Publisher Pet Genius, LLC Editorial Editor In Chief: Adam Lazarus Executive Editor: Pamela James Contributing Editors: Adam Colwell, Brett Cordes DVM Art & Design Senior Graphic Design: Caryn Metcalf Magazine Layout: Caryn Metcalf Contributing Writers Writers: Adam Colwell, Liz Coplen, Brett Cordes DVM, Dave Ficere, Dr. Jim Humprhies, Pamela James, Connie Peters, Dr. Ernest Ward DVM Marketing CMO: Rod Dunmyre VP of Marketing: Adam Lazarus Finance Finance / Strategy: Suzanne Passalacqua Controller: Lance Martin Support Chief Veterinary Officer: Brett Cordes IT Director: Josh Woolridge IT Support Specialist: Jennifer Grajeda Product Integration: David Dunmyre Client Services: Nicole Pierce, Kim Wilkinson Contact Letters: email@example.com Ad Sales: firstname.lastname@example.org Volume 2, Number 10. Pet Genius Wellness Magazine is published quarterly by Pet Genius, 4750 N. Oracle Road, Suite 214, Tucson, AZ 85705. Pet Genius considers its sources reliable and verifies as much data as possible, although reporting inaccuracies can occur; consequently readers using this information do so at their own risk. Pet Genius Protection & Wellness Magazine is offered with the understanding that the publisher is not rendering pet protection, health and wellness advice. Pet owners should consult their veterinarian for the proper care and maintenance of their pet. Although persons and companies mentioned herein are believed to be reputable, neither Pet Genius Protection & Wellness Magazine, nor any of its employees accept any responsibility whatsoever for their activities. Pet Genius Protection & Wellness Magazine is published in the USA and all rights are reserved. 2013 by Pet Genius. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher. Unsolicited manuscripts and photographs will be returned only if accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. All letters, emails, correspondence sent to Pet Genius Protection & Wellness Magazine will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication, copyright purposes and use in any publication or brochure, and are subject to Pet Genius Protection & Wellness Magazineâ€˜s unrestricted right to edit and comment. ADVERTISERS: For advertising inquiries, please call
6 18 22
6 The 411 on immunizations 10 Fighting fleas 14 Tick protection 18 Pet insurance 20 Exercise your pup 22
Great destination for you and your pet
How to determine the right ones for your pet
Don’t let fleas conquer your pet…or your home
Blood sucking parasites…beware!
Cushion yourself agains unexpected costs
Portion control and exercise are key…sound familiar?
Summer protection tips......5 Fido friendly hotels.............9 Kitty road trips....................9 Your cat and fleas............. 16 Your dog and fleas............ 17 Find more pet wellness articles at
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pet protection tips
Warm weather is finally here and that means extra precautions are needed to keep pets safe and healthy. Here are five tips to get you started.
If you walk your pet regularly, walk early in the morning or late in the evening after the sunsets.
Tip #1: Assess environment
Tip #4: Travel plans
Instead of sweating, dogs pant. Their tongue acts like a “Swamp” cooler, so airflow and ventilation is critical. If your pet spends time outdoors, examine the surroundings and make sure there is plenty of shade and water. And, remember, never leave your pet in an unattended car during the warm months.
Travel with pets is growing in popularity. If you road trip with your pet pal, be sure you’re both prepared. See sidebar for additional tips.
Tip #2: Parasite protection Ticks infest pets across the country and can transmit disease to both pets and people. Your strongest defense? A monthly flea and tick program. I recommend year round protection because it helps ensure the lifecycle is halted, risk is reduced and parasites are kept out of your environment. If you have a severe infestation, treating the environment with an effective product may be necessary.
Tip #3: Exercise Most dogs don’t wear shoes! If you find the asphalt unbearably hot during the day, so will your dog. Being close to the ground and wearing a fur coat doesn’t help either.
