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Many a pet parent knows that taking care of our furry family members can sometimes be quite stressful – especially when you go in to the vet for one condition and leave with multiple diagnoses (and lots to worry about). Pet parent Sarah knows all too much about collective conditions. Her Newfoundland, Larry (aka “Lare-Bear”) went in for pneumonia and came out diagnosed with a possible floating foreign body (to be removed with a partial lung lobectomy) and elbow dysplasia. At the time, he’d also had an abnormal echocardiogram.

“Lare is a pretty special guy,” begins Sarah. “I am a critical care nurse at a veterinary teaching hospital, so having a large breed dog, naturally, I signed him up to be a blood donor. To say Larry is famous around the hospital would be an understatement. He absolutely loves going in to the hospital to donate blood. Everyone there knows his name, he marches down the hallway with his head held high, gladly accepts all pats and praises from the doctors, nurses and students. Larry is the transfusions team ‘go-to’ donor for events as well, open houses, etc. Honestly, it’s pretty common for me to talk to people at the hospital that know Larry, but don’t know me. I often get ‘Larry is YOUR dog?!?’”
Outside of Larry’s “job” as a blood donor, he’s pretty normal. “He loves the outdoors! Hiking, swimming, anything to get his legs stretched while getting fresh air. I think it is his love for being outside that landed him in such an unfortunate situation,” Sarah continues. He’d had a mild cough by the end of the winter, so they went to the vet as coughing can be indicative of something bigger – and something bigger it was. They expected pneumonia, and to add to it (“when it rains, it pours”), they discovered Larry had elbow dysplasia, as well as a possible abscess diagnosis.

“Over a month of diagnostics (three sets of chest x-rays, a CT scan, and different panels of bloodwork), he ended up needing to go to surgery to remove a migrating foreign body that had set up camp in his mediastinum,” explains Sarah (the mediastinum in Larry’s case was the space between his lungs). “Migrating foreign bodies can be fairly common! Dogs get them in their feet or less commonly, their chest. Lare must have inhaled a little piece of grass, went in through his lung, and migrated into his mediastinum.” After they discovered the culprit, he ended up having a thoracoscopic lung lobectomy and pericardiectomy. For those of us who aren’t well-versed in veterinary science, that means surgery to remove some of the affected tissue in both the lungs and around the heart.

His surgery and recovery was just under 48 hours, and he was ready to go home and continue being his cheerful self. “As his mom, I went through periods of ups and downs with how I was handling it. I think the drawn out process of the whole thing was the most stressful,” says Sarah. “We were all hoping it would resolve itself with medication, but because the reality was he had a foreign body in the chest, we knew surgery would be the one thing to completely fix it.” Their only other option would be a lengthy six to twelve-month process of administering aggressive antibiotics with periodic rechecks. Sarah says, “That option would have taken Larry out of the blood donation program, and [in the end] he would have mostly likely needed surgery anyway.”

Larry has since recovered and is even back to donating blood. “I am over the moon happy with how it all went,” says Sarah. “For some clients, this decision can be hugely based off of finances alone. I knew Healthy Paws was behind me, as they had helped so much through every step of the process already, so I knew what the best option for him was. The best part was that he was never very symptomatic for it. I believe it was caught early, and we started medications early. He was a champion through the whole thing.”

Healthy Paws reimbursed Sarah $6,093 (total claims were $8,270 with a 80% reimbursement rate and $250 deductible).

If you would be caught off guard with high vet bills, consider pet health insurance. By enrolling prior to symptoms or signs of illness, your vet bills can be covered up to 90%. Sign up today by first getting a free quote.

If you are a Healthy Paws pet parent with a recovery story to tell, we’d love to hear it! Send your pet’s story along with photos of your four-legged family member to happytales@healthypaws.com

The post How Pet Insurance Helps with Multiple Conditions: Sarah & Larry’s Story appeared first on Healthy Paws.

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Healthy Paws | Dog Health by Joanna Pendergrass, Dvm - 1w ago

“Ugh, I hate taking pills.” Can’t you imagine our pets saying this when it’s time for them to take their medications? Administering those pills is not necessarily a walk in the park for pet parents, either. Most pet parents probably want to give their pets their pills as quickly and painlessly as possible. This article will show you how.

Medications with Food

Hiding pills in food is a popular way to give pills to pets. However, not all medications can be taken with food. Check with your veterinarian first to see if you can mix your pet’s pills in food.

Select a tasty food that your pet likes and doesn’t require much chewing. Peanut butter is an excellent choice for dogs, while tuna and salmon are great choices for cats. Cream cheese, yogurt, and ice cream are other good choices for dogs and cats. Pill pockets are another option but are not ideal for pets with food allergies or sensitivities.

