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Summer is upon us, which means traveling, outdoor activities and fun in the sun for pet parents and their furry family members. But according to Petplan pet insurance, the season can also bring a sharp uptick in pet illness and injury claims. “Having your furry family members tag along on summer vacation is becoming more popular with pet owners, but it also adds an extra level of responsibility,” says Dr. Jennifer Maniet, DVM. “Just be sure to prioritize your pets’ needs when making your plans. Make sure they will have access to plenty of clean water, shady places to cool down, and above all else, constant supervision. Summer goes by quickly and the last thing you want is to spend time and money treating potentially avoidable medical emergencies.” To keep jet-setting pets happy and healthy at the beach and beyond, Petplan is barking out some common summertime risks to help pets and their parents surf safely through the season. Fetching the Waves The dog days of summer are best spent on the beach, but don’t let your guard down. Snacking on sand can cause intestinal blockages in pets, and lapping up too much salt water can lead to dehydration, disorientation and seizures related to salt toxicity. Related costs: $684 for intestinal impaction, $1,161 for dehydration.* Heading for the Hills The mountains offer a multitude of possible mishaps for pets, from tiny ticks to run ins with the local wildlife. Be prepared for cuts, scrapes, and possible broken bones that can come with pawing through uncharted territory. Related costs: $602 for Lyme disease, $1,087 for bite wounds, $1,365 for fractures.* Lapping the Lake While pets may love a leap in the lake, many standing water sources harbor a host of intestinal parasites and bacteria that can cause illnesses like giardiasis, algae poisoning and skin rashes, and infections like leptospirosis. Related costs: $308 for giardiasis, $538 for skin infections, $6,550 for leptospirosis.* Hitting the Pool Some pups love a dip in the pool, but too much chlorine can irritate pets’ sensitive eyes and skin. Also, watch out for dry drowning, where pets unknowingly inhale water, and later develop life-threatening issues such as pulmonary edema. Related costs: $344 for eye inflammation, $538 for skin infections, $1,935 for pulmonary edema.* On the Road There’s nothing cool about leaving pet in a hot car. Temperatures in cars can climb quickly, putting your pets in serious jeopardy — and turning your carefree summer into a deadly dilemma. Related costs: $1,754 for heatstroke.* Look out: Cookout A backyard barbecue is heaven to hungry pets; just be sure to keep them away from onions, chocolate, grapes and other harmful eats, or nonfoods like charcoal briquettes. And no gnawing on bones: They can do serious damage to your pet’s intestinal tract. Related costs: $384 for burns, $916 for food or additive poisoning, $2,091 for foreign body ingestion.* Barking about the Park Dog parks were made for playful puppers, but watch out for overly aggressive biting behavior. Remember, it’s all fun and games until someone tears a cruciate ligament — so take plenty of breaks and don’t let doggo overdo it. Related costs: $1,087 for bite wounds, $3,583 for cruciate injuries.* Playing with Fire Fur and fire are not a good mix, so keep pets away from campfire sparks; a bad burn can require immediate first aid. Tasty tip: don’t forget to keep those s’mores ingredients (especially chocolate) where hungry pets can’t find them! Related costs: $384 for burns, $916 for food or additive poisoning.* Festing with Furry Friends Street festivals present a plethora of potential pitfalls, like ground scrounging and noise anxiety from fireworks and music, along with the risk of losing your pet in the crowd. The cost for that? Priceless. Related costs: $356 for anxiety, $916 for food or additive poisoning, $2,091 for foreign body ingestion.* Dining Outdoors Food that isn’t a normal part of your pet’s diet can cause serious tummy troubles — and booze is always bad news. Avoid trash and litter, which can be abundant when refreshments are nearby. Related costs: $916 for food or additive poisoning, $1,016 for vomiting and diarrhea, $2,091 for foreign body ingestion.* *According to Petplan claims data, 2017.