Tip #5: Nuisance pests Mosquitos may be considered a summer nuisance but their deadly effects are felt all year. Mosquitos can transmit heartworm to your pet. The extended lifecycle of heartworm dictates pets’ need for year-round heartworm medication. Remember, a little preparation on your part can help defend your pet from mishaps so your vacation truly is one for the memory books. Brett the Vet Brett Cordes, DVM
Brett the Vet’s Travel Tip Checklist Get your pet accustomed to car travel before your trip. Bring your pets medical/vaccine history. Identify a veterinarian and emergency hospital near your vacation destination. Understand regional pet diseases. Valley Fever is a fungal disease unique to the desert southwest. Every year unsuspecting travelers (both pets and people) take this disease back home. Their regular healthcare provider may not be as familiar with regional diseases, which can delay diagnoses and treatment. Provide pet comforts. Bring their kennel/bed and make sure you have a nice place for them to go potty. Breaks in routine often results in “accidents” in a new environment.
Great vacation destinations for you and your pooch
By Adam Colwell
The skies are blue, the sun is warm – it’s vacation time! No vacation is complete without your lovable pet tagging along. So where should you go to ensure you both have the most fun? Susan Smith, president of Pet Travel, Inc. in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, has helped people and their pets vacation together for nearly 15 years. Smith offers five fidofriendly destinations for consideration.
Outbound If you love hiking with your pet in the great outdoors, consider visiting a state or federal park near home. “Many parks allow leashed pets in campgrounds and on hiking trails. Be sure to check online for pet friendliness before you go,” Smith says.
Do you seek a laid back tropical landscape? Key West, FL could be a great fit. Key West is one of the most pet friendly cities in the country. “The climate allows for outdoor dining, and there’s an abundance of cafes and restaurants that permit well-behaved pets to enjoy a sunset with their family. There are also plenty of pet friendly bed and breakfasts tucked within tropical vegetation,” Smith says.
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Art and culture Santa Fe, NM is a great option if you’re a lover of art and culture. Though many art galleries don’t allow pets, you and your dog “can stroll down streets, pass adobe buildings and enjoy the colorful flowers and southwestern art of this beautiful city,” Smith says. Pet friendly dining is not hard to find, either.
Beach-bumming Beach lovers “can enjoy sand and surf with their pet at many beaches around the country,” says Smith. “Myrtle Beach, SC is a great example. Dogs must be obedient and leashed, and if you go off-season, there are fewer people and plenty of sticks to fetch.”
City-scapes If bustling cities are more your forte, consider Paris, France. “There are several upscale hotels that pamper small, wellbehaved dogs as well as their masters,” Smith says. “Outdoor cafes are plentiful. Both visitors and residents alike can enjoy a glass of wine while watching people stroll past. Plus, enjoy walks with your pet as you admire the architectural wonders of a city that never sleeps.” A family vacation, Smith adds, requires good accommodations, dining opportunities and lots of fun activities. “These five destinations provide all these things. But, there are thousands of pet-friendly destinations that now provide dog parks and pet attractions to entice owners to vacation in their area.” Adam Colwell is a staff writer for Pet Genius. www.PetGenius.com • Summer 2013
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fido-friendly hotels You’re going on vacation and you want Fido to tag along! Unless you stay with family, you’ll need to find a hotel that is not just pet accepting, but pet welcoming. Where do you begin?
Car travel with your cat? It’s possible. Properly trained, cats can enjoy day trips, outings and even vacations. “My cat loves car rides,” says Janet Helms of Tucson, AZ. “She even enjoys staying in hotels. I love bringing her, she makes me feel like I’m at home.”
Follow these tips to prepare your cat for travel: #1 Start young It’s easier to train a kitten than an adult cat. Start with short trips. Visit the veterinarian, groomer, pet store.
#2 Plan smart Introduce your kitty to all the elements of travel. If she’s an indoor cat, start taking her outside. Plan on staying in a hotel? Accustom her to new environments. Take her to a friend’s house. Be careful to avoid friends with cats – she has enough to learn without the stress of meeting a new cat.
#3 Be trustworthy Teach kitty that you are her nurturing
companion. Use your voice to calm and reassure her throughout your outing. Include pleasant exchanges: rub her belly, scratch her ears.
#4 Plan ahead Make sure the stops you make accommodate cats so she’s never left in the car alone. Purchase food in advance and pack it in an ice chest to keep it fresh.
#5 Try, try again It may take a while for kitty to get used to car travel. But with time, patience and consistency she’ll move beyond tolerance and learn to love it. “Lilly loves car rides, but only if she has her cat box, food and water, and her favorite blanket. Once she checks out the car and sees all her stuff, she settles in and starts purring,” Helms says. “She enjoys the experience and we both adore the one-on-one time we get together.” Liz Coplen is a staff writer for Pet Genius.
