Psychic thoughts

[this really is true - I felt all tingly after it happened]

As I was getting myself ready before the rest of the family got up yesterday morning, I was thinking about blogging about accidents and how they can happen at any time (yes, I really do think about pet insurance all the time). It's right after the accident happens that you really really wished you had pet insurance.

Anyway, I come downstairs, put the kettle on for a cup of tea, and turned around to see poor old Lily limping pretty badly on one of her back legs. "What the ...?", I thought. When I took a look at her paw, it was really swollen and she was having trouble getting around. I couldn't believe it! Especially after what I was just thinking about.

Img_0382 After dropping the kids off at daycare, I took her up to the vet and she determined it wasn't broken, wasn't a usual type of cat bite, was extremely bruised and slightly punctured, and that she'd live. So, we got off lucky with one sad cat and a $150 bill, which is much less than I would have thought it would be given how awful it looked earlier. We still don't have pet insurance for her as I'm waiting for when we can sell policies (any day now) and she's getting the first one.

We can't work out what happened to Lily. I had that horrible sinking feeling that perhaps she'd caught her paw in a lurking mouse trap at home and managed to pull it off, all without us noticing, but I checked the remaining traps when I got home and they only had mice in them (up to 19 now). She must have caught it in something outside, that's all we can think of.

So, Lily will be staying inside with her Elizabethan Collar on for the next few days to heal that paw and then we need to have words with that young lady to keep within the boundaries of our property. What to do with her?

[See my follow post on Lily's vet visit here]

Now, I must remember to think about pots of gold when I get up in the morning tomorrow...

Pet health story: Grace, a chocolate lab

I have a real soft spot for this story because Grace is our mast head dog (look up, look way up) and Brian happens to have an office about 15 feet from my desk.

If you look closely, you'll see Grace has only three legs - very fitting for a pet insurance blog.


Brian D

Pet Name:


Pet Age & Breed:

10.5+ year-old Chocolate Lab

Pet Treatment:

Towards the end of 2003, our sweet, beautiful, friendly, 9 year-old chocolate lab, Grace, was diagnosed with bone cancer. She had started limping and, within 12 hours, we had her to the Vet’s. After the tumor was discovered, things happened too quickly to recall. Two days later, we were meeting with an oncologist who was scheduling her surgery for the next day.

While some friends and family felt it was better to put Grace to sleep, we just couldn’t. She had a place in our hearts and in our family. What’s more, the doctors said that there was a chance of recovery. Just four days after she was diagnosed, Grace woke up from surgery without her front left leg. The next day, she got up and took her first few hops.

Following some painful weeks – and nights – Grace was back in good spirits and ready for chemotherapy. Sixteen weeks of Chemo found Grace in even better spirits. She has been back in to the doctor on a quarterly basis for checkups and now has only two more Vet visits left before the doctors can declare her completely free of cancer.

Pet Treatment Costs:

Another painful side of this story revolves around what it costs to do what we did. The amputation itself cost $5,700, while the Chemo ran $2,500. Subsequent checkups have totaled about $1,600.

Now that Grace is moving around, arthritis has appeared in her remaining legs. This is now running us about $160 a month (or about $1,900 a year).

So in total, if we had to put a price on love, it has cost about $11,600 thus far. Additional office visits have put her recovery at well over $12,000. It’s been worth every penny. But, after this experience, every family member, no matter how many legs, will be insured!

As a follow up to Grace's story, sadly she died in May 2006 after the cancer returned to her lungs (see her eulogy here). She brought a lot of joy to the people in her life, there's no doubt about that.

Why is my dog or cat sneezing?

Dog_nose When Lily came home from the rescue shelter, she sneezed for a few days when I had her in isolation. Keeping her away from Barnes didn't work too well because when she stopped sneezing and I let her out into the house, Barnes started sneezing a bit too. After a few days, it all sorted itself out but it made me wonder if I should have been worried about it.

So, here are some of the notes we made on sneezing. Gezundheit!

Causes of Sneezing

Sneezing is a symptom and, with all symptoms, can be linked to a variety of causes. The causes can be summarized as follows:

Infectious - viral and bacterial (meaning contagious to the same species)

  • Dogs: Parainfluenza; Type-2 Adenovirus; Pasteurella; Bordetella; Streptococci; Psuedomonad bacteria
  • Cats: Rhinotracheitis Virus (Herpes 1); Calicivirus; Chlamydia Psittaci; Mycoplasma; Pasteurella; Bordetella; Streptococci

Non-Infectious (meaning something other than bacteria or a virus is causing the symptom)

  • Household products and irritants such as cigarette smoke, dusty cat litter, perfumes, household cleaners, and deodorants
  • Allergies
  • Foreign bodies such as grass, tumors, polyps (drainage occurs on one side)
  • Tooth abscess (drainage occurs on one side)
  • Breed Characteristics – flat faced breeds have compressed nasal passages which can cause inflammation: Persian; Pekingese; pugs bulldogs,


Your veterinarian will start with a physical examination that includes your pets’ history, a temperature, and an overall physical look. The history is just as important as the physical findings and should include information such as where you got your pet, whether your pet stays indoors or goes outdoor, does your pet attend daycare or public parks, and any information about your pet’s behavior. An example would be if your new puppy was adopted at a shelter. This would tell the veterinarian that there is a possibility that the sneezing could be related to an infectious cause.