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Petplan and the National Police Dog Foundation will fund pet insurance policies for 50 K-9s This year, Petplan pet insurance welcomes 50 new working police dogs to its pack of protected pets. Thanks to a joint effort with the National Police Dog Foundation, the company was able to offer grants for a year of fully funded pet insurance to 50 K-9s (a tenfold increase from the five grants awarded last year). Recipients were selected from a nationwide pool of applicants, many of whom represent police departments in small towns without funding for their K-9 program. Often, the cost of the dogs’ care must come from donations or their handlers’ pockets. No one knows better than Petplan how unexpected veterinary bills can wreak havoc on budgets, so the company committed to helping ease this financial burden on our public servants — while guaranteeing the best possible medical care for hardworking police dogs. Many police departments cited concern for the K-9s’ occupational hazards in their applications. Seth Hager, a police sergeant in Huntersville, NC, wrote, “Huntersville is a suburb of Charlotte, which calls for extreme and dangerous K-9 deployments. [Our K-9s] conduct narcotic sniffs, article searches, apprehension of fleeing suspects, high-risk SWAT warrants, and assist the VICE narcotics division on a daily basis.” Richard McAuliffe, chief of police in Hawthorne, NJ, also worries about the risk of drug exposure to his K-9. “[Neighboring city] Paterson is the third largest city in New Jersey with a large volume and impact of narcotics trafficking in and out of our municipality. Nero is the only municipal narcotics K-9 in Passaic County,” he wrote. The concern is valid — according to Petplan claims data, treatment for illegal drug exposure cost an average of $782 in 2017. Toxic substances aren’t the only threat K-9s face in the course of duty. Titan, a K-9 based in Fullerton, CA, is trained in suspect apprehension as well as narcotic detection. Fullerton police officer Matt Green wrote, “Being a suspect apprehension K-9, Titan will be exposed to dangerous situations. Thus, his chances of being injured are greater.” Injuries related to altercations with suspects could include fractures (averaging $1,365* to treat), lacerations ($707*) and puncture wounds ($761*). Should any of the 50 new Petplan grant recipients sustain these injuries, the cost of their care will be covered.  Of course, in addition to the job-related hazards that come with being a police dog, K-9s face the same risks of illness and accidental injury as any family pet — as the Latrobe, PA police department learned the hard way when their previous K-9 had to be put down after receiving several surgeries to treat an aggressive cancer. Latrobe Chief of Police James Bumar wrote, “Rocky had many health problems … we accumulated thousands of dollars of vet bills.” Luckily, Latrobe’s new K-9 will be covered by Petplan — and cancer treatments (at an average cost of $2,321*) are covered as standard under Petplan’s policies.** “Police dogs put their lives on the line every day for their communities, and they deserve access to the best possible medical care,” says Jim Reilly, President of the National Police Dog Foundation. “We’re so grateful to Petplan for helping to protect the health of these four-legged heroes.” The K-9 Health Insurance Fund was first created in 2017 with a donation from Petplan, which was used to fund the initial five grants. Petplan donates $50 to the fund for each new pet insurance policy booked using the campaign code “NPDF10,” with further funds being raised by the National Police Dog Foundation and contributed by public donors. Following is a complete list of all 50 winners of the Petplan and National Police Dog Foundation grants for 2018. Kratos, Cottonwood Police Department (Cottonwood, AZ) Axel, Village of Apple Creek Police Department (Apple Creek, OH) Rico, Prairie du Chien Police Department (Prairie du Chien, WI) Kaz, Huntington Park Police Department (Huntington Park, CA) Tracker, Silver Spring Township Police Department (Mechanicsburg, PA) Edo, Perryville Police Department (Perryville, MO) Max, Upper Moreland Township Police Department (Willow Grove, PA) Nero, Hawthorne Police Department (Hawthorne, NJ) Elvis, Waxhaw Police Department (Waxhaw, NC) LucyJo, Albion Department of Public Safety (Albion, MI) Sniper, Geauga Park District (Chardon, OH) Cupa, Paris Police Department (Paris, TX) Rudy, Upland Police Department (Upland, CA) Coale, Amory Police Department (Amory, MS) Jackson, Pound Police Department (Pound, VA) Norris, St. Clair Township Police Department (East Liverpool, OH) Charr, Clintonville Police Department (Clintonville, WI) Blitz, Bradley Police Department (Bradley, IL) Bragi, Ripley Police Department (Ripley, OH) Bryan Lawrence, Superior Police Department (Superior, AZ) Stihl, Huntersville Police Department (Huntersville, NC) Pancho, Newton Police Department (Newton, KS) Nitro, Gulf Shores Police Department (Gulf Shores, AL) Nanuk, Gladstone Police Department (Gladstone, OR) Lobo, Glendale Heights Police Department (Glendale, IL) Zane, New Braunfels Police Department (New Braunfels, TX) Vito, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department (Albuquerque, NM) Ayke, Ector County Sheriff’s Office (Odessa, TX) Radko, Borough of Berlin Police Department (Berlin, NJ) Ivar, Decatur Police Department (Decatur, IN) Jet, Park Rapids Police Department (Park Rapids, MN) Jake, Dayton Police Department (Dayton, OH) Oskar, Tremonton Police Department (Tremonton, UT) Ranger, Benton Police Department (Benton, IL) Axel, Pflugerville Police Department (Pflugerville, TX) Trexx, Highland Park Police Department (Highland Park, MI) Luke, Atascadero Police Department (Atascadero, CA) Titan, Fullerton Police Department (Fullerton, CA) Zane, Lewisboro Town Police Department (South Salem, NY) Akiro, Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office (Santa Fe, NM) Zeus, Latrobe Police Department (Latrobe, PA) Takoda, Fort Bragg Police Department (Fort Bragg, CA) Robbi, Franklin Police Department (Franklin, MA) Hulk, Brookings Police Department (Brookings, OR) Max, Sedona Police Department (Sedona, AZ) Puma, Green Bay Police Department (Green Bay, WI) Axel, East Ridge Police Department (East Ridge, TN) Max, Altoona Police Department (Altoona, WI) Tello, California City Police Department (California City, CA) Lando, Oshkosh Police Department (Oshkosh, WI) *Average treatment costs according to Petplan 2017 claims data. **Subject to Petplan policy terms and conditions. ### ABOUT PETPLAN Petplan has built an industry-leading pet insurance policy for pet parents who demand a higher pedigree of care for their best friends. We’ve leveraged 40 years of global experience to create completely customizable coverage pet parents can feel confident in, and world-class claims service — 24 hours a day, every day. Petplan’s innovative approach to pet insurance has been recognized by Forbes, Financial Times, Bloomberg, Inc. magazine, Smart CEO, the Communicator Awards, Ernst & Young and many others. Petplan policies are underwritten in the U.S. by AGCS Marine Insurance Company, a member of the Allianz Group (rated A+ A.M. Best), and XL Specialty Insurance Company; and in Canada by XL Specialty Insurance Company - Canadian Branch. XL Specialty Insurance Company is rated A+ by S&P (2018). Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions. For more information about Petplan pet insurance, visit www.petplan.com or call 1-866-467-3875. ABOUT NATIONAL POLICE DOG FOUNDATION The National Police Dog Foundation is a volunteer organization that promotes education and awareness, and raises funds for the purchase, training and ongoing veterinary care of active and retired police K-9s.   In 1998 the National Police Dog Foundation (formally known as the Ventura Police Dog Foundation) began as a local group helping to fund the K-9 program for the City of Ventura, CA., and in 2004, the National Police Dog Foundation expanded its support to law enforcement K-9 units throughout the United States.   Most law enforcement agencies simply cannot meet their ever-increasing costs related to their K-9 units. The Foundation fills this need thanks to corporate and public donations to its specialized set of funds, that award grants to law enforcement agencies. The grants have become a much-needed resource for these agencies in need.   The Foundation’s efforts are all done to support America’s selfless and courageous K-9 heroes. For more information about The National Police Dog Foundation, visit www.nationalpolicedogfoundation.org or call 1-888-459-7768.