Susan Smith, president of Pet Travel, Inc. in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, says companies like hers make it easy because all the hotels they work with are pet friendly. For those who prefer planning their trips online, Smith offers a few tips. “Deals may be better online but we suggest people call prior to booking. Some hotels only have a set amount of pet-friendly rooms,” says Smith. “Also, ask about their pet policy. What are the fees; are they refundable? Is there a pet weight limit? Are first floor rooms with easy outdoor access available?” For a veteran like Smith, the top factors to consider before booking include: a reasonable pet policy, ample areas to walk your dog, and pet friendly attractions nearby. “Some hotels accept pets while others welcome them. Those are the good places to find.” Once you arrive: Don’t leave Fido all alone. This is especially true if your dog is not used to traveling or suffers from anxiety. A barking dog is a major disturbance for fellow hotel guests. Remember, not everyone loves dogs. Securely leash your dog when in public. Keep your pet close and only approach others when you are sure that both your dog and the other person, or animal, is comfortable with the meeting. Adam Colwell is a staff writer for Pet Genius. www.PetGenius.com
now k d l u o h s u What yo ions t a n i c c a v about pet s you ion and the act . should take s
Hu Dr. Jim
10 www.PetGenius.com â€˘ Summer 2013
Immunizations are a pet’s best friend. They extend smart, inexpensive protection against deadly diseases that infect dogs and cats. For many owners, the decision to vaccinate a pet is automatic. However, deciding which vaccines to give and when is more complicated.
New advances, new challenges The last decade witnessed the development of new vaccines for diseases that plagued our dogs and cats. One significant advancement is the ability to isolate and transfer sequences of DNA from one organism and recombine them with the sequences of another. This “recombinant technology” has spawned the devel-
opment and approval of a new generation of vaccines that are highly effective and very safe. These are great technical and biological advances. However, each pet is different and requires an assessment to establish a treatment plan. In addition, some vaccines provide immunity beyond a year. This means certain vaccinations can be given less than previously thought. “The introduction of so many new vaccines justifies the need for veterinarians to critically address which vaccines are admin-
in the making? Studies reveal an alarming decrease in cat care.
Though of cat owners believe check-ups are somewhat to very important, the number taking their cat to the veterinarian continues to decline.
13.5% decrease in veterinarian visits since 2006.
in the past 5 years.
as the number of cats in the house increase.
only 3% of cat owners have
of cat owners didn’t take their cat to the vet because of
American Veterinary Medical Association U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, 2012.
istered to which patients and at which stage of life,” says Dr. Richard Ford, veterinarian and professor of medicine at North Carolina’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “Some vaccinations protect for years while others do not even protect for 12 months.” These advancements have changed the way vaccinations are administered. The controversy is about the ideal timing of vaccines. In addition, some States require annual rabies vaccinations in dogs, and in some cases, cats. This helps fuel the belief that all vaccines need to be given annually.
The solution: more vet visits So what’s the right course of action for a pet owner? Visit the veterinarian more often. Research shows that if pets visit the veterinarian just two times a year, diseases and conditions can be diagnosed earlier when they are easier and less expensive to treat. Dietary and dental health concerns as well as aging-pet problems have led veterinarians to encourage clients to visit every 6 months. These visits help veterinarians discover and
correct problems early and educate owners about disease prevention. More frequent office visits also provide another benefit: vaccinations are administered over a longer time period, which is good for the animal’s immune system.
Core vaccines are those every dog and cat should receive. Non-core vaccines are those considered under defined circumstances of risk unique to the dog or cat. Dr. Ford believes vaccination guidelines that categorize vaccine as core or non-core could reduce confusion. “Core vaccines are those every dog and cat should receive. Non-core vaccines are those
considered only under defined circumstances of risk unique to the dog or cat,” explains Ford. Puppies and kittens present a special case. In those early months, the immunity from their mother is waning so vaccines are given at much shorter intervals to boost their protection against disease. To determine the right treatment for your pet, veterinarian visits are crucial. Remember, dogs and cats age faster than humans. Visiting your vet just twice a year allows necessary vaccinations to be delivered over time and increases the opportunity for your veterinarian to diagnose disease earlier – when it is easier and less expensive to treat. It would be a tragedy to see your pet succumb to a disease that a simple vaccination could have prevented. For more information visit PetGenius.com. Dr. Jim Humphries is a practicing veterinarian and founder of the Veterinary News Network.
