April is Pet Health Month at Embrace Pet Insurance

Even though you might have pet insurance to protect against costs from unexpected health events, the ideal situation is that your pet has no unexpected health events at all. Wouldn't that be nice?

To that effect, we're focusing this month on overall pet health and preventing health events as best we can.

And while we are talking of pet health this month, here are some excellent articles on the Embrace pet health site, The Water Bowl

And here's one final one for some Easter fun with your dog:

What do you do to keep your pet healthy? Is there any one thing you think has the most effect? 

 



March is Pet Nutrition Month at Embrace Pet Insurance

When you think about it, our bodies, and those of our pets, are incredible machines. For example, these machines fix themselves (most times) when things break, and we don't have to eat precise diets to stay alive (not like my car that only takes a very certain type of very expensive liquid and my mechanic loves that my car doesn't fix itself.)

It doesn't mean though that all that we eat is good for us in the long run, and eating a better quality of food is one way we can improve our health without having to go to the doctor. It's very much the same situation for our pets, yet some people are still unaware that the quality of the food we feed our cats and dogs is incredibly important. Better and more appropriate foods really do make a difference for our pets.

We are going to talk about pet nutrition in this blog this month. In the meantime, we have some great articles on cat and dog nutrition on our website over at the Water Bowl. For example:

These are just a few of the excellent articles on the pet care page. I recommend you peruse the rest for some good tips and even a contest or two for freebies.

Related Posts
March is Pet Nutrition Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Podcast: Pet Nutrition with Dr Patrick Mahaney
Guest Post: Dr Rex Riggs on critical thinking and pet food



Guest Post: why do a dog or cat dental cleaning?

Embrace friend and advisor, Dr Rex Riggs, talks about why you should go ahead with the expense of a dental cleaning under anesthesia with X-rays. It's needed people!


Periodontal disease is the most common disease seen in our pets. Think about it. If we did not brush our teeth, used no mouthwash, ate whatever we can put in our mouth including, for dogs, that tasty hors d’ourve, the ever popular cat turd, what would our teeth look like? Put on top of this chomping down on deer antlers, bones, and nylabones, and you get a lot of chipped and broken teeth.

How many of us have had root canals?  They are a result of tooth root abscesses and they hurt like a mother. Dogs and cats have these same tooth root abscesses and continue to eat. They are great at hiding their pain.  How they do that is beyond me.  Did I mention tooth root abscesses hurt like a mother? 

Dental care in our pets is so important to the animal’s wellbeing and quality of life.  The plaque, which accumulates on the teeth, is just a harbouring site for bacteria that can be responsible for gingivitis as well as for infections a long way from teeth, such as the heart valves and kidneys, once it gets seeded in the blood stream. Dental health is not something to overlook.

Do you have some reservations about pet dentals, perhaps because of recent media stories? Recently ABC did a 20/20 story that talked about how vets use dentals as a scare tactic for clients to schedule dentals strictly as a underhanded way to make money.  They implied dental x-rays in our pets are just not needed.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

There is a great article, "How Honest is your Veterinarian" written by Steve Dale, who is a journalist, not a veterinarian, about this piece of yellow journalism, and how it's simply not true.  It is a very good read if you have a moment.

Dental radiography is very important in veterinary medicine and I would go as far as to say a vet should not be doing dentals without the ability to do intra-oral x-rays. You just can’t see what is going on under the gums where about 60% of the tooth lies.  Tooth root abscesses (which looks like a black halo around the root), bone loss around the tooth, and fractured roots are just three of the things you need an x-ray to diagnose.  Sometimes there are extra teeth, called supranumary teeth, lurking beneath the gum line. You would not be able to tell all these problems were going on just by looking at the teeth, even under anesthesia.

Check out the document below with radiographs illustrating the wonders of dental radiology. You will soon see that a lot of what is shown could not be seen with out x-rays.

Download Dental X Rays in dogs

 

Related Posts
February is Pet Dental Health Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Guest Post: why do a dog or cat dental cleaning?

Other posts by Dr Riggs


Dr_RiggsDr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie and Ossa, and cat Franklin. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and cyclist, and enjoys travel and photography.



February is Pet Dental Health Month at Embrace Pet Insurance

Did you know that you cannot tell if your cat or dog has periodontal disease by the color of his or her gums?

I did not know that until a few weeks ago. Wouldn't you think that you would see more inflamed gums in pets with periodontal disease?

So what is periodontal disease then? Our friend, Tracy Libby, elaborates:

Periodontal disease is the progressive loss or destruction of the tissues that hold the teeth in the jaws. It starts the same way in dogs as it does in humans - with plaque buildup around and under the gum line. One milligram of dental plaque contains millions of bacteria! 

