6 Common Pet Health Myths Debunked

Pet health is a complicated topic, and with so much information at our fingertips these days, it can sometimes be difficult to separate fact from fiction. There are a lot of myths floating around, and in some cases, believing them could be harmful to your pet’s well-being. Here we’ll look at 6 of the most common pet health myths, and then give you the facts!

Remember: never hesitate to contact your veterinarian if you have ANY questions about your pet’s health. Making that phone call can not only save you time and anxiety, it could also save your pet’s life.

MYTH #1: If a dog’s nose is warm or dry, it means that they are sick.

FACT: The temperature or wetness of a dog’s nose is no indication of their health status. Many dogs have a warm and dry nose when they first wake up, for example, and a wet and cold nose after drinking water. While a warm or dry nose is no indication of a health problem, you should contact your veterinarian if you ever notice any unusual changes to your dog’s nose, such as crusting, bleeding, or discharge.

MYTH #2: Cats get sick less often than dogs.

FACT: Cats can get sick just as often as dogs (even indoor cats), but they are more likely and more capable of hiding their symptoms than dogs — in fact, they are famous for doing so. This makes it all the more important to keep up with your cat’s annual visits to the vet so that your veterinarian can give your cat a thorough once-over and check for any health conditions that they might be hiding.

RELATED STORY: The Importance Of Taking Your Cat To The Vet

MYTH #3: Pets only need to be protected from heartworms in the summer months when mosquitoes are active.

FACT: The American Heartworm Society suggests that all pets — regardless of where they live — should be protected all year round. Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal condition, so make sure that your pet is protected with a heartworm preventative, such as a tablet or topical treatment.

MYTH #4: Dogs eat grass to make themselves throw up.

FACT: This myth gets a lot of play, but the truth is that while eating grass CAN cause vomiting, it is most likely not the reason that your dog is consuming it. Many dogs consume grass because they simply like the taste, because they are bored, or because they have learned that eating grass will start a fun game in which you chase your pal to get them to stop. Eating small amounts of grass shouldn’t be harmful to your dog, but make sure that they aren’t also eating poisonous plants or foxtails, and contact your veterinarian if the habit seems to be getting worse.

RELATED STORY: Dog Vomiting Mucus? Here’s Why, And What You Can Do About It

MYTH #5: Feeding your pet garlic can rid them of tapeworms.

FACT: This myth most likely got started because of garlic’s pungent smell. It has also been suggested that garlic can treat and prevent fleas. The truth is that garlic won’t do a thing for tapeworms or fleas, and in fact, garlic is poisonous to pets and can cause anemia if consumed in large quantities. If you ever notice tapeworms (they look like small grains of rice) in your pet’s stool or near their rear end, contact your veterinarian. They will most likely prescribe a deworming medication. To protect your pet from fleas, use an oral or topical treatment.

MYTH #6: Pets take care of their own dental health, so you don’t need to brush their teeth.

FACT: Pets need all the help they can get when it comes to dental care. Most veterinarians agree that 75% or more of the health problems they see in pets are related to periodontal disease or gum disease, and studies have shown that most animals have signs of dental disease by 3 or 4 years old! While feeding crunchy dry food and giving your pet healthy chews or dental chews like Greenies can help to reduce some tartar buildup, you still need to brush your pet’s teeth. Brushing your pet’s teeth every day is the best course of action, but doing it at least once a week can go a long way in preventing dental problems.

Know any other pet health myths? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus to save on your pet’s health care and more.


3 Tips for Pet-Friendly Emergency Preparedness

Following the deadly mudslides in Washington, the Associated Press writes that authorities don’t have a clear number of how many pets were killed or are missing or displaced by the slide.

If your heart breaks at the thought of these pets being separated from their owners and possibly injured, donations are being accepted at the Everett Animal Rescue Foundation.

For pet owners everywhere, it’s a reminder to review your emergency plan for your whole family, including pets.

1. Create a Pet-Friendly Go Bag

Include pet food and supplies with your emergency kit or go bag.

2. Make Sure Your Pet Is Accounted for

Make sure your pet has a collar with identification, and if you are forced to evacuate, bring your pet along if at all possible. If there is a storm or tornado warning, bring your pets inside to take shelter with you.

3. Tell the Neighbors

It’s a good idea to check that your neighbors are aware that you have a pet, so if a weather event or other disaster strikes while you’re away from home, neighbors will know to keep an eye out for your pets.