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Lyme disease tops claims for April as tick-borne illness numbers continue to rise As warmer weather leads pets and their people outdoors, pet insurance claims from this same time last year offer an important reminder: Tick season is in full bloom. According to Petplan pet insurance claims data, Lyme disease, a potentially serious infectious disease most commonly spread to pets by the bite of an infected tick, continues to be the top claim for pets in the month of April.* In fact, Lyme disease claims have been growing continually at Petplan, rising from $351 for the average cost of treatment in 2011 to $602 in 2017 — an increase of 72 percent in just six years. While they don’t have the same ranking by severity as Lyme disease, the costs of other tick-borne illnesses, like anaplasmosis, are also on the rise, with average treatment amounts for 2017 coming in at $656 as opposed to $344 in 2011, representing a 91 percent increase. “The range of Lyme is spreading in the United States — and elsewhere, for that matter,” says Dr. Kim Smyth, DVM, staff veterinarian at Petplan. “Climate change is expanding the range of both the tick that causes Lyme and its reservoir hosts. Additionally, longer falls and earlier springs are extending the seasonality of ticks. Where once we could count on a long period of decreased tick activity in the winter, it's no longer a given.” And because of this continually increasing tick presence, veterinarians are making testing for Lyme disease a standard part of their protocol. “More veterinarians understand the importance of including Lyme as a rule-out for certain symptoms. Now that the tick habitats are expanding, vets are beginning to realize they should be testing for it. Thus, we’re seeing more positive tests,” says Smyth. Signs, Symptoms and Treatment Symptoms of Lyme disease in pets include fever, loss of appetite, joint stiffness and discomfort, and an overall loss of energy. As the disease progresses, it can become more serious, leading to kidney failure and cardiac or neurological disorders. It takes as little as 24 to 48 hours for a tick to pass Lyme disease to your pet, so regular maintenance is key to keeping them healthy. A simple blood test can detect Lyme disease in your dog’s body. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, though sometimes, especially in prolonged cases, continual treatment will be needed to relieve symptoms caused by the disease. Stopping Ticks in Their Tracks Fortunately, there are simple precautions you can take to help make sure Lyme disease doesn’t suck all the fun out of the season: Protect your pets with flea and tick preventive products, and make sure those products are up to date. Groom and check your pets for ticks regularly, especially after they’ve been outdoors in wooded or high-grass areas. Keep your yard free of high grasses and overgrown brush, and maintain it by raking and mowing. In the meantime, rising costs associated with tick-related illnesses are a sign that pet owners might want to seek out pet insurance coverage to help avoid being bitten by a surprise vet bill during outdoor adventures. With a Petplan policy in paw, you can enjoy stress-free confidence that you'll be covered should an unexpected health issue occur. “Having a pet insurance policy is a good idea, especially as things warm up outdoors,” says Petplan co-founder and co-CEO Natasha Ashton. “It’s good to know that, even if sharp sticks and loose stones or broken bones sideline your curious companion, high vet bills won’t hurt your summer vacation budget.” *Based on 2015–2017 claims data representing average claim cost divided by number of claims.
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After raising more than $50,000, K-9 grant program expanded to include 50 dogs in 2018 Newtown Square, PA (February 21, 2018) – Petplan pet insurance announced that 50 working police dogs will receive pet insurance grants from the National Police Dog Foundation (NPDF) in 2018. The endowment, which Petplan sponsors, awarded five police K-9s with one year of Petplan coverage in 2017. The expansion of the program this year comes thanks to joint fundraising efforts between Petplan and the NPDF. “The inaugural grant period was a success and we’re thrilled to cover even more working dogs this year,” says Natasha Ashton, co-founder and co-CEO of Petplan. “To be able to protect 10 times as many deserving police K-9s in 2018 is beyond our expectation.” In addition to hereditary health conditions a police K-9 officer’s breed may dictate, occupational hazards like gunshot or stab wounds, lacerations, tail injuries and exposure to highly toxic substances like illegal drugs all threaten a police dog’s health (and a local police department’s budget). Veterinary care can run in the thousands to treat these types of injuries, so protecting four-footed police with pet insurance like Petplan, which reimburses up to 90 percent of the bill, makes good fiscal sense for municipalities. And insuring police K-9s while in active duty ensures that they can stay healthy through retirement; conditions are covered for life, as long as the policy remains active. “Just like professional athletes, [K-9s] can be subject to injury on a daily basis,” says Officer Quinn Handley of the Upland Police Department in California, who was a recipient of the Petplan/NPDF grant last year. “Having insurance allows us to maximize our budget on other necessary items like training, equipment and dog food. To work with K-9 Rudy is a dream come true. It allows the department to do our jobs more safely and efficiently.” Funding for the K-9 Health Insurance Grant comes via support from Petplan as well as contributions from the public. In 2017, Petplan and the NPDF raised over $50,000 to make the 2018 grant cycle possible. Applications are open now through March 31, and all municipalities and other working police K-9 units are encouraged to apply at https://nationalpolicedogfoundation.org/k9-health-insurance-grant-application-50/. Grant recipients are chosen by the NPDF and will be announced later this year. To make a direct donation in support of grant funding, or to learn more about Petplan’s sponsorship of the NPDF, citizens can point their paws to https://nationalpolicedogfoundation.org/petplan/.