In the mood to lear more about periodontal disease? Check out Tracy's article on  "Protecting Your Dog from Dental Dangers".

Which leads me to our theme of the month - pet dental health. It really should be the theme for life, not just one month a year, but it's good to highlight a few pointers every year just to jog our memory (or learn something new.)

If you want some excellent reading on the topic, check out these articles in the Waterbowl:

There are so many more listed on our general pet medical articles page. Help yourself!



January is Pet Training Month at Embrace Pet Insurance

Just as understanding how you can maximize your pet's health is part of pet parenting, so is maximizing the quality time you spend together. Training isn't just for tricks; training also:

  • strengthens the bond between you and your dog or cat
  • integrates your pet seamlessly into your family life and the outside world
  • improves the effectiveness of your communication with your pet
  • lets you give your pet more freedom and fewer restrictions
  • and reduces stress and increases happiness of having a pet in the household

Friend of Embrace, Liz Palika, talks about why you should train your dog in her article No Training? Why Not? Rules are important for your dog's social well-being, as well as your own, plus he/she is safer if she's not dashing up the road every time you open your door. And training can be fun - it's not boot camp for either party.

We have a lot of cat and dog training articles on in The Water Bowl, the Embrace informational website on pet health and care, including:

How to Choose a Dog Trainer or Behavior Consultant

Training your Puppy: A Family Affair

Training Your Dog to Come: Make It a Good Thing

How to Carrier Train your Cat

How to Teach your Cat to Enjoy Being Held 

And so on. There are many others listed in the Training Section on our Pet Behavior and Training page.

And yes, we have quite a number of articles on trick training too:

Building a trick routine

Have fun with a hoop 

And many others.

Got any tips that have worked for you you want to share?

Related Posts
January is Pet Training Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Guest Post: an important reason to train your dog
Podcast: Dr Patrick Mahaney on the Importance of Cat and Dog Training

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Podcast: Dr Patrick Mahaney on Winter Dangers

It was rather a chilly 8 degrees here this morning in sunny Cleveland so it made me think of my podcast with Dr Mahaney on winter dangers. Here are the questions we discuss: 

Carrie: pancreatitis is common during the holidays due to dietary indiscretions; eating holiday decorations; stranger fear if a pet is anxious. Any other holiday dangers to watch out for?

Adrienne: How about the hidden dangers pets may encounter in a snow-covered landscape - whether at home or out hiking on a trail or in the woods. And how can you tell if your pet may be getting too cold when they are outside.

Jessica: what can you do to protect paws of dogs that refuse to wear boots?

Jessica: I have a "winter" emergency kit in my car for myself....what items should be standard for a canine kit?

Chrissy: can Dr Patrick reiterate the danger of antifreeze? It takes such a small amount to be fatal.

In his answer, Dr Mahaney mentions Musher's Secret,  a dense, paw barrier made of natural wax.

Click on the link below to hear the podcast.

Laura Bennett & Dr Patrick Mahaney winter dangers 2013

Related Posts
December is Winter Danger Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Guest Post: Have a Safe and Happy Holidays from Dr Rex Riggs
Podcast: Dr Patrick Mahaney on Winter Dangers

Other posts by Dr Patrick Mahaney


Dr Patrick MahaneyDr. Mahaney is a veterinarian from the University of Pennsylvania and a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist, having been inspired by his own chronic pain from Intervertebral Disc Disease to provide accupuncture to his veterinary clients. In addition to Dr Mahaney's house call integrative veterinary medicine business, California Pet Acupuncture and Wellness, he sees patients on an in-clinic basis at Veterinary Cancer Group in Culver City, CA. Dr Mahaney writes a veterinary column (Patrick's Blog) forwww.PatrickMahaney.com and contributes to a variety of media, including Perez Hilton's TeddyHilton.com, Fido Friendly, Veterinary Practice News, Healthy Pets and People with Dr Patrick on OutImpactRadio.com, and MSNBC Sunday with Alex Witt and Career Day. His first book, The Uncomfortable Vet, will be available in 2014 through Havenhurst Books

 



Guest Post: Have a Safe and Happy Holidays from Dr Rex Riggs

Happy Holidays to everyone! It is a great time of the year that gives us an opportunity to spend cherished time with our family and friends. Enjoy the season.

Holidays can also be fun times for our pets, with all the new people around to spoil them with all the attention. But, as always (isn’t there always a but), there are also things we need to remind our guests. They can love our pets all they want with petting, but please don’t share the Christmas treats.