RELATED STORY: Prepare for Emergency Pet Care


At-Home Pet Grooming Tricks

My Standard Poodle, Wade, is a wonderful guy. He’s an expert cuddler, a social butterfly who loves all people and animals, and he’s always making my husband and I laugh with his funny expressions and mischievous antics; he’s only 1 and ½ years-old, so he still has a lot of puppy spunk!

He’s a really great dog. However, he’s also a big dog — 56 lbs. at his last check-up — and having a large dog comes with its costs, one of which is expensive grooming. Now, full disclosure: I live in Los Angeles, where prices may be higher because it is a big city. Nevertheless, the first time we took Wade to a professional groomer, they charged $70 for the works. As he’s grown and gained weight, that price has gone up, and a full groom now costs $100. Ouch.

Poodles need to be brushed and groomed regularly to keep their thick, curly, ever-growing hair clean and free of mats. Knowing that we were looking at spending $100 every 6 weeks or so, we decided to learn how to groom at home.

At first it was challenging; especially with a puppy, we dealt with a lot of wiggling and escape attempts.

Over time, however, Wade got more comfortable with being groomed, and we’ve learned some tricks along the way that make the whole process a lot easier. So without further adieu, here are 5 of our favorite at home grooming tricks and tips.

1. Brush First, and Use The Right Kind of Brush

Trying to brush out wet, tangled hair is no fun. The best thing that you can do for your dog’s coat is brush it out regularly (once a week or more, depending on what kind of hair they have), and you should also give your pal a thorough once over with a brush before bathing/grooming to loosen mats, tangles, and check for fleas, ticksfoxtails, burrs, or other foreign matter.

The kind of brush that you use is important, and will depend on your dog’s hair.

  • Slicker brushes have thin, stainless steel pins that work to remove mats and tangles. They are perfect for dogs with medium-to-long or curly-haired breeds (like Wade!)
  • Pin brushes look like brushes that we humans use. Pin brushes are less effective at working through tangles than Slicker brushes, so they are better suited to dogs with naturally smooth hair (like Yorkshire Terriers) or any dog that is brushed regularly and thus doesn’t have mats or tangles. They can also be used as a finishing brush.
  • Bristle Brushes can help to reduce shedding and can be used on all dog breeds, depending on the length and spacing of the bristles. For example, if you have a dog with a long coat, the bristles should be long and widely spaced.

2. Use A Detachable Shower Head

Once we figured this one out, we couldn’t believe that it hadn’t occurred to us before. Before using a detachable shower head, we would use a pitcher or Tupperware bowl to wet Wade down. Wade has extremely thick hair, so fully wetting his body and washing off soap required multiple, tiring scoops of water. We decided to pick up a detachable shower head for $18 at a home improvement store, and washing Wade has never been easier. Just be sure that you get one with enough length to reach your pup — ours has an 8 foot hose.

3. Get A Better Lather and Save Money By Diluting Soap

If you try to squeeze soap directly onto your dog, you’ll end up using a lot more than you need, and soap can be expensive (unless you make your own at home!) Instead, put a bit of soap into a squeeze bottle or container (like a Tupperware), fill it up with water, mix it around, and squirt or pour the mixture over your dog. You’ll get more mileage out of your soap and a much better lather, too.

4. Desensitize Your Dog To Clippers

Ah yes, clippers. Wade was NOT too pleased the first time he heard and felt clippers. Clippers are often noisy, and the sensation is unnatural — like a strange vibration. Before using clippers to groom your dog, get them familiar with the sounds and feelings so they won’t be afraid. Turn the clippers on and give your dog a treat. Touch the body of the clipper gently to different parts of your dog (without actually removing any hair) and offer a treat. Do this once a day leading up to grooming. One note: be sure to introduce the clippers to your dog’s legs at some point; the legs are the most sensitive parts of many dogs (this is certainly the case for Wade).

5. Use Corn Starch For A Nicked Toenail

Even with lots of practice and the best intentions, chances are you will draw blood from time to time when trimming your pet’s nails. You can stop the bleeding with styptic pads or powder purchased from the pet store, or you can do like we do, and use corn starch. Corn starch quickly stops bleeding by causing a clot at the site of the wound. Simply put some corn starch into a bowl and dip your dog’s nicked nail into it. Let the corn starch sit on the nail for a while before washing it off. To avoid a starchy mess while you wait, put a sock over your dog’s foot.

