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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Thanksgiving Do’s and Don’ts

Thanksgiiving dogThanksgiving is fast approaching.  A fun holiday for us and our family has the potential to be problematic for our pets.  Believe it or not the trouble can start while we are cooking, with pets trying to get scraps of food.

A ham or turkey may come wrapped in string that might seem delicious to your pet.  However, if they eat the string that the meat or poultry comes wrapped in, we will have Trouble with a capital T.  Most dogs just cannot resist the temptation.  Make sure the string is disposed of in a sealed container out of the dogs reach.  Eating string and other indigestible products can lead to an obstruction.

As the day moves on friends and family will be coming over.  There may be a lot of commotion, noise and people that are unfamiliar to your pet.  Please provide a safe place for your pet to hide and be left alone.  They need to have a quiet place to escape (just like we do), when it gets to be too much with food, water and a comfy bed.

Now that it is time to sit down and eat you may have the urge to feed your dog a special treat for Thanksgiving, they are part of the family right?  Yes, and No. Strange foods and diet changes are hazardous to your pets’ digestive system. These changes can potentially lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and a very sick pet.  Give only a small amount of table food on top or mixed in with your pets regular dinner.  Many foods are poisonous to pets, including but not limited to onions, garlic, chocolate, raisins and grapes. For a complete list of foods and household items that are dangerous or poisonous to pets please look at the. AVMA’s brochure and video.

Feeding your dog foods that are high in fat can lead the pancreas to overwork and become inflamed. This is serious and can be extremely painful.  Signs of pancreatitis include severe abdominal pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. Hospitalization and intensive medical treatment are required.  Left untreated a severe case of pancreatitis can even result in death which we DO NOT want.

When the house is getting quiet and everyone is heading home please make sure your garbage can is on lock down.  If your dog or cat are able to get in and grab cooked bones we may have a big problem. Cooked bones that are chewed and swallowed can splinter, break and lodge in an animal’s throat or intestines with life-threatening consequences.  To ensure everyone remains healthy, make sure all leftovers are thrown away and out of your pets’ reach!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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.

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!

Keeping your pet safe for the holidays

holiday-400Getting ready for the holidays is always exciting.  But please keep in mind that the holidays can also be dangerous as well.  It is our job to protect our pets against unforeseen dangers.  When decorating your home please keep glass, or plastic ornaments out of paws reach.  Shards of breakable ornaments can be very sharp and get into the paw.  Tinsel may be very enticing due to its shimmer,  especially to cats, however is extremely dangerous to your pets.  If ingested it can obstruct the digestive tract, cause vomiting, dehydration and even emergency surgery.

When entertaining it may seem hard to resist, but please do not give people food to your pets.  What is yummy to you may lead to GI distress or can be toxic to your pet. Giving your pet fatty foods can lead to pancreatitis.   Treats, especially those containing chocolate, Xylitol, grapes/raisins, onions are a few that need immediate medical attention.  Treating a potential problem early is the key to a successful outcome.

With regards to plants;  poinsettia, holly and mistletoe can be dangerous and cause gastrointestinal upset or, in rare cases with mistletoe, cardiovascular problems.  Perhaps you should consider leaving the tinsel off the tree, especially if you have a cat in your home.   We also suggest if possible that you secure your Christmas tree to keep it from falling if your dog bumps it or your cat decides to climb it.

Unattended candles or the Chanukah menorah can pose a danger to pets as well.  Your cat or dog may wander too close to the flame perhaps either burning themselves or worse yet, starting a fire.  Please don’t leave the candles unattended with your pet around.

Please have a safe place for your pet to go when they need to get away from all the excitement whether in another room or in their crate.  Have fun, keep everyone safe.

These are just a few things to keep in mind this upcoming holiday season.

Dangerous Toys

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Just because you see a toy in your local pet supply store does not mean that it is safe for your dog! Many toys that can be dangerous for your pet yet most pet owners are unaware of the damage they can cause.

  • Sticks and chicken bones can splinter and cause choking or vomiting. They can perforate the mouth, throat or intestine. Hard bones can damage teeth; bone is harder than the enamel on the teeth. Instead, use hard, non-splintering chew toys to play fetch or to allow your pet to gnaw.
  • Soft, latex toys can be shredded by a chewing pet. If the toy includes a squeaking mechanism, the squeaker can be easily swallowed or cause choking.
  • Towels, socks, underwear and other similar clothing or materials can be swallowed by a rambunctious pet, causing intestinal obstruction.
  • Some dogs like to chew on or eat rocks-bad idea! Rocks can cause broken teeth and serious intestinal obstruction if swallowed.
  • Be careful if you offer your pet rawhide, as these can also cause intestinal obstruction if swallowed, and some are preserved with arsenic, which is toxic to pets. Try using CET Enzymatic chews, great for chewing and keepstheir breath fresh and teeth clean.
  • String, yarn, thread, feathers and rubber bands often offer enticing play for cats, but these can be swallowed whole, possibly lodging in the intestinal tract and causing blockage. If only partially swallowed, this, too, can result in severe problems. If you ever see your kitty with string (or a similar object) caught in its mouth, NEVER try to pull it out. If the string is lodged internally, pulling it can cut the cat’s intestines, killing him. Instead, see your veterinarian immediately.
  • For birds, bells can be problematic. Most medium-sized or larger parrots can take apart a bell and choke on the clapper.

If you notice anything unusual about your pet’s behavior or health, call Steinway Court Vet right away. If a toy or part of a toy is swallowed, signs of problems (like intestinal upset or blockage) may occur within minutes or hours; other times, you may not notice anything unusual for days. The obstruction may pass through with no more signs than vomiting or diarrhea. Or it may cause blockage, in which case your pet may be constipated or not want to eat. If you even suspect that your pet has swallowed a foreign object, call us immediately. It’s also a good idea to bring with you any left over pieces of the swallowed/chewed up toy.

Used appropriately, many household and store-bought pet toys can provide hours of entertainment and exercise for your pet. It’s a good idea, however, to supervise your pet during play. Not only will this minimize the chance of accidents happening, but you’ll also be providing your pet with quality time spent with his or her favorite toy.