Max from the GrinchRemember Max, the Grinch’s dog, did not eat any of the “roast beast “or “the who pudding” and he had a great Christmas. In contrast, who could forget what happened to the lovable dog “Snot”, at the Griswold’s house. He drank the tree water and then enjoyed the Christmas trash. He then deposited his “present” under the dining room table. Not a jolly event.

Remember, even small amounts of our foods can cause a lot of troubles for our pets. They are a lot smaller then us. Spending the holiday hours at an emergency clinic is not a festive time.

Christmas-Vacation-Fried-CatReferencing again the classic “Christmas Vacation”, who can forget what happened to Grandma's poor cat, Fluffy, when he chewed the Christmas lights. Not a good smell. More often when animals chew cords, the shock will lead to a condition called non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema. This is when fluid floods the lungs and will make the pet unable to breath. Obviously an emergency situation.

One of my youthful Christmas memories is of me and my twin brother tossing handfuls of tinsel on the Christmas tree, the final touch to the decorations. Yea, I know you were supposed to lay individual stands on the branches, but we had our own technique…just saying.

TinselcatIt was pretty, but you rarely see tinsel nowadays because cats loved to gobble it down and boy did it cause obstructions. Similarly wrapping ribbon can be a vet’s Christmas nightmare, especially the type that you can curl with your scissors. Kitties love anything linear. The bad thing with stringy things is that it catches up in the intestinal tract and when the intestines try to move it down the tract, the intestines get accordioned and requires surgery. This why I hate the old pictures with cats playing with a ball of yarn. I spent Christmas Eve night, 20 years ago, removing 56 inches of ribbon from Frosty the cat. Frosty and I were not happy spending the night together.

We all know chocolate is dangerous for are pets. The better the chocolate, the more of the toxic ingredient, theobromine. Theobromine is a stimulant like NoDoz and can lead to seizures. So keep the Godiva in a safe place.

Finally, please don’t get pets as a Christmas present. I know we all have seen all the Hallmark commercials with the kids opening the “moving box” and then a happy puppy jumps out. I know it sounds like a perfect Christmas. What could be better! Well ….we don’t live in the world of Hallmark. Believe me, puppyhood is a trying time. It is a lot of work and the holiday season and winter is the worse time to puppy train. Please don’t be tempted; if it seems like a good idea, at Christmas, it will be a much better idea at a later less chaotic time of the year.

I would like to wish everyone a great holiday season. Enjoy yourselves and enjoy the time with your loved ones. Please, try to put away your differences. Relax, enjoy and cherish the moment. Life is short.

Happy Holidays!

Related Posts
December is Winter Danger Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Guest Post: Have a Safe and Happy Holidays from Dr Rex Riggs
Podcast: Dr Patrick Mahaney on Winter Dangers


Other posts by Dr Riggs


Dr_RiggsDr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie and Ossa, and cat Franklin. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and cyclist, and enjoys travel and photography.



Podcast: Dr Patrick Mahaney on pet cancer

Continuing on the topic of pet cancer this month, Dr Patrick Mahaney and I talk about the ins and outs of cancer in dogs and cats. Some of the questions we cover are:

  1. Do you think cancer is becoming more prevalent in pets, or do we just know more? If you feel it may be becoming more prevalent, besides genetics, do you think there are any specific environmental factors that contribute to this?
  2. What is the prognosis with cancer in cats and dogs? Can you cure cancer or are you just delaying the inevitable?
  3. What about early detection? What are the signs and what regular diagnostics should we be doing?
  4. What does he think of new product such as apocaps, which supposedly stimulate apoptosis which targets cancer cells?
  5. What other new or newer cancer treatments there are?
  6. Which dogs are more prone to cancer than others? How can cancer be hereditary?

Click on the link below for the podcast.

Laura Bennett & Dr Patrick Mahaney cancer 2013

 

Related Posts
November is Cancer Awareness Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Guest Post: Cancer Sucks, For Pets as well as Humans 
Podcast: Dr Patrick Mahaney on pet cancer

Other posts by Dr Patrick Mahaney

Dr Patrick MahaneyDr. Mahaney is a veterinarian from the University of Pennsylvania and a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist, having been inspired by his own chronic pain from Intervertebral Disc Disease to provide accupuncture to his veterinary clients. In addition to Dr Mahaney's house call integrative veterinary medicine business, California Pet Acupuncture and Wellness, he sees patients on an in-clinic basis atVeterinary Cancer Group in Culver City, CA.
Dr Mahaney writes a veterinary column (Patrick's Blog) forwww.PatrickMahaney.com and contributes to a variety of media, including Perez Hilton's TeddyHilton.com, Fido Friendly, Veterinary Practice News, Healthy Pets and People with Dr Patrick on OutImpactRadio.com, and MSNBC Sunday with Alex Witt and Career Day. His first book, The Uncomfortable Vet, will be available in 2014 through Havenhurst Books

 



Guest Post: Cancer Sucks, For Pets as well as Humans

Dr Riggs talks about cancer and some of the interesting developments in the human world of cancer that might help our pets.