Dog-gone good care! 66% of dog owners
believe routine check-ups are very important. However households with two or more dogs report a decrease in veterinarian visits.
On average, dog owners spent
in veterinarian visits since 2006.
only 6% of dog owner have
12 www.PetGenius.com • Summer 2013
in 2011, on exams, vaccinations, and medications.
in use of drugs and medications for dogs since 2006.
American Veterinary Medical Association U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, 2012.
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What can you do to stop an infestation of these nasty bugs? Dr. Jim Humphries
Fleas are truly a pet owner’s worst nightmare. Designed to survive and efficient at reproducing, these blood-sucking pests can quickly overrun house and home! In addition to causing misery for our pets, fleas have the potential to carry serious, even deadly diseases. To defeat this enemy, we need to understand their lifecycle and dispel myths that lead to ineffective control.
Hidden threat For every adult flea you see there are about 95 others, in various life stages, lurking within the environment. When an adult flea finds a pet, there is very little – short of death – that will remove it from a dog or cat. Failure to address all the life stages is a primary reason why owners never seem to win the flea battle. Understanding how fleas interact with pets is also key. Some mistakenyly believe that fleas jump from pet to pet. The truth is, pets acquire fleas from their environment, not from playing with their canine and feline friends. Even if the dog next door is covered with fleas, it is unlikely fleas will transfer to another pet unless they share a common environment.
Aggressive producers Once on a pet, the flea immediately starts drinking blood. About eight hours later the flea starts to mate. Within 24-hours, females begin to lay eggs – which fall off the pet and litter the pet’s environment: bedding, carpet, upholstery, yard, etc. Females lay 40-50 eggs per day. In her lifetime, a female can add 2,000 eggs to the environment. Just 30 adult fleas can explode into more than 250,000 fleas in less than one month! Given these huge numbers, it’s possible to see live fleas on your
pets even if they have been treated with flea medications. No flea treatments kill fleas immediately; nor do they repel fleas. Most topical medications kill fleas within 1-2 hours after the flea jumps onto the pet. Oral products only work when the flea actually bites the pet. The lifecycle of the flea means that new adults are continually present in the environment. Flea eggs are constantly hatching into flea larvae, which then spin cocoons. Adult fleas hatch from cocoons in as little as seven days. However, some can delay hatching up to 180 days! That’s why a single application of a flea preventive will not stop an existing infestation of fleas. To account for eggs, larvae and pupae in the environment, flea control needs to reach beyond the problem.
flea facts Flea Life Cycle Egg
A female can lay 20-50 eggs at a time, creating 2000 eggs in her short lifetime.
Larvae Larvae eat flea feces, debris and dead skin cells. It molts three times in a 5-25 day period before spinning a cocoon.
Pupae Hatching may occur in as few as 5-9 days to fully-formed adults.
Winning the battle So, when faced with a flea infestation, what steps can help resolve it? First, talk with your veterinarian about effective flea control medications. Next, make sure that all pets in the household are treated. Even the “indoor only” cat will need protection from adult fleas hatching in the home environment. Use the products as directed and do not split doses among your pets. If the infestation is severe, a home area treatment spray can help eliminate flea colonies more quickly. Be sure to use one that contains an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR). IGRs prevent flea eggs from hatching and flea larvae from molting. Continue to treat each pet with a flea preventive to ensure the cycle is halted. Understanding the flea lifecycle can help you defeat this unrelenting pest. Dr. Jim Humphries is founder of the Veterinary News Network and the American Society of Veterinary Journalists.
The average flea lives 120 days.
Adult fleas only comprise 5% of the entire population; the remaining 95% consists of eggs, larvae and cocoons in the environment.
A day in a life Just one flea can bite your pet
400 times a day.
1 100 fleas
is seen by owners.
www.PetGenius.com • Summer 2013
Your cat and fleas
Answers to commonly asked questions
Q: How did my cat get fleas? A: The biggest source comes from newly
emerged adult fleas from pupae in your house or yard. Adult fleas live, feed and mate on our pets; the female lays eggs that fall off into the environment where they hatch into larvae. Homes with carpets and central heating provide ideal conditions for the year-round development of fleas. Even if fleas live in your environment, you probably won’t see them. The eggs are the size of dust particles, while the larvae migrate deep into carpets, furniture or cracks in floors away from the light.