So those are some of our tips! What are yours? Leave a comment below and let us know! In addition, if you’re into saving money by grooming at home, you might also be interested in PetPlus. With PetPlus, you can save on your pet’s medications, boarding, supplies, and more.


3 Ways to Comfort a Frightened Pet During a Thunderstorm

Fear of thunderstorms is a common phobia in pets. When thunder begins to rumble and lightning strikes (or even beforehand), your pet may dive under the bed, bury their head in your lap, tremble, whine, drool, or pace. In some severe cases, a pet may even engage in destructive chewing or scratching as a way to release their anxiety.

While your pet’s jitters may seem cute or comical at times, what you’re really seeing is a scared and unhappy animal, and there’s nothing funny about that. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your pet overcome their fear of storms. We will provide some tips here, but don’t hesitate to talk to your veterinarian or contact a certified behaviorist if you need more help. You will find links to specialist websites at the bottom of this page.

1. Desensitize Your Pet To Storm Sounds

One way to teach your pet that storms are nothing to fear is to expose them to the sounds of storms gently and gradually. Use a CD or YouTube clip of recorded storm sounds, and play the sounds very quietly for a few seconds at a time. Reward your pet with a tasty treat while they are listening. Gradually increase the volume and duration of the recordings, always looking out for signs of anxiety, and stopping if you see that your pet is afraid. The goal is to form a positive association with storm sounds, not to exacerbate an already existing fear.

If you wish to try desensitizing your pet to storm sounds, it may be useful to contact a professional for help. In addition, experts caution that sound desensitization alone may not work in calming all of your pet’s storm fears, as many pets respond not only to the sounds of a storm, but also to static electricity, the drop in barometric pressure, and other environmental factors.

RELATED STORY: My Dog Is Shaking: 8 Possible Reasons

2. Offer Your Pet A Safe Space

One way to help your pet out during a storm is to make sure that they have a quiet and comfortable place to go (if they choose to) when a storm is going down. This may be a crate, a basement room, or a cozy corner of a bedroom away from any windows. The important thing is to allow your pet to decide where they want to go during a storm; confining an anxious pet or forcing them into a certain area of the house can result in heightened fear and panic.

3. Try A Thundershirt

Thundershirt is a garment designed to calm pets down by providing constant, gentle pressure to your pet’s body — almost like a perpetual hug. Experts believe that the shirt’s pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system, possibly due to the release of a calming hormone like endorphins. According to customer surveys completed by Thundershirt, over 80% of dogs and cats showed significant improvement in symptoms when wearing the shirt.

RELATED STORY: What Can Cause A Scared Cat To Panic

If you feel like you need help training your pet to weather the storm, your veterinarian should be able to provide recommendations to the following types of specialists:

Is your pet afraid of storms? How do you help them settle down? Leave a comment below, and consider signing up for PetPlus to save on your pet’s medications, boarding, supplies (like Thundershirts!), and more.


What To Do If Your Pet Eats Something Weird

Dogs and cats are curious creatures, and many of them use their mouths to explore the new and unfamiliar. While it might be harmless for your dog to snack on a blade of grass or for your cat to steal a piece of runaway cheese from the floor, many of the objects that our pets go after can really hurt them and have devastating health consequences.

The most common health issue caused by an ingested object is foreign body obstruction. Foreign body obstruction occurs when something that your pet eats becomes lodged in their intestinal tract. This not only causes discomfort, it can also affect digestion and result in death.

So what should you do if your cat or dog eats something weird?

1. Call The Vet Immediately

If you see your pet swallow something large, sharp, or unusual, don’t wait. Call your veterinarian immediately and ask if you should bring your pet in to the office. In many cases, they will advise that you do. If your vet suspects trouble, they will most likely order X-rays. Depending on the severity of the situation, they will either induce vomiting, attempt to remove the object via endoscopy (a tube placed down the throat), or, if the object has made its way into the intestines, perform invasive surgery.

2. Look Out For Symptoms

If you aren’t sure whether or not your pet has eaten something weird (but you suspect that they may have), call your veterinarian and start looking out for symptoms. Symptoms may not appear until 24 hours later, and in some cases, it can take months for an object to become lodged and start causing problems. Symptoms to look out for include: vomiting, changes in bowel movements (diarrhea or constipation), lethargy, lack of appetite, behavioral changes, and painful abdomen. Contact your veterinarian if your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms.