Cancer sucks. It sucks when someone we know gets it. It sucks when our pet gets it. It just sucks. So what exactly is cancer?

We hear the word, but do we understand what is going on? Cancer is the proliferation of cells from any normal tissue of the body that has undergone a transformation into abnormal cells, which grow at a faster rate then the surrounding normal cells. A benign cancer will stay in one area. A malignant cancer spreads to other parts of the body, through either the blood stream or the lymph system.

Cancer causes problem when it crowds out of normal cells and disrupts the organ’s natural functions. Whether it causes a problem just depends on where it is. A benign tumor on the skin often causes little problems if it is small enough to be removed. A small tumor in the brain may cause big problems if it puts pressure on specific parts of the brain.

Our pets get the same types of cancers people get. They get leukemia, lung cancer, liver, pancreas, brain and bone cancer. Any type of cancer you can think of, they get too. We treat them the same way, with surgery radiation and drugs.

Chemotherapy can be a scary word. I try to explain to my clients that chemo, is just another name for a drug and therapy, is just another name for treatment. So chemotherapy just means treatment with a drug. When we take antibiotics, it is a type of chemotherapy. So if we think in that way if seems less frightening.

There are differences in how we diagnose and treat our pets compared to how people are handled. First of all, for pets we do not have the blood markers that exist in people for many human cancers. For example, one such marker is CA 125, which increases in ovarian and peritoneal cancers. CA 125 levels are use to monitor the effectiveness of treatment. Unfortunately it cost a lot of money to do the research to come up with these markers in each species. The money is just not there in veterinary medicine to sponsor these studies.

The major difference between human and veterinary treatment of cancers can be summed up with one statement. “We do not make animals sicker than they are with chemotherapy.” In humans, we can justify causing discomfort in patients to get a cure or prolonged remission. In animals we are looking often at a prolonged remission rather then a cure. This is because of the relatively short life span of our pets. If we can get an additional 2 years added to a 12 or 13-year-old dog, we are adding a substantial percentage of their lifespan. I am not saying we don’t cure many cancers in veterinary medicine; we just don’t make them miserable during their treatment.

I have ridden my bike 100 miles in one day in August for the last 4 years in an event called Pelotonia. This year nearly $20,000,000 was raised on this one day. 100% of the money goes to the Ohio State University James Cancer Hospital to fund research to find a cure, the only goal. 

Through being associated with this organization I have learned so much on just how close we are to that cure. Probably the most exciting development has been the introduction of genomic medicine. Many of our cancers have a genetic predisposition. Through genomic medicine, doctors are looking at what turns on those genes and how to prevent them from being expressed. There are tests now that will tell healthy people if they are carrying these "cancer genes", so preventative measures can be taken.

Most exciting to me is that it allows doctors to be able to tell which treatment will work for that specific patient. This alleviates the need for patients to go through unneeded treatments and their side effect. It allows a patient to get treatment tailored to them.

Genomic medicine is in early days, but it seems so promising. I really believe in the near future it will change the way we look at cancer, not only in human medicine, but veterinary medicine as well.

Related Posts
November is Cancer Awareness Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Guest Post: Cancer Sucks, For Pets as well as Humans

Other posts by Dr Riggs

Dr_RiggsDr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie and Ossa, and cat Franklin. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and cyclist, and enjoys travel and photography.

 



November is Cancer Awareness Month at Embrace Pet Insurance

Several of the Embrace staff members (aka Embracers) are or recently have been going through cancer in their dogs and cats and all the physical and emotional toll that takes.

This month we are going to address this difficult health issue with a discussion by Dr Rex Riggs, and a podcast with Dr Patrick Mahaney, as well as some aspects of cancer treatment that pet insurance can definitely help you with.

In the meantime, check out the Morris Animal Foundation's "Golden Retriever Lifetime Study" that has just got going.

Morris Animal Foundation's Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is a groundbreaking effort to learn how to prevent cancer and other diseases. It is the largest and longest observational study ever undertaken to improve the health of dogs. The study will enroll up to 3,000 Golden Retrievers and will last 10 to 14 years.

...

This study does not directly affect how owners care for their dogs, but it does gather information on their dog's genetics, nutrition, health and environment. The study is expected to provide valuable information on how to better prevent, diagnose and treat cancer and other diseases.

I'm so happy they are doing this study and can't wait to hear some of the findings. What do you think they will find are some of the causes of cancer in Goldens?

 

 





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