend appropriate vaccinations your cat needs to prevent disease

Let us help you keep your cat healthy and live a long, happy life!

Do I have an Emergency with my pet?

Have you ever wondered if you have an Emergency and needs you to seek emergency care for your pet?  Here are a few emergencies that will need you to get to the nearest emergency clinic ASAP.  ANY concern about your pet’s health warrants, at minimum, a call to our office.  718-728-2822

  • Your pet isn’t breathing or you can’t feel a heartbeat.
  • Your pet is unconscious and won’t wake up.
  • Your pet has been vomiting or has had severe diarrhea for more than 24 hours, or she is vomiting blood.
  • You suspect any broken bones, lameness or inability to move leg(s).
  • Your pet is having trouble breathing or has something stuck in her throat.
  • Your pet has had or is having a seizure.
  • Your pet is bleeding from the eyes, nose, mouth or rectum, or there is blood in her urine or feces.
  • You think your pet might have ingested something toxic, Common pet toxinsinclude but are not limited to:
    • Rat poisons (D-con)
    • Chocolate
    • Prescription, over the counter or illegal drugs (BRING THE CONTAINER WITH YOU)
    • Artificial sweeteners (e.g. xylitol)
    • Nicotine
    • Household cleaners.
    • Antifreeze
    • Certain household plants (e.g. Easter lillies)
    • Any kind of medication that wasn’t prescribed.
    • Please bring the ingested product if possible with you.
    • Your pet, particularly your male cat, is straining to urinate, or is unable to.
    • Your pet shows signs of extreme pain, such as whining, shaking, and refusing to socialize.
    • Your pet collapses or suddenly can’t stand up.
    • Your pet begins bumping into things or suddenly becomes disoriented.
    • You can see irritation or injury to your pet’s eyes, or she suddenly seems to become blind.
    • Your pet’s abdomen is swollen and hard to the touch, and/or she’s gagging and trying to vomit.
    • restlessness, retching and abdominal swelling in large breed dogs
    • You see symptoms of heatstroke.
    • Refusing to eat or drink for more than 24 hours.
    • Your pregnant dog or cat has gone more than three to four hours between delivering puppies or kittens.

Most important, remember to trust your instincts. You know and love your pet, and you have the right to be worried if something seems wrong.

Constipation

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Have you ever wondered why you cat may be constipated?  Cats are commonly afflicted with constipation for numerous reasons.

  • One most common incriminating factor is a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Another factor believe it or not stems from obesity.  The abdominal musculature weakens with obesity making it more difficult to defecate.
  • In addition, significant numbers of cats with constipation are chronically, although mildly, dehydrated.   An all dry diet is a common culprit.

Wondering how you can decrease the chance of your kitting being constipated?

  • Maintaining a normal body weight is imperative.
  • Increasing exercise by encouraging foraging behavior.  I.e. perhaps place the food/water bowl in a location that causes your kitty to have to “work” to get to it.
  • Purchase a kitty laser light and see if you kitty will try and chase it around or perhaps even a toy to bat around.  Anything to get him/her moving.
  • Some cats end up drinking more water when a kitty water fountain is used.  They love the moving water.
  • If still not increasing water consumption, perhaps you can by flavoring the water bowls with a small amount of tuna or clam juice will help.

Making certain your indoor cat is active and at a desirable weight, eating some wet food and drinking sufficiently is the best way to prevent this problem.

However, a small percentage of cats have mega colon. This is a disease where lack of nerve innervation from the spine to the colon causes a lack of normal peristalsis (stimulation of the intestine). These cases are more difficult to manage and will need laxatives, stool softeners and high fiber diets. Those that cannot be managed medically may need colectomy (surgery) to remove the affected portion of the bowel that is lacking nerve impulses.  If you cat is constipated.  Do not wait to give us a call.  The situation may not resolve itself without intervention.