RELATED STORY: The Dog Symptom Checker

3. Never Induce Vomiting or Pull A Stuck Object From Your Pet’s Rear End

While veterinarians may be able to induce vomiting to retrieve an object in some cases, you should never try this at home, as some objects may cause damage coming back up, and only a veterinarian can determine what is safe and appropriate. On that same note, you should never pull out an object that is protruding from your pet’s rear end. Even if the object appears to be coming out, it could still be stuck, and pulling it out could cause serious damage.

How To Keep Your Pet From Eating The Inedible

Ending up in the emergency room with a pet who has eaten something indigestible is not a pleasant experience. It can not only be incredibly expensive to remove a lodged object, your pet may also be seriously ill, and their life may be at risk.

To avoid ever having to deal with this terrible situation, take preventative measures:

  • If you know that your dog can chew up and swallow certain types of toys (stuffed animals, rubber balls, etc.) don’t give your dog those toys anymore. Instead, look for heavy duty toys intended for serious chewers. This same rule goes for cats. Don’t give your cat any toy that can easily break down and be swallowed.

  • Pet-proof your house by keeping tempting items locked away in cupboards, up on high shelves, or generally away from reach. Does your cat go after shoelaces? Keep your footwear in a closed closet. Does your dog like to crunch cans? Make sure the recycling bin has a lid.

  • Keep an eye on your pet when they go outside. Some dogs love to chew rocks, sticks, or anything else they find on the ground, and those objects can be dangerous. If going to a new location, keep your dog on a leash until you check out the surroundings. Additionally, teach the “come” command so that you can call your pal back if you ever let them off leash and see that they’re trying to munch on something strange.

Has your pet ever ended up at the vet after eating something weird? Tell us your story below, and consider signing up for PetPlus to save on pet medications, boarding, supplies, and visits at select veterinarians nationwide. 


Changing Marijuana Laws May Lead to Increase in Pot-Related Vet Visits

Since the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana in select states across America, the growing industry of distributing cannabis for medical and recreational use promises to stimulate economy, but not without its fair share of controversy and challenges.

One unforeseen challenge arising from this laissez faire attitude towards cannabis is a massive increase in the number of dogs being treated for ingesting large amounts of pot.

RELATED STORY: Poisonous Plants to Cats and Dogs

The Canine Cannabis Conundrum

In Arizona, where medicinal marijuana has recently been legalized, veterinarians are reporting a year over year doubling in the amount of dogs requiring treatment for exposure to pot. Luckily, natural cannabis is generally non-fatal, resulting in your dog feeling sick for a day or two, but without any major lasting effects. Synthetic cannabinoids, however, are trickier. “Because they’re often manufactured overseas, we have seen some dogs with serious illness related to ingesting the synthetic marijuana,” said Billy Griswold, director of medical management for the Emergency Animal Clinic in Phoenix.

The Side Effects


Symptoms of marijuana exposure include:

As far as treatment for exposure is concerned, it is mainly a matter of dealing with the symptoms on a case by case basis and keeping the patient comfortable, as there is no outright antidote to marijuana.

The Takeaway

So, while the recent movement across America to decriminalize, or even legalize, marijuana has many people excited, we cannot lose sight of certain sobering aspects of cannabis, one of them being the strong, and often harmful, effect it has on our pets. Just because it has been made vastly more acceptable for people to imbibe, it is still by and large an emphatic no-go when it comes to our feline and canine compadres.

RELATED STORY: The Most Poisonous Foods for Dogs

pot-dog-3-blogIf you live in an area where marijuana is available, in either a medicinal or recreational capacity, and you choose to use, make sure you treat it like you would any other medication or libation, in that you keep it out of your paw’s reach. When not in use, put your stash in a cabinet or drawer, and try to keep any smoke away from your pets, as even minimal exposure can result in your pet becoming intoxicated.

Most importantly…


If you suspect your pet has gotten a hold of your marijuana, tell your vet.

“To be perfectly honest, we really don’t care what [pet parents] do on their free time,” says Griswold. “We just try and impress upon folks that in the long run it’s better for the pet and usually for your wallet to just own up to it so we can figure out what it is and react in the most specific way possible.”

Have an opinion on what you just read? Let us know in the comments section!


