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Put a Healthy Smile on Your Pet’s Face

Posted by on Feb 11, 2013 in Blog, Pet Lovers

Many people think that being a pet owner is a simple thing: you walk them, feed and water them, and show them love. There are so many other components involved in being a responsible pet owner. One important component is pet dental hygiene. This is an area of pet care that many people often overlook or simply are not aware of. The truth of the matter is that pets, like humans, need to have their teeth cleaned to stay healthy. Granted, this is not an easy task. Try brushing three labs’ teeth! Luckily, with my dogs, I started taking care of their teeth at a very young age, so this has become a very normal thing for them. There are some important things to remember when it comes to taking care of your pet’s teeth.

First, never use a human toothpaste. This product is not formulated for a dog’s anatomy and can hurt your pet. You must use special dog toothpastes that are sold at pet care stores. Another thing to remember is to take it easy at first, particularly if your pet is not used to having its teeth cleaned. It is, of course, easier if you start dental care for your pet at a young age; however, if you do start a dental regime later in your pet’s life, you must ease the animal into it. A pet who is not used to having its teeth cleaned may instinctively want to nip at you. You can purchase special pet toothbrushes that can make it easier to brush a pet’s teeth.

It is recommended to brush your pet’s teeth daily. Their teeth get plaque buildup which leads to tarter, just like humans. Also, pets can suffer from gum issues and bad breath. All of these things can be prevented with good dental hygiene. When you brush your pet’s teeth, look for anything unusual like bleeding gums or anything else out of the ordinary. Also, make sure to schedule your pet’s routine checkups. As part of this exam, your vet will look at your pet’s mouth to make sure that there are no issues present. Also, your vet is a valuable source of information for tips and tricks in taking care of your pet’s teeth.

Owning a pet can be very rewarding; pets love us unconditionally, are always there for us, and bring us companionship. For all that they give us, we must give back and take care of their basic needs such as oral hygiene. I know that it seems like a daunting task: not only to have to tend to your own dental hygiene but also to have to focus on your pet’s care each night. If you try to take care of your pet’s teeth at the same time you take care of your own teeth at night, it makes it easier to get into the habit of doing it. Your pet will thank you!

William Bosch, CPCU, AIC
Commercial Lines Claim Representative

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Saving a Stray

Posted by on Dec 3, 2012 in Blog, Pet Lovers

What do you do when a stray dog is walking around your neighborhood? Do you leave it alone or do something?

We recently had a dog wandering our street and were unsure about what to do. We decided put out a bowl of water to get his attention. This lured him out of the street and gave us a chance to check his collar for an I.D. tag with his owner’s contact information. Since there was no tag on his collar, we had no idea what to do next.

We thought about it, and then called the local shelter. They called the local police department, who picked up the dog. The police told us they would put the dog’s picture on several lost dog websites and would take him to the shelter. The dog would be kept there for a week to give its owner a fair amount of time to locate him. If no one picked up the dog, he would be put up for adoption with a new, loving family.

With a little effort, you can help a stray dog find a home. And please, make sure your pets are wearing I.D. tags with your contact information.

Eric Roberts, AIC
Claim Adjuster

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Furry First Aid

Posted by on Nov 15, 2012 in Blog, Pet Lovers

As the owner of three labs−Emily, Hayley, and Duke−I have had my share of scares when it comes to first aid situations. I have had the occasional tick to remove, the cut ear, or the thorn in the paw. There comes a time in every pet owner’s life when the unexpected happens. It could be as simple as a cut or could be as serious as choking. Not many of us think about pet first aid, but it really is very important. We learn first aid for our kids, so why would we not become familiar with some important first aid tips for pets? Granted, it is impossible to predict every emergency situation that may arise, but taking the time to do some preparation can mean the difference between life and death to your pet.

First and foremost, do your homework. There are a lot of excellent books out there, as well as online resources that will walk you through some of the most common pet first aid scenarios and how to deal with them. First aid can range from something minor like removing a tick or removing a thorn to more urgent matters like choking and wounds. I suggest either having a pet first aid book easily accessible (I keep a copy of Practical Pet First Aid for Dogs and Cats by Mark Anderson right by my pet supply area so I always know where it is) or printing out some valuable pet first aid tips from the Internet. In an emergency the mind tends to blank out, and if you have these tips in an easy-to-locate spot, it will help in those stressful situations.