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Pet insurance provider joins coalition to make animal shelters throughout the nation no-kill by 2025 Newtown Square, PA (February 27, 2018) – Petplan pet insurance announced today that it will donate at least $100,000 to Best Friends Animal Society® to support its Save Them All® campaign. To fulfill the pledge and engage their fans and followers in the initiative, Petplan will make a $50 donation for every pet insurance policy booked in 2018 using the code SAVETHEM. Additionally, new policyholders will be invited to make a donation directly to Best Friends after their purchase is complete, and Petplan will match all monies given. “Pets come first at Petplan. Not just pets who are lucky enough to have loving homes, but every pet, everywhere,” says Natasha Ashton, co-founder and co-CEO of Petplan. “It may be hard to imagine a nation where every healthy homeless animal’s life is saved, but Best Friends has demonstrated that their no-kill mission and tactics work. They’ve already helped cities like Los Angeles hit a record save rate in their city shelters, and we want to see that same success all over the country. That’s why Petplan is committed to this campaign, and we believe that together we can save them all.” Best Friends recently launched an initiative with rescue and shelter leaders from across the country to end the killing of dogs and cats in our nation’s shelters by 2025. The initiative aims to save the approximately 4,100 healthy or treatable dogs and cats that are killed in shelters every day. Key to achieving this goal is to organize animal welfare advocates around effective practices that have been proven to achieve no-kill at the community level. In addition to providing financial support to help fund these tactics, Petplan will also promote the Save Them All campaign in their marketing, social media and PR efforts to help raise awareness of the no-kill mission. “Support from corporate partners like Petplan will help us reach our ultimate goal to Save Them All,” says Eric Rayvid, director, PR for Best Friends Animal Society. “Besides their financial contributions to our mission, Petplan’s enthusiasm for engaging their audience in our work should have a huge impact. We’re really excited to kick off this partnership and join together to end the killing of animals in our nation’s shelters.”
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Petplan compares common qualities — and injuries — of athletes and animals Newtown Square, PA (February 15, 2018) – Our furry friends have more in common with Team USA’s best competitors than you think. Petplan pet insurance says cold-weather warriors can be slipped up by many of the same health conditions, whether they’re on two or four legs. With the Winter Games now in full swing, Petplan picked popular competitors that share characteristics with certain canine pedigrees and names the injuries they can have in common: Chris Corning, Snowboarding Physical profile: Immensely active and strong, yet agile enough to maneuver on any terrain. Petplan says: Back problems are on the roster for both athletes and animals; snowboarder Chris Corning qualified for the 2018 Olympic games despite a back contusion. Large dog breeds like Doberman Pinschers, Weimaraners, Great Danes, Rottweilers and Dalmatians can battle Wobbler syndrome, a condition of the spinal cord that typically costs $4,228 to treat.* Nathan Chen, Figure Skating Physical profile: Graceful showman with a compact build and athletic ability. Petplan says: Hip surgery sidelined Nathan Chen in 2016, but he’s back in the game for PyeongChang (with five quadruple jumps in his long program!). Hip pain in dogs can be a symptom of hip dysplasia, which is common in breeds like Retrievers, American Staffordshire Terriers and German Shepherds and can cost as much as $1,850 to treat.* Steven Nyman, Skiing Physical profile: Possesses power and athleticism. Rugged and tough, but still agile. Petplan says: The top U.S. downhiller will miss his fourth Olympics run after tearing his right ACL in late January. Knee injuries are one of the most common conditions in dogs of all breeds, especially large, active dogs like Labradors, Newfoundlands, German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Golden Retrievers. A torn knee ligament usually requires surgical correction and costs an average of $3,480 to treat.* Meghan Duggan, Ice Hockey Physical profile: A great athlete who understands teamwork, can move fast and go all day long. Petplan says: As the captain of the U.S. Olympic women’s ice hockey team, sprains and strains to the shoulders, ankles and groin are occupational hazards for Duggan. They’re common in all breeds of dogs, too: lameness is Petplan’s third most claimed for condition, costing an average of $966 to treat.* As Petplan’s pairings highlight, the talent to play hard and take on anything isn’t the only thing linking our pets with Olympians. “Pets are a lot like athletes in that they take life at full speed and stop at nothing to play the game. But what makes a medalist on the ice and in your backyard can lead to serious injury,” says Petplan co-founder and co-CEO Natasha Ashton. “In fact, pets probably rack up medical bills as fast as any Olympic competitor; every six seconds a pet parent is handed a vet bill over $3,000!** For animals and athletes, good preventive care is key. And it never hurts to have a little help paying the bills.” *Average costs based on 2017 Petplan claims data. **Source: 2014 Petplan claims data.