Hide the pill in only a small amount of food to prevent the food morsel from being bulky. Use one hand to insert the pill in the food and the other hand to “seal in” the treat; this will prevent the taste of the pill from getting on the outside of the morsel.

To give the pill, try the “3-treat” technique. First, give your pet a pill-free treat, then give the pill-containing treat. Finally, reward your pet with another pill-free treat. Use the same type of food each time and feed each treat in the same way so your pet can’t guess which one contains the pill.

After giving the pill, observe your pet to see if they spit it out. Cats are more likely than dogs to chew the food morsel, increasing their likelihood of discovering the hidden pill and spitting it out. If your pet spits out the pill, wait about 30 minutes before trying again with another tasty food.

Even if your pet doesn’t spit out the pill, switch up the food in which you hide the pill to prevent your pet from figuring out when it’s ‘pill time.’

Medications without Food

Although popping a pill directly into your pet’s mouth can be a tricky and unnerving experience, you can do so safely by following these instructions.

  1. Choose an enclosed area to reduce the chances of your pet’s escape.
  2. Set the pill out for easy access and cover it with a small amount of butter to make it easier to swallow.
  3. If you have a cat, place a towel or blanket nearby so you can snugly restrain your cat.
  4. Position your pet comfortably. For cats and small dogs, set them in your lap. Larger dogs can be gently backed into a corner.
  5. Hold the pill between your thumb and index finger of your dominant hand. Use your non-dominant hand to grasp your pet’s muzzle from the top, placing your thumb near the canine teeth and your fingers on the other side.
  6. Tilt your pet’s head back toward the ceiling. If the lower jaw does not automatically drop, use the ring and pinky finger of your pill-holding hand to put gentle and steady pressure on the lower front teeth and lips.
  7. Quickly place the pill behind the ‘hump’ of your pet’s tongue.
  8. Close your pet’s mouth, return their head to the normal position, and stroke their throat to encourage swallowing. If you have a cat, consider using a needless syringe to squirt a little water or flavored broth into their mouth to help the pill go down.
  9. A cat will lick its lips or nose to indicate that they’ve swallowed. Observe your pet to make sure they don’t spit out the pill.
  10. Reward your pet immediately (e.g., positive talk, petting) after you give the pill.
Pilling Alternatives

For some pets, taking pills can be an extremely frustrating or even dangerous experience. One alternative is compounding pills into a flavored medication; this is performed at a compounding pharmacy. Another option is reformulating pills into chewable tablets. These alternatives can be expensive and may affect a drug’s effectiveness, so check with your veterinarian to see if these options are available for your pet’s medications.

Pilling guns are also available. These devices protect your fingers by placing the pill far enough back on the tongue to trigger a swallow. If you are wary of putting your fingers in your pet’s mouth to give a pill, ask your veterinarian to demonstrate how to use a pilling gun.

Whichever method you choose to give pills to your pet, always watch your pet’s demeanor. If they are growling or become fearful, stop trying to administer the pill. If you ever feel unsure about giving the pills, your veterinarian or veterinary technician can demonstrate how to do so safely and quickly. Last but certainly not least, praise your pet when they swallow their pill. Positive reinforcement will make the experience better for both of you!

The post How to Give Pills to Your Pet appeared first on Healthy Paws.

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Quick Answer: Yes, cucumbers are safe for dogs.

Cucumbers are among the most popular vegetables, and they’re found in salads, noodles, and eaten by themselves, but what happens if you drop some green crunchy goodness to your waiting dog? Though not all table scraps are suitable for canines, cucumbers are one of the healthier things that your pup can snatch up if you happen to fling a piece off your fork, but they must be plain with no seasoning or dressing.

Benefits

Cucumbers are low-fat, low-calorie, high in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory benefits. According to the American Kennel Club, “[Plain] cucumbers are perfectly safe for dogs to eat, and offer a low-calorie, crunchy snack that many dogs love. Cucumbers only contain about 8 calories per one-half cup of slices, compared to the 40 calories in a single medium Milk Bone biscuit, and are very low in sodium and fat.” Because of this, cucumbers are a healthy treat replacement if your pup needs to watch their weight.

A great side effect of cucumbers is also fresh breath! Can I Give My Dog.com explains that there’s a major bonus to a cuke-nibbling pup: “Cucumber has a unique ability to reduce bad doggie breath. This veggie has phytochemicals that kill stinky bacteria.”

Bonus for instagrammers – crunchy snacks make for great videos. Instead of watching a dog  chomp on a baked cookie style treat, give some cucumber pieces for ultimate sound effects and more views of those cute little teeth in the front of their mouths.

