Spring Skin Hassles for Pets

Spring has sprung and so have all of the things that make our pets itch and rub and shake. Allergy season is upon us. Animals can be allergic to all of the same things that make us sneeze. But, while our organ of anaphylaxis (the organ system that is most commonly affected) is our respiratory system, dog's and cat's organ of anaphylaxis is their skin. So, when my eyes start burning and I can’t stop sneezing, I know I am going to see a lot of itchy animals.

The system affected is not the only difference. The chemicals responsible for causing the signs of allergies are also vastly different. In humans, histamines play a big part. Histamines are chemicals released when we encounter the allergen, which is the inciting agent of allergies. This why antihistamines are so effective in treating human allergies. They counter the affects of histamines.

For dogs and cats, histamines play only a minor role. It has been reported that antihistamines only work in about 10% of dogs/cats, but truly there has been no proof that they work at all on pet allergies. Benadryl has the benefit of causing the dog to be drowsy and thus causing the dog to itch less, which does have a value, but steroids have been our mainstay in treating allergies. They are inexpensive and stop the itch quickly, but they can cause the dog to drink and urinate more and are not to be used long-term.The signs of allergies in dogs and acats are due to a number of different chemicals - leukotrienes, cytokines, and kinases. Drugs can be made to block these chemicals. One such drug, Apoquel, works as quickly or quicker than steroids and without the side effect. It is changing the way we treat allergies. (The one downside is that the manufacturer wildly underestimated the demand and has been playing catch up since its rollout. It now looks to be more available, but if your vet says they don’t have any...believe him/her!)

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Podcast: Dr. Mahaney's Tips for All Ages

We Embrace pets of all ages, young and old, and everyone in between. So, we wanted to chat with Dr. Patrick Mahaney about all the things that come with different ages and stages, including health, behavior, exercise and diet. Tune in to our latest podcast to learn more about:

  • When we should consider our pets adults or seniors, and what does that even mean
  • Helping senior pets have a healthy diet
  • How to safely exercise your pets, young and old alike
  • What the routine checkup requirements are for your pets as they age

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Podcast: Your Intro to Pet Dental Cleanings

Happy Pet Dental Month! It’s not quite as cute and rosy as Valentine’s Day or Groundhog’s Day (though it may be a bit cuddlier than President’s day, depending on which President you’re thinking of), but it’s important and we’re in the mood to discuss all things toothy with Dr. Patrick Mahaney in this month’s podcast.

Get ready to learn:

  • What’s done during a dental cleaning?
  • Are there any side effects from dental cleaning?
  • Does your dog or cat really need a dental cleaning?
  • What’s the deal with anesthesia free dentals?
  • Are there any things we can do to help keep our pet’s teeth healthy between cleanings?

Questions about pet dentals? Ask them in the comments here and our team will get answers for you.

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Smile! It's National Pet Dental Health Month.

DaisyOne of my favorite little ladies is Daisy, a senior Miniature Dachshund. She’s a feisty guard dog (even though her weight is in the single digits), yet she could lead a how-to cuddle class. As a toy breed, it’s no surprised that she’s missing a few teeth at this stage in her life (I know better than to ask a lady her age), which is why she came to mind when I was remembered that it’s National Pet Dental Health Month. Daisy is well cared for and gets a good diet, lost teeth are just part of this tiny package. It’s genetic, along with her good looks, and it’s so cute when her little lip gets caught on one of the few remaining fangs.

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Guest Post: Just Because It’s Good For You… Preventing Pet Poisoning

Photo of Jackson
Jackson, an Embraced pup from
Dublin, CA, chewed the cap off a bottle
of Tylenol and had to be rushed to the
 vet for
Tylenol toxicity.

Poisonings in our pets are definitely on the rise. It is not due to a nasty neighbor throwing some altered treat over the fence so your dog will eat it. I have had many people suspect that happened, but in all my years of being a vet, I have actually never seen this happen. By far the most common toxicity cases come about because we humans are careless.

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Guest Post: "Dental Cleaning for Pets is Not Just Cosmetic."

Dog Broken Tooth with Retained Roots
An x-ray of a dog with a broken tooth.

February is dental month in veterinary offices across the land. Many, if not most, of the clinics will have discounts on dental cleanings, so make sure to check your vet’s office. I can’t say that my technical staff is overly excited about February. Doing a proper dental cleaning with dental radiographs is a lot of work for them. We give a 20% discount on dentals done in February and boy do we get booked up quickly. That tells me people do see a real value in proper oral hygiene in their pets, but also tells me people are aware it can be an expense if not taken care of in the early stages. It takes our technicians a good hour to complete a dental cleaning, along with dental radiographs. Radiographs are so important because they allow us to see what is under the gums. We discover broken teeth and root abscesses that are impossible to see with the naked eye.

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Guest Post: "Age is not a disease."

"Age is not a disease.” This is fast becoming my favorite quote, but I truly believe this. I work with people in their 20s and 30s. They keep me thinking young. You truly are just as old as you feel.

compression socksI am an avid cyclist and have ridden for 5 years in Pelotonia, a 100 mile fundraising ride for cancer research. I ride with people of all ages. Lee Schneider, Pelotonia’s oldest rider at 83 (right with his pink compression socks), once again rode all 100 miles this year, and then rode another 80 miles the next day… all with a smile on his face. Now tell me, are those the legs of an 83 year old man??

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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:

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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.

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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? 

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