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Cleveland Browns Defensive Lineman and Animal Health Advocate Danny Shelton Named Petplan’s 2018 Pet Parent of the Year Pet insurance provider to honor Shelton’s contributions at Veterinary Excellence Awards next month Newtown Square, PA (January 15, 2018) – Petplan pet insurance has named pro football star Danny Shelton as their “Pet Parent of the Year” for the 2018 Veterinary Excellence Awards. Shelton, who has four rescued dogs, distinguished himself among this year’s candidates through his public advocacy of pet health, hands-on work in the community and commitment to providing relief aid to pets affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. “Danny Shelton is not only a role model on the field, he’s a model pet parent to boot,” says Natasha Ashton, co-founder and co-CEO of Petplan. “One peek at his @the_furry_sheltons Instagram account makes his love for his dogs and commitment to their wellbeing apparent. But beyond treating his own pets like gold, Danny has gone above and beyond in helping other pets live better, too.” Shelton’s awareness-raising work addressing pet health issues like adoption, responsible pet parenting, the dangers of secondhand smoke and the importance of pet insurance makes an impact on pets’ lives every day. At Christmastime, the Cleveland Browns defensive lineman plays Santa Paws at Cleveland-area shelters, distributing much-needed food and supplies — many of which he donates himself. And when hurricanes devastated communities in the Gulf Coast last summer, the 2015 first-round pick out of the University of Washington partnered with Petplan to make a $55,000 donation to pet organizations for hurricane relief. “Danny’s a big guy with an even bigger heart, and we can’t wait to recognize his efforts at the 2018 Veterinary Excellence Awards,” added Ashton. Shelton is honored to be recognized at the event. “Since I adopted my first dog in college— my Pit Bull, Moni — pets have become a huge part of my life,” says Shelton. “Moni, Mojo, Juicy and Juju are like family to me and [fiancée] Mara, and giving back is our way of honoring them and all the love they’ve brought to our lives. To be named the Pet Parent of the Year at this year’s Vet Awards is really special, and I’m excited to take part in the event.” Shelton will receive his award at the Petplan Veterinary Excellence Awards on February 2 at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando. The ceremony is a black-tie gala and dinner that celebrates the achievements of outstanding veterinary professionals and one exemplary pet parent. For more information about Petplan’s annual Veterinary Excellence Awards, visit Petplan.com/vet-awards. ABOUT PETPLAN Petplan has built an industry-leading pet insurance policy for pet parents who demand a higher pedigree of care for their best friends. We’ve leveraged 40 years of global experience to create completely customizable coverage pet parents can feel confident in, and world-class claims service that operates 24 hours a day, every day. Petplan’s innovative approach to pet insurance has been recognized by Forbes, Financial Times, Bloomberg, Inc. magazine, Smart CEO, the Communicator Awards, Ernst & Young and many others. Petplan policies are underwritten in the U.S. by XL Specialty Insurance Company and in Canada by XL Specialty Insurance Company-Canadian Branch. The company is rated A+ by S&P (2017). Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions. For more information about Petplan pet insurance, visit www.gopetplan.com or call 1-866-467-3875. CONTACT: Greg Wiley Senior Manager, Public Relations 610.886.5091 greg.wiley@gopetplan.com
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You’d never think about going on a road trip (or even just driving down the street) without buckling your seatbelt or making sure your kids are strapped into their seats. So why is it so common to see pets roaming around people’s cars? From the Labrador Retriever who is halfway out the back window to the Jack Russell Terrier sitting on his owner’s lap in the driver’s seat, dogs that are unrestrained are in danger of being seriously injured in an accident. They also pose a threat to humans in the car. In the unfortunate occurrence of a car accident, your unrestrained pet turns into a projectile, capable of propelling through a windshield and/or causing significant injury to you and your other passengers.  