Hazards

As with almost all human foods, cucumbers need to be fed to your dog in moderation, and completely plain (no salt, pepper, seasonings, or dressings). And just because a pickle is a cucumber doesn’t mean you can toss your dog one. Pickles have garlic and other seasonings that can make a dog sick. Finally, Rover cautions, “Don’t feed your dog a whole cucumber—it can be a choking hazard.”

Curious about what is okay (and not so okay) for your dog to munch on? Check out our other articles on what human foods are safe for dogs. And if you love your pets like family, protect them like family! By enrolling in pet health insurance, you can say “yes” to life-saving treatments. Start by getting a free quote.

The post Can Dogs Eat Cucumber? appeared first on Healthy Paws.

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The quick answer: Yes, cantaloupe is a healthy fruit you can share with your dog.

Benefits of cantaloupe

Cantaloupe is a member of the melon family of fruits, and just like watermelon, it’s a low-calorie hydrating fruit with lots of nutrients. Cantaloupes contain vitamins A, B6, and C as well as potassium, niacin, folate, and fiber.

To serve cantaloupe, cut off the rind and cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces. The seeds are not toxic, though you may want to scoop them out as a safety precaution because an excited dog could accidentally choke on them. You can also puree fresh cantaloupe and freeze it in a Kong toy or ice cube tray for a refreshing summer treat.

Hazards

Don’t offer large pieces of cantaloupe to an eager eater who could potentially choke on it. To make it easiest for your dog to eat, cut cantaloupe into bite-sized pieces that are appropriate for the size of your dog. Because of its sugar content, we recommend consulting with your veterinarian before sharing cantaloupe with a diabetic dog.

Cut off the rind before serving cantaloupe to your dog. Though it isn’t toxic, the cantaloupe rind is very tough, making it difficult to chew and digest. Attempting to swallow a piece of the rind could cause your dog to choke, and if he successfully swallows it, a piece of cantaloupe rind could cause an internal obstruction. Symptoms of intestinal blockage include vomiting, decreased appetite, and constipation due to the inability to pass food through the digestive system. If you think your dog has swallowed a piece, contact your veterinarian right away.

For your dog, eating cantaloupe is safest in moderation. Consuming a lot at once can cause an upset tummy, vomiting, or diarrhea. As a general rule, limit your pup’s fruit intake to no more than 10% of his diet.

Scritch is your one-stop destination for all things pet. Store and share your pet notes and records, browse the map of pet-friendly spots, find pets in your area to adopt, find pet care, read product reviews, and much more. Sign up for free to get full access today.

This post brought to you by our friends at ScritchSpot. ScritchSpot combines everything you need to make pet parenting easy and fun in one online destination. Download the app (iOS & Android) or visit ScritchSpot.com to find out more!

The post Can Dogs Eat Cantaloupe? appeared first on Healthy Paws.

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The quick answer: Not recommended. If a dog eats this tart citrus fruit, especially the peel or plant material, he can experience an upset tummy or choke. Benefits of limes

Limes are chock full of vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant that can help boost the immune system, increase iron absorption, and promote healthy skin. Additionally, lime juice is said to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Limes are a very versatile fruit and just about all parts of a lime are used, including the fruit, juice, peel, and zest.

Though these benefits are applicable to humans, the same does not apply to our pets. When feeding a complete and balanced dog food, your dog will get all the nutrients he needs and does not need to rely on added fruits and vegetables to get his nutrients. However, many dogs enjoy eating safe fruits and vegetables, so if you want to share with your dog, opt for something he will find more palatable, such as applescarrots, or oranges.

Hazards

Eating large amounts of limes can cause serious issues for your dog, especially the peel which contains essential oils. Along with digestive upset, vomiting, and diarrhea, consuming large amounts of essential oils via lime peels can lead to poisoning. Symptoms include lethargy, sensitivity to light, low blood pressure, loss of coordination and liver failure. Seek immediate veterinary care if you suspect your dog has eaten lime peels or large amounts of the fruit.

In addition to toxicity, lime peels and seeds pose a choking hazard as well as the threat of an internal blockage. Though most dogs won’t seek out limes due to their sour taste, it’s best to keep limes and their remains well out of reach of curious dogs.

This post brought to you by our friends at ScritchSpot. ScritchSpot combines everything you need to make pet parenting easy and fun in one online destination. Download the app (iOS & Android) or visit ScritchSpot.com to find out more!

The post Can Dogs Eat Limes? appeared first on Healthy Paws.

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“In August 2018, my dog, Libby, was admitted for a high fever of unknown origin,” begins pet parent Tiffany. “An ultrasound revealed Libby had ingested a foxtail and it was wreaking havoc on her insides, having traveled down her back and lodging itself between her second and third vertebrae. Surgery was scheduled to remove the migratory plant, to be followed by physical therapy in order to strengthen the effected muscles.” It wouldn’t be until January 2019, five full months later, that Libby would be given a clean bill of health. Here’s her story.

