Pets and Popular Culture

Hairball Lady GagaRemember hairball Lady Gaga? Yes, this was a thing. A real thing. Actually, it was Laura’s contribution to National Hairball Awareness Day in 2012. Because, while we’re truly passionate about pets, pop culture is definitely one of our guilty pleasures. I mean, we need some escape from the excitement of actuarial charts and insurance filings once and a while, right?

Hairball humor aside, pets certainly infiltrate our mainstream consciousness, from our newsfeeds to our favorite children’s movies. Whether you were raised on Petey from the Little Rascals, followed the adventures of Checkers Nixon in the nightly news report or follow Grumpy Cat (or Boo or Maru or...you get the idea), animals are part of our media diet and play a role in bringing many people joy and entertainment. That’s why this month we’re sharing a new featured topic, Pets and Popular Culture.

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Guest Post: 4 Trending Issues to Watch This Summer

There are certain illnesses and accidents that we see each and every summer, but this year it seems like we’re seeing a particular uptick in a few areas of veterinary medicine. Could they be random? Could they be due to some changes in our lifestyles as of late? Let’s see.

ACL Tears

One of the more common injuries we see in the summer is a ruptured ACL. The client brings in a limping dog and starts the story by saying, “Well there was this squirrel…” The squirrel zigs right, the dog follows to the right, but the dog’s knee goes to the left and boom… a torn ACL. The anterior cruciate ligament is the main ligament that keeps the knee together. It is the same ligament that football and basketball players rip. The problem with an ACL tear is it normally needs surgery, and not a cheap one. There are two different surgeries used to repair the knee. One is called a Lateral Suture Technique and the other more expensive surgery is called a TPLO, or Tibal Plateau Leveling Osteotomy. When the TPLO procedure first came out, it was promoted as a better procedure for larger dogs. Now that opinion is under some debate.

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Podcast: Summer Dangers 2015

The number of calls from pet parents looking for pet insurance quotes tends to increase in the summer, especially on Mondays. There’s no strong logic as to why, but my years on the phone clued me in to the fact that the weekend warriors play extra hard during the summer months, and their pets are often in on the action. Swallowed corn cobs at family reunions and rattlesnake bites on hikes during road trips were certainly common summertime issues, right along with the boring, but still costly, allergies, bug bites, and sun burns.

We’re 100% in support of summer fun, but also 100% in support of safety, which is why we sat down with Dr. Patrick Mahaney to get his advice on the best ways to enjoy your summer without injury or unexpected vet visits. Here's what we're covering:

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June 2015 Focuses on Summer Dangers

Great Dane Snake BiteOn one hand I can scarcely believe we’re already half way through 2015, and on the other, it feels like this summer was way overdue. But, with the rising temps we’re already seeing an increase in claims that come with seasonal allergies, insect bites, and even snake bites (check out Aragon the Great Dane's snake bite claim story by clicking his picture).

It’s not all doomsday though. (I know it can start to feel like that at a pet insurance company.) With the summer sun we also see more pups out for walks, shedding winter weight, and enjoying adventures. I’m awestruck by the Australian Shepherd that plays frisbee in the park near my home every morning. There’s always a smile on his face as he retrieves his prized possession for his person, the bond growing more and more with each throw. The same goes for the dog on his family’s boat or the cat enjoying some extra time with her kids home on summer break.

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Guest Post: Cancer Affects Everyone

Feline Cancer

Peter, a mixed breed cat,
suffered from lymphoma.


Cancer affects everyone’s lives. It might be a family member, a friend or our pet. Our pets get the same cancers that we do. They get mammary cancers, lymphoma, leukemia, lung cancer and any other cancers you can think of. If we can understand the disease of cancer in a dog or cat, we will better understand cancer in people, and vice versa.

There is such a high level of research being done by veterinarians, and until recently this research has gone nearly unnoticed by human physicians. Why? Who knows? But, it is now coming to the forefront that this research is valuable to the treatment and management of cancers in all species. For example, veterinarians have known for decades that estrogen mediated mammary cancer exists. The risk of mammary cancer in dogs increases to the exponential power with each heat cycle, and in cats 100% of mammary tumors are malignant. Spayed dogs and cats rarely get mammary cancers. That has not always been recognized in humans. There is now a test that tells you if the breast cancer is estrogen-receptor-positive or negative. These findings will help not only our pets, but us!

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