Second, get a pet first aid kit. You can purchase these at most pet supply stores, or you can make a kit yourself. These kits typically include things like an ice pack, bandages, gloves, cleaning wipes, antibiotic ointment, and tweezers. A pet first aid kit is not a one-size-only deal, so take into consideration your pets’ sizes and needs and design the kit around them. Again, there are many good online resources with excellent tips on building your pet first aid kit.

Third, make sure to have important phone numbers handy, such as your veterinarian or the veterinary hospital in your area. In an emergency it is often difficult to remember numbers, so keeping them in a convenient location is key. Other items to keep close by are a pen and paper to write down important instructions that may be given to you by the doctor or to keep a log of your pet’s condition.

Last, if you have not already done so, it is important to purchase pet insurance. Pets are like people, and accidents can and do happen. Having this insurance coverage provides peace of mind in these stressful situations. Pet bills from emergency situations can be very costly, and too often this cost factors into a pet’s treatment. There is no need to sacrifice proper care for our pets when pet protection coverage is available.

Pet emergencies can be very serious; however, with just a little preparation and foresight, one can become better equipped to deal with whatever life throws at us. It is important to become familiar with what types of pet first aid may be required and then to build a kit to help with those emergencies. Keep important phone numbers and first aid tips handy, and don’t forget to purchase pet insurance!

William Bosch, CPCU, AIC
Commercial Claim Representative

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Watch What Your Cats Eat

Posted by on Oct 1, 2012 in Blog, Pet Lovers

There have been several blogs about sick pets, so I’ll add my family’s experience to the list. Our cat, Valerie, a perky Calico, started throwing up. Cats are notorious for throwing up, so at first, there wasn’t a real concern. When she continued to throw up, started losing weight, and stopped acting normal, we grew concerned and took her to the vet’s office. Valerie wasn’t running a fever, but the vet guessed she could possibly have a urinary tract infection. They gave her a shot and sent her home with antibiotics.

That seemed to help for a few weeks, but then it began again. She threw up every time she ate. Valerie became very aggressive at the food dish and even tried stealing food from our plates. With a noticeable weight loss, we once again toted her to the vet’s office. The vet started her examination and noticed right away that something was wrapped around her tongue. Valerie had eaten a thread! It wrapped around her tongue with both ends going down her throat.

There was only one option – surgery. They prepped Valerie for surgery and started within a couple hours. What they found was astonishing. The thread was wrapped around her tongue and went through her stomach, large intestines, small intestines, and into her colon. Every time she tried to use the litter box, she was basically choking herself with that thread. In my simple mind, they should just be able to yank on the thread and it would come out. That’s not the case because it would have sliced all of her internal organs. Instead, they had to shave her belly then make small cuts into her intestines to remove the thread. Six punctures and $1200 later, our Valerie was back to normal! Two days after the surgery, she was racing down the hallway like nothing ever happened. The vet even saved the thread for us as a souvenir.

The lesson learned is we need to be very careful about what strings and threads are around that our cats may think are tasty treats. We think the thread Valerie ate came from a pair of pants hanging in our closet. This was a very expensive lesson learned and hopefully, one experience that will not be repeated.

Anne Schneider, AIT, AIS
Project Management Office Manager

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Canine Communication

Posted by on Sep 1, 2012 in Blog, Pet Lovers

My family and I have a cocker spaniel for a pet. She is 7 years old and is very much a part of the family. When we eat dinner, she always seems to eat her dog food and drink her water. When we are in the family room sitting and talking, reading, or watching television, she is right there with us sitting at our feet. It has even gotten to the point that when we are going anywhere in the van, she hops right in and goes along for the ride.

I have always thought she was part of the family but a four-legged, furry member. However, about a month ago, I began to wonder if she could think and communicate like the rest of us. When it is time for bed, she sleeps in a crate. We tell her it is time to go home, and she goes into the crate and goes to sleep. On one particular evening, we went through our routine of telling her to go home and she began to go into her crate and then stopped. She then pulled out all her blankets and went into the crate and went to sleep.