Meet Libby

“Libby has always been a very happy, wiggly, energetic dog… Most people are always asking if she’s still a puppy!” says Tiffany. “She loves chasing rocks (she isn’t much of a fetcher so rather than myself fetching, I toss her rocks to run after), bubbles (she likes to jump in the air and pop them), and the laser pointer.”

Libby’s favorite friends are her two housemates, Bulleit and Taco, and she loves to play a scavenger hunt “find the ball” with her two buddies. She loves to be on the beach with Bulleit, or at off-leash dog parks running and exploring. “In the morning she will get a ‘goodbye’ treat [which is] chicken that I hide around the house for her to find before I head off to work. In the evenings she gets a goodnight snack: her favorite lamb crunchies.”

First Signs of Foxtail Injury

“Libby first presented symptoms of back pain around April of 2018,” says Tiffany. “She had stopped eating and was having trouble walking. I took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with mild arthritis; she was given some pain medicine and a joint supplement.” While this alleviated the pain for a while, the symptoms started again in June, where Libby continued to have trouble walking and needed a lift up to get on the bed, as well as help getting down. Tiffany brought Libby back to the vet and x-rays revealed only spondylosis (arthritis in the spine), and once again was sent home with pain medication. Both these times the symptoms had eased up and she was back to her normal self.

“In August, she slowly stopped eating her normal food and would need to be coaxed to eat with wet food,” explains Tiffany. Libby needed help getting up on the bed again and would no longer want to play as much. “This time was more severe than the other times, and one day she just stopped eating and would not play with the other dogs in the house. One night she felt hot to the touch and would pant a lot, so we took her to the vet the next day and that was when she was diagnosed with a ‘fever of unknown origin’ and was transferred to the 24-hour emergency vet.” Libby stayed there for two days.

“Diagnostic tests were run to rule out a number of possibilities and narrow down the cause,” continues Tiffany. “During this time an abscess ­– which had been forming without our knowledge for quite some time – was discovered, from which over one liter of fluid was drained.”

It was then that the vets discovered a foxtail had caused the abscess. They scheduled surgery to fix the abscess and remove the foxtail.

What is a Foxtail?

The foxtail plant is a weed that looks like a fox’s tail. It is a plant with layers of upward-facing spines protruding from the center that help it to migrate – literally, it can move into your pet’s skin, up through the nose, the ears, eyes, mouth, and into your pet’s organs.  They don’t break down if eaten and can lead to serious infection for your dog or cat by causing discharge, abscesses, swelling, and pain. Foxtail injuries can lead to death. Find out more about these plants and the symptoms they can cause in our article, The Dangers of Foxtails.

Note: sometimes you can see a foxtail protruding in your pet’s body. If you can’t easily remove the foxtail at home, see your vet asap. They can remove the entire foxtail safely.

Libby’s Recovery

“Libby has been given a clean bill of health after her final recheck ultrasound,” says Tiffany. “The foxtail has been completely removed and Libby has fully recovered!” The situation, however, was very hard on their family. “As a pet parent this was an extremely terrifying ordeal!  I always had a feeling something was wrong, but the vet assured me twice that it was only her arthritis acting up – and Libby had just turned 4 when symptoms first presented.”

Multiple claims for Libby’s foxtail event totaled $21,905, and Tiffany was reimbursed $17,974 (90% reimbursement rate and $100 deductible). “You hear about foxtails getting stuck in dogs’ paws, noses, ears, etc., but no one ever thinks it could accidentally have been ingested. Libby’s life could have been cut short had I not had insurance and continued to pursue her symptoms. Insurance gave me the peace of mind to allow any tests necessary to determine what was ailing her.”

As pet parents, we want our pets to be happy and healthy, so chronic conditions can be frustrating or even devastating. By enrolling in pet health insurance prior to symptoms or signs of illness, your vet bills can be covered up to 90%. Sign up today by first getting a free quote.

If you are a Healthy Paws pet parent with a recovery story to tell, we’d love to hear it! Send your pet’s story along with photos of your four-legged family member to happytales@healthypaws.com

The post Foxtails & Why They’re Dangerous for Dogs: Libby’s Story appeared first on Healthy Paws.

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An unknown and unusual culprit of disease in animals (cats and dogs included among others), Pythiosis is a systemic and deadly infection caused by a fungus-like organism called Pythium insidiosum. It can be found in wet areas like swamps or in standing water such as ponds, and dogs can become infected when they jump, hunt, or play in infested waters. There are high risks after hurricanes or floods, as well.