Unrestrained pets also cause driver distraction, not to mention a physical threat should they venture near the accelerator or brake pedals while the car is moving. With several states considering or already passing pet restraint laws, the issue of loose pets in vehicles is not just an ethical problem, it can be a legal problem. Many states can dole out hefty fines for unrestrained pets causing driver distraction, and Hawaii has banned pets from owner’s laps altogether. I know pet parents love having their furry family along for car rides, and sometimes it’s just unavoidable (like on trips to the veterinarian or kennel). So what’s a dog or cat chauffeur to do? The answer is fairly simple: protect your four-legged passengers the same way that you do your human riders. Buckle them up! You’ll find an array of vehicular pet safety devices available on the market, including safety harnesses, pet seatbelts, and carriers that clip in to your car’s seatbelt. However, not all of these safety products are equally effective at protecting your pet. The Center for Pet Safety conducted a pilot study in 2011 to test the safety of four brands of pet restraint harnesses. A 55 lb. dummy dog was placed in the harnesses and then put through crash testing. The results were dismal; all four failed to provide adequate safety for the pets themselves or for the humans in the car. Since that harsh wake-up call, companies started working harder to provide products that protect our pets.  Some, like pet restraint manufacturer Sleepypod, have gone so far as to conduct their own crash tests. As a result, Sleepypod products have earned a top-rated Safety Certification from the Center for Pet Safety. In addition to a traditional pet safety harness, the Clickit Sport, Sleepypod also manufactures a cleverly designed mobile pet bed. The cozy carrier doubles as a bed when you’re not on the go, encouraging cats and dogs to associate it with comfort and safety. This helps to address anxiety, another big issue for traveling pets. Best of all, the carrier attaches to your car’s seatbelt to protect your pet in case of a crash. The next time you’re planning to bring your cat or dog along on a trip, make your pet’s safety a priority before you head out. Remember, choosing to take precautions is only the first step. It’s crucial to do your research and find a pet travel product that will truly guarantee your furry friend’s safety! Check the labels and look for a brand like Sleepypod that carries a trusted safety rating. You love your pets enough to take them with you on your trip. Now ensure that they return home with you safely, too.
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Late last year, we lost our beloved 15½ year old Sandy after a year-long battle with kidney failure.   Sandy’s last month, while precious beyond measure, was filled with the daily stress of fluid administration and meds, hand-feeding, assisting up and down stairs, and cleaning her after an unavoidable “accident.”   My wife and I were barely able to sleep more than three to four hours at a stretch, due to the constant subconscious alarm clock of, “What if?” Our experience was similar to untold millions of others caring for a terminally ill furry family member. Sick pets and psychological stress   A new study published in Veterinary Record examined caregiver burden in owners of sick companion animals. The results further reinforced the depth and significance of the human-animal bond. It also validated that the feelings and struggles of fellow pet parents were normal, healthy and necessary.   We’ve known for centuries that caring for the ill creates tremendous stress and strife. Parents, spouses, and loved ones of chronically ill family have been shown to have decreased immune function, increased illness and high rates of depression.   While anecdotal evidence suggested pet owners and veterinary staff may undergo similar developments, no one had conducted scientific inquiry into caregiver burden in pet owners until now.   The study, led by researchers from Kent State University, evaluated 238 dog and cat owners, half with pets suffering from terminal illness. They were seeking to determine if people living with and caring for dogs and cats exhibited elevated stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as poorer quality of life.   This is important not only to help pet parents struggling with sick pets, but also for veterinary and human healthcare providers to lend additional support. Its’ also essential that non-pet owners understand that stress, depression and grief for pet loved ones is real.   Of course, caring for a sick pet is different than a human family member.   Lead investigator Mary Beth Spitznagel told CNN, "It is important that we do not minimize what family caregivers are experiencing in human caregiving relationships. I would not say that pet caregiving is the same, for example, as providing care for a parent with dementia or a spouse who has had a stroke.”   “But pet caregiving in the context of a chronic or terminal disease is clearly stressful for the pet owner,” sehe continues, “and we can learn a lot about how to help people in this situation by looking at what helps reduce stress in human caregiving.”   