We didn’t think much of this, and the next morning put the blankets back into the crate when she was outside. She came back in the house and went into the crate to lie down and, before doing so, pulled the blankets out onto the floor once again. Maybe it was time to wash the blankets? Armed with this thought, we did just that, and our family dog was sleeping in her crate with her clean fresh blankets. It appears our little furry family member can communicate and does so with conviction.

You wouldn’t ride in your car without making certain your family is protected by the proper auto insurance. That said, contact your local Pekin Insurance agent and ask about insuring your pets while they are riding around with you and your family. I’m sure your family pets would want it that way if they could only tell you.

Scott Homa, CPCU, AIC
National Claim Specialist

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The Importance of Pet Insurance

Posted by on Aug 15, 2012 in Blog, Pet Lovers

Our pets are a part of the family, and when they are sick, it can be very stressful and oftentimes very costly. I can certainly attest to the stress level and expense of having a sick pet. I am very lucky to have my oldest lab, Emily, with me today after she became very ill. I also learned some hard lessons along the way on how important pet insurance is.

Emily was around 5 years old when she became extremely sick unexpectedly. I came home and Emily was not her normal, energetic self; rather she was lethargic and would not eat or drink. The most significant and alarming symptom was that her eyeball has swollen to such an extent that it looked like a softball was protruding from her eye socket. Needless to say, I was beyond panicked. Immediately I called my vet who said to bring her in. The vet was very concerned and took many tests to try to determine exactly what the issue was. He sent her home with some medicine to make her comfortable while we waited on the test results.

The next morning the vet called and said he would recommend that we take her immediately to College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois. He said he had a suspicion of what the trouble was, but he wanted them to take a look and see what they thought. He said that the university personnel were experts on rare pet diseases and conditions. I dropped everything and headed down to the college. By this point Emily was very bad off, and I was fearful that I would lose her. The vets were extremely helpful and immediately admitted her. They started to treat her for dehydration because she was not drinking and set about to run some tests to determine what the issue was. I had to leave her overnight, and let me tell you, that was one of the longest nights of my life!

The next day the university called and said that they had figured out what the trouble was: Emily had contracted what is called blastomycosis. This is a fungal infection caused by an organism that is typically found in the soil. Of course I was completely shocked and wanted to learn more about what this was, but first we had to get Emily taken care of. The treatment was very costly (we are talking several hundred dollars per month for her medication), and the treatment lasted for over 4 months. She improved tremendously with just a few doses of the medicine, and the swelling of her eye started to subside. The doctors were concerned that her vision was compromised with the extreme swelling that she suffered, but luckily she has had a complete recovery and her vision was not affected.

As I researched more on blasto, as it is commonly referred to, I found that this is an organism that can be present in all sorts of places but is most common in wooded areas and in river beds. I live right by a river, so most likely Emily, being the hunting lab that she is, was after something and was digging in the soil by the river and contracted the infection. The vet thought she probably has a small cut on her eye, and that was all it took was for the fungal infection to reach that area and invade her eye and subsequently her entire body. Many dogs do not fare so well when faced with blasto. Often the condition is misdiagnosed as cancer or can be misdiagnosed as a bacterial infection and treated with the wrong medications. Luckily my vet suspected it was blasto and wanted the medical college to confirm his finding. Had he not told me to take her immediately to the college, Emily’s outcome would have been very different.

At the time that Emily became ill I didn’t have pet insurance, and I certainly wished that I did. Not only were the vet bills for both my local vet and the veterinary college costly, but the medication was very expensive. I don’t even want to think what would have happened if I could not have afforded the meds because that medication was the only thing that stood between a sick Emily and a healthy Emily. Luckily Emily recovered and only had to take the meds for 4 months, but it was still a great expense from an unexpected situation. In the end it really goes to show how important pet insurance can be because insurance is there to cover the unexpected things in life and give you peace of mind. The stress of a sick pet is difficult enough, let alone the stress of paying for the treatment. I recommend pet owners consider pet insurance for unexpected events that occur with our friendly companions.

William Bosch, CPCU, AIC
Commercial Claim Representative

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