5 Ways To Keep Your Pet Cool In Hot Weather

Spring is officially here, and that means that summer is just around the corner. Temperatures are already starting to rise, and they’ll only go up from here. While hot weather means lots of opportunities to visit the beach, host BBQs, and go for a swim, it can also mean trouble for pets. Heatstroke is a very serious and potentially deadly condition that can be fatal even with emergency treatment. So how can you avoid this terrible situation? Check out these tips for keeping your pet cool in hot weather.

1. Limit Exercise and Go Out In The Morning Or Evening

If it’s shaping up to be a hot day, adjust the duration and intensity of your pet’s exercise. If you usually take your dog out for a half an hour jog, perhaps go for a 15 minute walk instead (and bring water along). You can also keep your pal cool by going out in the early morning or late evening; you’ll avoid high midday temperatures and hot asphalt and concrete (which can burn paws). If you have the option, walk on grass or a dirt path instead.

Be extra careful with light-colored pets who may be susceptible to sunburn (consider using sunscreen) and pets with shorts muzzles (like pugs and bulldogs) who may have trouble breathing in the heat and humidity.

2. Never Leave Your Pet Inside A Parked Car

The inside of a parked car can get incredibly hot on a warm day, and leaving your pet in the car — even for a minute, even with the windows cracked, even with the air conditioning on — can be deadly. If you ever see a pet inside of a parked car, call your local animal shelter or the police immediately.

RELATED STORY: 5 Steps To A Safe Drive With Your Dog

3. Keep Your Pet Hydrated

Make sure that your pet has access to plenty of cool, fresh water at all times. Bring water with you on outings, and leave enough to last if you need to be out of the house (and make sure that your pet won’t be able to knock it over). Keep an eye out for signs of dehydration, including dry mouth, panting, lethargy, loss of appetite, sunken eyes, and decreased skin elasticity. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect that your pet is suffering from dehydration.

4. Tricks and Tips For Cooling Down

If you feel the weather heating up, try some of these tricks and tips for cooling your pet down:

  • Cool your pet from the inside out by giving them an ice cube as a treat.
  • For another icy treat, try this DIY peanut butter popsicle recipe.
  • Set up a kiddie pool in the shade outside and let your pet take a dip.
  • Use a cooling mat, wrap, or vest. You can even make a cooling vest at home — check out this DIY instructable.
  • Put a cold, wet towel on the ground and invite your pet to lie down on top of it.
  • Gently spray your pet with water, especially the paws and stomach.

5. Look Out For Signs of Heatstroke

Heatstroke can strike any pet when the weather is hot, but some pets are especially at risk, including those who are very young, very old, overweight, have a heart or respiratory disease, or have a shortened muzzle that makes breathing more difficult.

RELATED STORY: Brachycephalic Dog Breeds

Signs of heatstroke include heavy panting, difficulty breathing, glazed eyes, excessive thirst, lethargy, increased heart rate, fever, lack of coordination/dizziness, excessive drooling, vomiting, a dark red or purple tongue, seizure, and collapse.

If you see any signs of heatstroke, take your pet to the veterinarian right away.

Have any other tips for keeping your pet cool? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus to save on your pet’s medications, boarding, supplies, and more.


5 Fun Ways To Get Active With Your Dog

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of American adults are obese. But humans aren’t the only ones putting on the pounds; The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention indicates that more than 50% of cats and dogs in the U.S. are overweight, too. Obesity can lead to some serious health conditions in both humans and animals — including heart disease and diabetes — so there’s no time like the present to start eating right and exercising.

Many people avoid exercise because it feels like a chore, or simply because they aren’t motivated. This is what makes exercising with your dog so great. Not only will be it more fun, you’ll also stay on track knowing that your pal is depending on you to get them out and active.

Just remember to consult your veterinarian before starting any new exercise routine with your pup; every dog is different, and not every dog is cut out for every activity.

1. Take A Hike

While walks around the neighborhood and games of fetch in the yard are great, repeating the same routine every day can get boring for both you and your dog. Hikes are an excellent alternative not only because they get you moving, but also because they offer an opportunity to explore new locations and terrains. Just be sure to find a trail that is dog-friendly, and prepare your dog by building up to longer walks, making sure that their vaccinations are current, and protecting them from fleas and ticks. You will also want to bring water and first-aid supplies, as well as food for your dog if you’ll be on a longer trek.