The study also showed that caring for a chronically ill pet resulted in reduced psychosocial function, or withdrawal from human relationships and activities. I’ve witnessed both in my veterinary practice and personal life the tremendous emotional toll and time commitment a terminal illness in a pet requires. Lending a paw of support   This study stresses the importance of a support network for caregivers of terminally ill pets. It also emphasizes the need for veterinary professionals to remain involved and prepare for the emotional turbulence many clients will endure.   Clients may require additional time to process a diagnosis and prognosis or make decisions, they may ask for alternative treatment plans, and often need help dealing with whatever is happening. Caring for a chronically ill pet demands close collaboration between pet parents, veterinary staff and friends and family.   After Sandy passed naturally, in my arms surrounded by our entire human and animal family, a strange, simultaneous sense of both relief and regret washed over me. It took a couple of weeks to stop waking up at 3 a.m. and immediately looking toward her now vacant bed.   This study helped me realize that these feelings were normal, natural, healthy responses. I also hope it helps other pet parents and veterinary professionals better navigate and overcome the challenges of caregiver burden. How has having a sick pet impacted your family? Share your experiences in the comments below.   
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Yogurt has been around for thousands of years and has always been thought of as a healthy food. But is it safe for pets? Yes! Yogurt is usually safe—and most likely healthy—for cats and dogs to eat. To learn why, follow along as Dr. Ernie Ward recounts a "true tail" from the veterinary clinic.... “Please tell me my kitty is not going to VOMIT OR SEIZURE OR…SOMETHING REALLY BAD!”   The voice on the phone couldn’t sound any more distraught.   “I think she only licked a little, but she’s SO TINY! Is she going to LIVE?”   By now you’re probably thinking the caller’s cat had drunk cyanide, gasoline or nerve gas. You’d be wrong.   “What flavor was the yogurt?” I calmly inquired.   Strange as it may sound, some pet parents take the whole “people food is bad for pets” thing a little too far. This was one of those times. The benefits of yogurt for pets   Yogurt has been around for thousands of years and has always been thought of as a healthy food. The name originates from the Turkish term “yog” meaning “condense” or “intensify.” The Greeks and Romans correctly called it “oxygala” or “acid milk,” an important fact to remember when it comes to digestibility.   It’s no secret adult cats (and dogs) are largely lactose intolerant. This is why veterinarians don’t recommend offering your cat a bowl of milk unless you also want to clean the litterbox (or bedding) more frequently.   Yogurt is a product of the acidic fermentation of milk. The creation of yogurt begins with the breakdown of milk lactose into the sugars glucose and galactose. This acidic fermentation of milk leaves little lactose remaining in the finished product. That means cats, dogs, and even lactose-intolerant humans can digest yogurt without messy side effects.   The benefits of yogurt relatively high protein content (about 9 grams per 6-ounce serving), calcium, vitamins B2 and B12, and minerals potassium and magnesium. It’s yogurt’s friendly bacteria, or probiotics, that we typically associate with helping our digestion.   But is there enough to help or harm?   The key to supplementing your diet with probiotics is dosage. In other words, you want to supply as many bacteria as possible in a single serving.   In general, a full 4.5 to 6-oz serving of yogurt provides at or around 1 billion CFUs (colony forming units). If you offer your cat one to two tablespoons, you’re offering a clinically-small dosage of friendly bacteria.   This is one of the reasons I encourage pet owners to investigate taking a recommended and reliable probiotic oral supplement; all of the bacteria without the additional calories.   If you’re looking for the maximum number of probiotics, I recommend supplementing with a concentrated oral form. Look for a veterinary formulation containing at least one billion CFU’s.   I advise nearly all adult dogs and cats I see to take a daily probiotic. They can help boost the immune system, reduce diarrhea (especially in conjunction with stress and antibiotics), and other potential health benefits.   Yogurt is usually safe and healthy for cats and dogs to eat - just check the nutrition label to make sure it doesn't contain a dangerous ingredient like xylitol. I share my morning yogurt-infused veggie smoothie with my feline and canine companions. They love it!
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