The veterinarian will also look for obvious causes during the examination. He/she will sometimes look into the pets’ nose to see if there is a foreign body and will look at your pets’ teeth to see if there may be an abcess from a decaying tooth that could be causing the problem. These two causes are usually seen with drainage from one nostril.

The tests that the veterinarian may run can vary from patient to patient because of the findings, the severity and if your pet has had reoccurring symptoms.

  • your veterinarian may order a nasal culture to look for bacterial infection or may choose to perform a Rhinoscopy. This procedure uses a scope to look deep into the nasal cavity, and at this time, he/she may take a nasal biopsy to look for causes relating to tissue (inflammatory causes). As you can imagine, your pet may need to be anesthetized for this type of procedure.
  • your vet may also order blood work to make sure there is not an underlying problem that he/she hasn’t picked up.


The treatment will be based on your pets’ diagnosis but it could include medicated nose drops, antihistamines for allergies, and antibiotics. Severe conditions may require hospitalization. Your pet would receive medications and possibly receive oxygen therapy to help relieve the fluid build up in the lungs if she has pneumonia, and if your pet is dehydrated, she would receive fluid therapy.

Finally, your pet may require surgery if your veterinarian finds a foreign body that cannot be easily removed with your pet awake.

As with any of your pet’s health conditions, if you are worried about your pet, talk to your vet.

The information above was based on work done by Dr. Ron Hines at All Creatures Care and

A change in pace: pets and marketing

Over at the Church of the Customer, Jackie summarizes some marketing ideas on "how to set your brand apart by tapping into people's deep love for their pets." from Andrea Learned's Lisa Johnson who has written an new book, Mind Your X's and Y's.

[I must have Andrea on my mind from a recent email conversation, for that's who I put the first time around as the author of this book. Thanks to Jackie for pointing out it was Lisa who really wrote it. I knew that!]

Kitten_with_red_ball_1I won't reprint it here, go check it out here. But in the meantime, here is the gratuitous picture of Kitten, the cutest Yorkie you ever did see, to connect with all you pet parents reading this :)

And if you dispute the cutest label, please send me pictorial evidence of cuter Yorkies.

Three tips to cure a dog's chewing

Here's a post based on an email a caring pet parent sent me on her dog's destructive chewing. With Lea's permission, I'm sharing it with you because it has some really helpful info on how to control this behavior.

Lyger_waiting While my dog may appear well balanced and a model citizen now, this was not always the case. Those folks who knew me when he was an adolescent heard all of the stories about my mixed breed: part lab, part spawn of satan. It became a routine occurrence for people to offer me their sofas and mattresses before hauling them to the lawn, saying “I know your dog chews up furniture, so we thought you’d want a backup for next time.”

My dog did destroy 2 mattresses and 3 couches before he was 2 ½ years old, among other things. No book, furniture, or undergarment was safe. To make it worse, crating him only drove him to become more destructive. (He would scoot his crate to the window, pull in the curtains, and chew them off as far up as he could pull them in. I’d leave him with full drapes, and come home to café style curtains.)

It took a lot of research, a lot of investigation, and a lot of trial and error with our mixed up mutt, but we have finally curbed his manic destruction, and he’s been a Recovering Chewer for 3 years now. Different methods work for different modes, but let me give you these three tips that I’ve called the cure for my dog’s chewing:

  1. Bitter Apple Spray
    Safe for use on furniture, walls, clothing, carpets - whatever your dog wants to rip to bits. The spray tastes like it sounds, and no sane dog would continue to chew after a sample of that. It’s available at your petstore, and also works to help deter dogs from licking at hot spots, or surgery sites.
  2. Keep your comings and goings very low key.
    When you leave your dog, don’t fuss, don’t whine, don’t baby them. As a matter of fact, make it a point to ignore them for about 20 minutes before you leave the house. When you come home, instead of a dramatic return, just let them outside, and when they’ve calmed down, you can acknowledge them with a polite, “hello, fido.” Don’t make a big deal out of it, and it’s likely they won’t either.
  3. If your dog is chewing, your dog needs more exercise.
    A tired dog is a happy dog. It sounds so simple, but it’s probably the most important factor in improving a dog’s behavior. 30-60 minutes each day of walking, running, swimming, or agility training will keep a dog from releasing his energy and frustration at the expense of your belongings. I hate to say it, but just playing a game of fetch isn’t going to cut it for most dogs, and just letting your dog outside to roam the yard isn’t going to do it either. Keep your dog’s mind and body active during exercise time, and his mind and body will be too tired to raise a ruckus when he’s left unsupervised. Even my ‘middle aged’ dog needs his fast-paced mile walk every night.

Now that we’ve gotten his ‘issues’ under control, I talk to other dog owners all the time, who say, “oh yeah, my dog did that too.” Where were they with the advice, when I needed them?

Here's a follow up to this article in More on Curing a Dog's Chewing.

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