2. Agility Training

Many people think that agility training is only for super athletic or naturally agile dogs, but the truth is that any breed can take part in the sport as long as the size of the obstacles are appropriate for your dog’s size. So just what is agility training? It’s an active sport in which your dog follows your cues to move through an obstacle course of jumps, poles, tunnels, and other objects. Your dog will be running, and you will too! To get started in agility training, the AKC recommends joining a local agility training group. Eventually, you and your dog will be able to sign up for agility trials. To learn more, visit the AKC’s Agility Homepage.

RELATED STORY: Try An Indoor Training Class With Your Dog

3. Swim n’ Slim

Swimming works the heart, lungs, and entire muscular structure without putting stress on the hips or other joints, which makes it a great workout for dogs with arthritis or hip dysplasia. When summer rolls around, or if you live in a climate that stays warm all year (lucky you!), consider taking a dip with your four-legged friend.

Before letting your dog in the water, remember that not all dogs are natural swimmers, and some dogs (like bulldogs) may not be able to swim at all without a floatation device. Start your dog out in shallow water and use a leash or floatation device if you need to. Support your dog’s belly and front section to encourage them to use all four paws. Go slow, be patient, and look for any signs of struggle. Don’t force your dog to swim; some pups just aren’t cut out for splish-splashing. However if your dog does take to the water, just remember never to leave them unattended, and don’t let your dog drink from lakes, streams, or other open bodies of water as they can contain parasites and harmful bacteria.

RELATED STORYA Joint Health Exercise Routine For Dogs

4. Doga

Dog + yoga = doga. That’s right, yoga for dogs. Doga is a lot like regular yoga but has slight modifications so that your dog can participate along with you. While doga does sometimes include physical exercises for your dog (like stretching or standing on hind legs), it’s pretty low-impact, and has more to do with bonding. Dogs who are hyper, young, or weirded out by new situations might not be well-suited to doga, but if you have a well-socialized dog who enjoys trying new things, why not give it a shot?

5. Canine Freestyle Dancing

It’s an intriguing name, isn’t it? Canine freestyle dancing combines music, dancing, obedience training, and tricks for one pup-tastic choreographed performance. The sport has gained such popularity that there are now competitions held in several countries around the world. Canine freestyle is not only an opportunity for your dog to learn commands and for the both of you to get some exercise, it’s also a heck of a lot of fun. Visit the World Canine Freestyle Organization and or the Canine Freestyle Federation to find classes, and check out this video of a canine freestyle dancing competition.

Exercise helps to promote good overall health in your dog by keeping them limber, agile, and at an appropriate weight. Another way to care for your pet’s health? Sign up for PetPlus and save up to 75% on your pet’s medications plus discounts on boarding, supplies, and more. 


Caring For A Sick Pet When You’re Also Sick: One Couple’s Story

Buck came into Jo and Rudy Hovey’s lives when their roommate found him on the streets of north Dallas, in an industrial area known for dog fighting.


“He had fireworks tied to him, his fur burned off, and a very bad flea infestation,” Jo said.

When they arrived at the veterinarian, they learned not only that Buck was just 6 weeks old, but also that he had Parvo and poisoning. The vet didn’t think he would make it.

“Rudy took his vacation time and nursed Buck back to health,” Jo said. “Buck turned out to have a very joyful nature and loved to play with toys and us. So much so we got another puppy at a shelter for him to play with.”

Enter Bear.

Bear as a puppy

Bear as a puppy

When Buck was about 5 years old, Jo and her husband moved to live with her mother on 5 acres of farmland. There was plenty of room to run and play, and they thought it was the perfect time to bring another dog into the family.

“We found Bear at the shelter,” Jo said. “They had a Lab mix mother give birth at the shelter, and all [of the puppies] were tan except one. He looked like a little German Shepherd mix. He was a little bit aggressive in the litter, and since Rudy has such extensive experience with all sorts of dogs, he knew this puppy would be trouble for the wrong family, so we brought him home.”

Paying For A Pet’s Unexpected Illness While Dealing With Your Own

Everything was going great for the new family. Jo and Rudy set a lot of boundaries for Bear, but also gave him lots of affection. Soon, he came to love people and cuddling, and he and Buck were fast friends.

Bear nowUnfortunately, things didn’t remain so perfect. Around Bear’s third birthday, he developed epilepsy, and began having seizures every 6 weeks. A few visits to the vet and some medication later, the seizures dropped to around 2 per month.

“Now we never know when he will have a seizure, but we had to add another medication because they started increasing again,” Jo said. “Because he is fairly large (German Shepherd mix) it is a harder balancing act with medications, vet visits, and lab tests to make sure his liver is okay.”