Carriage Hills Animal Hospital in Montgomery, AL, says: “It can manifest as a skin (cutaneous) disease or a gastrointestinal disease, and for some unlucky dogs, as both. Skin infections typically occur through an open wound, while the gastrointestinal form is thought to happen when infested water is consumed.” If it is a gastrointestinal infection, the GI tract will thicken. Eventually, an abdominal mass or intestinal obstruction will develop. For skin infections, lesions then start popping up by the tail, on the face, and other areas.

Symptoms include:

  • GI issues (vomiting, diarrhea), anorexia, and weight loss
  • Small, ulcerated bumps on the skin (especially the tail, legs, stomach, and head)
  • Sores that won’t heal
  • Draining lesions
  • Intense itching

Pythium is hard to diagnose and not common nationally, so a specialized laboratory may be needed to test a culture or biopsy. Pet parent Cara knows all too well how unusual and life-threatening the disease is, as her pup Sammy was diagnosed and sadly, did not make it. We want to raise awareness about this disease and reached out to her. Here is their story, written by Cara herself.

Meet Sammy

Sir Sammy Sabol was the fulfillment of my deep desire to own a companion dog.  My sister-in-law is an established, reputable breeder of gorgeous purebred Standard Poodles and Golden Doodles.  I desperately wanted a smaller black Doodle who would return my love forever; however, my living situation could not accommodate a dog.

In February 2017, my lifestyle changed, and I acquired Sammy, a beautiful, blue Golden Doodle.  Under his shimmering black poodle coat, his skin was a deep blue; within months, small flecks of silver appeared which accented the soft darkness of his curls. I realized that even with a shaved coat, Sammy would suffer during the sweltering summer days of South Florida, but there is a lake bordering the backyard of our home. Sammy could plunge into the water whenever he needed.  And plunge he did.

Sammy before illness

Sammy’s favorite toy was a yellow tennis ball, not just one, but any yellow tennis ball. He lived for the moments when we raised a racket and launched his ball way-out into the lake. In that same split second, Sammy lunged from the bank, landed stroking hard and swam heartily to retrieve his ball.  He would dash from the water, shaking drops high into the air around him and drop the ball at our feet, eagerly ready to do it all over again (for hours if either of us had the time).

Into the Pond

In early summer of 2018, Sammy began having chronic ear and eye infections.  Our vet advised me to keep him out of the pond.  That was an impossible directive; Sammy retrieved his ball, chased ducks and herons, fished in the shallows and often sat meditatively in his lake to survey the world he loved. I religiously cleaned and disinfected his eyes and ears and showered him off multiple times daily. He became fussy with his food. I did not take much notice, because I knew of other dogs in his bloodline who were finicky eaters. I kept him off grains and baited him with tasty chicken or lamb tidbits.

In August 2018, Sammy began to have unusually loose stools. I consulted his vet, and we passed it off as something he must have eaten. The vet gave me anti-diarrheal medication and I gave Sammy pumpkin and rice in his food. Then, one day in September 2018, he vomited the previous day’s food and went to the bathroom on the living room floor, leaving a trail. I knew he was in trouble.

We raced him to the vet who took an x-ray and confirmed an obstruction in his small intestine.  Although, we had never witnessed him eating anything foreign, we assumed Sammy had swallowed a toy, a bone or a stick in the yard. We arranged for emergency surgery at an animal clinic in Melbourne, Florida.

The surgeon did not find a toy, a bone or a stick.  He did find a ganglion of Pythiosis and removed a portion of Sammy’s small intestine including his ileocecal valve.  We were told Sammy may not be able to control his bowels, but that he could recover.

After Surgery

Six weeks after surgery, Sammy had dropped seven of his normal forty-seven pounds.  Although, his physical endurance waned, he never lost his loving disposition and insisted on retrieving his yellow tennis ball in the yard. We did forbid the pond but allowed him to frolic under the water-hose.

Despite all medicinal efforts, including a charcoal-based potion and a full round of anti-Pythium injections, episodes of acute diarrhea did not subside but increased until Sammy could barely make it through his doggie door.

Then, October was a trying month of vomiting and increasingly bloody diarrhea. Sammy lost the luster in his eyes, the bounce in his walk and the energy to play.  He spent days lying on the cool terrazzo floor with his beloved yellow tennis ball close to his nose. On November 2, we knew it was time to let our sweet Sammy go. The drive from hell ended with Sammy on my lap in our truck as the vet put him into his last sleep.  We buried him with his yellow tennis ball.

Once again, I am in tears as I miss him.

More About Pythiosis

Pythiosis is a fungal spore that attaches itself to the roots of plants in swampy grasses.  It can affect horses, cats, dogs and humans.  It is contracted through an opening in the skin that may be as small as an ant bite causing a spreading sore that does not heal. It can be ingested (rarely in humans) and plant itself inside the digestive tract of an animal.