Q: How do fleas affect my cat? A: Many cats live with fleas but show mini-
mal signs of trouble. However, that doesn’t mean fleas are harmless to cats; in fact, serious problems can occur. Some cats, if they are repeatedly bitten, can develop an allergy to fleabites. A kitten, debilitated or elderly cat can develop anemia due to blood loss from a severe infestation. Fleas can also act as the intermediate host for one species of tapeworm, Dipylidium Caninum. Flea larvae become infected by eating tapeworm eggs. If a cat swallows an infected flea while grooming, the tapeworm larvae will develop into an adult tapeworm. A cat with fleas is also likely to be infested with tapeworms.
Q: How can I get rid of fleas? A: This requires a three-pronged approach. Fleas need to be eliminated from: 1) the infected cat; 2) from any other cats and dogs in the household; 3) from your home and yard. The lifecycle of the flea means that even this thorough approach may not give 100% control. A monthly preventive helps eliminate guesswork.
Q: What products are available to treat my cat? A: Although most topical insecticides will
kill adult fleas, many have limited effectiveness because they only work for a few hours after application. A year-round flea and tick preventive is the best defense against infestation and disease.
Q: My cat hates being sprayed. What can I do? A: Flea collars may seem a convenient solu-
tion but most don’t work well. Flea collars that contain an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) are an exception but are not generally recommended as they may be harmful to some cats, or may cause a skin reaction or rash. Flea foams with residual activity can be applied with minimal noise by brushing them into your cat’s coat. One of the easiest and safest options is a year-round preventive. Visit PetGenius.com to find more information about yearround flea and tick protection.
www.PetGenius.com • Summer 2013
Your dog and fleas
Answers to commonly asked questions
Q: How do I prevent fleas on my dog? Q: What about the environment? A: Successful flea control includes treating both your pet(s) and the environment. However, the best approach is year-round protection. Preventative products applied each month help assure infestations never occur.
Q: Are fleas particularly harmful? A: Yes. Heavy infestations of fleas can cause anemia especially in puppies or dogs with compromised health. Fleas can also carry several diseases, including plague, and act as hosts to spread one of the most common tapeworms of the dog and cat.
A: When treating your environment keep in mind, most “quick kill” products are only effective against the adult flea. In the event of home infestation, your veterinarian can help you identify flea products that contain Insect Growth Regulators (IGR) that prevent maturation of the flea eggs and larvae in addition to chemicals that kill the adult fleas. Before applying any environmental product, we recommend vacuuming your carpet to stimulate the pre-adult fleas to emerge from their protective cocoons.
Q: My dog lives most of his life outside. What should I do? A: Concentrate on treating dark, shaded areas and the areas he sleeps in, including his bedding. Spray a product containing an IGR and repeat every 14-21 days for three to five applications. The newer topical and oral flea preventives will greatly assist you in solving your flea problem. By understanding the flea lifecycle and following veterinarian advice, you and your pet will be flea free in no time. Visit PetGenius.com to find out how monthly flea and tick prevention keeps your pet safe.
Q: What should I put on my dog? A: Shampoos, sprays, powders and topical preparations are all available and the results vary. Monthly preventatives are safe, effective and proven. Remove some of the guesswork about flea and tick prevention. Visit PetGenius.com to find details. Contributed by Ernest Ward, DVM. Taken from the Pet Genius Health & Wellness Library. © Copyright 2009 Lifelearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.
www.PetGenius.com • Summer 2013
TICKtock Protect your pet from blood sucking parasites!
The dreaded tick is a problematic parasite that can cause serious problems, some of which are deadly. A relative of the spider, there are over 850 species of ticks in the world. No matter the species, all harbor serious diseases, such as Tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) and Lyme Disease. Adult ticks find their victims using “questing” behavior. A tick climbs onto a blade of grass or a leaf and waits for a potential host. This puts them in the perfect position to sense movement, heat and even carbon dioxide. Reacting to these stimuli, the tick will climb onto the
new host. Once on the pet, the tick begins feeding. The tick’s mouthparts make removal difficult. Their barbed feeding tube has numerous backward facing projections and a substance produced in the tick’s salivary glands actually glues the tick in place. Ticks can feed up to 600 times their weight and may take several days to finish. Just a few missed ticks is all the opportunity needed to spread disease and infect the pet, warns Dr. Michael Dryden of the Kansas State University Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology.
