Is Pet Insurance Right for You?

More owners are looking into and purchasing health insurance for their pets.  Choices range from very inexpensive policies that provide some financial help when dealing with an unforeseen illness or accident to more comprehensive plans that cover preventative care and have high coverage limits.  Of course these latter policies also have higher premiums, but with a little research most pet owners can find a pet insurance plan is a good fit for them.

Here are a few things to remember when considering health insurance for your pet:

  • No policy covers all your veterinary expenses.  You will still need to have savings and/or credit available to cover deductibles, copays, and costs that exceed or are excluded from your policy.  Primarily think of insurance as a way to help deal with unexpected expenses.  Routine purchases like vaccines, heartworm prevention and flea and tick control can be budgeted for and purchased from online retailers such as vetdepot.com.
  • Know what you are buying.  All policies have exclusions, so check the fine print.
  • Preexisting conditions will not be covered, so if your dog or cat has already been diagnosed with a disease, the cost of treating it (pet medication refills, rechecks, etc.) will come out of your pocket.  Consider getting insurance when your pet is young to avoid the pitfalls associated with preexisting conditions.

Tips on Saving Big Bucks on your Furry Little Friend

Responsible pet ownership requires an investment that lasts the lifetime of your pet. In this regard, owning a pet is similar to caring for a child. There are many ongoing costs associated with caring for your dog or cat, but there are easy things you can do to help keep some of these costs down.

Shop Around for Vets: When you’re choosing a vet, call several local veterinary offices and ask them the cost for a routine exam. Often, vets will use this price as a base price for all other procedures. Vets who charge less for a routine exam tend to have lower prices overall. Don’t wait for an emergency to choose your veterinarian; you will be more stressed in emergency situations and may not be as concerned with cutting costs.

Compare Prices Online for your Pet’s Medications: If you buy your flea preventatives and other pet medications at your veterinarian’s office, you are likely being charged a mark-up of over 100% of the wholesale price. Shopping online for your pet’s medication can lead to huge savings, plus the added convenience of receiving your pet’s medications delivered to your door. When you’re comparing prices online, you can often save money by ordering more doses in one time. Make sure you order discount pet medications only from secure sites based in the US that are certified by either LegitScript or Vet-VIPPS like vetdepot.

Don’t Let Fido Eat You out of House and Home: No matter what, your furry friend is always going to want to eat! The biggest ongoing cost pet owners pay is food. Many pet foods labeled as “Premium” or other special diets cost more than double what other pet foods cost. Be aware that there is no legal standard pet foods must meet to be labeled as “Premium”, but any food that is labeled “complete & balanced” or “total nutrition” meets the minimum legal standard required for pet foods. Unless your pet has a medical condition requiring a special diet, you probably don’t need to spend extra on pricey foods that may offer no extra benefit to your pet’s health.

Invest in Preventative Care: You’ve probably heard the old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keeping up with your pet’s routine exams and vaccinations can prevent a wide variety of serious and costly health problems. Clean choppers also make a big difference in your pet’s health. Brushing your dog or cat’s teeth and feeding them dental treats can help prevent periodontal disease, a common cause of kidney and lung problems. Finally, make sure your pet maintains a healthy weight. Have plenty of playtime and don’t overfeed your furball. Obesity can cause diabetes and arthritis, among other expensive problems. Remember, a healthy pet is a happy pet, and a healthy pet costs you less!

July 4th Safety Tips for Every Pet Owner

For many, the 4th of July means barbeques with the family, fun in the sun and of course- fireworks! While firework displays provide us with plenty of entertainment, they can be downright scary for our pets.  It’s not uncommon for cats and dogs to go to great lengths to escape upon hearing those booming noises and seeing those flashes of light. Because of this, shelters see an influx of runaway pets every year after 4th of July festivities.

Below are a few tips for keeping furry family members safe this 4th of July:

Keep pets inside during local fireworks displays: Keeping dogs and cats inside will not only reduce chances of them running away, but will also minimize stress due to unfamiliar sounds. If at all possible, it’s best to stay home with your pets.

Close windows, curtains and doors: This will help keep out as much sound and flashing light as possible.

Turn on the TV or some music: These more familiar noises might calm a pet’s nerves and drown out some of the loud noise from outside.

Make sure all pets are wearing secure collars with proper identification: It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Pets have been known to dig under fences, pop out screens and perform other tricky escape attempts upon hearing fireworks. Just in case your beloved pet does manage to get out, up-to-date identification betters your chances of  a quick homecoming.

Top 5 Training Mistakes for New Dog Owners

When bringing home a new puppy or even an older dog that needs to brush up on his manners- training is crucial to the happiness of both you and your new canine friend. When training that lovable new ball of fur, keep in mind that there are a few common mistakes to avoid:

1.)    Long Training Sessions: Spending too much time on any one training session can be trying to both your patience and that of your canine companion. Keep in mind that puppies have especially short attention spans. It’s best to start with short training sessions, maybe 15 to 20 minutes. As your dog becomes more accustomed to the training process, you can start to increase the length of sessions a little at a time.

2.)    Inconsistency with Commands: Once you choose certain command words- stick to them! Not doing so will cause confusion for you pup and will not produce the desired outcome for all the hours spent on training. For example, “down” can either mean “lay down” or “get down” if the dog is jumping up. It’s crucial to pick a single meaning for each command and remain consistent.

3.)    Training when you’re in a Bad Mood: Make sure you have a positive attitude when beginning a training session. You will be less likely to lose your cool and yell- which only frightens the animal and does not enforce correct behavior. You will also be more likely to be patient and encouraging, two things that will help your sweet pup through the training process.

4.)    Correcting a Dog for something that Happened in the Past: No matter how mad you are about that chewed-up shoe or the accident that Fido had in the house, it’s important not to correct the behavior if the incident occurred more than 5 minutes ago. You should only reprimand your pet if you catch them in the act- and physical force should NEVER be used as punishment.

5.)    Not Using Enough Positive Reinforcement: The best way to see results when training is to REWARD good behavior! Treats can be used as an effective source of positive reinforcement- but some owners are afraid their pet will become too treat motivated. A whole lot of praise and a good old fashioned belly rub make for an excellent alternative to treats and will surely teach your pup that his behavior was correct.

June is Adopt a Cat Month!

If you’re considering a feline addition to the family, don’t forget to check out your local shelter before opting to buy. The ASPCA has declared June to be “Adopt a Shelter Cat Month” to raise awareness for the growing number of cats in need of forever homes.

Sadly, an animal is euthanized every 8 seconds in shelters across the United States. Choosing to adopt a cat helps save two lives; the animal you take into your home and the animal that is able to use the empty space in the shelter. However, it’s important to make a responsible decision regarding the adoption of a new pet so that it never ends up back in a shelter. If you rent your home, make sure pets are allowed. Also, be aware that pets require both a time and a financial commitment.

If you feel prepared for adoption, you’ll be sure to be repaid with plenty of love and companionship. So, don’t hesitate to participate in Adopt-a-Cat month if you’re ready for a new feline friend!