Pythium, also known as swamp cancer, is a result of environmental pollution and is not restricted to ponds, but is found in wet grasses of golf courses, parks and yards. Sammy ingested it by retrieving a ball from the grassy bank and swimming in infected water.

Pythiosis is only diagnosed through its particular lab test. Early detection increases the rate of survival. Unfortunately, it is rarely diagnosed in its early stages because it resembles common canine maladies such as loose stool, ear and eye infections or leg sores.

There is very little documented research on Pythiosis and no sure cure.  The treatments available to us were surgery, a black charcoal potion (a detoxifier) and the anti-Pythium injections. I know of no dog who has survived.

Once again, we must thank Healthy Paws for honoring all our insurance claims for Sammy.  My hope and prayer is that our and your investment in Sir Sammy Sabol leads to a cure for this vicious environmental disease Pythiosis.

From all of us at Healthy Paws, we are happy to have helped Cara during this hard time and thank her for sharing her story so other pet parents can know about the dangers of this deadly fungus. If you’re interested in finding out more about pet health insurance and having vet bills covered so you can say “yes” to treatment, look into getting a free quote.

The post Pythiosis: Sammy’s Story appeared first on Healthy Paws.

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It’s easy to poke fun at ourselves when it comes to the relationship we have with our furry companions. We go above and beyond to make sure they have the most comfortable bed, that their food is served just how they like it, that they have more than enough toys, and that they look perfect in all those pictures we readily share on social media. There’s one thing we tend to keep mum about, though, out of fear that we may be considered a bit odd. That one thing happens to be how much we talk to our pets.

From one-sided venting after work and mundane commentary on a lazy Saturday, to high-pitched lovey-dovey words of affection, many of us candidly talk to our fur friends in the privacy of our home. (Truthfully, some of us also do this without shame in public!) Sometimes it seems like our pets are happy to engage by responding in kind with meows, woofs, and head tilts. Other times they look back at us like they’re taking it all in, and sometimes they just sit there stoically without much of a response.

You’re Not Weird — You’re Just Smart

Interestingly, recent research has shown that talking to our pets is not only normal, but perhaps even a sign of intelligence. Turns out, the reason why we converse with animals is because we’re trying to “anthropomorphize” them, which is fancy science speak that means to humanize something. We inherently want to make objects and creatures more like humans in our minds. We do this from a very young age and throughout our life with many things, including toys, bugs, cars, boats, trees, and other everyday objects.

“Historically, anthropomorphizing has been treated as a sign of childishness or stupidity, but it’s actually a natural byproduct of the tendency that makes humans uniquely smart on this planet,” Dr. Nicholas Epley, a behavioral science professor at University of Chicago, told Quartz. “Recognizing the mind of another human being involves the same psychological processes as recognizing a mind in other animals, a god, or even a gadget,” says Epley. “It is a reflection of our brain’s greatest ability rather than a sign of our stupidity.”

In other words, the fact that we humanize our pets — to the point of conversing with them — demonstrates our unique ability to connect more deeply with non-humans.

“We think our cat is acting ‘sassy;’ that the stock market is ‘angry’ or ‘working to recover;’ and we ask our car ‘why it won’t turn on’ and call it a ‘rickety old man’ when it starts to stall,” says Epley. “This is just the byproduct of having an active, intelligent social cognition — of having a brain that is programmed to see and perceive minds.”

The Connection with Pets Goes Even Deeper, Though

You know what goes hand in hand with anthropomorphism? Empathy. Communicating with your cat or dog is a sign of deep love and affection for them. It comes from a desire to relate to them and connect with them. And here’s the thing — animals often respond in kind. They obviously can’t pick up on every single word or nuance, but numerous studies have proven that both cats and dogs can read human emotion pretty well.

For instance, a study by Moriah Galvan and Jennifer Vonk of Michigan’s Oakland University examined a dozen cats and their owners. They discovered that the cats behaved differently when their owners were happy and smiling versus frowning. Further, the cats were able to pick up the same emotions with strangers, too, which demonstrated that this is a universal understanding of human emotion. Dogs have the same ability, according to another study by Corsin Müller at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna. They are tuned into human expressions and emotion.

If you’ve lived with your cat or dog long enough, you also know that they respond to certain tones and words as well. Like we said, they can’t understand everything you say, but it’s not as if you’re talking to an unresponsive wall when communicating with your pets. 

We should never feel silly for talking to our pets. Doing so is an innately human tendency, a sign of higher intelligence, and a reflection of just how much we love and car for our furry besties. Also, our words aren’t necessarily falling on deaf ears because our pets are tuned into us, as well.

If you’re chatting up your pet, you probably consider them part of the family! Protect them like family by enrolling in pet health insurance. You can say “yes” to important, life-saving treatments without worrying about your wallet. Start by getting a free quote.