Tick associated diseases Diseases such as RMSF and Lyme Disease are still prevalent in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control reported prevalence rates of the bacteria causing RMSF ranging from 2-10% in ticks found in the Eastern United States. RMSF affects both dogs and people and is often characterized by fevers, swollen lymph nodes and, occasionally, pneumonia. In dogs, RMSF can cause potentially fatal heart arrhythmias. A recent study shows an increase in the number of dogs testing positive for Lyme Disease in the United States. Lyme Disease has now been diagnosed in all 48 contiguous states and more than 40% of the 1,400 veterinary clinics surveyed have reported cases of the disease in recent years. Dogs with Lyme Disease often present with a sudden onset of lameness that appears to come and go. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, high fever and severe lethargy.
Smart protection steps It is possible to enjoy the outdoors and protect your pet. Flea preventives are useful in the war on ticks, too, potentially stopping the spread of tick borne diseases. Topical preventives are easy to apply and can be used safely even on puppies and kittens as long as they are 8 weeks of age or older. So, when should a concerned pet owner apply flea and tick preventives? Changing climactic conditions have made pinpointing a tick “season” difficult, warns Dryden on the Companion Animal Parasite Council website. Some species of ticks can survive more than 12 months without a blood meal. For the pet’s safety, Dryden recommends year round use of preventive treatments. Enjoying the great outdoors is a great bonding experience for you and your dog. Taking simple protective steps ensures your dog doesn’t come home with some unwelcome visitors or a potentially devastating disease. Dr. Jim Humphries is a practicing veterinarian and serves as an Adjunct Professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University.
Tips on Tick Prevention It takes an attached tick just 48 hours to transmit Lyme Disease. Check yourself and your pet thoroughly after outdoor activity. Remove any ticks before they become swollen with blood. Treat the spot with alcohol or antibiotic ointment. Consult your veterinarian. When you enter a high-risk tick area: • Wear light colored clothing so you can spot ticks easily. • Scan your clothing frequently while outdoors. • Stay in clear, well-traveled areas. • Use insect repellant containing DEET on your skin and clothes. • Do not use DEET on your pets. • Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls. • Do a final full-body check on yourself and your dogs at the end of the day. For your dog: • Treat your dog with a monthly flea and tick preventive that lasts for 30 days. • Choose a topical that has a kill ratio of 90-95% to be effective. • Treat all the animals in the household. • For dogs who are active outdoors, talk with your veterinarian about Lyme vaccines. Information and facts gathered from Dr. Jim Humphries courtesy of the Veterinarian News Network.
DIY tick removal Step 1: Use tweezers to locate where the tick’s mouthparts have entered the skin. Step 2: Place the ends of the tweezers around the base of the mouthparts. Step 3: Apply gentle pressure to pull the tick up slowly and steadily until it releases. Step 4: Dispose of the tick in a sealable plastic bag.
Things NOT to do: DO NOT twist, poke, squash or burn the tick. DO NOT smother the tick with any substance. www.PetGenius.com • Summer 2013
Cushion the blow of
unexpected c By David Ficere
www.PetGenius.com â€˘ Summer 2013
Do you need pet insurance? What to look
k for if you do.
Less than three percent of U.S. pet owners carry pet health insurance but that number is on the rise…and for good reason. Advances in medical technology now extend to the veterinarian’s office. Blood tests, CAT scans, MRIs – even chemotherapy, dialysis and blood transfusions – are now common treatments for pets. Such care can be expensive and beyond financial reach for a pet owner outside a comprehensive pet insurance program. And though most wouldn’t dream of going without insurance for our families, our feline and canine family members are often left without protection.