Paying for Bear’s epilepsy treatment hasn’t been easy. Jo and Rudy didn’t know about pet health insurance until it was too late and Bear already had a pre-existing condition, making it difficult for him to qualify for coverage.

“We pay out of pocket – on my disability,” Jo said.

Jo has a heart condition and chronic migraines. Rudy, her husband, is severely diabetic and also has a heart condition, as well as several other health issues.

Jo and Rudy often save up a few months in advance if they know the dogs will need to go in for lab testing. In the case of surprise large vet bills, Jo’s mother sometimes has to help out. And once in a while, Jo and Rudy just eat less in order to afford treatments.

“We have made a commitment that they rely on us to take care of them,” Jo said. “We can go without on occasion if we have to.”

Because of their disabilities, Jo says that it can sometimes be hard for her or her husband to find the energy or strength to take the dogs out or give them their medications. But even on the most difficult days, they continue to offer the care and support that their dogs need.

Buck now

“For us it is the day to day, just trying to take care of them – some days are good, some are not so good,” Jo said. “Would we trade Buck or Bear for anything? Heck no. They are the reason I get up. I look at Bear’s face and he makes me glad I can do stuff with him. Buck just wags his whole body. They are joy. Even when it is really hard, it is totally worth every minute.”

We really applaud Jo and Rudy for their love and commitment under such challenging circumstances, and to show our appreciation, we offered the family a free year of PetPlus coverage. PetPlus covers all pets regardless of pre-existing conditions, and with coverage Jo and Rudy will save up to 75% on their dog’s medications and receive discounts on boarding, supplies, and more.

We’ll check back in with Jo and Rudy to see how they are enjoying PetPlus. For now, take a look at some of the adorable and creative videos Jo has created of her dogs (and their friend Murphy, a Swiss Mountain Dog!):

“Legendary Buck”
“Bear The Spy 2”
“Where Is The Ball?”
“Playtime In The Yard”

Have a story you’d like to share or know a pet-family deserving of a free trial of PetPlus? Contact the Pet Savvy editors at content [at] petplus {dot} com or leave a note in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you. 


UK Clones First Dog – Hailed as a “Ridiculous Waste of Money”

Mini-Winnie, a cloned Dachshund, became the first cloned dog in Britain this past week. With her birth, she has ended up raising more than a few ethical issues.

While not the first cloned dog on Earth, Mini-Winnie has become a lightning rod of sorts, being both a testament to the massive strides taken in veterinary science, and the lengths some pet parents will go to in an attempt to prolong their time with a beloved pet.

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Mini-Winnie was developed after Rebecca Smith, a west London caterer, won a competition run by Seoul based bio-engineering firm, Sooam Biotech. Though Mini-Winnie was a gift, the competition was set up to advertise this lab’s ability to clone dogs, a service they are now selling for £60,000 a pop (or $100,410).

The process used by Sooam Biotech seems fairly straight forward: they took a skin sample from Smith’s pet, where the DNA was extracted and injected into a donor egg. The egg was then implanted on a surrogate mother, and the rest was just nature taking its course.

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What concerns pet parents and scientists alike is the fact that people with the means are going to end up spending an exorbitant amount of money for a service that:

  1. Will not give you back the dog you lost, but rather a genetically identical puppy, which will likely have an entirely unique personality.
  2. Prevents would be pet rescuers from adopting a pet in need, opting instead to have a lab effectively build one for them.

And that is not including the moral implications. For many people, the practice of cloning seems to stray into a realm of knowledge not intended for our understanding. Regardless of where you stand on the morality of the issue, the idea behind cloning your dog, insofar as it reproduces the original dog’s every detail, is simply misleading.

“It is extremely unlikely that a puppy cloned from a favourite pet will grow up to behave the same way,” said Robin Lovell-Badge, a geneticist at the National Institute for Medical Research in London. “You would have about as much chance of replicating [them] by choosing one from [a shelter] as you would from cloning it.”

Though this advancement could potentially yield to a number of new treatments for previously life-threatening conditions (i.e., replicating organs for transplant surgery), the idea most people are grappling with is that certain people are going to go the more expensive ‘tailor-made’ route when looking for a new companion, rather than opting for one of the millions in shelters looking for a home.

All that said, what do you think? Where do you stand on the practice of cloning pets? Let us know in the comments section!

Source: The Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/apr/09/britains-first-cloned-dog-born