The post Science Says Talking to Your Pets is Totally Normal appeared first on Healthy Paws.

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We receive so many emails from happy pet parents every day that we wanted to make sure all these pets got a chance to be featured on our blog! In our ongoing series, “Happy Tales,” we get to share a little bit of these pets that not only make their families joyful, but those of us at Healthy Paws too!

Lilly the Brave

Lilly on Graduation Day

Already the parents of a healthy 2 year old Goldendoodle, Larry and Donna decided that “he needed a friend,” so they rescued a 12 week old Labradoodle (Lilly) from what can only be described as “a cold, terrible place.” Unfortunately, what followed was a veritable nightmare – Lilly was diagnosed with Parvo and stayed a week in the hospital. “We visited her as often as the staff would allow, but cloaked in gowns and not allowed to touch her,” explains Larry. “Then the vets called to us come in one evening and allowed us to hold her; in essence, to say goodbye to her but we would not give up on her!” Overnight, little Lilly rallied and began to improve, defying all odds. She went home and was by Larry and Donna’s side constantly, thriving in her recovery. They signed up Lilly with Healthy Paws in an effort to help protect her in the future, and unfortunately, it was a good choice. “She began having seizures occasionally which prompted a visit to the veterinary neurologist who diagnosed her with epilepsy,” says Larry. They’re maintaining her good health and report: “Every day is a blessing and every day I thank God for the two of them! Two ‘Doodles can only be described as ‘Twice the Joyous Mayhem!’”

Total claims filed: $3,360 and Healthy Paws reimbursed: $1,984 (based on 80% reimbursement rate; $250 deductible)

The 40mph Fracture

Jake, post fracture

Pet parent Carla writes: “Jake broke his leg in a freak accident running into a bench at the dog park. When the vet saw the x-rays he asked if Jake had been hit by a car. Jake is a greyhound and can run more than 40mph – he IS the car!” Jake’s fracture and follow-up was intense: “He ended up getting orthopedic surgery and now has a rod, a plate, 4 screws, and 2 wires in his femur. He does amazingly well and only limps a little at times. He’s 9 years old now and a little grey (pun intended), but he still loves to go for rides and greet everyone he sees.”

Fracture and rehab claims filed: $8,205 and Healthy Paws reimbursed: $5,141 (based on 70% reimbursement rate; $500 deductible)

The Power of Brussels Sprouts

Lola

Pet parent Elizabeth writes: “My 8 year-old Dachshund-Jack Russell mix, Lola, was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer of the tonsils in early January. When I brought her to the vet, she had lost weight, had no bark, and seemed to have difficulty eating. The vet found and removed the tumor, but warned me that this is an extremely aggressive form of cancer and that it had most likely already metastasized to her lymph nodes.  I have [Healthy Paws], so I was ready to do whatever could be of help. I was referred to an oncologist. The oncologist did a CAT scan and told me there were lesions in her lung, so nothing can be done, other than palliative radiation should the tumor recur. Lola was given 3 months to live.”

“I could not just let her die, so I read all the veterinary and animal literature I could find on what inhibits or kills cancer cells in animals – and I read that broccoli, kale and brussels sprouts have been found to [inhibit or kill cancer cells in research on animals]. She is a very picky eater, but likes brussels sprouts as long as they have butter in them. Also [I read that] a diet low in carbs, high in protein and with healthy fats was found to be helpful. She has been eating brussels sprouts with olive oil and a little butter every day, as well as chicken breast. I’d like to get some other fruits and veggies into her, but she won’t eat them!”

Cut to today: “It is now 3 months post diagnosis. She has regained her weight and her bark, and to all appearances is symptom free, active, and happy. It’s too early to know if she will be a survivor, but I am sharing this in case anyone else’s dog is in a similar position. So far, she is defying the odds.  By the way, she may be the cutest and most wonderful dog on this earth— an unbiased opinion.”

Tumor claims filed: $1,492 and Healthy Paws reimbursed: $1,343 (based on 90% reimbursement rate; $250 deductible; part of larger lifetime claims)

A Bionic Best Friend

Tiger

Pet parent Kira writes: “I rescued Tiger when he was 6 months old from the local shelter in Baltimore. He was the sweetest pup, full of energy and love for people and dogs. Just before his second birthday, he started struggling to get up and down off the couch and sitting or standing up seemed painful. We went to the vet and he had a partial tear of his cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). Because he was young and active, the vet suggested TPLO surgery to stabilize his knee, removing part of the bone and implanting a metal plate.”

“I picked up a groggy confused little pup in his yellow surgical pajamas (which were the cutest) and we headed home for 12 weeks of hard, nerve-wracking recovery (during which human mom had her own surgery and recovery process)…. Week 14, Tiger took his first off-leash romp in over 4 months, overly excited to be playing with his best friend again, and tore his second CCL!”