Pet insurance, how it works
What to look for Pet insurance, Clarke says, shouldn’t be used with the expectation of saving money but to cushion the blow of an unexpected major medical expense. Clarke says there are five medical coverage components that, ideally, should be part of any pet insurance plan. They are: • Cancer coverage • Chronic disease coverage • Extended or continual chronic disease coverage • Hereditary and congenital diseases coverage • Coverage for medical conditions unique to your pet’s breed and species
Like its human equivalent, pet insurance Pet owners should research what the covers the cost of medical expenses if your policy pays for and any coverage limitapet takes ill or has an accident. Some plans tions. also cover wellness exams, but pet insurAs with any type of insurance plan, read ance is best utilized to absorb the economic the policy before buying; understand what impact of unpredictable veterinary bills. is and isn’t covered. Clarify points that As is the case with human insurance, the aren’t clear before signing on the dotted pet counterpart is comprised of co-pays, line. premiums, deductibles and maximum coThe life or death of a pet should never pays. The difference is that owners pay the come down to a decision about money. veterinarian directly and get reimbursed by the insurance company. Visit PetGenius.com for a free quote Choosing a higher deductible lowers from Healthy Paws – the pet insurance premiums but the amount of money paid company rated #1 by customers. out of pocket for medical treatment will be higher. By the same token, choosing a Dave Ficere is a staff writer for Pet Genius. lower deductible lessens out of pocket expenses for treatment but policy premiums are higher. Veterinarian Natasha Clarke with the Valley Center Veterinary Clinic in Valley Center, CA says pet insur• 1 in 3 pets will need ance can be a good thing but unexpected veterinary pet owners should ask a lot of care each year1 questions. “As with any type of insur• 1 in 6 pet owners say their pet faced ance, there’s always the a serious illness during the past year and chance you’ll get back less spent an average of $1,092 on vet care2 than you paid,” she says, • Veterinary fees have increased “especially if your pet stays healthy and doesn’t have any an average 5.6% per year since 20003 accidents requiring extensive • In 2012, Americans spent more care. Conversely, there’s also than $13.5 billion on vet care4 the chance you’ll get back more than you paid in.”
Did You Know?
• Over 75% of vets accept pet health insurance5
1. Datamonitor 2. AP-Petside Poll 3. Bureau of Labor Statistics 4-5. DVM360
buddy BUFF by Connie Peters
Exercise and portion control are keys to pet weight loss. Sound familiar?
Before you STROLL Exercise helps diminish anxious energy and keeps you and your pet pal in shape. But, there are a few things you should consider before you reach for that leash.
Your pooch is looking plump. And, just like humans, it can be very difficult to slim down an over weight pet. One key advantage is that your pet depends on you for his food. The disadvantage is that you may be a sucker for his soulful eyes. What do you need to do to make a weight-loss project as successful and pleasant as possible for you pet? Many pet owners tend to show love to their animal through food. But veterinarian Michelle Schmidt of Montezuma Veterinary Clinic in Cortez, CO says that’s not the greatest idea. “It’s important to express your affection for your pet in ways besides food. Taking him for a daily walk, brushing his coat or playing fetch is a great bonding experience,” says Cortez. Your veterinarian can best decide what food, how much and how often your pet should eat. “Scheduled meals are healthier because you
can monitor them and it makes your pet a less picky eater,” Schmidt advises. Another tip is to feed your pet at the same location each day – which can also help you resist the temptation to slip him table scraps. Schmidt points out that the rate of weight loss depends on the individual goals you have for your pet. “You can work with your vet and determine times to come in and weigh your pet to monitor progress.” Finally, be sure to get in daily exercise, start slow and gradually increase length of time and intensity. “A simple walk around the block is a good start,” Schmidt suggests. Most importantly – have fun! Keeping your pet trim will make you both healthier and happier. Connie Peters is a staff writer with Pet Genius. She lives in Southwest Colorado.
For her own safety, your pet should: • Be alert to her name. • Respond when called. • Understand basic commands – sit, stay, come. • Refrain from chasing anything that piques her interest. • Restrain from jumping up on people or picking fights with other animals. As her pet walker, you should: • Obey leash laws. • Be mindful of surroundings. • Avoid dangerous situations. • Carry plastic bags to pick up messes. • Keep her away from private property. If you walk at night, use a reflective pet collar or a small light that attaches to the collar . These lights provide added safety and help you locate your pet quickly if you become separated. Compiled by Pet Genius Staff writer, Connie Peters with contributions from animal training expert, Annie Phenix.
www.PetGenius.com • Summer 2013