“He was back in surgery a couple of weeks later (blue PJs this time) followed by another 12 weeks of recovery. Thanks to the incredible team of people who took care of him at Skylos Sports Medicine and with the help of Healthy Paws, Tiger is fully recovered, happy, and even more agile than he was before. He loves to go for long walks and romps with his best friend who has had the same surgery in her legs – we call them our bionic puppies! Thank you for all of your help, I do not think we would have been able to get him back to his full self without the surgery (and therefore without Healthy Paws insurance)!”

You can follow Tiger on Instagram at @charmcitytiger

Cruciate Ligament surgery & recovery claims filed: $8,719 and Healthy Paws reimbursed: $6,229 (based on 80% reimbursement rate; $250 deductible)

Unexpected accident or illness? That’s what we’re here for! Many pet parents rely on pet health insurance to pay up to 90% of their vet bills, so they can focus on what really matters: getting great health care for their pet. Find out more by getting a free instant quote.

If you are a Healthy Paws pet parent with a recovery story to tell, we’d love to hear it! Send your pet’s story along with photos of your four-legged family member to happytales@healthypaws.com

The post April’s Happy Tales appeared first on Healthy Paws.

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How many weekend mornings have you woken up — or how many evenings have you come home from work — to your pup basically begging you for an exciting outdoor excursion? There are only so many times you can lap around the block or frolic in the backyard before both of you start craving a little something beyond your usual stomping grounds. The dog park is often the ultimate destination. It’s full of people and other pets who are excited to engage and play, and let’s be real, there are lots of adorable photo ops to be had.

According to recent data, though, dog parks do more than just provide a shared social experience for dog owners. Some say dog parks can even cut crime levels, which would seemingly make them a no-brainer addition to any neighborhood.

The Dog Park Crime Reduction Theory

When a vacant space, especially if it was previous crime-ridden, is transformed into a dog park, there’s a correlated reduction in crime levels.

“Police departments across the country (and globe), are recognizing that taking a mostly unused spot and turning it into a dog park decreases crime, simply because people are using the space, and walking to and from it. Safety in numbers, and more eyes on the street,” states the Lakeview Dog Play Area website.

In addition to repurposing a sketchy or abandoned area, you’re also increasing the amount of people who are out at any given time. Crime is less likely to occur in populated areas versus empty ones, and the presence of dogs themselves also helps.

Lakeview says their neighborhood experienced reduced crime when they brought a dog park to the area. Other cities have also noted a connection with decreased crime and the presence of a dog park.

The Park Commissioner for NYC says that “the past three Parks Commissioners, and many borough Parks administrators, have partially credited dog owners who use the Off-leash Hours with helping to bring the Parks back from their state of decline and crime. Dog owners continue to keep the parks safe in hours where many people do not use them, seven days a week, 365 days of the year, in all types of weather.”​

Other Benefits of Dog Parks

More data needs to be collected before any concrete statements are made about dog parks reducing crime in an area, but there’s certainly a good case being built. With that in mind, there are also other benefits associated with dog parks:

  • Exercised, Socialized Pups are Well-Behaved Pups: At the dog park, your pet can run as fast as they wish, hang out with lots of fur-friends, and play games with you. That interaction, along with burning off all that steam, means your dog is happy, healthy, and less likely to gnaw through your favorite shoes or bark for hours.
  • They Allow Your Pup to Run Free: Leash laws are becoming increasingly common (and arguably for very good reasons), but sometimes your pup wants to run free. Dog parks are the perfect place for that, especially if you live in a big city or don’t have a yard of your own.
  • It’s a Safe Space: You don’t have to worry about motorists, bicyclists, or folks who get nervous around pups. Leave the stress elsewhere — dog parks are a safe space!
  • Dog Parks are Good for You, Too: Everyone benefits from getting outside, walking around, and interacting with others. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet some great friends!
A Quick Recap

Numerous neighborhoods and cities have reported a reduction in crime after building a dog park. There’s not a ton of concrete data out there to examine, but the anecdotal experiences are pretty compelling. Whatever the case, there’s one thing we’re confident about: dog parks give you and your fluff a chance to go out there, have some fun, and meet some like-minded humans and pups. A little social interaction is always a good thing, and it’s nice to have a spot for Spot to joyously roam free.

Have you been to a dog park recently? We’d love to see a picture of your pup in action with all the other doggos. Please share a picture with us on Instagram by tagging #gohealthypaws. And if you aren’t already a pet parent with us, look into getting a free quote to help safeguard not just your special fur friend, but your wallet too.

The post Do Dog Parks Cut Crime? appeared first on Healthy Paws.

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